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Special Issue Eat

Outside the City

Christopher Myers
Great Sage

Eat Special Issue 2007

Hunger Pains City Paper’s Annual Dining Guide

Park and Pay This is not a valet town. Folks will valet their cars if it’s free and some restaurants offer the ... | By Richard Gorelick

Deep Dish Running a restaurant dining room on a busy evening is far more complicated than it may appear to a... | By Jason Torres

Kid’s Meals Walking into the kitchen of the Brass Elephant, Mount Vernon’s romantic and historic fine-dining r... | By Jason Torres

Being Here “Hold on,” Vince Fava says, breaking off his sentence and excusing himself. An unseen phone begins... | By Bret McCabe

Old Dog, New Tricks Hampden isn’t exactly known for its fine dining. It’s more of a quirky eatery kind of place, where... | By Anna Ditkoff

Smoke ’Em If You’ve Got ’Em Ask most Americans about their first food memories, and they probably conjure up peanut butter or ... | By Lee Gardner

Talking Dry Rob Wecker doesn’t look like a wine aficionado. Instead of decking himself out in finely tailored ... | By Anna Ditkoff

Bread And Hot Cheese Baltimore doesn’t yet have a real pupuseria, though there’s rumor of a truck somewhere along Easte... | By Richard Gorelick

Sweet Meats Part front parlor, part community meeting house, Big Jim’s Deli (1065 S. Charles St., [410] 752-2434... | By Richard Gorelick

Tastes Like Chicken At his self-named Fells Point bistro, Timothy Dean applies the haute-cuisine techniques he first l... | By Richard Gorelick

Eat 2007

Posted 3/7/2007

Andy Nelson's Barbecue

11007 York Road, Cockeysville, (410) 527-1226,, $-$$

Why We Go: Are you kidding? There is no better barbeque in the Baltimore area. In fact, this county institution's pulled pork, brisket, and ribs can stand proudly with the finest we've sampled in the 'cue capitals of this great country of ours.

What We Eat: All of it, as much and as often as we can, but special mention must be made of the meaty, smoky, moist, succulent ribs. They've pretty much spoiled us for anyone else's.

What We'd Change: It ain't open on Sunday, which makes us inconsolably sad about every other weekend.


Bouala's Thai Restaurant

4347 Ebenezer Road, Perry Hall, (410) 248-1088,, $-$$

Why We Go: It's affordable, reliable, and close-by, and, while most times we just run in for carry-out, sometimes the promise of that big shopping-center parking lot drags us in for a sit-down meal.

What We Eat: Very good larb gai, and the super peanuty pad thai with springy tofu, one of our favorite vegan dishes.

What We'd Change: Sometimes, the vegetables in stir-fries are too big and clumsy to blend in well. We want fresher stuff, chopped to bits.


Christopher Daniel

106 Padonia Road, Timonium, (410) 308-1800,, $$-$$$

Why We Go: We appreciate how seriously this suburban restaurant takes its steaks and we admire, in general, the strive for something special.

What We Eat: We keep it simple here with grilled tenderloin or crab cakes.

What We'd Change: Stop trying to promote the adjoining tavern as an upscale martini bar, and the sparse plating can make entrèes feel overpriced.


Costas Inn

4100 North Point Blvd., Dundalk, (410) 477-1975,, $$-$$$

Why We Go: The crabs. They're not cheap here, but they're always well handled and seasoned. And there's plenty of room for big parties to spread out, which makes it indispensable for family gatherings.

What We Eat: The crabs. Maybe a Greek salad and a follow-up hot fudge sundae. We know they have sandwiches and even entrèes like steak and shrimp scampi, but that's not why we've driven ourselves there.

What We'd Change: In the summertime, it'd be great to have some corn on the cob with our crabs, too.


El Salto

n513 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park, (410) 789-1621; 8816 Waltham Woods Road, Parkville, (410) 668-3980; $-$$

Why We Go: If you need a go-to cheap and greasy Tex-Mex joint on your list, one could do far worse than mini-chain El Salto. Complimentary chips and salsa arrive at your table almost as quickly as bottles of Dos Equis and heaping plates of tacos, enchiladas, and chile rellenos.

