Go Greek At Samos (Get Your Mind Outta The Gutter)

Featured, Pubs and Grub — February 7, 2013 at 10:17 pm by

Baltimore is always being heralded as a seafood city.  On a national level, it seems all we get credit for are steamed crabs and crabcakes. That’s all well and good, but one cannot live on the gems of the sea alone.  This means that, as a local, you should be well versed on the different types of food establishments in town.  But you are not.  You think Taco Bell is the pinnacle of the dining experience. (And at 3 a.m. after a 3 day bender it might be.) That is why we are here to help. Within the old ethnic neighborhoods of Baltimore sit many a fine establishment.  Old Greek-town is no exception, as several good restaurants dot the row homes of Eastern Avenue and its side streets.  Tucked down the side street known as Oldham, sits one of our old favorites, Samos.

Samos has been around since 1977 and does not accept credit cards.  This means two things.  The first is that there are a lot of regulars who crowd the joint, thirty five years in business will create this type of environment. Second, it means that as much as you want to flash your American Express Black Card, it’s gonna have to wait, only cold hard cash works here. So, once you find a parking spot amidst the concrete jungle of Highlandtown, squeeze your way into the door.  You will have to gently elbow your way through waiting customers to reach the counter.  The counter is an important area.  It is here where you will pay later, and it is here where you will check in with someone to obtain your spot on the seating list.  Do not forget to get your name on this list.  It is up to you to make this happen, the people of Samos will not seek you out.  If you are not on the list you will sit there like a dumb-ass, watching those who came in after you get seated before you.  There is almost always a wait, especially on weekends, and sometimes even for lunch.  A wait is usually a sign that a restaurant has good food, so don’t bitch and make the most of it.   Samos is a B.Y.O.B facility.  This unfortunately means that there is no bar to wait at. (They also charge $2 per imbibing adult, children drink free)  But it also means you can bring your own bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 to sip on.  This situation may make Samos a bad first date location, unless you have the charm and personality to keep a girl you just met entertained in a cramped waiting area.  We can almost guarantee you don’t have these traits, so we recommend Samos for later in the relationship.

Once seated though things move quickly.  The wait staff are all pros and ready to roll.  If you didn’t bring booze, try the sweet tea, it’s lovely, especially in summer.  I have been here a million times, and I can honestly say that everything is good.  If you are new to Greek food we recommend you just bust down the door screaming and try whatever they throw at you.  In other words order the “Tour of Samos”.  This plate gives you a bunch of Greek specialties at once, and allows you a real nice sampling of the cuisine.  If you already know the deal, try the Tzatziki (cucumber sauce) and Hummus appetizers.  I also love the Shrimp Haloumi appetizer (Garlic shrimp with grilled haloumi cheese), which is big enough to get as a meal.   The Greek Salads are awesome, and they give you a bottle of their incredible homemade dressing at the table, so you can use as much as you damn well please.   I also recommend the Tiropita (Greek cheese pie) and the Spanikopita (Greek spinach pie).  Both boast a light flaky pie surrounding tasty cheese blends and cheese and spinach blends respectively.  For your main course the Souvlaki is brilliant (my favorite is the chicken) and the gyros here are awesome too.  The meats here are   always tender and well flavored.  If you have never had lamb chops before this may be spot to try them.  Order them medium rare (medium at the most), grilled in Greek seasonings, they are tender and freakin’ delicious.  Samos is also famous for their Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape leaves).   I am not a fan of the dish in general, but my current wife loves these things and orders them almost everytime we venture here.  Finish off your meal with some sweet Baklava or some rice pudding and you will be good to go my friend.

The menu here is big for such a small place, and as many times as I have been here, I haven’t sampled even half of it.  The food here is so solid, I don’t think I have ever heard of, or ever witnessed, a complaint. Finally,( and this may seem silly after talking about all the great dishes served here, but as they say the devil is in all the details)  one of the things about this place that will keep you coming back again and again is the pita bread.   Served with apps and entrees, this stuff is good as hell.  I think the pita is brushed with oil and warmed on the flat top grill.  It stirs my innards just thinkin’ about it.

So, take a night and go visit our friends over at Samos.  The food is great, atmosphere fun, and the service is on point.  Just remember, cash is king baby.


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