We were in Baltimore at the beginning of the month. Lynnafred was attending Otakon, and Maryanne and I were exploring the city and visiting with our friends Dale and Gail, who suggested a visit to G & A Restaurant. G & A is a little hole-in-the-wall diner on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore. Its nondescript storefront is easy to miss, sandwiched in among the other nondescript storefronts, and we had to pay close attention as we approached to avoid missing it.
This end of Eastern Avenue is not really a "touristy" area of Baltimore. It's not close by the Inner Harbor, and it's beyond Little Italy. I'd describe the neighborhood as "comfortably run-down" i.e. an older slice of a big city that has a small-city feel to it; gentrification is passing it by but it's like your favorite pair of jeans - there are holes and frays and sometimes the zipper on the fly gets stuck, but you're happy and at ease wearing them.
G & A Restaurant is like that, too. When our party of five (Dale and Gail, our friend Michael, Maryanne and I) walked in the door, we were met by a friendly waitress who showed us to a booth, and by the owner who was busily cooking hot dogs but who smiled and nodded a greeting to us as we walked by. We took a booth towards the back of the restaurant and ordered delicious ice-cold beers to enjoy as we checked out the menu.
The menu, in typical diner style, is pretty extensive, but because we were there specifically for the dogs, we pretty much stuck to the basics: hot dogs, polish dogs, burgers, and wet fries. And Yuengling Lager.
The burgers were very good - Dale ordered mini-burgers, which G & A had on the menu as "sliders." They were nicely seared and made of high-quality ground beef, served on grilled buns, with caramelized onions right off the griddle. they were sided with decent hand-cut fries which seemed to go over pretty well with the group, though I prefer my fries somewhat crunchier.
But the fires just as they are go great with the brown gravy, which was rich and flavorful. Everyone at the table enjoyed it, and at the end of the meal, although some of the plain fries were left over, none of the wet fries were left at all.
We were really there for the hot dogs, though, so I ordered one dog and one Polish dog, each with G & A's Coney Island sauce, mustard, and minced raw onions. The hot dogs are good quality beef and pork franks, decently seasoned and with a good flavor. The Coney Island sauce is very good. Slightly spicy without being overpowering, it went well with the dog and was complimented by the onion and mustard. I thought it was a good, solid dog, certainly a worthy addition the the Dogs of Summer series, but not really exceptional.
The Polish dog was a different story. The Polish seasonings used gave a wiener a robust kielbasa flavor that shined through and was completely bitchin' with the Coney Island sauce and onion. This dog was worth a drive for its own sake, and was really the star of the meal.
We had a few more beers as we ate and chatted; the waitress was attentive and friendly from beginning to end, and never got short with us or tried to rush us out of the booth (much appreciated.) Towards the end of our lunch, owner Andy Farantos stopped by to say hello and make sure everything was okay. It was a nice touch. We left satisfied and happy, and Maryanne and I are looking forward to our next trip to the Baltimore area, because we plan to go back to G & A again (this time to try out some of the other items on the menu.)
3802 Eastern Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224