Cromwell Bridge Road, Towson
Twenty-four-hour joints are few-and far-between around here, which is just one reason to cherish the Bel-Loc Diner (Loch Raven Boulevard and Joppa Road, Towson,  668-2525). Others might be the omelets so big they hang over the plate, the sandwiches and platters, the homemade soups, and the dinners of pork chops and roast turkey and sirloin tips. We eat with one eye peeled on the dessert case, mindful lest they sell the last slice of banana cream pie.
The Crack Pot Seafood Restaurant (8102 Loch Raven Blvd., Towson,  828-1095) has gone a bit wild and crazy lately, with the addition of some unique menu items: specialty crab cakes. Aside from the famed 20-ouncer, the Crack Pot now serves a a blackened cake, an Italian cake, a smokehouse, a Mexican, a Hawaiian, a Caribbean, and a "Cruise Missile" crab cake, fueled by their atomic wing sauce. I don't know when we'll muster the courage to try them, but we can always watch the intrepid while we sit back with a familiar, regulation crab cake, crab fluff, or soft-shell crab.
It's worth visiting Orchard Market & Café (8815 Orchard Tree Lane, Towson,  339-7 700) just to see how a simple storefront can be transformed into something beautiful. Waterfalls and beautiful carpets suspended from the ceiling catch the eye and soften the acoustics; tile and brass and lovely dinnerware complete the picture. But you'll want to stay to sample the outstanding traditional and nouveau Persian cuisine. For appetizers, try the eggplant dip or the portobello and feta. Seafood is always first-class, whether a Persian version of paella (when available) or a simple salmon preparation, and the duck fessenjan is meltingly good.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201