Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina

Logo on Cup
Somewhere above Taco Bell on the ladder of Tex-Mex fast food lies Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina. This particular outpost is a few blocks away from Camden Yards, so if you’re not interested in anything from the stadium, but don’t want to get something at the Inner Harbor, Salsarita’s is not a terrible choice.

Chips and Guac
They have tons of fresh made chips. They have some sort of oven that keeps them crisp. Though a little light on the salt, they have good snap and crunch. The Guacamole isn’t bad. It’s nothing special, but it was better than I expected from a fast food restaurant.

Steak Taco Salad
MG got the Steak Taco Salad. The bowl is big and crisp. The steak is nothing to write home about. It’s not particularly tender, but not particularly tough. For fast food, you could do far worse. The cool part about Salsarita’s is the assembly line that each dish goes down. You can choose what toppings and condiments you would like on each dish. There is corn, jalapenos, beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, and a bunch of other items.

Chicken Burrito Innards
I got the Chicken Burrito. It did not feature a finely grilled chicken, but some sort of chicken fricassee. By itself, the chicken would be a complete loss. However, with the addition of the beans, salsa, and other toppings, it made for a passable meal. It was certainly big enough, looking like a toddler’s forearm by the time assembly was complete.

If this seems like a very lukewarm, wishy-washy review, it’s because that is what Salsarita’s inspired. When it comes to fast food, you could do far worse, but there is certainly better. I would definitely rank it above McDonald’s or Taco Bell. Don’t rush out of your way for Salsarita’s, but you don’t necessarily need to cross to the other side of the street to avoid them either.

Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina
324 W Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
410-962-8270
(Google Map)

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Chili Bowl at Night
There are a few signs that sum up the vibe at Ben’s Chili Bowl. One reads “Black Owned and Operated Since 1958”. The other says “Only Bill Cosby and Obama/Family Eat Free. All Others Must Pay”. Nice.

The jukebox was playing James Brown, and Smokey Robinson. The folks behind the counter were dancing, chatty, and full of smiles. MG and I took a seat at the counter at 1am on a Thursday, and the place was hopping. We scanned the menu on the board above the griddle and decided on the signature dish, though in different ways.

Large Bowl of Chili
I got a large bowl ($5.95) of their chili. This was very different from the chili that I’ve had at most barbeque joints. This is closer to a beef stew. While loaded with beans, it was not dominated by them. The chili certainly had plenty of kick and a good meaty flavor. The meat was tender and tasted fresh.

Cheese Fries
I wanted to try the potato salad, but they were out of it. Instead I got an order of cheese fries ($4.50). The order is very big. The fries are not exceptional, but are well prepared. They do not skimp on the cheese. Granted, this is not a fine cheese made from a blend of gruyere and cheddar. More akin to the liquid cheese they use at movie theaters for nachos, this goop was applied liberally to the spuds.

Chili Cheese Fries
Instead of having the ingredients separately, MG just combined them all together in one dish of Chili Cheese Fries ($5.70).

This was junk food. Wonderful junk food. Junk food of the highest degree, the kind you have after an evening of downing beer and shots. It definitely left me with a doing 20 in a 50 kind of feeling. The sort of brick in the belly and steam coming out of my ears that only high-end junk food can bring. This is not a place for the health conscious. The menu also has a number of freshly made cakes and shakes.

Though we were there on a Thursday night, business was brisk. I’m sure that on a Friday night, the walls are rocking. They are open until 4am on the weekends.

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
202-667-0909
(Google Map)

Hungry Andy’s

Hungry Andy Logo
The Water Taxi about the Baltimore Inner Harbor makes a number of stops. A few blocks away from one of the stops lies Hungry Andy’s. At heart, they are more or less a deli. They have a wide variety of burgers and supposedly, they specialize in pit beef. However, this day, I wasn’t in the mood for beef and just wanted something simple.

Grilled Chicken Sub
I got a Grilled Chicken Hero with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard. It was great. A nice sized portion of white meat chicken breast was nestled inside a fresh submarine roll with plenty of vegetables and condiments lathered on top. It was great, I couldn’t ask for more.

