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Baltimore

Baltimore is best known for its seafood, especially crab cakes, and you could easily eat your way around town in a quest to find the city's best. But don't overlook Little Italy for homey Italian fare or the many up-and-coming neighborhoods for other types of ethnic cuisine. Many eateries dot the Inner Harbor area, but they tend to be chains and a tad overpriced.

Finding the Best Restaurants on the Road

maryland crabs lemon Inner Harbor: Harborplace is a great family dining destination with many familiar options, such as M&S Grill, the Cheesecake Factory and Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries. J. Paul's, a spawn of the classic Georgetown establishment, and Lenny's Deli, where breakfast is always a la mode, recently set down stakes here. For a quick bite, graze the numerous "stalls" selling a range of easy-snacking specialties, such as fried dough, raw oysters and pizza.

Fell's Point: This is arguably the best all-around destination for foodies, with lots of tough decisions to make: Go casual at Peter's Inn or at Duda's Tavern? Try the smoked crab cakes at Pierpoint or the Mediterranean tapas at Pazo? The steamed mussels at the Pier or at Bertha's? You can also make it easy on yourself and grab a table at the Greek-influenced Black Olive, known for serving the best seafood in town.

Little Italy: This Italian-American enclave lies between the Inner Harbor and Fell's Point. Sabatino's and Aldo's Ristorante Italiano are classics.

Mount Vernon: Try Sotto Sopra for nouvelle Northern Italian or The Helmand for Afghan cuisine. At the latter, order the kabuli, which blends pallow (an Afghan-style rice) with chunks of lamb tenderloin, raisins and glazed julienne of carrots.

Harbor East: Chazz: A Bronx Original, which was developed by actor Chazz Palminteri ("Bullets Over Broadway," "A Bronx Tale,"), brings the NYC borough south with Italian-American dishes and pizza baked in a coal-fired oven. Cinghiale finds its culinary inspiration across the Atlantic, in the Milan and Bologna of "La Dolce Vita." Sidle up to the seviche bar at Talara, which specializes in Latin American small plates.

Crab Cakes and More: Inside the centuries-old Lexington Market, J.W. Faidley cooks up some of the city's best crab cakes. For adventurous eaters, the market has stall after stall of regional foods, plus picnic tables scattered around the huge hall. Dig into a tasty mess of steamed crabs at Gunning's Seafood Restaurant, 15 miles south of Baltimore in Hanover, MD. Closer to home, Miss Shirley's has three "locations," including one that rolls around the streets in a food truck.

Most Romantic Restaurant: For bring-your-date-to-dinner night, try the acclaimed Kali's Court, which serves Mediterranean-inflected, romance-kissed seafood in Fell's Point.

Best Restaurant: Charleston, near the water in Harbor East, is renowned for its nouvelle Southern cuisine, A-list wine list and top-notch service.
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