The Edwin Mulitalo/Jonathan Ogden Diet
Football players are the ultimate meat-and-potatoes men so it's not especially surprising that the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula, opened his own chain of steak restaurants--and even less so that they have a gridiron theme. Shula's Steak House (Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel, 101 W. Fayette St.,  385-6601) is dedicated to two things: the Miami Dolphins' 1972 "perfect season" and big-ass steaks. The menu is painted onto a football; from it you can order a 48-ounce porterhouse. You get your name added to a plaque if you eat the whole thing. If you're seriously into the caveman dining groove, you won't mind that vegetables must be ordered à la carte. You must, however, get a baked potato. Some things are sacred.
For a more homegrown football/steak experience, McCafferty's (1501 Sulgrave Ave.,  664-2200) serves manly man fare in a setting that's a tribute to the late Baltimore Colts coach Don McCafferty. The decorating theme is testosterone baroque (sports memorabilia and, hey look, more sports memorabilia), but the kitchen handles its mission delicately: Steaks here are standalone works of art, perfectly marbled and tender specimens dressed only with a grating of fresh horseradish. And when we say the steaks stand alone, we mean it--even the potatoes are à la carte here. We recommend the gorgonzola scalloped, though the chunky garlic mash are also fine.
The Prime Rib (1101 N. Calvert St.,  539-1804) is the swankiest meat market in town. A pianist tinkles away, playing jazz standards on the Lucite-topped baby grand while patrons, intoxicated by the extensive wine list and the leopard-skin carpeting, dig into the namesake entrée. Ultra-tender steaks are accompanied by damn-the-cholesterol sides like creamed spinach and butter-oozing mashed potatoes, all the better to enlarge your physique while shrinking your bankroll.
Local favorite Chester's Steakhouse (1717 Eastern Ave.,  732-9800) became thus for its quality beef at reasonable prices. The menu is all about the meat, but (with one exception) nothing goes more than $20 and more than half of the selections cost less than $10. Chester's time-warp chophouse ambience--martinis, red-checked table cloths, candles--and damn decent steaks make for a bargain night out your parents would have loved circa 1965. No matter what you order at Chester's (and the kitchen is as adept at surf as it is with turf) it comes with a side of spuds--baked, mashed, french-, or home-fried (the best).
Anyone striving for that Michelin Man form will certainly want to check out the city's Mexican restaurants. Los Amigos (5506 Harford Road,  444-4220), the city's friendliest Latino eatery, does an excellent twist on the meat and potatoes thang with their lomo saltado, an enormous plate of grilled skirt steak tossed with thick-cut wedges of fried potato, onion, and tomato. Tender, spicy carnitas are another meat-o-rific selection, and there are all the usual Mexican beef, bean, and cheese-stuffed suspects as well. You'll be wanting to wash them down with some of the dry, punch-packing sangría or maybe a cold Pacifico beer.
Combination plates in every imaginable permutation are the reason to dine at El Salto (5513 Ritchie Highway, Brooklyn Park,  789-1621) and El Salto II (8816 Waltham Woods Road, Parkville,  668-3980), where classic Mexican dishes are prepared by actual Mexican cooks. All the old favorites--tacos, enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas--are on hand, all served with the most lardaciously delicious refritos in town. There's also a terrific selection of south-of-the-border beers and refrescos like tamarind soda. Don't miss auténtico selections like tacos de carne azada, chile rellenos, or the fierce steak ranchero with special hot sauce that will have you scrambling for your water glass.
Some of the most truly authentic, just-like-they-eat-it-in-Chiapas chow in Baltimore is at El Taquito Mexicano (1744 Eastern Ave.,  563-7840), one of the first businesses to emerge as part of Fells Point's burgeoning Latin boom. There are serapes on the walls, mariachi music on the stereo, and cheerful servers who accommodate rusty high-school Spanish speakers. Our favorite dish is the conejo adobado, rabbit in a lush roasted chile sauce (with a chicken version for those who don't do bunny), but zesty tacos and intense enchiladas are also very fine. El Taquito doesn't pile on the food like typical Tex-Mex eateries, but everything is so cheap that it's possible to work on that linebacker physique and sample the entire menu for, oh, say, $40.
A list of the city's most fat-intensive eateries would not be complete without a mention of Attman's Authentic New York Delicatessen (1019 E. Lombard St.,  563-2666). The oldest--and hands-down best--deli in Baltimore, Attman's makes mile-high corned beef (slash pastrami slash brisket slash etc.) sandwiches. They even pile bologna on top of the giant kosher hot dogs just to further up the MQ (meat quotient). Add some sides like fried knishes, softball-sized matzo balls, and potato latkes, knock back a few cream sodas, and you'll be fielding calls from Brian Billick in no time.
As an essential part of the M/O Diet, pizza would seem to be a no-brainer--but the big-as-your-head slices from Angelo's Pizza (3600 Keswick Ave., (410) 235-2595) are in a class by themselves. And why stop at one slice when you can order an entire pie and even have it delivered in one of their specially made super-enormo insulated bags? After you're done wolfing down one of Angelo's surrealistically huge topping-laden masterpieces, save the box and use it to store really big round things in--area rugs, folding tables, Volkswagen Beetles, whatever you got.
Nos. 64 and 75--and all those who long to emulate them--will feel especially home at Andy Nelson's Southern Pit Barbecue (11007 York Road, Cockeysville,  527-1226). Andy Jr. mostly runs the place now, but former football safety Andy Sr. (Baltimore Colts championship years, 1957-'63) can often be found behind the counter. We don't care who waits on us so long as they do it quick--the Andys serve up the best 'cue around, from bodacious pulled pork to slow-cooked Memphis-style ribs. Everything--including truly delectable smoked catfish, available only on Saturdays--is smoked for long hours over hickory logs and then finished with one of the Nelsons' heirloom-recipe barbecue sauces. This is serious barbecue, completely authentic from the giant pig atop the building to the smoke rising from its back.
At Eichenkranz (611 S. Fagley St.,  563-7577), the city's sole remaining German restaurant, it's possible to indulge in straight-up meat and potatoes without the bother of salads, vegetables, or the color green in any form. Go for the wurst plate--knockwurst, bratwurst, and baurenwurst--or the delectable sauerbraten with its savory gingersnap gravy and oxymoronically fluffy, leaden potato dumplings. There are lots of non-Teutonic seafood dishes--the sesame-encrusted orange roughy is particularly fine--but the entire point of visiting Eichenkranz is the hasenpfeffer (rabbit), the schwinkoteletten mit apfeln (pork chops with apples), and the oompah bands that play on Friday nights.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201