« Brownbagging it | Main | Reflections on being home at last »

October 7, 2008

Top 10 Old Baltimore restaurants that aren't institutions...yet


This week's Top 10 takes a little more in the way of explanation than usual. These are Old Baltimore restaurants that haven't reached the status of Institution, Icon or Landmark yet, and maybe never will. But they are part of the area's eating-out history.

You've maybe forgotten about them if you've lived around here a long time. Then someone mentions one and you think, "Oh, yeah, we used to eat there with Uncle Larry."

It doesn't count if the cuisine is something new-fangled like Asian, so we can't include the Orient in Towson, in spite of Anonymous' compelling argument.

These are places where the spiced apple ring garnish is not out of place.

There were other good suggestions that had the right feel to them but are too much on our radar to be considered "forgotten" restaurants, such as Suburban House, G & M, and even Ikaros. I've left off crab houses, too, because that's a whole different category.

I thought dcdiva's description really captured what we're looking for here:

I think of the Candle Light Inn in Catonsville as the ultimate old restaurant. It's been around since 1925 and is one of those places your prom date will take you for beef wellington and 80 year olds go for their anniversary parties.

Many of these I haven't been to in years, so if some of you argued that they have gone downhill, or been sold and changed (I know Angelina's is going for more fine dining than in the past), I didn't include them.

Other suggestions welcome. Here's my list: ...

* Burke's Restaurant and Cafe downtown. Giant sandwiches and famous fried onion rings.

* Candlelight Inn in Catonsville. See above.

* Eastern House in Highlandtown. Home cooking with a Greek accent. Open Christmas day!

* Eichenkranz Restaurant in Highlandtown. German, American and Italian fare.

* Frazier's in Hampden. A quintessential Hampden restaurant before Hampden restaurants became chic and upscale (Dogwood, Suzie's Soba, Woodberry Kitchen).

* Kibby's in West Baltimore. Best known for its shrimp salad and its soft crab sandwich.

* Michael's Steak & Lobster House in Bayview. Home of the 40-ounce steak dinner for under $20.

* Peppermill in Lutherville. You will probably be the youngest person eating there, but the American cuisine is fine.

* Perring Place in Parkville. Reliably good food at decent prices.

* Sunset Restaurant in Glen Burnie. My nomination as the successor to Haussner's. (OK, without the art collection.)

(Photo of Kibby's shrimp salad by Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun photographer)



Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:31 AM | | Comments (85)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


How could you forget Pappas Restaurant at the corner of Taylor Ave and Oakleigh Road? They've got the best crabcakes in Bawlmer, hon!

I think all together you have a good list, EL. I'd actually forgotten about a couple of the places (Perring Place and Kibby's), so you really did find "forgotten" places. I just don't feel as passionately about Burkes. I know it's unfair because I've only been there one time but it's the only time in my life that I left a restaurant without tipping because the service was abysmal. I usually give a restaurant a few chances before it gets scratched off the list "permanantly" but not in this case. 30 years later I still remember the attitude of the waitress we had that night which was only exceeded by her own ineptitude.

Woodberry Kitchen is in Hampden???

I will confess that I have never been to any of your top ten today. But then, I didn't grow up around here and I don't have an Uncle Larry.

They call it Woodberry/Hampden. EL


Forgotten? I don't recall ever being in The Peppermill when it's NOT busy. (Try getting a table there on Mother's Day.) I think of it more as good food and strong drinks for the 50+ crowd.

"East Baltimore" is an unnecessarily general description of Eastern House's location. It's right smack on the commercial strip in "downtown" Highlandtown.

It was late and I didn't want to disturb you to find out the correct neighborhood when I wrote this. :-) EL

One thing I noticed regarding our forgotten restaurants is that none have a link to a web site, having been in existence long before the World Wide Web.

Let's do the time warp again...

It was more that I was still on vacation, a bit jet lagged and it was late. But what you said was my excuse. EL

This list sounds like "places your parents really love to go to but you always come home with a headache." To this list I would add Snyder's (just off the Beltway in Lansdowne). Where, the last time we ate, our waitress actually informed us she'd be right back with our drinks - just as soon as she went to the ladies' room....ewww......

