Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 18, 2024

We’ll just put it right out there: Dooby’s is worth the trip. While our lunchtime noms could not surpass the dinner meal that simply ROCKED, we enjoyed the space for its laid-back vibe and convenient Charles Street people-watching. (This, by the way, is the perfect homework distraction.) Dooby’s turns off its Internet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accommodate the lunch crowd, so we worked in the beautiful and awe-inspiring Peabody Library (we’re sure studying in there actually makes you smarter) and then headed to Dooby’s for a late laptop lunch around two.

I think we can all attest to having felt the need to get off campus and far, far away from the library on particularly work-laden weekends. The library can sort of suck you into its depths without you noticing the loss of air circulation and natural light and peace of mind, and before you even realize that it’s depressing to sit in a shadowy cubicle and sip on Dirty Chais and participate in library culture where norms of human behavior simply don’t apply. You may share our sentiment on this, and you may not, but regardless of your view, we recommend the following: Get off campus, find a cafe with big windows, sunbeams, an unpredictable playlist and a hipster-cheap menu, and hunker down for the day with your laptop, a warm beverage and a few friends. Baltimore is your oyster!

Okay, you guessed it. We’re speaking from experience, and we’ve done just this at Dooby’s. Something worth noting about Dooby’s is its ability to swiftly and successfully transition from casual lunch cafe-turned-afternoon study spot to a chic and, dare we say, swanky dinner joint complete with candles, mood lighting and specialty cocktails.

We ordered two different sandwiches, to which you can add a side and a dark chocolate chip cookie for an extra four dollars. (Do it. Trust us. We got the chocolate chip cookies later.) The marinated tofu banh mi was excellent, and we were disappointed to discover that it’s no longer on the Dooby’s menu. It was packed with veggies, and a delicious aioli spread served as binding without drowning out the freshness. We’re dying to try some of their other Asian options — the Korean BBQ cheesesteak gets rave reviews! We also tried the roast beef sandwich. This is no longer on their menu either — seems like our appetites can’t keep up with all of these seasonal Baltimore menus! Nevertheless, the roast beef sandwich was good but definitely came in second place of the two. It came with Gruyere cheese, a horseradish aioli, shaved red onions and fresh arugula on a baguette. Our main complaint with this sandwich was that it was nearly impossible to eat! The bread alone was good, but the crunchy crust paired with thick slices of roast beef made any chance of delicate eating absolutely out of the question. It was very rich with the cheese plus onions plus aioli, so we were glad to split, but the flavor overall was good.

A “no laptops” rule goes into effect at 5 p.m., for which we were mostly relieved because we were ready for an excuse to take a break. We can’t lie — we were tempted to stick around for Happy Hour! But we resisted and agreed to return another time. After checking the JHMI shuttle schedule, we ambled along sunny N. Charles Street to kill time before returning to campus.

Before long, we were again in the depths of the library. And it was there, in the horrid cubicles of B level, that we found ourselves (or more specifically our stomachs) thinking of Dooby’s. Never having forgotten the wonderful looking setup that began after laptops were eschewed from the space, we decided to venture there on a Thursday night for dinner. Just because we’re second semester seniors, we decided to not only treat ourselves to a nice dinner but also pair it with a late-night trip to the Walters (open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays!).

Feeling cultural and ready for a great meal, we sat down and started with cocktails, specifically the Pear Underwood (house-infused pear vanilla brandy, Byrrh Quinquina, lemon, ginger beer, sage leaf) and Pomegranate Sour (Bourbon, sweet vermouth, pomegranate-cranberry syrup, egg white). Both had creative combinations of flavors, but the Pear Underwood was more refreshing and therefore our preferred beverage.

To start, we shared the Brussels sprouts in peanut sauce primarily because we wanted to compare them to the famous Brussels sprouts of Birroteca. They were less crispy than those of Birroteca so automatically lost some points, but realistically, comparing Italian and Asian influences is not very fair. After the sprouts, we experienced our typical indecision when the waiter rolled back around to put in our entrée orders. Thanks to his help, but more importantly our inspections of neighbors’ plates, we ordered the Curry Chicken Pot Pie and the Sesame-Ginger Tuna & Stir Fry Noodles. 

The Curry Chicken Pot Pie was an interesting twist on the American comfort food we’re used to. It’s served with Japanese golden curry, chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots and of course, puff pastry. It was a rich and filling dish, but not overwhelmingly so. (We recommend eating slowly so your stomach can catch up with your eyes.) The second entree included seared tuna, japchae sweet potato noodles, Chinese broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. The noodles were the most exciting part of this dish, as they were glossy, thin and light, with a hint of sweetness thanks to the potato.

Although we were extremely full from the generous entrees — with to-go boxes to prove it — we caught sight of the chocolate chip cookies swirling around the table and knew we wanted in. We’d probably been subconsciously craving them since the time we didn’t get them after studying. Creatively labelled “Cookies and Ice Cream” on the menu, this dish was by far the highlight of the meal (already quite tasty up to this point). The two warmed brown butter cookies oozed dark chocolate upon breaking open. The brown butter ice cream that accompanied them was the best substitute for a glass of cold milk we’ve ever tasted. We agreed after cleaning our plates that, if there was any doubt before, the cookies alone are well worth the shuttle ride down to Dooby’s. 

Dooby’s is definitely a restaurant to add to your list of reliables. With a constantly changing, fun menu, it will no doubt lift your spirits during a rough week of work. Honestly, we think the cookies themselves might be the solution to world peace, but that’s a whole other article! When all of your friends are insisting on Iggies for reliable dinner that’s close, but not too close to campus, suggest Dooby’s down the block instead, and we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

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