Faidley’s Seafood

Rating: ★★★✩✩

Baltimore has a plethora of food markets, unlike DC, which really only has Union Market (which is fantastic) and Eastern Market (which I find underwhelming). Of Baltimore’s food markets, the most famous is Lexington Market (established in 1782) and the most famous spot inside Lexington Market is Faidley’s Seafood, established in 1886. It should be noted, first and foremost, that Lexington Market is located in a rather terrifying neighborhood.

27335215_10156098889818011_50759508_oDespite its proximity to other, nicer areas of Baltimore, such as the Inner Harbor and Mount Vernon, Lexington Market is just plain rough. You’ll find lots of people loitering around, many of whom appear to be high on drugs, some of whom are panhandling. Fortunately, Lexington Market is just a block from the Light Rail and across the street from Baltimore’s little-used single metro line. However, even walking that short distance to Lexington Market will likely unnerve most people. Once inside, Lexington Market is still pretty sketchy and has a rundown feel to it. However, a police presence means that you at least won’t feel totally unsafe.

27266039_10156098889513011_9585428_oFaidley’s itself is nice enough, boasts classic decor and the crab cakes for which it’s famous are tasty; they are clearly all crab meat with minimal filler. However, as tends to be the case with crab cakes, prices are steep and one crab cake from Faidley’s doesn’t really make for a filling meal. Faidley’s does have its own tables where you can eat. However, if you plan on eating anything not from Faidley’s you’ll have to eat in Lexington Market’s general seating area which is – you guessed it – sketchy and not the nicest.

F27265757_10156098889168011_496113250_oaidley’s may be an iconic spot but is it really worth it to visit for a crab cake that (while perfectly good) is not really memorable? Not particularly, in my opinion. To make it worth it, Lexington Market (and the neighborhood around it) would need a major makeover.

Faidley’s Seafood is located at 400 W Lexington St, Baltimore, MD.

Aladdin Restaurant

Rating: ★★★★★

27141096_10156092869913011_1448192894_o.jpgAladdin Restaurant, located in a Bangladeshi strip mall in Arlington’s Yorktown section at 5169 Lee Hwy, was my first foray into Bangladeshi food. For the Indian/Pakistani food lover, a lot of the food here will be familiar: there are samosas, kabobs, lamb vindaloo and even chicken tikka masala.

However, the must-try dish here and the specialty of the house is the kacchi biryani, which takes hours to make and is only served on Saturday. Aladdin Restaurant’s website said to call ahead to ensure that kacchi biryani was available but I simply lucked out and it was on the menu the Saturday that I went. This unique biryani is made by cooking marinated baby goat, lamb and chicken under a bed of uncooked rice in the oven, such that everything is cooked at once. This makes the rice extra flavorful and is the reason this dish takes so long to prepare.

At Aladdin Restaurant, a mere $13 will score you a generous plate of this extra-flavorful biryani, made with lots of TLC. This is a true, home-cooked soul food and I’m sure a place like Rasika would charge an arm and a leg for the privilege of eating it off one of their gold plates. As you might imagine, the décor at Aladdin Restaurant is basically nonexistent, but that’s not what you’re here for.