Meet Me at the Trough
New No Da Ji · Sushi Chalet · Mughal Garden · Akbar · Bombay Grill · Attman's Authentic New York Delicatessen · The Roost · The Yellow Bowl · Micah's Cafeteria
New No Da Ji (2501 N. Charles St.,  235-4846) and Sushi Chalet (105 N. Charles St.,  625-7811) are all-you-can-eat Korean/sushi joints, bountiful buffets of Asian goodies for the perfect lunchtime gorge. Both locations are operated by the same owners, and the food is identical. You may find tastier Korean chow and more masterful sushi elsewhere, but nowhere else will you encounter the same range (and quantity) of hot Korean and Chinese dishes alongside an enormous spread of maki (rolled sushi). So the décor is bland--who needs atmosphere? These places are all about doing some serious chowing down.
A particular two-block stretch of Mount Vernon is home to three of Baltimore's best Indian restaurants: Mughal Garden (918 N. Charles St.,  547-0001), Akbar (823 N. Charles St.,  539-0944), and Bombay Grill (2 E. Madison St.,  837-2973). One of the best ways to enjoy the varied spices and flavor that together form the complex essence of Indian cookery is to visit these establishments for lunch, when they feature buffets loaded with as many as 18 different dishes, from dal to malai kofta to tandoori chicken, as well as appetizers, rice, and flatbreads. The Bombay Grill is the most atmospheric, Akbar has the best service, and Mughal Garden usually puts out the largest number of chafing dishes full of curry-scented goodies, but the eating is fine at any of these establishments. And the same advice applies for all: Wear loose clothing.
A small, bustling storefront operation, Attman's Authentic New York Delicatessen (1019 E. Lombard St.,  563-2666) has been satisfying Baltimore's cravings for all things kosher since 1915. Attman's is famous for pastrami, baloney-wrapped kosher hot dogs, and above all the special hot corned-beef sandwich. Diners shout their orders over the counter and then carry trays of knishes, matzo-ball soup, and cream sodas next door to founder
Stuart Attman's "Famous Kibbitz Room" to dine under vintage photos and deli memorabilia. Attman's is a tiny and oh-so-enjoyable piece of the Lower East Side right here on Lombard Street--and just try to leave the place hungry.
There are those what'll tell you the crab cake is Baltimore's signature dish. Don't believe 'em. In Mobtown, lake trout rules, and the Roost (5281 Reisterstown Road,  578-0232) rules when it comes to lake trout. At this no-frills Northwest carry-out, $4.95 gets you a mound of tasty fried fish big enough to challenge the hungriest piscivore. Knock it back with hot sauce and white bread, or have some of the delicious (and equally mondo-portioned) chicken or ribs. Save space for some soulful sides and a climactic helping of peach cobbler or sweet-potato pie. Urp.
The Yellow Bowl (1234 Greenmount Ave.,  685-2932) is Baltimore's premier soul-food establishment and as such it has been dishing out barbecue plates and Southern fried chicken for many years. This is serious home cooking in the time-honored tradition, with wonderful homemade biscuits and fragrantly seasoned greens standing out on the lengthy side-order menu. Although the Bowl mostly does carry-out, the dining room jukebox is not to be missed; we can't think of a sweeter way to spend a lunch hour than chowing down a rib-sticking Yellow Bowl platter to the sounds of Motown.
Soul food also simmers at Micah's Cafeteria (5401 Reisterstown Road,  764-9206), where diners graze the long, long, long cafeteria counter full of home-cooked bounty. Portions are generous and prices are small for heaping helpings of short ribs, lake trout, pork chops, or chicken. But true lunchtime bliss comes from the near-endless array of sides: salty, ham-flecked green beans, homemade mashed potatoes, heavenly mac 'n' cheese, and the best cornbread anywhere. One caveat: Don't expect a productive afternoon after an old-fashioned, plowing-the-back-40 lunchtime gorge at Micah's.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201