Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Exit 22: Greenspring Avenue

There doesn't seem to be much off of this exit. If you turn one way, you have deer for two miles. Okay, you could turn that

into something. The other way is Quarry Lake, and the new ritzy housing development and business park. The former probably won't be filled up anytime soon. The latter is already filling up. I mentioned that Fresh Market that I came across not long ago. I figured it was that and a Walgreen's. But right now there is a bit more.

Food-wise there is not a whole lot yet, but the variety is good for what there is. It's a mixture of sit-down and take-out, and it all looks so damn new. In fact, with all the development going on, if you added palm trees I could swear this was Fontana, California (the new nice part, I mean). The weather certainly made me think it was, up at 70 degrees (aah). Funny tangent: I talked to my friend Jim who lives out in Yucaipa (same northwestern part of the same largest county in the lower 48 as Fontana). It was 48 degrees there on Monday night - ha! (Of course, he will be laughing when it gets back up to the 80's over there and we're buried under two feet of ice sometime next month.) The handful of new establishments includes:

  • Ciao! Pizza Bistro Italiano, which has no slices but they do have 10" personal pizzas. It's one of the fancier take-outs, which has "20 wines for $20" and lots of antipasti, pastas, fish, veal and so on. It looks like a chain, but all indications from the website is that it's not.I grabbed a menu and left.
  • A Boardwalk Fries, the first I have ever seen outside of a mall. I was tempted to go in for one of those frankfurter sandwiches.
  • Jasmine Asian Bistro - Unless Sun food critic Elizabeth Large and I are mistaken, it looks like the Towson restaurant I liked so much has now relocated here.
  • California Tortilla, a mostly-local Tex-Mex chain with over 30 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia, West Virginia and Florida (most of those are in MD and VA). According to their website, they feature a limited-time Greek burrito. So is this Grex-Mex?

I chose this last one for one simple reason: they had a special promotion yesterday, apparently the day after they opened, where they had free lunch from 12 to 2. My father told me long ago: "Don't pass up free food" (he actually said that, I'm not kidding), but I was still a little leery. Especially after the enthusiastic person at the door (who turned out to be just a customer waiting for her co-worker) talked up the deal with an enthusiasm rarely seen outside of a Scientology HQ (**shudder**). But I went in anyway. The folks behind the counter were even more gleeful. I figured since I was here, why pass up the chance to eat free? Unless there's something in the salsa, of course.

I didn't order much - just one steak soft taco (normally $2.50, but that day it was not) and a soft drink (normally another $1.50). While I waited (it didn't take long) I saw a dazzling array of hot sauces from all over the world on their walls - scores and scores from Mexico to Vietnam to Louisiana and back. Some were decorative, others were actually for sale.

I got my taco and headed out to sit on a bench. When I bit into it, it didn't taste like steak. In fact, they gave me their beef one instead (normally $2.30, which is what they rang up and would have charged me - maybe they heard the wrong thing). It was buried under a ton of shredded lettuce, but there was a lot of ground beef underneath it. There could have been a little more cheese and a lot less lettuce. I did, however, pass up the complimentary salsa fresca that comes with a sit-down meal, so that one's on me. And hey, am I going to bitch about free food? No. Still it was adequate - I'd get it again, even though I'd need to pay for it the next time.

I got so little because I wanted to try another place - California Tortilla was the first one I went into. All the others didn't quite have what I wanted, so I went to the Fresh Market, picked up a muffin and went home.

Places I visited:

California Tortilla (Mexican / Southwestern-TexMex) - Quarry Lake at Greenspring, 2588 Quarry Lake Drive, Baltimore, MD 21209; Phone: (410) 484-5229

  • Would I eat there again? Yep
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? I might
Places to look up later:

Boardwalk Fries (hot dogs / fast food) - Quarry Lake at Greenspring, 2622 Quarry Lake Drive, Baltimore, MD 21209; Phone: (410) 580-1500

Ciao! Pizza Bistro Italiano (Italian) -
Quarry Lake at Greenspring, 2620 Quarry Lake Drive, Baltimore, MD 21209; Phone: (410) 486-1840

Jasmine Asian Bistro (pan-Asian - just moved from its Towson location, so maybe it's time for a new review) - Quarry Lake at Greenspring, 2592 Quarry Lake Drive, Baltimore, MD 21209; Phone: (410) 484-5170

Other photos:
Take that Maryland flag away and it's Fontana, Corona or Chino Hills, I swear!

I didn't even know it was Jasmine's until I walked in and saw the menu. Honestly, this place could use a sign or something!

Shelves and shelves of shweat-inducing shauces!

I wonder what this is going to be? Not a restaurant, that's for sure. Probably some sort of department store.

* Exit 22 sign adapted from Thanks and apologies to the original photographer.


Alex said...

I'm a fan of big-ass burritos. Until recently Chipotle would have been my fast-food burrito of choice. California Tortilla is better, hands down. Aside from being a locally owned franchise (which is slightly better than supporting the McDonald's owned -- even if only a minority stake -- establishment) their food is just better. A more diverse menu, similar pricing, and some unique takes on the market. I'd be curious about the Greek burrito.

John said...

I work nearby, and my coworkers often go to Ciao's, because they like the food. But the service sucks. Everytime. I've been there maybe 5 or so times, and each time, I've had a problem with the server not being prompt, or forgetting something, or forgetting about us. So I think we'll be doing take out from Ciao's, if we do pick to go here.

Anonymous said...

Commenting on "Exit 22: Greenspring Avenue"

There are also lots of great restaurants a little further down Greenspring Avenue in the Atrium Shopping Center on Smith Avenue(e.g. Cocoaccino's Cafe and Accents on the Grill, both highly recommended.)