York Road Corridor
NOTE: Click on a restaurant's name to get more information in our Eat Guide.
Belvedere Square Market, 529 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 323-2396
Sometimes you want a really good sandwich--maybe some really good ham or turkey that you can't buy even at your local deli, stuck between slices of homemade bread, and slathered with some just-right condiment you don't have. Or maybe some steaming, flavorful homemade soup that you don't wanna spend hours making. Thankfully, there's Ned Atwater's thriving, friendly gourmet lunch counter in Govans' Belvedere Square. Problem solved.
5230 York Road, (410) 433-0040
Thanks to its nearly invisible location on York Road, Bangkok Place is easy to miss, but this Govans treasure serves some of the best Thai food in Baltimore. While the inside is as nondescript as the outside--circa-1985 restaurant furniture, potted plants, Thai tourist posters--the dimmed lighting helps a lot, making it a great place for a rendezvous, secret or not. We like the ever-rotating curry specials menu, handwritten on index cards and placed at each table. If you don't like curries, though, don't worry; the menu is long and full of rice and noodle dishes.
438 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 532-0022, www.cafezen.com
Café Zen has got to be one of the most vegetarian-friendly restaurant in Baltimore. C'mon, they've got tofu eight different ways here. And most of their myriad Chinese dishes, from sha cha to moo shu to kung pao, are available in vegetarian versions. It's great to see a restaurant taking seriously the great Chinese tradition of vegetable dishes, serving terrific garlic spinach and string beans rolled in scallion pancakes in place of the generic-veggies-in-gloppy-sauce most places try to get away with. Everything here is cooked crisp-tender with light, flavorful sauces, demonstrating a knowledgeable kitchen staff who cares about the food they create.
Belvedere Square, 600 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 464-1000, www.ryansdaughteririshpub.com
This newish Belvedere Square restaurant offers O.G. pub fare--various savory pies (shepherd's, etc.), fish and chips, lamb dishes--in a setting that's been Old Sodded to almost theme-park extremes. The old-world nooks and crannies make the place seem more sprawling than it is, and can make repeat trips feel like you're dining in a whole different restaurant. The food can, too; the kitchen generally works with choice ingredients, but it can run a little hit and miss. Still, if you're looking for a pleasant, family-friendly place to grub up and drain a quiet pint, you could do much worse.
5857 York Road, (410) 435-1200
As quite possibly the sole Vietnamese restaurant within city limits, Saigon Remembered has a corner on the pho market. Unfortunately, they have only a few kinds of pho on the menu, rather than the myriad permutations of the basil-scented broth, noodle, and meat soup that are generally found on Vietnamese menus. Just as pho is dumbed down to the most basic, hey-Joe bowl of flank steak and brisket, the rest of the menu seems, well, subdued. Food here is fine and the people who run the place could not be nicer, but, c'mon--we can handle the real thing, bible tripe and all.
Belvedere Square, 510 E. Belvedere Ave., (443) 278-9001, www.tasteresaurant.biz
Chef Ann Nault playfully mixes elements of Tex-Mex and Pacific Rim cuisine in a smashing California-style setting, inside a former Hess shoe store now swimming in sheer stone walls and stargazing sight lines. As everyone with a radio tuned to WYPR knows, Nault formerly chef-ed at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch, which could explain her cuisine's encouraging competence and occasional swagger. Standouts include a curry lamb shank and miso-infused salmon grilled on a cedar plank and dressed with wasabi cream. Desserts are not an afterthought here--try the banana caramel cheesecake burrito. But be careful, drinks are expensive, making an already pricey night out even more so.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201