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Eat Feature

Latin

Frank Hamilton
El Torito Mexican Restaurant

Eat Special Issue 2009

Cool Comfort EAT: City Paper's annual dining guide

Barbecue and Pit Andy Nelson's Barbecue 11007 York Road, Cockeysville, (410) 527-1226, andynelsonsbbq.com, $-$$ Whe...

Breakfast Blue Moon Café 1621 Aliceanna St., (410) 522-3940, $ For years, Blue Moon has been saving t...

Cafés Atwater's Belvedere Square Market, 529 E. Belvedere Ave., (410) 323-2396; 1425 Clarkview Road, Suit...

Caribbean Judy's Island Grill and Bake Shop 5216 Park Heights Ave., (410) 367-0272, judysislandgrill.com, $-$...

Chinese Grace Garden Chinese Restaurant 1690 Annapolis Road, Odenton, (410) 672-3581, gracegardenchinese.co...

Classic American Burke's Restaurant and Café 36 Light St., (410) 752-4189, burkescafe.com, $$-$$$ Burke's is n...

Contemporary American Abacrombie Fine Food and Accommodations 58 W. Biddle St., (410) 837-3630, abacrombie.net, $$$ Cork...

Delis Attman's Authentic New York Delicatessen 1019 E. Lombard St., (410) 563-2666, attmansdeli.com, $ N...

Diners Jimmy's Restaurant 801 S. Broadway, (410) 327-3273, $ A cornerstone of Fells Point, Jimmy's slings ...

Eclectic Golden West Café 1105 W. 36th St., (410) 889-8891, goldenwestcafe.com, $-$$ Baltimore has ple...

Ethiopian Dukem #2 1100 Maryland Ave., (410) 385-0318, dukemrestaurant.com, $-$$ Luckily, pretty much the on...

French Bonaparte Breads 903 S. Ann St., (410) 342-4000, $ This Fells Point bakery boasts a surprisingly e...

Hawaiian Roy's 720 Aliceanna St., (410) 659-0099, roysrestaurant.com, $$$ With so many fabulous local resta...

Indian and Nepalese Akbar 823 N. Charles St., (410) 539-0944, akbar-restaurant.com, $$ Akbar has the feel of a secret ...

Irish James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant 616 S. President St., (410) 727-5107, thejamesjoycepub.com, $$...

Italian Aldo's 306 S. High St., (410) 727-0700, aldositaly.com, $$$ "Sophisticated" and Little Italy don't...

Japanese Aloha Sushi 1218 N. Charles St., (443) 759-8531, $-$$ Everything about Aloha Sushi is just right...

Korean Joung Kak 18 W. 20th St., (410) 837-5231, $$ Its partisans will tell you this is the best Korean r...

Latin Arcos Restaurant and Bar 129 S. Broadway, (410) 522-4777, arcosrestaurante.com, $$ Because there's...

Mediterranean Black Olive 814 S. Bond St., (410) 276-7141, theblackolive.com, $$-$$$ Fells Point Greek restauran...

Middle Eastern Amer's Café 7624 Belair Road, Belair Beltway Plaza, Nottingham, (410) 668-5100, amerscafe.com,...

Pizza Angelo's Carry-Out 3600 Keswick Road, (410) 235-2595, angeloshampden.com, $ Best pizza in Hampden ...

Pub Grub Curb Shoppe Bar and Grill 5736 Falls Road, (410) 433-8299, curbshoppe.com, $ This neighborhood pub...

Russian Vernisage 1004 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, (410) 484-7701, $$-$$$ With its glass chandeliers an...

Seafood Blue Sea Grill 614 Water St., (410) 837-7300, blueseagrill.com, $$$ A daily selection of "Fresh ...

Southern Charleston 1000 Lancaster St., (410) 332-7373, charlestonrestaurant.com, $$$ Somewhere along the l...

Spanish Pazo 1425 Aliceanna St., (410) 534-7296, pazorestaurant.com, $$$ If you don't leave Pazo a little ...

Thai Ban Thai 340 N. Charles St., (410) 727-7971, banthai.us, $$ Ban Thai is our favorite place to eave...

Upscale Comfort Food Ale Mary's 1939 Fleet St., (410) 276-2044, alemarys.com, $$ Kudos to Ale Mary's for celebrating th...

Vegetarian Liquid Earth 1626 Aliceanna St., (410) 276-6606, liquidearth.com, $$ We've appreciated the vegetar...

Vietnamese Baltimore Pho 1114 Hollins St., (410) 752-4746, baltimorepho.com, $$ Despite the downtrodden local...

Eat 2009

Posted 3/4/2009

Arcos Restaurant and Bar

129 S. Broadway, (410) 522-4777, arcosrestaurante.com, $$

Because there's no dearth of quality Mexican restaurants in Fells Point, it can be difficult to pick a favorite. Arcos can seem pricey compared to its area competitors, but it proves worth the added expense. This is especially true if you can dine in their courtyard, which has the atmosphere of an eatery in Rosarito Beach. The menu is diverse and includes a selection of traditional seafood dishes like camarones al ajillo.