Chicken Salad with Bacon on Wheat Roll
MG got the Chicken Salad on a wheat roll with bacon and cheese. The chicken was all white meat and diced fine. It was pretty tasty, not amazing, but pretty good. The roll was fresh, the chicken was plentiful, and the bacon was crisp. Success.

Amusing Hot Dog Sign
Hungry Andy’s may not be a destination restaurant. I can’ really tell because I didn’t try their specialty. I can say without reservation that they are very worthwhile if you are in the area and need some lunch. There is a little square nearby, so picking up a bite and then going to each lunch outdoors is highly recommended. Plus, with humorous signs like the one above on the wall, how can you go wrong?

Hungry Andy’s
629 S Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21224
410-558-1869
(Google Map)

Amsterdam Falafelshop

Amsterdam Sign
MG and I were looking for a snack after going to the National Zoo. A quick search on the old cell phone, and we found Amsterdam Falafel. The reviews were overwhelmingly good. MG and I hopped in the car and made for the restaurant.

Simple Menu
We didn’t really read through the reviews. We just saw “Middle Eastern” as the description and decided to make our way to the shop. I figured that they would have many of the usual Mid-East fare. Amsterdam Falafel is very accurate in the description of their menu. They serve falafel and fries. That’s it. There’s nothing else. When you go to Amsterdam Falafel, you will probably get a falafel, and perhaps some fries.

Amsterdam Toppings
The toppings bar is pretty big. It has hummus, babaganush, pickles, red pepper flakes, cucumbers, tomato, and a gang of other goodies.

Star of the Show
Here is the star of the show. MG and I both got a regular with a wheat pita. The falafel balls are pillowy and soft, well fried, but not greasy.

The menu recommends that diners mash down the falafel balls in the pita to create room for the fixings. They ask that you not return for seconds on toppings (except for tahini and garlic sauce). There are no plates. Your falafel is handed to you in a paper pocket, ensuring that you do not abuse the salad bar.

The falafel is very good. Not the greatest I’ve ever had, but really tasty. Aside from the good food and the nice vibe, it is nice that when you get to Amsterdam Falafel, there is no question about what to order. The food is good, it is inexpensive, and it is close to the downtown DC area. The parking can be a little challenging, but not impossible. If you are in the area and need a quick bite, definitely check them out.

Amsterdam Falafelshop
2425 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-234-1969
(Google Map)

Bonaparte Breads

The Closed Emperor Sign
Hot croissants. Fresh baked breads. MG and I were looking forward to getting something from a place that was billed as an authentic French bakery.

A word to the wise. If you attempt to go there, the storefront is not visible from the main road. It is part of a complex called Savage Mills. Once you see some signs and a driveway, just pull in, park, and look for the sign that you see in the picture above.

Hopefully, you will have a better experience than MG & I did. According to Yelp, their sign, and their website, they keep fairly normal hours. We arrived on a weekday, at around 11am. They were closed. There was no sign up that said “Back in 5”. There was no note about being closed for a few days. Wonderful smells were coming from inside, but the door was barred.

There was a door on the side entitled “French Bakery”. MG tried that door and it was open. It opens to the area just behind Bonaparte Breads’ main counter. There were people inside, baking bread. MG asked, “Are we able to get anything to go?”
“No, we closed. We closed.”
“When might you be opening?”
“No. We closed. Don’t know when lady coming in.”

Huh? Lame. Breakfast fail.

This isn’t so much a review of Bonaparte Breads as it is a tale of an experience. They might be good. I just don’t know. Maybe they had a family emergency and couldn’t open. Perhaps there was something extreme that prevented the manning of a counter. The baking section was certainly open.

Take what you will from this experience. I just suggest calling before going to the store. If you make the trip without calling beforehand, ensure that you are not very hungry. There aren’t many other breakfast options nearby (as I found out the hard way).

Bonaparte Breads
8600 Foundry St # 2091
Savage, MD 20763
410-880-0858
(Google Map)