Sometimes, it seems like Towson is one of the most quickly-growing spots in the Baltimore metro area. If you, like me, grew up there, you probably think it hardly bears a resemblance to the sleepy downtown that had Towson State University as its hub. As the university has grown and expanded, so has Towson, especially the downtown area that spans York Rd, Allegheny Ave, Pennsylvania Ave, Joppa Rd, Dulaney Valley Rd and Towsontown Blvd.
More development is on its way, too, with Bagby Restaurant Group to open Towson Kitchen sometime this year and the new Towson Square development with a Cinemark theatre slated to bring Portugese, Mexican, and Italian options. But you don't have to wait until then. There's quite a few great places to eat up in Tiger territory, both new spots and tried-and-true ones.
One of my favorite old standbys of Towson cuisine is The Orient. This sushi and Chinese restaurant won't win any awards for innovation, but it's a solid bet for huge, filling portions of traditional American Chinese food. And you will never, ever, have to ask anyone to refill your water glass: the waiters and waitresses at the Orient are on it—the second you take a sip, there's more water in your glass. Other longtime restaurants in the area are Strapazza, Thai One On/San Sushi Too, Sushi Hana and Cafe Troia.
In terms of newer places, we really love the bistro Bread and Circuses. From the dark grey/blue walls decorated with a mishmash of objets d'art to the solid service, this is as good an option for a simple Saturday night out as it is for a special occasion. When I ate there, I loved the Chicken Mykonos, as well as the freshly baked bread. Bread and Circuses has recently started offering brunch, as well, with lots of delicious-sounding seafood omelettes, paninis, crab cakes, and surf and turf.
Havana Road, a Cuban restaurant, is also a great newer addition to the Towson dining scene. With a bright, happy atmosphere and fresh, spicy, food, Havana Road is as close as most of us Baltimoreans will ever get to Cuba (until they lift the travel ban, of course). We love their fried plantains, fried calamari, black bean soup and their classic Cuban sandwiches. Their traditional Cuban desserts are to die for and whoa, you've got to try the coffee! This restaurant was also nominated as one of the five best new restaurants in Maryland after their opening in 2010.
I still think of 7 West Bistro as recent, although they've been in operatio on Chesapeake Ave for a few years now. This was certainly a welcome addition to the Towson dining scene: upscale but not fussy, classic but not boring. There's usually a crowd in at lunch, but we love the restaurants many specials, including $4.95 burgers on Mondays, half-priced wine on Tuesdays and half price appetizers during happy hour.
For the student crowd, there's a lot of pizza-and-sandwich joints: The Real Thing (greasy by good), The Greene Turtle, Charles Village Pub, Chesapeake Deli, Towson Hot Bagels, and more. If you're looking for something a little healthier, Zia's is one of the best health food restaurants in the whole Baltimore area, providing raw food, vegan food and delicious juices to everyone.
And let's not forget the large chain restaurants that popped up at the mall a few years ago: P.F. Chang's, Cheesecake Factory, Stoney River. I haven't had a bad meal at any of them, but they're not necessarily my first choice when dining out.
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