What We Eat: While El Salto does serve up some semiauthentic Mexican dishes, go for the dèclassè combo platters. More refried beans, please.

What We'd Change: While the complimentary chips are aces, the accompanying salsa is weak, weak, weak. Spice it up a little.


Great Sage

5809 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville, (443) 535-9400,, $$

Why We Go: Great Sage's commitment to organic ingredients is only surpassed by the first-rate quality of its soups, salads, and entrèes, and the ambiance they've pulled off in a suburban strip mall is just stunning.

What We Eat: The “creamy” (vegan) shallot dressing and candied walnuts make the spinach salad one of the best green dishes in driving distance, and the soups--particularly the purèes--often knock our socks off. The desserts and entrèes change frequently, but it's hard to go wrong when ordering from this menu.

What We'd Change: Six months ago, we'd have asked for Great Sage's entrèe portions to get upsized a tad, but recent visits attest that size is no longer an issue at Great Sage. Which only leaves location--a place like this would clean up in Baltimore.


The Iron Bridge Wine Co.

10435 State Route 108, Columbia, (410) 997-3456,, $$

Why We Go: We think it's swell, the whole roadside wine bar/restaurant thing. And a fairly new expansion has helped alleviate some of the longest waits.

What We Eat: Although the menu is said to change frequently, we can usually depend on the salad of roasted red and golden beets with orange supremes and crumbled blue cheese. If we see the mac 'n' cheese with crabmeat and white truffle oil, we grab it.

What We'd Change: Keep expanding. The only problem is constant crowding, and the food service still seems, oddly, like it's playing second fiddle to the wine operations.


Mango Grove

6365-B Dobbin Road, Columbia, (410) 884-3426,, $

Why We Go: South Indian cuisine, characterized by vegetarian curries stuffed into dosai (lentil breading), is quite common in other metro areas, but bafflingly hard to find within our city limits.

What We Eat: Mounds of dosai! Oh, and order plenty of the piping-hot pea-stuffed paratha bread--it's not uncommon to see friends fight over the last delectable scraps.

What We'd Change: We've had servers try to talk us out of ordering dosai during busy weekend hours. Hey, if we wanted channa masala, we wouldn't have driven all the way to Columbia.


Mari Luna Mexican Grill

102 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, (410) 486-9910,, $-$$

Why We Go: Some of the best-prepared Mexican food in the area, served up with nonpandering pride by a hugely talented chef.

What We Eat: The roasted half-chicken with a luxurious mole sauce; and the gambas al ajillo, shrimp sautèed in lime, olive oil, and garlic; or the perfect carne asada.

What We'd Change: Victimized by popularity, the kitchen has been known to back up. We'd like to send in help.


Mr. Chan Szechuan Restaurant

1000 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, (410) 484-1100, $-$$

Why We Go: If there's a better fake-meat Chinese menu in North America, we haven't found it (and we've been looking).

What We Eat: Where to begin? The nasu-ten and shiitake makis are two of the area's best rolls, but the real revelations here are the fake-meat entrèes. Some standouts: healmay with orange sauce, veggie protein nuggets with cashews, yuba with green curry (which comes with mounds of spinach and shiitake mushrooms), scallion wraps with yuba, and seitan with black bean sauce.

What We'd Change: Not a damn thing. This is perfection.


Zia's Cafè

13 Allegheny Ave., Towson, (410) 296-0799,, $

Why We Go: One of your best options for a cheap, quick, veggie-friendly lunch in Towson.

What We Eat: The red mango (mango, beet juice, apple juice, and ginger) smoothie; the organic tofu sandwich on sunflower bread with arugula, onions, tomato, soy cheese, hummus, and vegan mayo; maybe an organic cup of coffee to go if we're feeling crazy.

What We'd Change: Ingredient availability varies a little too much; our sandwich doesn't feel as special without that arugula on top.H

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