Harford Road, Northeast Baltimore / Parkville
They've added some decorative touches of late, but insidewhere it countsKoco's Grill (4301 Harford Road,  426-3519) is pretty much the same. There's a printed menu now instead of a chalkboard, but the crab cake is still a stunner: softball-sized, juicy, packed with luscious crab and tremendous taste. The almost-as-famous Koco Burger (topped with ham, bacon, and cheese) awaits meat fans.
If you've never tasted an authentic Persian kabob, waste no time in getting to House of Kabob (8025 Harford Road,  663-0211) for an education in how succulent those cubes of tenderloin, lamb, and chicken can be. Wrap them in the just-made flat bread, eat them with saffron-scented basmati rice, but don't overlook the national stews (koresh). Our favorite is fessenjan, chicken in a dark sauce made with crushed walnuts and pomegranate juice. Go on Sundays to soak up the sounds of Farsi being spoken by large families enjoying the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Expect the usual (a terrific pad Thai) and the not-so-usual (duck, squid) at Chokchai Thai Food (6620 Harford Road,  426-3244), the little storefront that could. The trappings aren't glamorous, but who cares when the curries are this sublime, the soups so subtly seasoned with cilantro and lemon grass, the service so quick and good? Grab one of the half-dozen tables or call ahead for a take-home feast.
Valentino's Restaurant and Carryout (6627 Harford Road,  254-4700) is Northeast Baltimore's open-all-night emporium. (We've never seen it empty at any hour.) Whether you take a drag in the front room or sit in the nonsmoking rear (hung with photos of the restaurant's eponymous silent-screen heartthrob), you can choose from a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, soups, and daily specials. We're especially fond of the fried trout. And if you can walk by the dessert case unfazed, we salute you.
Crab cakes are a very personal thing, but if there's such a thing as a crab-cake consensus in this burg, it coalesces around Angelina's (7135 Harford Road,  444-5545), perennial winner of our Best of Baltimore Readers Poll in the category. Angelina's cakes are something to behold (if you don't mind paying the handsome price to do the beholding), but this Irish/Italian institution does have other offerings, with an emphasis on hearty homemade soups and fresh seafood and pastas.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201