« I'll have the healthful soft ice cream, please | Main | A couple of bonus restaurants »

September 23, 2008

Top 10 restaurants in a strip mall

Aidab.jpgI can see you asking, "Why do we care whether a restaurant is located in a strip mall?"

For several reasons. First, there are hidden gems here. If you didn't know they were good, you might overlook them because of the location.

Second, it gives me a chance to highlight some restaurants in the 'burbs that aren't chains.

Third, you don't have to worry about parking.

These are just the ones I know about. If you have other suggestions, please post below. (And tell us why you like them.)

Here's my list, in alphabetical order: ...

* Aida Bistro in Columbia. Italian food, small plates and a wine bar. $$

* Asean Bistro in Columbia. Pan-Asian food. $$

* Christopher Daniel in Timonium. New American with a martini lounge. $$$

* Cynthia's in Severna Park. Seasonal New American cuisine. $$$

* Grace Garden in Odenton. Gets votes for most authentic Chinese in the area. $

* House of India in Columbia. Casual Indian. $$

* Mia Carolina in Glyndon. Recently renovated, with northern Italian food. $$$

* Orchard Market & Cafe in Towson. Contemporary and traditional Persian cuisine. $$

* Shin Chon (8801 Baltimore National Pike) in Ellicott City. Korean barbecue. $$

* Trattoria Alberto in Glen Burnie. Fine-dining northern Italian food. $$$$


(Andre F. Chung/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:21 AM | | Comments (71)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


I'm not complaining, but look at all those $-signs. Interesting. And you have a 4-$. Memory fails me when you last had a Sunday review of a 4-$.

(BTW: when Grace Garden had the blog all a twitter, a website, with menu and pictures, was included.)

The reason you can't remember is that I don't do dollar signs in my reviews. Instead I list the range of dinner appetizer and entree prices. EL

EL -- here's a link for the Grace Garden website.

Thanks! EL

Fazzini's Italian Kitchen- 578 Cranbrook Rd
Cockeysville, MD 21030

This place has homemade pasta. If you get the pound of pasta and pick your favorite sauce you will be eating for days to come!

My votes would be for El Salto on Ritchie Highway in Brooklyn Park and Cinco de Mayo Taqueria y Panderia on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie.

They're both authentic Mexican, but they have very different methods of preparation, which shows the diversity and possibility of what's available compared with, say, Don Pablo's or Chevy's.

Hunan Rose in a strip shopping center in Odenton is one of the best Chinese restaurants I have ever been to. We've gone for almost twenty years and the service and food is consistent and excellent.

Went to Grace Garden for the first time last weekend. Tough to find, but wow, was it worth it. Had the shrimp balls and tofu pockets.


We had the whole place to ourselves at 12:30pm. As we were leaving, we asked the very friendly family member when the crowd comes in. She said not to worry, the Baltimore crowd usually shows up around 1pm. Sure enough, as we were heading out, several cars pulled up and people the place was filled in minutes.

Can't wait to get back to try more goodies...

Pasta Plus in Laurel. Located in a deserted little strip of shops at the intersection of 198 and route 1 this place doesn't look like much from the outside but the food tastes great and is a great bargain. Most of the pasta is homemade as is the sauce, the pizza is terrific, and the desserts are to die for. They don't take reservations so the lines are usually out the door but that's OK for us we usually order carryout.

Pasta Plus? PASTA PLUS!!!

Good list… this seems like a perfect fit for Artful Gourmet in Owings Mills…

Bouala's in Nottingham has great Thai food in a strip mall.

Question - What do you do when you see a mouse running across the dining room floor? I was in a restaurant recently reviewed here and at the end of our meal noticed the little creature scurrying about.

I mean no disrespect but:
Why would anyone order a pound of pasta? Do you think this "good idea" might be there are so many fat people in Maryland and elsewhere? Why can't a restaurant give an entree that isn't taking up the entire plate?

Italian Bistro in North Plaza Mall is my pick (Joppa Road by Perring Pkwy). Their food is great, although a bit pricey. I suspect we are paying for all of the restaurant's renovations and decor. I remember when the owner was in the food court at White Marsh Mall and the chicken Marsala was under $10!

Chopstix Gourmeet Sushi Bar in Perry Hall (5002 Honeygo Center Drive) They have fantastic sushi, and Chinese meals. Everything is cooked to perfection and is very affordable, Not to mention that the decor is gorgeous.

Sizzling Bombay in Bel Air.

The food is almost always good, the service is fast and unobtrusive, and the owners work hard to make you feel at home. It's one of our favorite restaurants.

Please, please, please. I have to request that you cease from telling people about Orchard Market. It's a true gem, one which most of us are unwilling to share...

I was about to say Fazzini's as well -- that was our favorite place to eat in college.

