(list of eateries is alphabetical)
Buzz 'n' Ned's --Richmond, VA
This classic BBQ place is worth the drive down to Virginia. On a typical street in Richmond, sits this little BBQ joint with a massive smoker in the back alley. There's limited seating inside, but grab a picnic table out front. You may even see the owner himself walking around in his dirty apron greeting guests. Pulled pork sandwiches, yummy hush puppies, ribs, fries, etc. This place beat Bobby Flay on Throwdown, so you know they're rockin'!
USE OUR SENSE: Order more than you think you can eat. The racks of ribs go down so easy, you'll get back in line to order more, just like we did.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Pass on the pulled pork topped with coleslaw. It's too sour. Just stick with the ribs and hush puppies.
Chap's Pit Beef --Baltimore, MD
Located in a depressed Baltimore neighborhood, this little shack has a large reputation drawing in visitors from all over the country. Could be their presence on Travel Channel's Man vs. Food or maybe even Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I can vouch for the 'dive' part.
If you look up other reviews, they differ greatly from mine, so go and try for yourself. I thought the sandwiches were very over-rated, packed with flavorless meat in a dirty little grease-shack. The others in our party disagreed with me; loving everything they ordered. Don't drink the Kool-Aid; visit yourself.
USE OUR SENSE: Order the PIT BEEF or the RAVEN; both featured on TV.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Pass on the sides. Nothing more than average.
G&A Restaurant --Baltimore, MD
Also featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, they are known for their Coney Island Hot Dogs. Have to say, not a fan. The buns were dry, the dog was tiny, and I'm disappointed that I live an hour from Coney Island and my first dog that style was in Baltimore, urgh. Can't be good.
The food wasn't worth the stop at all, but the owner was nice. Very personable and friendly, telling us all about his few days with Guy Fieri. The place was retro with original 50's decor; bar, booths, tables, you name it.
USE OUR SENSE: Question Guy next time you hear him say something is delicious and mouth-watering. It's easy to forget it's TV.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Try something other than the dog.
Greek Islands Taverna --Fort Lauderdale, FL
USE OUR SENSE: Fun place, family owned, definitely a Greek family taking pride in their heritage. It's just steps from the water so it's a great location. Surrounded with shops and beach entrance. Live music, breezy, comfortable outdoor seating. Huge portions, but would you expect anything less at a Greek place?
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Not the best Greek food I've ever had, but surely good. And will fix that craving when you're traveling.
Jimmy’s Seafood --Baltimore, MD
Raved about by the locals so we went right to it, they have to know what they’re talking about, right? Well, sorta. The food was tasty; the crab cakes had barely any filling and were made with huge chunks of fresh meat. Yum! The presentation of the food was a little off though. No flair at all. You order a steak—you get a steak in the middle of a white plate. Boring. No sauces, no veggies, just no flair. That’s easy to get over though if the food is good enough. It was the service that wasn’t easy to move beyond. Our waiter was a really nice young guy, he just seemed really stressed. We couldn’t figure it out—the place is really big so maybe they were understaffed? But the multiple dining rooms weren’t full so it couldn’t have been that bad? Either way, we waited a really long time just to place our order, and couldn’t even get water refilled efficiently.
USE OUR SENSE: Jimmy’s Seafood so you gotta get seafood (crab cakes highly recommended), but don’t miss out on the steak. The surf ‘n’ turf served up one of the best pieces of filet I’ve ever had.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: The crab dip topped soft pretzel is out of this world and it’s a very filling appetizer. You’ll probably only need a small entrée afterwards.
Lady & Son's --Savannah, GA
Paula Deen serves up some classic recipes in this multi-story warehouse eatery in downtown Savannah. The location is beautiful (as is most of downtown), the gift shop is fun (you may even meet one of her sons like we did), the atmosphere is comfy (so long as you don't mind lots of people), and the food is good. Maybe we had expectations that Paula herself would be spoon-feeding us her butter-soaked recipes, but it wasn't as good as we'd hoped. Good enough for us to return twice more, yes, but I swear some of my own mother's recipes are better.
USE OUR SENSE: Make Reservations!!! It should be obvious, considering this restaurant belongs to one of the most famous cooks in the country, but you'd be surprised how many people we've seen turned away at the door to return hours later or the next day.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: The Southern Buffet is a must, this way you can try everything (but splurge the extra 7 bucks and try a dessert that isn't included in the deal).
Leinenkugel's Beer Garden --Baltimore, MD
Leinenkugel's Beer Garden is located in Power Plant Live! at the harbor in Baltimore, MD. Talk about a cool place! The Power Plant offers a variety of shows, restaurant row, a museum, and this fantabulous beer garden! It was 11am and we were sitting around trying all sorts of original beer flavors they have on tap. Great open atmosphere, modern design, friendly wait staff/bartender...a must-see when in Baltimore!
USE OUR SENSE: Try some appetizers, the fried cheese was great. Greasy, but if you're already splurging on beer, what's a little more?
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Some of the beers are a bit spendy. Each order a different one and share with the table to taste test, it was fun!
Loafers Bar & Grill --Cantonsville, MD
Well, we know we missed last weekend's review, but I promise, it was in the name of research. To make it up to you foodies out there, we'll be sharing 3 reviews from the Baltimore Area this weekend!
First up is Loafers. Nice place in the suburbs of Baltimore; reminded me a bit of Copperhead Grille meets Big Woody's here in the Lehigh Valley. Good place for locals to catch the game over a few beers, good for large crowds. Food was Applebee's style, baskets of fried foods and burgers. Decent food. I wouldn't drive from NJ for it, but worthy to fill your belly while you fill your tank on a road trip (maybe a few more southern hours to Buzz'n'Ned's in Richmond).
USE OUR SENSE: Wings were crispy and smothered in sauce, yum. Try the Old Bay.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Stadium Pretzel (cheesy crab dip on top of soft pretzel) was decent, but not up to par with Baltimore standards. Baltimore offers the best stadium pretzels around and this one was overpriced and under-lumped with crab.
Olive Tree --Aberdeen, Maryland
You’ll think it’s just a chain knock off of Olive Garden, but it’s so much better than that. There’s a few location around Maryland (Aberdeen and Glen Burnie that I know of), and each is packed more than the next. Portions are huge, the atmosphere is family style, and it’s a nice place.
USE OUR SENSE: Order the crab cakes. They are GI-NORMOUS and worth every penny. (My mom is a crab cake junkie and she says these are the BEST IN THE WORLD! Coming from a foodie like herself, that means something).
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Call ahead. They are always packed and we end up waiting 30-40 minutes.Worth it, but annoying.
Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop --Baltimore, MD
Holy busy. Touted on Food network as great cannolis, we had to visit. It’s a tiny little café in downtown Baltimore. You walk in, and you’re in a never ending line. Once you get your goods you can try to find a table on the ground floor or up two, but we just didn’t attempt and got our stuff to-go. Cannolis were good, not the best. Coffee was average. There was a huge selection, but nothing mouth watering. We’re picky though.
USE OUR SENSE: Grab and go.
SAVE YOUR CENTS: Search out your own great cannolis.Or just drive to Gloucester, Mass and find the best ever!