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May 13, 2008

Top Ten Uncommon Ethnic Eateries

CarlyleClub1.jpgWe've done Top Ten Thai and Top Ten Irish; this list is to give a nod to the ethnic restaurants that we don't have many examples of in the Baltimore area.

I liked the expression "ethnic eateries" because of the alliteration, but when you look at the list you'll see that most of these aren't the holes in the wall that "eateries" suggests. 

Many of you serious restaurant goers have already been to all of these, I'm sure. It would be fun if some of you who don't know these places would visit each of them -- a sort global tour of Baltimore restaurants. And then, of course, let us know what you think.

Here's the list: ... 

* Babalu Grill (Cuban). Try the dishes that are from owner Steve de Castro's family recipes like the arroz con pollo with saffron rice, sweet peas and roasted peppers.

* Baltimore Pho (Vietnamese). In the interest of geographical diversity, I want to also mention An Loi and Pho Dat Thanh in Columbia, both good. But I went to Baltimore Pho more recently and really liked it.                                                                        

* Carlyle Club (Lebanese). As you can see from the photo, it's a bit dressier than some of the other places on this list, and a very nice setting for dishes like green lentil soup with Swiss chard and lamb seared with lemon and herbs.

* Dukem (Ethiopian). A branch of the well-regarded restaurant in DC. Of course, you'll have a selection of stews and other dishes on the bread/plate called injera. Let your server be your guide if you're indecisive.

* El Trovador (Salvadoran). It's confusing because the Web site bills this as a Mexican restaurant, but you'll find plenty of authentic Salvadoran dishes on the menu. It got a "Best Bite" recently from Happy Eater Rob.

* Helmand (Afghan). Just because everyone knows about the Helmand and it appears often on these lists, doesn't mean it can be omitted when you're talking about Uncommon Ethic Eateries. Where else are you going to get aushak and sabzy challow?

* La Cazuela, 1718 Eastern Ave., Upper Fells Point, 410-522-9485. A fresh, cheerful little restaurant that serves Ecuadorean home cooking. A typical dish is churrasco, a delicious but paper-thin piece of steak flanked by two fried eggs, rice, crisp fries, tomatoes and avocado.

* Nam Kang, 2126 Maryland Ave. 410-685-6237 (Korean) For decades Baltimoreans have gone here for traditional dishes like  bulgogi and bibimbap. A specialty is hot pots. Nam Kang is also good to know about because it's open until 4 a.m. Yes, that's not a typo.

* Orchard Market & Cafe (Persian). It's hard to find, but worth the trouble, with dishes like duck fesenjune and dried plum lamb. The menu is divided into "innovative" and classic Persian dishes. Both are good. BYOB.

* Ze Mean Bean (Eastern European). The Bean is a funky combination of New American cuisine and homey Slavic dishes like potato dumplings with kielbasa. And you can't beat the Thursday Slavic night special: borscht and a pierogi or holupki (cabbage rolls) dinner for $9.95.


(Andre F. Chung/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:07 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


EL, your link for Orchard takes us to the dreaded Kate's mom blog's pizza post. A mistake or...

Clearly Editor Kate's doing. I fixed it. Thanks. EL

I ate last summer at Babalu Grill, and was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a tourist trap with bad food, but the service was pleasant (if a tad informal), the food was good and the prices weren't totally unreasonable.

I'd go back, but I'm having trouble convincing Baltimoreans to set foot in that complex.

The simple BYOB at the end of the Orchard Market & Cafe's description is much appreciated. Will the addition of this factoid continue on this blog when applicable? I like it.

I'm not sure why you decided to include the addresses for about half of your top 10 and not for the other half.

Those are the ones that don't have hyperlinks to Web sites that give all the info. I'm moving fast here, RoCK. EL

Does anyone know what happened to Baltimore's other Afghan restaurant, the Silk Road, that used to be on Charles Street (pretty close to Ban Thai, if I recall correctly)?

My theory is that it's like Spanish restaurants and Tio Pepe. The Helmand is such a favorite every other restaurant serving that cuisine suffers by comparison and eventually closes. EL

What about Salsa Grill in Woodlawm? It's in a grotty strip mall across from Fox Chevrolet. But their selection of South American food is great. All fresh-cooked, good-size servings and not too expensive.

I can't imagine a list list like this without including Rinconcito Puerano in upper Fell's Point. That's my go-to place.

Which one would you substitute it for and what do you recommend there? EL

My bf worked at the salsa grill for over five years and speaks very highly of the food, service, owner and cooks. Haven't been there yet but am looking forward to going there.

I know this is an older top ten list but I just found it and have to add House of Kabob on Harford Rd. The food is always excellent, reasonably priced and the lamb kabobs (if you go for lamb) are tender and to die for.

Hi Elizabeth, thanks for mentioning us on the great list! Could you link our website? Thanks!!

Baltimore Pho family

Will do. EL

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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