Twenty-five years ago the Sunset had great food. They had the best Cream of Crab soup (with a hint or two of Sherry) and the Stuffed Tomato Shrimp and Tuna salads.

Are these things still on the menu? Are they still as good as they used to be?

Great list EL! I have very fond memories of Kibby' mom and grandmother used to take me there when I was a kid. I always loved the shrimp salad and gushing over the delicious desserts in the refrigerated case as you walked in the front door.

The Valley Inn on Falls Road may also make this list.

Definitely. Unfortunately I forgot all about it. EL

Another forgotten restaurant is the Double T Diner (various locations, but I frequented Catonsville and Ellicott City). There's certainly nothing newfangled or fancy about it, just good solid food and lots of it, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don't live in the Baltimore area any more, and we don't have anything like it here, much to my regret!

The Valley Inn on Falls Road may also make this list.

I've driven by there so many times but have never eaten there. It looks like a lovely little place form the outside. I'll have to make a point of going there soon.

Delete Burke's from the list. It has gone downhill in a major way. Both in food quality and definitely in service.

How about the Poplar Dundalk some love.

Valley Inn! I think my 80-ish mother and her friends still go there. You can get "home-cooked" food and strong drinks.

Also, you mentioned Suburban House, but did we ever talk about it?

Good call on Kibby's, but I still think Club 4100 ought to be on here.

I would agree with The Fraziers pick if we were talking about the long gone 33rd Street location but Fraziers on the Avenue - ick!

The Sunset still has great cream of crab soup and the absolute best strawberry short cake dessert which can not be eaten by just one person after a wonderful meal. The atmosphere is very nice and they do have art in the bar.

How about Tall Oaks in Pasadena (right off Ft. Smallwood Rd)? When I was a kid it was a treat to drive all the way down from South Baltimore to the "country" just to have dinner!!

I used to love to go to the lounge at Johnny U's Golden Arm on York Rd. Not being from Baltimore, I was very confused by the name. I thought it meant he was a heroin addict (See classic Frank Sinatra movie The Man with the Golden Arm.) Little did I know that he was some sort of football player. It had a lost-in-time quality that I found relaxing. My favorite part was the mural behind the bar of him playing with a football on a field and another larger shadowy visage of him overlooking the same scene, like his spirit guide or conscience. I found it breathtakingly metaphysical. And they had a Gamay Beaujolais at Happy Hour.

I remember the nurtured decrepitude of the Eichenkranz's interior - the dark dining room, the smell of your grandfather's burnt Pall Malls oozing from the dark wood fixtures, mmm ... delightful. Then I took some hipster doofus friends there a few years ago after raving about the place and found that they had "renovated" it. Mein Gott im Himmel! What a shock. The dining room was now lit with harsh fluorescent lights better suited to a gynecologists office and the wood was all gone, replaced with garish wallpaper. The Weimar ambiance was destroyed and we bolted (after having some delicious dark beers at the bar).

Off the cuff I can think of Snyders Willow Grove...

Also, Paul's Restaurant in Arbutus and King's Contrivance ( in Howard County. King's Contivance is elegant and priced right (if you get the prix fix menu). The one drawback is they are always closed on my birthday, July 3rd :-(.

two words - Valley Inn !

Steward, the Cream of Crab (and also the Cream of Shrimp) are still there at the Sunset Restaurant. WITH the Sherry, if you look over 21! The stuffed tomatoes are there for Lunch, but just as good as 20 years ago. And (Relatively speaking) the prices are still not terrible.

To answer Steward's question, the Sunset is still pretty terrific -- a time warp back to when service was professional, noise was muted, polished wood gleamed and the food was consistent. We're especially fond of lunch at the Sunset. From an outstanding prime rib sandwich to chunky chicken salad to monthly wine-by-the-glass specials, the prices are surprisingly modest for what you get.

The oil on canvas above the Sunset's bar is as risky as any of Haussner's. Order a Old Fashion, nibble on the free port-wine "swirled" cheese, melba toast, and pickled pearl onions and you just may fall in love all over again.

Thank you Rosebud and Voodoopork for remembering Snyder's Willow Grove, though it is on the Linthicum side of the river, not Landsdowne.