Chicken Rico

3728 Eastern Ave., (410) 522-2950, $

Hands down the best Peruvian chicken in Baltimore, possibly in Maryland. We've sampled the stuff at dozens of places from here to D.C., and none can match Chicken Rico's consistently moist meat (even the white meat is always juicy), savory, pervasive spice rub, and smoky, lightly charred skin. Even their version of the essential "green sauce" (spicy pepper and cilantro) is vastly superior. Daily specials feature more homestyle dishes like ceviche and cau cau (stewed tripe), but trust us, get some chicken with a side of corn and fried rice. You're welcome in advance.

El Torito Mexican Restaurant

110 W. Mulberry St., (410) 244-7072, eltorito.com, $

A tidy place with ample dining space that serves really, really good, reasonably authentic Mexican right in Mount Vernon. El Torito is located on a block that doesn't get a ton of foot traffic, but take the extra few steps and be rewarded with great food and warm, friendly service. The fried whole fish is excellent, crisp and juicy. Dinner platters are enormous, and the homemade sauces here are particularly good. Anything with chorizo is outstanding, tacos are available with myriad meat fillings, and fruit smoothies make for a nice dessert.

El Trovador

318 S. Broadway, (410) 276-6200, eltrovadorrestaurant.com, $-$$

El Trovador's spacious dining room, friendly waitstaff, and great food are the best reason we can think of to visit Fells Point. The tangy orange-colored salsa is a cut above thanks to the secret ingredient (is it radish? carrot?). Don't miss the pupusas, which come with the aforementioned salsa and cabbage, the platanos con crema (lightly fried plantains with refried beans and sour cream), and the tamal de elote (steamed corn tamale).

Holy Frijoles!

908 W. 36th St., (410) 235-2326, $

Friendly Hampden spot Holy Frijoles! has recently added some new menu items, like a stuffed red bell pepper, but we always order the same thing: tacos. They are delish whether filled with ground beef like mom used to make, salty pork, shredded beef, grilled chicken, or black beans, in a hard corn shell or soft flour tortillas. If tacos aren't your thing, order burritos or quesadillas and be sure to get a side of guacamole and some margaritas making every meal mucho mejor.

La Sirenita Restaurante II

3928 Eastern Ave., (410) 522-5055, $$

Perched right on the border of Highlandtown and Greektown, La Sirenita was one of the first restaurants in Baltimore to serve food that was less Tex and more Mex and it's still trucking. As the name indicates ("the Little Mermaid," awww!) seafood is the star here, mostly in the form of shrimp dishes. Also available are sopes, chilaquiles, tortas, even cordoniz frita (fried quail)--the menu is helpfully illustrated with photos for the uninitiated. Service is fast and friendly and the language barrier usually isn't an issue.

Los Amigos

5506 Harford Road, (410) 444-4220, losamigosbaltimore.com, $$

Straight-up Tex-Mex (and some Peruvian) belly-filling fare with consistently above-average quality and preparation. The service is very friendly, and the margaritas are decent. Los Amigos' homemade salsa is very good. The menu is delineated into numbered options, with dinner platters consisting of variations on your standard burrito/taco/enchilada type combinations. Tamales here are also pretty good, and come in either red (pork) or green (chicken) varieties.

Mari Luna Latin Grille

1010 Reisterstown Road, pikesville, (410) 653-5151, mariluna.com, $$

Think of Mari Luna Latin Grille, the newest venture from chef/owner Jaime Luna, as the worldly, sophisticated sister of Luna's popular Mari Luna Mexican Grill. The Latin Grille's menu pulls from all over South and Central America, offering empanadas and yucca fries, tangy ropa vieja, and some of the best local paella we've eaten. The sleek, contemporary dining room makes you forget the restaurant is part of a suburban strip.

Nacho Mama's

2907 O'Donnell St., (410) 675-0898, nachomamascanton.com, $$

Crammed with Elvis, Colts, and Boh memorabilia, Nacho Mama's puts a unique personal spin on Tex-Mex. Quesadillas contain crab, smoked gouda, and roasted pepper, while fish tacos are made with tuna and roasted garlic. Chili authentico is dark, deep, smoky, chocolate-y almost, with hunks of tender beef served in a fried tortilla bowl, as is the excellent fresh guacamole. The kitchen reaches a bit higher on the list of daily specials, which are often littered with wry Steelers jabs. Not to mention the delicious margaritas served in a hubcap.

Tortilleria Sinaloa

1716 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-3741, $

A bright and colorful counter serving tacos made with two handmade corn tortillas stuffed with spiced chicken, pork, tongue, beef, fish, or goat, plus fresh parsley and mild white onion. Squeeze some lime, a dash of salt, and a bit of red or green hot sauces, and a swipe of the tiny side of guacamole. This tortilleria never disappoints for lunch or an early dinner, and also sells meat and tortillas in bulk for a fiesta at home.

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