The main purpose of my dad's visit was for the two of us to go to the PSU vs MD game being played at the Ravens stadium over the weekend. We try to get to at least one Penn State game a season if we can, usually in State College, so it was fun to watch them play away down here. It was a close game and they played pretty terribly but PSU won by 1 point. THANK GOD. Or I probably would have been dealing with a bit of a grump the rest of the weekend!
My dad is a big fan of the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and for several years he's been watching and gathering a list of places he wanted to eat down here. (My parents rarely visit me in Baltimore, thus the list was growing quite long.) There's only so much a person can eat in one weekend so he had to narrow it down to 3 selections. The full list of restaurants in the area featured on the show includes 17 eateries - you can find the full list here - so we've still got a lot of ground to cover when/if my parents ever come back to town. I've eaten at a few of the places myself and a couple years ago took them to the Italian sandwich shop/market Dipasquale's, which my mom loved. Highly recommend that place if you're looking for authentic Italian!
Ok, onto the tour my dad and I completed this weekend, along with my thumbs up or thumbs down rating :)
1. Chaps Pit Beef
Photo via Yelp
This was our first stop for lunch before the game on Saturday. Chaps is located in a very non-picturesque area of East Baltimore, and it shares a parking lot with a strip club. YES Really. So people apparently do not go there for the ambiance! The place is pretty small (kind of shack-like, ha! I'm really setting this up nicely) and has limited seating. When we were there it seemed most people were getting take-out. But we were headed straight to the stadium afterward so we ate there. I really had no idea what 'pit beef' was and was contemplating what to order. I settled on a corned beef on rye and my dad had the pit beef. I haven't had a corned beef sandwich in quite some time so I don't have much of a frame of reference but I thought it was pretty darn good. The meat was sliced very thin and was actually less salty than corned beef usually is.
My dad really liked his sandwich too, as well as the proximity to the gentlemen's club. I KID. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this place AT ALL but if you are in the mood for a giant meat sandwich, then by all means hit it up!
My Rating: Thumbs Up
2. Jimmy's Famous Seafood
Our second stop was for dinner after the game. It was pretty late by the time we got out (SO MUCH traffic) and made it to Jimmy's Famous Seafood. This place is also not in the most picturesque of locations. It is located in East Baltimore as well, near Dundalk. I knew what I was going to order before we even arrived - their world famous crab cakes. Baltimore is full of restaurants that boast the best crab cakes in the city, and I've had some at other places before, so I was eager to see how these stacked up. I ordered a side salad as well. My dad got a salad and some kind of chicken topped with cheese dish?! I don't recall the name of it and since it contains two foods that I thoroughly dislike and/or avoid I didn't sample any! My order of crab cakes included two 8 oz broiled cakes. Luckily, the waiter checked and they do not contain any dairy. They just use a little mayo and egg to hold them together. Almost the entirety of the cakes are lump crab. They were pretty excellent! Definitely in the top 5 crab cakes I've eaten. They were also huge (hard to tell from the pic). So I basically ate 16oz of crabmeat at 9pm that evening!
My Rating: Thumbs Up
3. Blue Moon Café
Photo via Yelp
This was our 3rd and final stop over the weekend, and the most highly anticipated. Blue Moon Café consistently has exceptional user reviews and is located in Fells Point, where I used to work. For years, I had walked and driven past this breakfast spot and always seen a line of people waiting outside, in all weather conditions. Yet, I had never eaten there. I wondered what all the hype was about, but since I don't do dairy, I'm not really a breakfast person. Alas, this was one of the places my dad was really looking forward to. They don't take reservations, so when we arrived at 11:30am on Sunday morning, we had to put our name on a list that was already at least 25 people long and they estimated and hour and a half wait for us! The restaurant is located in a traditional Baltimore row home, meaning it's small and skinny. It only housed about 9 or 10 tables total! Hence the constant wait.
Luckily for us the Fells Point Fun Festival was going on over the weekend, so we were able to waste some time walking around browsing the food and vendor stands in the square. When we finally arrived back around 12:45pm, the staff told us they had actually called our name twice already while we were gone! It seems they were ahead of schedule. So we had to wait another 20 mins or so and then finally snagged a table (it's tiny but very cute inside!).
The café is famous for their Captain Crunch French Toast, which is what I was hoping to get. I know French toast is traditionally made with milk or cream, but I was hoping they could make a batch without. I asked the waitress if they could, but sadly they could not :( So the French toast was a no-go. I'm often able to make special orders at restaurants, but since this place was so crowded and had such a wait, I guess it makes sense they don't have time to do that. So, I ended up ordering an egg and bacon sandwich on rye toast with a side of fruit. My dad put in an order for his all-time favorite breakfast food: cream chipped beef. I have no idea what that even is because it looks like a dairy nightmare! HA
When the food arrived we were anticipating GREAT things, especially after waiting for nearly 2 hours! Sadly, upon my dad's first bite into his breakfast, he became immediately disappointed. He said it was probably one of the worst cream chipped beef dishes he'd ever had! Lumpy gravy with scarcely any meat. My sandwich was ok/fine, but it's hard to mess up a plain egg sandwich! This is something I can order anywhere and they can't screw up. It's a shame this place didn't live up to the hype and we waited for hours to get in. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. I do still wish I had been able to try the Captain Crunch French Toast though!
My Rating: Thumbs Down
And there you have it. All in all a pretty masculine weekend of meat, more meat and football. HAHA I was craving a workout and a salad like NO ONE's business on Monday. It was really fun to have my dad in town though. I mean I know Baltimore is not the most stunning of locations, but I wish more people would visit me instead of the other way around. Who wants to come next?!
Have a great week!
Have you dined at any restaurants featured on the Food Network in your city? Or a city you were visiting?