In a city of ever-increasing dining options, deciding where and what to eat can become a luxury problem. I keep a running list of my fallback options, the comforting standbys I order when I am too hungry to think. The steak pho from Vietnamese food stall Mekong Delta downtown. The spinach pie at Pepe’s up Falls. The rotisserie chicken from Chachi’s with lots of dipping sauce.
I was curious to hear about places — and dishes — that Baltimoreans find themselves returning to again and again. Perhaps the staff recognize your face and know your order by heart; maybe they even start preparing it when you walk in the door.
So I went to Twitter (I refuse to call it X) with a simple question. I asked readers to tell me about a place they could eat up to 10 times a month and “still not be sick of.”
Much to my delight, I received hundreds of responses.
At first I tried copying every response from Twitter into a spreadsheet, with grand plans to analyze the most popular responses. This became unwieldy, and seemingly unnecessary, when it was clear that Ekiben was the clear favorite, receiving nearly 30 mentions — nearly 10% of all replies. No other restaurant came close.
“[W]e have to convince ourselves *not* to order more than 1x/week,” wrote one user. Another: “[W]hen i lived in Fells i think i actually *did* have tofu brah + tempura broccoli from Ekiben for dinner ten times a month.” Many commenters specifically cited the restaurant’s Neighborhood Bird, a curry fried chicken thigh that can come in either a sweet bun or rice bowl. Fortunately for Baltimoreans, Ekiben now has three branches in the city ― Fells Point, Hampden and Locust Point — to get your fill.
It was no surprise the answers included some enduring Baltimore dining institutions, such as Mount Vernon’s Helmand. Readers love the legendary Afghan eatery’s kaddo borwani, veggie mantwo, sabzy challow, “or the whole menu actually,” as more than one person put it. Nearby, Sammy’s Trattoria keeps crowds coming back with rigatoni alla vodka, veal parm and clams in white sauce while Little Italy stalwart Sabatino’s has us scarfing down their classic Bookmaker salad.
Italian sandwiches are a comfort food category onto their own. Two people recommended the Scooch at Luigi’s Italian Deli in Hampden while another two swear by Trinacria on Paca Street. “I ate there at least once a week during law school days,” commented one. Brewers Hill staple DiPasquale’s (formerly of Highlandtown) has plenty of fans. “Honestly, any sandwich from DiPasquales. The meatball sub? *chefs kiss*” And let’s not forget Isabella’s Brick Oven in Little Italy.
Who can ever get tired of pizza? For pies, one oft-cited source is Paulie Gee’s in Hampden. The restaurant’s “Dollop Parton,” with cashew ricotta, “has my life in a chokehold,” wrote one. Verde and Johnny Rad’s each got multiple mentions as well.
Greek restaurateurs have made their mark on Baltimore’s dining scene in a big way, as have dishes like the grilled octopus or Greek salad at Samos and the lamb giuvetsi at Ikaros. “Melts in your mouth! With a side of Horta (boiled curly endive with lemon & olive oil). #ToDieFor,” wrote one.
Two Mexican taquerias — Clavel, an upscale destination in Old Goucher, and Cocina Luchadoras, a fast-casual joint in Fells Point — got lots of love in my Twitter responses for their delicious tacos and, in the case of Cocina Luchadoras, corn tortilla quesadillas, which one reader described as “ridiculously good and big enough for 2 meals.” For pupusas, readers like Mi Comalito in Old Goucher, specifically pupusas revueltas “with extra cabbage.” Chicken at Kong Pocha, whether fried or in curry form, is a hit as well.
Perennial favorite The Food Market in Hampden has also won over foodies with dishes such as fried pickles, sea bass and cream of crab soup. “I could eat a cup of the Food Market’s cream of crab soup every day. ‘Best in these parts’ on the menu is not an exaggeration,” one wrote. Another Avenue eatery, Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, satisfies for coddies, burgers and fish and chips.
We can’t talk about favorite foods in Baltimore without mentioning crab cakes and pit beef. Readers can’t get enough of the platters from Koco’s Pub, a favorite of Mayor Brandon Scott. But Pappas Seafood Co. is no slouch, either, while Chaps Pit Beef serves up some of readers’ favorite sandwiches.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (so they say) and readers get theirs at Kitsch, Dooby’s and Miss Shirley’s, where commenters say the chicken and green onion waffles never miss.
For burgers, readers think you can’t go wrong with Sally O’s, The Royal Blue, Wicked Sisters or pop-up Fuzzies Burgers.
A few other places that received at least two or more mentions in my responses: Alma Cocina Latina, Attman’s Delicatessen, Big Bad Wolf’s House of Barbeque, Blacksauce Kitchen, BRD, Cafe 1908, Chef Bobby D, Chiyo Sushi, Taquería El Sabor del Parque, Frazier’s on the Avenue (“I do eat at Frazier’s 10x a month,” wrote one commenter), Gunther and Co., Himalayan House, iBar, JBGB’s, Joe Squared, Le Comptoir du Vin and The Local Fry (which someone says offers “a dish for everyone. Simple. Quick. Delicious”).
We’ve also got: Loch Bar, Marie Louise Bistro, Mayuree Thai Tavern and Mera Kitchen Collective — check out their falafel. Other faves include Mi & Yu Noodle Bar, Mystic Burrito, Neopol Savory Smokery, NiHao, On the Hill Cafe, Papi’s Tacos, Pete’s Grille and Petit Louis Bistro. “I’m French so I could have Petit Louis’ Civilized Lunch everyday or 10x a month if it were half its already good price ($35 for a 3 course meal),” wrote one reader, adding: “I have been to Petit Louis 3x in a week once.”
Last but not least, we have Pho Bac, Soup’s On, Wet City, and finally, Wiley Gunter’s, which has, according to one commenter, has the “absolute best elevated bar food and great beer selection.
Don’t see your favorite spot above? Shoot me an email with a description of your most-ordered menu item.