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There's hearty and wholesome fare for Olympian appetites at this casual and cavernous Greektown mainstay. Lamb, seafood, and crab cakes are the house specialties, and all of the ancient favorites are on tap--moussaka, spanakopita, dolmades, and pastitsio.
Taking over a Greektown space formerly devoted to non-Hellenic cuisines (it was formerly a chicken-and-waffle joint), Habanero serves insanely huge portions of Tex-Mex and Central American food at laughably low prices. Appetizers go over very, very well. Try the tamal de elote con crema, a warm sweet-corn tamale served with chilled crema, a fatty Mexican cream; or the yuca con chiccharones, crackling good cubes of tasty pork mixed with starchy slices of casava. Fresh-sauced Tex-Mex entrées succeed better than Salvadoran fare, which tends to sit there on the plate not doing much. For the adventurous, there's tongue, tripe, and cow's feet. Frugal, hungry patrons are wanted.
Trendy restaurants are popping up all over East Baltimore, but oblivious Ikaros just keeps on doing what it has done so well for so long: classic Greek fare served in a simple whitewashed dining room. Home to Baltimore's best moussaka, Ikaros also serves a standout taramasalata and gargantuan kebabs. And we are reasonably sure that this is the only restaurant in town that serves flaming cheese.
Open the front door of this tiny Greek restaurant and you'll likely be greeted with a line of diners awaiting tables. One whiff of the aromas drifting from Samos' open kitchen easily convinces you that the wait (which is generally reasonable) will be worth it. Lunch counter staples like crisp-outside-tender-inside calamari and giant gyro sandwiches are good and cheap, and more ambitious fare--shrimp and feta pie, pastitsio, dolmades--is even better, and still surprisingly inexpensive. Hurry up and finish that, wouldja? People are waiting.
A big part of the Zorba's experience is watching spits laden with chicken, lamb, and pork revolve over hot coals. The kitchen is a bit hit and miss: the taramasalata and moussaka lack spicy bite, but the kontosouvli (grilled marinated pork) is delicious and plentiful. Stick with the pit.
Baltimore City Paper, 501 N. Calvert Street, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore, MD 21278
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