How about Captain Harveys? No, not the sub shop, but the place where where great grandparents go for their anniversary when they want seafood.

I assume there was a note of playfulness in the "chic and upscale" reference to newish Hampden restaurants. I ate at Suzie's Soba recently and found in my stir-fry one of those round stickers that are placed on pieces of fruit. At least it wasn't a cucaracha, nose hair or rat dropping, but it was still unappetizing and decidedly un-chic.

Ugh. Yes. EL

I go the Peppermill with my boyfriend and pretend that we are in a Twilight Zone episode where everybody has aged thirty years except us. He took me there on my 30th birthday to make me feel a bit younger. Now it's just fun because it feels like you know how suburban hipsters made the scene 35 years ago. That's cool and the food is refreshingly untrendy. Viva la Peppermill!

"Valley Inn! I think my 80-ish mother and her friends still go there. You can get "home-cooked" food and strong drinks."

This is EXACTLY why my 85 year old in-laws always go to the Valley Inn and Peppermill.

How about Patrick's in Cockeysville?

Williamsburg Inn
Josef's Country Inn

GREAT list, EL! I had totally forgotten Snyder's Willow Grove and, although it's a long ride for me, I remember fondly good food in large portions and tasty drinks. Years ago, a friend and I dined out every couple of weeks, and Pappas, Perring Place, and Pepper Mill were among our favorites. I dined at Perring Place in June, and BOY, was it good! I seem to remember Pappas' had an older man who played keyboard in the dining room. Surely he has gone to his reward; I wonder if there's someone else tinkling out old standards reasonably well for diners' pleasure. God...all this was another life ago!

Valley Inn! I've heard people rave over that place and never gotten there. It's always described as "expensive but worth it" or for "special" dinners. As I think about it, the people talking about it are 70-80ish.

Sunset's cream of crab soup with "just a hint of sherry??"

There used to be a time where the sherry was served alongside the cream of crab soup and added to taste, but the my great grandmother would add it all! :)

There's a place in Harford County that my dad took me to when I was young after going to the shooting range. I think it's called the Maple or Oak Tavern. They have a model train that ran around a ledge near the ceiling that they would turn on for me. Yay! They made hot sandwiches on a grille that were heaven on a crisp autumn day, plus fresh apple cider. It seemed to be run by a man with a huge beard and a woman with an eye patch who wore a cowboy hat while she worked the grille. I took my daughter there a few years ago, but she was less enthralled than me. I still love it, even though Beardy and Patchy are gone.

I would like to add a comment to a few of the others for the Sunset. They have some of the best Sour Beef I have ever had. It is delicious and aslo served with very good dumplings.

I would like to add a comment to a few of the others for the Sunset. They have some of the best Sour Beef I have ever had. It is delicious and aslo served with very good dumplings.

The Peppermill, great choice. I call it the Hotel California for obvious reasons (You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave). It's one of the few places where the bartender is practiced at making Old-Fashioneds, Stingers, Brandy Alexanders and Pink Squirrels. This is ironic retro chic at its best.

Dan D, are you talking about the Williamsburg Inn on Route 40? What's it like? I've driven past it a hundred times, but it always scares me a little.

Skip Kibby'! Used to be very good across the board.Now even the Shrimp Salad is below average

Well, H.L. Mencken was right on the money. Greasy, creamy, this side of the texture of vomit characterizes B'mores vittles. Horn & Hardart's was Haute Cuisine, throw in Nedicks for good measure.
You cant take the Booboisie out of the boobs

I'll say it again "The Lounge" at Joan Avenue and Loch Raven, where else can you eat off of coffee tables that have been there 40+ years!

I agree with "Hon" - Frazier's on the Avenue is not as good as the ole Frazier's on 33rd Street - wonderful food, reasonable prices & I loved the fried cauliflower.

Stacy, that's the one. I think it fits EL's criteria, at least 15 years ago when I was there last.

Glad to see props to Patricks, The Peppermill, Snyders and Josef's Country Inn - all classics.

I have to agree about Eichenkranz tho - the redecoration was (and still is) pretty awful.