I don't know if it's there any more, but Pasta Plus in Laurel was my favorite. It is/was in a small strip where Rte. 1 splits where it crosses Rte. 198. To give you an idea: Their interpretation of fried mozzarella was two slices of fresh mozzarella, each about 3/8" thick and the size of a playing card, breaded and fried, then napped with an anchovy butter sauce. Definitely different and yummy! For an entreé, I would always get the tortellini aurora (a cream tomato sauce). I don't remember what my husband would get. As for price, if my husband liked it it couldn't have been more than two $$'s.

Jalepenos in Annapolis.
One of the best Spanish-Mexican places I have ever eaten at.

RtSo, that 4-$ spot, Trattoria Alberto, was very much worth the money a couple of years ago, which is the only time I was there. I don't remember what either of us had, but I do remember that it was very good and the service was prompt and there but did not in the least intrude upon the conversation.

I second Fazzini's Italian Kitchen. Pasta Fazzini is my husbands favorite.

Jalapenos Annapolis West End, not far from the Annapolis Mall, Route 50 and Route 2. Adjacent to Festival at Riva Road, between a Christian book store and Country Buffet near Home Depot.

A Spanish-Mexican restaurant owned and operated by a native of Spain.

Popular, reservations highly recommended. $$$
All major credit cards

Lunch daily except Sunday. Dinner nightly.

Have to second Chris on the Artful Gourmet! One of my favorite places!

Joe Blow-Why would anyone order a pound of pasta? For Leftovers of course! Plus, they make their own pasta.

I also forgot to mention Los Amigos, in Hamiltown

India Palace in Cockeysville

Parsa Kabob in Cockeysville (Yorktown Shopping Center)

China Moon in Reisterstown

Schezuan Inn in Severna Park would be a nice addition to the list.

Always found the Bamboo House in Cockeysville a nice place to eat. Food is good, moderately priced, and the service is always excellent. Forget about the bar area.

Salsa Grill
6644 Security Boulevard
Gwynn Oak, MD 21207

Authentic Peruvian Cuisine, mis amigos!

Living in Howard County I agree on Asean Bistro and House of India, both are very good despite the outward appearance of their store fronts.

Also, if our "Village Centers" count as strip malls, Luna Bella in the Hickory Ridge village center is a great little Italian Place in Columbia.

Have to agree about Pasta Plus. Outstanding Italian food. It has been what my husband calls my "comfort food" for years. I love it!

Los Portales on Aviation Blvd near BWI has authentic Mexican -- tastes good and the price is right. Another hidden gem is Pazani Trattoria on Marshalee Drive in Elkridge. Can be hard to find if you don't know the area, but the Italian is very good - far beyond what you'd expect in a strip mall.

Pho #1 in Westview - reasonable and super yummy Vietnamese.

Dont forget to mention Amer's Cafe in the Belair Beltway Plaza on Belair Rd--for great pizza. Also Pasta Mista on Dulaney Valley Rd in Dulaney Plaza Shopping Ctr for the tomato & mozz stuffed bread.

Vito's Cafe in Cockeysville

What about Jumbo Seafood?

Four Seasons at the Village at Waugh Chapel in Gambrills is a favorite. It has a Mediterranean approach to its menu with mac and cheese and crab thrown in for good measure. Its related Italian restaurant, Pomo Grille, on Route 450 in Bowie, is equally good and has remarkably low prices. The Vietnam noodle place on 450 in Crofton behind Rita's is in a genuinely tacky strip--tatoo parlor, pool supplies, used goods store, barber shop, mattress store-- but the food is great--wonderful fried rice. The Thai place in the center next door is a nice step up as is Allison's--a really good American food place.

I second Vito's in Cockeysville. Key point: it's BYOB.

Also, I can confirm that Pasta Plus remains at the top of its game.

Christopher's in Crofton. Very creative and unique dishes, and never a disappointment.

Sushi Ichiban in Towson Marketplace. Above average sushi AND above average Chinese in the same hidden around the corner spot.

Mamma Lucia in Columbia at the Gateway Overlook is an excellent Italian restaurant.

Kloby’s Smokehouse on Montpelier Rd. in Laurel has the best BBQ in the Baltimore area.

Here's another vote for Pasta Plus in Laurel as being a very good Italian restaurant.

21224--there is a fine line between talking up a restaurant and keeping it a secret. We don't want the Orchard Market to be such a well-kept secret that it goes out of business, do we?

What about Fortunato Bros. in the shopping center on York Road at the city line? They've got a brilliant tomato bread.

What about Italian Gardens at Kenilworth Mall? Good food @ good prices. Takeout / eat-in. Very family friendly too. My brother swears by their sausage pizza and their onion rings are really good.

