Top Ten Places to Take Tourists (That Aren't Tourist Traps)
This topic reminds me of how I met Marty Katz, the local editor for the Zagat Survey. I was doing a story on Tim and Nina Zagat, who were here promoting their restaurant guide. Marty told me he had interviewed for the job several years ago by taking the Zagats to Charleston, the Greek restaurant Samos, and Kelly's for steamed crabs.
I met them at Cafe Hon in Hampden for breakfast, then we rode in a town car to Faidley's for a mid-morning snack, and I abandoned them at Iggies, where they were having a press lunch.
All those restaurants, clearly, are good places to take tourists, although Cafe Hon is starting to sell so much Hon stuff it's beginning to feel a little bit like a tourist trap.
For the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to assume your friends are visiting for a week. That gives us plenty of time for day trips to Annapolis and Ellicott City: ...
1) Saturday: Your guests arrive. They want to experience Old Baltimore, so you decide to make the trip to Dundalk and the Costas Inn, where they can get steamed crabs and crab cakes.
2) Sunday: You want to avoid the Inner Harbor. You take them to lunch at Mama's on the Half Shell in Canton and then let them explore Harborplace on their own.
3) Sunday night: They want to take you out to a nice (read "expensive") restaurant. You're in the downtown area anyway, so you decide on the Black Olive in Fells Point.
4) Monday: They've seen Hairspray and know about Hampden. You want to show them how little they know. You choose Dogwood for dinner, demonstrating that Baltimore, too, has locavore-friendly restaurants.
5) Tuesday: Nobody's up for a big meal, and they want to see more of Old Baltimore, so you take them to Duda's Tavern in Fells Point for classic Baltimore pub grub.
6) Wednesday: Because you have things to do, you send them to Historic Ellicott City for a day of shopping and exploring on their own. You suggest Tersiguel's, the French restaurant, for a change-of-pace dinner.
7) Thursday: You want to show them the New Baltimore, but they are still craving seafood. You take them to the Blue Sea Grill near Power Plant Live. They can order crab cakes while you get something more exotic.
8) Friday: You manage to get them off their crab cake kick long enough to agree to the Bicycle in Federal Hill, a "global bistro." They are delighted to find a sauteed crab cake with sweet corn emulsion on the menu.
10) Sunday: One last meal before they go. They realize they haven't been to Little Italy yet, and insist on seeing Baltimore's most famous neighborhood, next to Hampden, before they leave. You take them to the newly renovated La Scala.
(2003 photo of Costas Inn by Gene Sweeney Jr./Sun photographer)