The wait staff were all very friendly the last time I went and the food was still honest Volk Essen. I was with friends and we were basically alone the whole night. I think with some more decidedly Teutonic decor and a trimming of the American and Italian dishes on the menu (who would order those things at a restaurant called Eichenkranz????) they could again be the rightful heir to Baltimore German American Heritage. It's a crying shame that they are the last one left in the city!

Love The Peppermill, my wife and I call it "Wrinkles". Snyder's, Michael's and the Sunset are also on my list as well. Great dependable food and atmosphere.

Being a native, I've actually dined at six of the ten establishments you have mentioned. Great food, fantastic prices. Thank you.

D. Thor

I've never been impressed with the Candlelight Inn... NYE 1985 to 86 I went as a teenager with my date and another couple, we were treated by the waiter as if we were little children... nail in the coffin was when he brought the desert tray out for others but not us. Despite living a few miles away I refused to go back for years... cut to 2003 friends talked me into going back... and the food was good so we took other friends and we waited 1 1/2 hours for our food, sandwiches and salads, and got all kinds of excuses and when we said were leaving they threatened to call the police if we didn't pay... we paid and took our food.... NEVER to return!

The Sunset use to be the kind of place that my parents would take us to on special occasions. My husband and I use to frequent there, up until the last year or so. The service has gone down, way down! Every time we go it gets worse. For the prices that you pay, you expect a polite waitress or waiter. I'm not talking about fantastic, just at least polite. The food is good, most of the time. The side dishes are awful, the veggies always taste as if they have been boiled for an hour and look like elementary school caffeteria food. The experience is ruined by the wait for food, or even a glass of water or refill of soda. I would certainly never put the Sunset in the same catagory as Hausners. They were a one of a kind and are missed! Those ladies with thier serving carts were fantastic.

I had been a loyal Sunset patron for years, however the last time my wife and I visited I was very disappointed! It seems they are under new management and the food quality has suffered. I usually order the chicken breast topped with crabmeat and a bowl of the cream of crab soup. Both dishes were tremendously lacking!! Thats been a year ago, and I havent been back.

The 4100 Club used to be a nice neighbor hood bar with good food. Unfortunatley, it has been sold to new owners who have new food, which is over priced and not very tasty. All of the photos are gone. What a loss.

Terriermom can handle firearms. Why am I not surprised?

My husband and I were just in Kibby's the other day for their famous shrimp salad. Although still excellent, they have gone "the politically correct way" (to please all customers with persnickety tastes) by omitting the Old Bay in the recipe and offering it in a shaker instead. Sissies.

Would add my favorites but am laughing too hard at the "Wiemar ambience" comment re: Eichenkranz.

Not sure if it was mentioned here, but many of us probably remember Michael's by its previous name - Smitty's. And yes it's definitely on this list.

Thanks vickie. In the old days at Eichenkranz you could almost imagine a single spotlight lurching through the yellow-grey smoke to illuminate a decrepit one-legged Marlene Dietrich impersonator with a Highlandtown accent singing Lili Marlene. Ah, the good old days.

The Valley Inn. Where else can you get old fashioned stewed tomatoes? And yes, the red apple garnish!

Plate are small, the way they use to be in the 1950's. Not like today, the size that would feed King Kong!

Also the Hazelwood Inn in Rosedale. Good food and cheap.

EJ- Baugher's restaurant in Westminster still has stewed tomatoes if you're lucky enough to hit them on a day that that is one of the veggies of the day. Another goodie to hit is chicken and dumplings. Not too cool or trendy but so homey and comforting!

BTW, all this Snyder's talk reminds me that I heard that Snyder's deli in Owings Mills closed. Yes, I know we're talking about Snyders in Ferndale or Linthicum or whatever neighborhood lays claim to it, the name just reminded me. Also, I let my son talk me into going to Ruby Tuesdays at Owings Mills mall recently, and I'm wondering why they're NOT closed!

Sunset was my very first date restaurant in 1978. Didn't return until 2006, and was very disappointed in the service and the fact that our menu had not been updated to the new prices (it had fallen through the cracks so to speak) so our bill was much higher than anticipated (we had the menu at the side of our chair but the manager and the waiter were less than nice about it. Top it off that we arrived at 12:20 ordered and our food did not arrive until 1:50 and our waiter just could not be bothered to check on us or the other diners in his area. I wouldn't go back if you gave me a gift certificate and gas for the car.

