A daily selection of "Fresh Catch" fish is served simply broiled with herb butter and is, indeed, exceedingly fresh, while entrées like seafood ravioli, tilapia francesca, and even the Blue Sea's version of bouillabaisse betray a definite Italian influence. Crab cakes are excellent, as are raw bar offerings and the amazing ceviche. Desserts are unexpectedly creative and refined, and service is damn near impeccable. Décor is sexy and swank, except for a couple of odd sailboat paintings that look straight out of a Florida retirement community condo.
When you leave Captain James Landing, you're likely to have leftovers to take with you. The huge, belly-swelling portions make the $20-plus entrées worth every penny. What remains of your crab-stuffed flounder with asparagus, your two giant lobster tails, or your pound of New York strip will survive a night in the fridge and still be delicious at home. It's open-all-night, carry-out side has a less rarified menu, but hey, it's open all night.
Dock of the Bay on Millers Island is one of those "Let's take a drive and eat on the water" kind of destinations (unless, of course, you already live in Southeast Baltimore County). Sandwich platters fare better than entrées. Lump crab cakes the size of tennis balls, crispy fried oysters, and steamed crab (seasonal) specials make up for the restaurant's no-frills interior, but eating outside is the way to go. If that's not possible, grab a table by a window and ignore the Keno games in favor of watching the ducks bob around the marina.
When you go to Faidley's, you go for one of two things: the crab cakes or the raw bar. The jumbo-lump crab cakes are the stuff dreams are made of--hunks of fresh crabmeat with just enough binder to hold it together, never any filler. The raw bar is old-school: a tall counter where you can while away an afternoon with some cold beer and as many freshly shucked oysters or clams as you can manage. And if you're in the mood for something a little different, Faidley's also serves up fish sandwiches, coddies, and other simple delights.
There are plenty of places to grab seafood in Baltimore, from upscale restaurants to side of the road crab shacks, but L.P. Steamers feels like home. It's not much on atmosphere--unless maybe you get a seat on the rooftop deck but don't hold your breath--but it makes up for it in character and in fresh, plentiful, delectable seafood. And we're not just talking crabs, though the crabs are awesome; it also offers oysters, mussels, clams, and shrimp among other aquatic delicacies. All in a place, where you feel comfortable wiping your hands on your jeans.
Even though it dates to only 2004, the dark wood interior, handsome bar, and cozy upstairs of Mama's on the Half Shell make it feel like a good place to take out-of-towners for a taste of historic Baltimore. Seafood reigns here, with enough mussels and oysters to feed a fleet, and the cream of crab soup (seasonal) is rich enough to share. One of our favorite spots on O'Donnell Square.
Outdoor, waterfront dining shouldn't be too fancy, and at Nick's, it isn't. It is a smorgasbord not only of fresh seafood, but of Baltimore charm. Located at a marina in the shadows of the Hanover Street bridge, Nick's has breathed life into what had become a sad, forlorn corner of industrial Baltimore. Now, it's a place to eat, drink, and be merry. Whether you go for the 10-ounce New York strip with an 8-ounce lobster tail or for plate after plate of steamed shrimp, you'll be happy you went.
Perhaps it's the sweeping curves and lush drapery in the dining room, or the uniformed staff gliding about with towering piles of exotic ocean fauna, or even its Harbor East location, Baltimore's newly minted hotbed of sybaritic excess, but the Oceanaire simply exudes special-occasion grandness. Fish selections change daily, but generally range in familiar tuna/salmon/swordfish territory and are fresh and well-prepared. Crab cakes (no-Old Bay style) are superb, and more complex specials generally please. Service is efficient and professional, if lacking in subtlety--shouting is sometimes required to overcome the din of fellow indulgers.
Ryleigh's Oyster looks more like a bar than a restaurant, but the food is well beyond the usual pub grub. The menu ranges from wings and sandwiches to pan-sautéed rockfish. The tuna burger, made with high-grade ahi, is sensational--get it super rare. The oyster bar is well-stocked and the staff can tell you more about each variety than you are likely to remember--on Tuesdays, oysters are $1 each. And don't miss the grilled corn with Old Bay and feta cheese. It's more delicious than a vegetable has any right to be.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201