Fazzini's is very good and the pound of pasta is a bargain. Lots of folks can handle a pound of pasta; the key to maintaining your weight and eating lots of good food is exercise, exercise and lots of sleep.

Bangkok Delight - Columbia
Sushi King - Columbia

Both are amazing - best sushi at Sushi King with exception of Sushi Sono with same owners

Mamie's Cafe in Beards Hill Plaza in Aberdeen.

Great home cooking, and great prices. Their meals INCLUDE your choice of homemade dessert. And the place is full of old knick-knacks and pictures. And Mamie works the floor!

I'm glad to see so many comments on Pasta Plus in Laurel. I've probably eaten there 100 times over the years and only once did I have a meal I would call so-so. The food is always fresh and service is terrific. The owner or his brother are almost always there to oversee things and provide a warm greeting. It's far superior to the places in Little Italy. Many "fancy" restuarants could learn a lot about quality and service by visiting this place.

Pasta Blitz - 49 W. Aylesbury Rd. in Timonium.
Fantastic salads, pizza, subs & of course, pasta. One entree & a salad is enough for 2 to split. BYOB

One entree & a salad is enough for 2 to split.

Which seems ridiculous to me. Why not make the serving sizes suitable for one person?

Second the vote for Trattoria Alberto' is pricey but well worth it. The food is terrific, on a par with most of the downtown/Harbor East eateries. Plus the service is excellent.

Perring Place on Perring Parkway offers a traditional Maryland menu that is almost a throwback to the type of restaurant last seen in Baltimore in the 1950s and 1960s.

Bangkok Kitchen in Odenton has fantastic, affordable Tai food. This little "hole in the wall" on route 175 is well worth the trip. .

Thanks, MarieB, forgot about Amer's Cafe. I can get good subs and pizza anywhere, but ain't noplace else with Egyptian specialties--YUM!

I'll drive up to Fazzini's on fairly regular basis. It, along with the Target, form the basis of my suburban pilgrimages.

My only beef with Fortunato Bros. is the use of canned mushrooms. That's awful close to an un-forgivable sin in my house.

Pho Nam in the Potomac area. Outside looks terrible but the food is excellent. We usually take a drive once a month (it's worth the drive). If you like noodles, meat, and broth, this is right up your alley. Perfect for those chilly fall/winter days.

There's also a Pho Nam near the Babies R Us on Rte 40 on the way to Ellicott City from Baltimore. Great stock, which is essential.

Bangkok Delight and Sushi King in Columbia are worthy enough for this list. They're really up there with Asean Bistro with excellent food and perfectly nice interiors.

21224--there is a fine line between talking up a restaurant and keeping it a secret. We don't want the Orchard Market to be such a well-kept secret that it goes out of business, do we?

Perhaps not too much of a chance of that, since they have an ad in the Ravens 2008 yearbook that I just got in the mail.

I'll third Sushi King in Columbia. Their Spicy Grill Roll is really delish, and I would love to find something similar closer to my new home in the city. Also, the people there are so sweet! Fantastic service.

I'll also nominate El Azteca on 108 near 32 in River Hill. Their margaritas are to die for, and they have a mariachi band on Sundays. Everything is super fresh, and delicious.

Perring Place is still there?
That was a go-to place when you REALLY wanted to impress a date back in my high school days.

"There's also a Pho Nam near the Babies R Us on Rte 40 on the way to Ellicott City from Baltimore. Great stock, which is essential." Volker - are you implying that Babies R Us has anything to do with the great stock or is that just a directional thing?

Salsa Grill ... A must for anyone who has a craving for authentic Spanish-Latin American food. Savory Paella, Empanada de Carne (beef pie with beef, cilantro, egg and Spanish spices.), Empanada de Espinaca (spinach pie), and chocolate roll cake to die for! Abundant menu and portions, moderately priced, very personable staff and owner (Jay), good service and cozy ambiance.

Salsa Grill, 6644 Security Boulevard Gwynn Oak, MD 21207, Ph: 410.265.5552, Email:


on york road in the strip next to the towson diner...its more of a eat by yourself or take out place but that is some of the BEST chicken in all of baltimore.

ate at bangkok delight last night due to a) the comments in this post b)yearning for thai that never subsides

must say...really excellent place. wow. service, interior, food, prices...excellent spot & plenty of parking!

ate at bangkok delight last night due to a) the comments in this post b)yearning for thai that never subsides

must say...really excellent place. wow. service, interior, food, prices...excellent spot & plenty of parking!

Link spam at 9:03 PM! (Another series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Link spam at 11:01 PM! (Another series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Link spam at 10:12 PM! (Another series of shills for an alleged lender.)

Link spam at 1:29 PM! (Another very uninteresting series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Link spam at 12:34 AM! (Another series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

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.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected