I think most of us have a pretty good idea of the places where you can obtain provisions from near campus. Call them what you will: restaurants, food places, institutions, gastronomical adventure zones, eating rooms, nourishment chambers, nomz. These dining establishments are a key part of the student experience here, and ranking them is a job not to be taken lightly.
I judge based on three main factors: quality, consistency and value. In order to be eligible for this list, a place must be in or near Charles Village and it must serve food.
Based on my experiences as a patron of all the places, here are my current top five picks for the best places to eat in Charles Village.
5. Brody Café. Homewood Campus borders Charles Village. Brody Café is located on the Homewood Campus, and it serves food. Therefore, I argue that Brody Café is a Charles Village dining establishment and eligible for this list.
As a Hopkins student, I spend quite a bit of time either passing through or studying in the library. Brody Café is my one-stop shop for all-day alimentation. Whether it’s the coffee that gets me through a late night study session or the sausage, egg and cheese bagel sandwich that greets me on the rare morning I’m awake, Brody Café’s offerings are always up to par.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not the finest cuisine in America, but it is superb at getting the job done and the relatively low prices make it a high value location.
4. Chipotle. Ah, yes. Old Faithful. The amount of consistency you get out of this place never ceases to amaze me. The chicken is cut into perfect little cubes for that satisfying meaty bite.
The burritos are well-wrapped about 70 percent of the time. The team knows the hustle, and they blast through those mealtime rushes with impressive speed. And ever since it announced the extended hours, I’ve been going there for an early late-night fix.
What Chipotle does lack is a bit of flavor. It’s all pretty standard ingredients, and there’s nothing there that makes me think, “wow that’s really delicious.” It’s the place I go after the gym. It’s the place I go between classes. It’s the place I go for a quick and easy meal that I can eat in front of the TV.
3. Ajumoney. I won’t lie. Some of the food here is terrible. I have walked away from this place wondering why I paid eight bucks for instant noodles with an egg.
But the griddled and fried dishes are the equivalent of Asian-style Chipotle. The beef and shrimp with onions. The beef “sukiyaki.” The pork katsu. All classics for a weekday lunch. The Japanese-style curry is very tasty, albeit a little salty.
2. Orient Express. I’ve written a more detailed review of this place, but here’s what I got. This place has been pretty inconsistent in the past. Going on a weekday for lunch is a different experience from going on a weekend for dinner.
But when it’s good, it really hits the spot. My personal favorite is the laziji or crispy chicken stir fried with Sichuan peppercorn. It’s not exactly healthy, and it’s also quite expensive for Chinese food, so Orient Express serves as more of the occasional indulgence than the everyday meal.
1. Honeygrow. Honeygrow has had some difficulties keeping the product consistently good in the past, and there can be some bad apples on the menu.
When I was a fifth grader in the Cub Scouts, I learned how to change a tire for the handyman belt loop. While this was undoubtedly a necessary life skill, it also taught me how heavy and tough used tire felt like. The roasted tofu in my Honeygrow stir fry the time I tried it was as unforgiving and indigestible as the tire I changed in fifth grade.
What Honeygrow lacks in consistency, though, it makes up in flavor and customizability. The sauces are extremely consistent and very flavorful. My personal favorite is the curry sauce, and I always do either normal sauce or less sauce.
The ordering system is elegant and provides the ultimate individually tailored experience. My only problem is my own indecision standing at the kiosk, but that’s okay because there’s no cashier getting annoyed at me for taking a long time. It does make it a little weird when someone behind the counter says hi to me, though.
The fantastic flavor as well as the decent price make me come back time and time again.