Gestalt and Pepper: Where The Bloggers Go
While we bloggers can seem like slightly amorphous beings, out there in the ether, we’re people too. We recycle just like you, we forget to clean our bathtubs just like you, we even eat, and we eat often. Some of us are better at choosing exciting places for meals then others, and none more so then Evan, the mastermind behind the incredible City That Breeds. If you aren’t familiar with Evan, then here are some important fun facts:
-He knows, I’m pretty sure, every single bar or dive south of North Ave, and possibly a handful above it.
-He pointed me to the only gluten-free pizza I’ve been able to find in this city (Brick Oven Pizza, if you’re curious.)
-Every year, he organizes the wildly successful Cosby Sweater Bar Crawl to raise money for BARCS.
-He runs one of the funniest blogs in the city, with an equally wonderful Twitter feed.
Whenever I have a basic question about anything in this city, Evan’s one of my go-tos. ‘Tis the season for holiday visitors, and I knew he’d have wonderful suggestions for where to take anyone from your folks to your old college roommate.
Home cook assessment: Do you consider Durkee onions and Campbell’s mushroom soup legitimate ingredients or cheating?
Well considering one of them is the crucial ingredient in green bean casserole and the other is a crucial ingredient in this awesome chicken bake that I like to make (don’t judge me) I consider them to be legit ingredients. Look if you want to make freeze dried onion flavored strings on your own time, more power to you but I’m a busy man!
A romantic Saturday night out: Where do you book? What do you order?
I know most people think Italian is the only romantic cuisine in the world for some reason but I’m a big proponent of Japanese and in Baltimore it’s hard to beat Joss Cafe for its higher end selection. More than likely I’d order a ramen bowl and a huge boat of sushi for sharing, nothing says romance like uh, chopsticks, raw fish and noodles!
Where would you take your outgoing friends in from New York?
Specifically New York, I’d show them the greatest time ever by taking them to a place where their meal would cost less than $400, which is pretty much anywhere. Hell, McDonald’s. And the problem with taking New Yorkers to any place “ethnic” like Thai Arroy or some sushi place will instantly be met with “OH MAN THE [INSERT ETHNIC CUISINE] ON 4556TH STREET IS SOOOOO MUCH BETTER” so I’d stick to a regional cuisine like pit beef/turkey/ham and more than likely hit up Chaps on Pulaski Highway for the dive factor and affordability. If *only* it were BYOB there!
What is your preference for a celebratory dinner?
Korean BBQ at Joung Kak on 21st St. (pronounced “Tjoong-Ga”). If you’re celebrating something you’re usually with a group of friends and the tabletop BBQ experience there will provide any group with enough edibles to stuff them to the gills with plenty left over. Plus you can get drunk on Soju, it’s like Sake but more alcoholic.
You’re one of the go-to guys in this city for the bar scene. What’s your number one bar for drinks?
My secret but not so secret shame is I don’t really care about the whole craft beer thing, and I grew up being dragged around from old school dive to old school dive. So pretty much any place that hasn’t been structurally updated in 30 years or more and lacks the name “Bistro” in its moniker. A place like American Harry’s (or Harry’s American depending on what block you live on) in Canton is the perfect place for me. Where every draft beer is $2.
Any drive ins, diners, or dives?
All of them.
What’s your favorite new restaurant or one you’re dying to try?
Pretty sure it’s not really new but my current favorite restaurant is the brightly colored and friendly La Sirenita in Highlandtown for their lengua tacos and huge seafood stew bowl. That and the Micheladas (it’s a Bloody Mary with beer instead of vodka pretty much). And Mexican Cokes. Cheap, authentic Mexican goodness.
Where do you grocery shop, and why?
As I don’t really care how shiny and pretty the display cases are when I’m selecting apples, give me any of the major markets in the city (Lexington, Cross Street, Hollins, etc) – if you’re paying 79 cents a pound for bananas at Harris Teeter, you’re paying too much.
Is there a food item you regularly go out of your way to buy?
Well, not routinely anymore but true story: before the Baltimore area had a Sonic Drive-In, I drove 60 miles to Easton to get some tots and like three of their delicious, delicious drinks. That ice is to die for (which Royal Farms now also has). These days I’d say it’s Andy Nelson’s BBQ if the Thunger (“Thunderous Hunger”) strikes me for a huge plate of brisket and cornbread and pickles and and and — *gets into car, speeds off*
Which Baltimore restaurant has the best vibe?
Ugh, I hate answering stuff like this because it really boils down to what’s the best vibe for me personally. But I really, really like the vibe at Alewife. Something about the high ceilings, the history of the space, the incandescent light bulbs and the approachability of the menu even though it’s fairly fancy by most bar/restaurant standards.
This is cliche, yes, but still important: Best crab cake?
Faidley’s, Lexington Market, end of sentence.
Is there anything on your wish list for the Baltimore food scene?
Oh just like, everything. A ramen shop, a cantina style tapas place (where you sit drinking and the longer you sit and continue paying, they keep bringing you food), more Pho, more than one Ethiopian joint, a replacement for Obrycki’s, FEWER GOURMET PIZZA RESTAURANTS, and a return to butchery. Essentially everything Hipsters in Brooklyn are trying to charge too much for currently but here in Baltimore and for less money.