Hazelwood Inn? Really?

I wouldn't have thought that. They were good back in the day, but then, that was back in the day.

VALLEY INN!! I am 40 now, but when I was a senior in high school I used to hang out with this woman who was a waitress at Valley Inn, and I used to meet her there after work. I loved bud Hatfield, the owner!
This is SOOO Baltimore and still open!! I got to go!!!!
Thanks EL for the list!
Richie Rich

recently dined at candlelight for lunch and dinner [a few weeks apart]lunch was strictly ordinary but dinner specials were very good in a traditional style. had dinner at sunset last fall and it was awful. haven't had a meal that bad in decades.and that means both diners and everything on both plates was mediocre or worse. have had good meals at sunset but i will not return.

Hazelwood Inn - - the absolute worst. Can't even make a decent sandwich for crying out loud. If they were good back in the day - -that day was a LONG time ago.

Hon... do you mean Johnny D's Lounge? That place rocks!!! Great drinks, cheap prices, and the late 60's family room atmosphere are perfect... just don't try to walk in on a Friday night... the regulars rule the roost!

All the comments about seniors and strong drinks reminds me of an 85th birthday party we organized for a family member. One of the guests was in her 90s, and when she arrived I wasn't sure she would make it through the evening. She sure perked up when she got a strong Scotch under her belt, though!

Hon... do you mean Johnny D's Lounge?

Yes, that's what she means. Years ago it was just called "The Lounge". The Johnny D's part came later.

I've always described the decor there as "early Parkville club basement".

Oh, and while the address may be on Joan Ave., the place is actually around back on the Amuskai Rd. side of the shopping center.

I do mean Johnny D's GregBWorking, I still like called it "The Lounge" which is what is was called up until 10 years or so ago.

My wife refuses to go to the Valley Inn on the account of the bad review EL gave the place a few years ago.

My wife never even read the review. I think I mentioned the fact the place didn't get a good review in passing a few years ago. Nevertheless, my wife's opinion has been cemented.

As to the Williamsburg Inn, I've been there a few times. It is a nice place, but not the kind of place you would drive out of your way to visit.

Mmm Eastern House. Less than twenty minutes (walking) from my parents' house, it's the source of a lot of food-related memories from my youth. Including biting into an onion roll that I definitely did not know was going to taste like onions (which I hated, and am still not all that fond of). I was seven, and I still think onion rolls are disgusting. I'm craving a ham steak as big as my head with the obligatory pineapple slice, french fries and applesauce. Yum.

Is the Westview Lounge still in business?

Westview Lounge went out of business years ago. That definitely would have qualified though...

The Westview Lounge was our "special" lunch go to place years ago when I worked in Catonsville. There was "the bar" (Caton Tavern) and Scittino's and Patio for everyday lunch but TWL was THE place for Christmas or other "special" lunches!

Do you know what year Hausner's Restaurant closed?

L.A.W., Haussner's closed in 1998, I believe.

L.A.W. -- Haussner's closed in September of 1999.

I bow to hmpstd--the Information King.

I bow to hmpstd--the Information King.

OK, I've got to ask, finally: is hmpstd the Information King or the Information Queen?

Oh, Bucky, hmpstd is most definitely King. If you had attended the first Dining@Large get-together you would know this.

Thanks, Dahlink. (I think I was still consumed with American Idol back then...)

I love the Eastern House. Miss Mary came in recently with a homemade chocolate cake with 7 minute frosting that was still warm!

They have a great assortment of dishes every day and if they have stewed tomatoes and fried eggplant as sides, all the better.

Very nice waitresses and usually speedy service.

Come on the Eastern House?? It used to be good..not anymore. Sad to say I loveddd their hot roast beef with gravy but I recently went and it left a feeling of wanting.....

I can't believe Kibby's has screwed up their shrimp salad! Why would they do that?
Where is the Sunset located in Glen Burnie?

625 Greenway, Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061. EL

Sadly, McCabe's is closing. Good burgers.

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