Top Ten Uncommon Ethnic Eateries
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)