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Alonso's, One-Pound Burgers and Thin-Crust Pizza - on W. Cold Spring Lane in Roland Park since 1931


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I don't think anyone is claiming that they are the greatest burger.  Merely a decent option if you are in the mood for a regular burger. I tend to get good fries at the Springfield location, but that is only 7 out of 10 times.

]Out of curiosity which location did you go to?  It unfortunately makes a difference.

Oh, dear. It was in Virginia. I have lived in the DC metro area for 20 years. Virginia is that terrifying place across the river where Glebe crosses itself and they shut down access to major roads at rush hour, and you can't get anywhere at all from the Parkway without going all the way down to the airport and returning via the northbound lanes. And where they don't tell you that you are getting into an HOV only situation until you can't turn around or exit. So I can't really say where we were. I THINK we were on Rte 1 south of Alexandria. We were going towards Barnes Furniture.

Whose burger are you comparing it with? BTW, speaking for myself, greasy is good. The opposite is dry.

To me, the opposite of dry is juicy. I have had a very good burger at Black's Bar and Kitchen. And a stupendous burger at a little dive just north of Johns Hopkins University in Roland Park (Baltimore's answer to Chevy Chase, hon), called Alonso's. I happen to love dives (RTS is too upscale for me!)

EYHO: Since 1938 Alonso's has catered to stressed-out executives, party-hearty college students, and everyone in-between. Its very essence screams nostalgia; Alonso's is history personified. Wood-paneled walls evoke '70s-style club basements; the servers' beehive 'dos take you back to stereotypical Bawlmer gals who crack wise and call you "Hon." A wide array of interesting curiosities decorate the entire establishment: the "original" Jurassic Park dinosaur egg, Civil War paraphernalia, handwritten letters from Martin Luther King Jr. For nostalgia alone, Alonso's is a great place to throw back a few drinks with friends at the end of the day. Unfortunately nostalgia doesn't change the fact that the food is not very good.

We opted to eat in to sample the tavern's famed meal-in-a-basket ($9.25), which features Alonso's jumbo bacon cheeseburger with French fries. Baltimore has heaped praise on this beef-on-a-bun classic for eons--City Paper named it "Best Hamburger" last year (Best of Baltimore, 9/17). I thought it worthwhile to find out how other food fares as well.

Regarding the burger: First of all, its size is alarming--the jumbo is too gigantic for human consumption. With bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and other garnishes on top of the huge beef patty, the sandwich can't even be picked up, let alone bitten. Make sure you use a fork and knife--we saw a few idiots using their hands and apparently trying (unsuccessfully) to inhale the damned thing. (One man lost control, and his fresh burger ended up square in the middle of his khakis.) Another hint: Bring along a group of people to share the burger-eating experience. Our party of four made ingesting the jumbo beef sandwich I ordered a group project, and we still had some left over.

However hard the burger is to handle, the critics are right: It is delicious. For the life of me I will never understand how Alonso's cooks a burger that big perfectly to order while maintaining the succulent, juicy beef flavor. Alonso's truly does have the best burgers in town.

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Sounds like it's been a while since you visited Alonso's. Sadly, the Alonso's you described no longer exists. The name is the same and it still looks pretty much the same from the outside but to walk inside is to be horrified. It was bought by a catering company (Classic Catering, I believe) and they did a very efficient job of robbing it of any and all character. The oval bar is gone, the paneling is gone. The waitresses are gone and the mean bartender who would yell at you for sitting on a regular's barstool is gone. The whole eau de club basement thing is gone. It now resides in the land of the generic, a true crime against humanity.

I can't comment on the food because I haven't eaten there since the change and I think that was 5 or 6 years ago. I do know that they still serve monster burgers. Alonso's was never really about the food to me but I'm not a burger eater. I enjoyed having a beer, getting a good dose of second hand smoke, watching a few innings and eating the cardboardish pizzas that I'm sure were made from Pastore's pizza kits. Aside from the mean bartender, it was a friendly place and once you knew the rules, even the mean bartender didn't seem so bad. And, you would always run into at least two people you know.

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Sounds like it's been a while since you visited Alonso's. Sadly, the Alonso's you described no longer exists. The name is the same and it still looks pretty much the same from the outside but to walk inside is to be horrified. It was bought by a catering company (Classic Catering, I believe) and they did a very efficient job of robbing it of any and all character. The oval bar is gone, the paneling is gone. The waitresses are gone and the mean bartender who would yell at you for sitting on a regular's barstool is gone. The whole eau de club basement thing is gone. It now resides in the land of the generic, a true crime against humanity.

I can't comment on the food because I haven't eaten there since the change and I think that was 5 or 6 years ago. I do know that they still serve monster burgers. Alonso's was never really about the food to me but I'm not a burger eater. I enjoyed having a beer, getting a good dose of second hand smoke, watching a few innings and eating the cardboardish pizzas that I'm sure were made from Pastore's pizza kits. Aside from the mean bartender, it was a friendly place and once you knew the rules, even the mean bartender didn't seem so bad. And, you would always run into at least two people you know.

Alonso's as I knew it ceased to exist quite some time ago. I grew up within walking distance to there. The Alonso's I remember had one of those little glass cases embedded in the outside wall next to the front door with various Orioles and Colts memorabilia that must have been covered with at least an inch of dust. I always got some perverse thrill walking in there for takeout when I was 10 or so. You'd crack the door on a summer day around noon and all the guys sitting at the bar drinking Natty Boh would look up and squint at the light streaming the door. It was the best type of dive place you could imagine. And phenomenal burgers. Sad that I never got the enjoy it as an adult (I'm pretty sure it had changed for the worse by the time I got back from college). Didn't the Loco Hombre operation next door buy it? Aren't they physically connected now? I haven't been by there in 4-5 years.

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Alonso's as I knew it ceased to exist quite some time ago.  I grew up within walking distance to there.  The Alonso's I remember had one of those little glass cases embedded in the outside wall next to the front door with various Orioles and Colts memorabilia that must have been covered with at least an inch of dust.  I always got some perverse thrill walking in there for takeout when I was 10 or so.  You'd crack the door on a summer day around noon and all the guys sitting at the bar drinking Natty Boh would look up and squint at the light streaming the door.  It was the best type of dive place you could imagine.  And phenomenal burgers.  Sad that I never got the enjoy it as an adult (I'm pretty sure it had changed for the worse by the time I got back from college).  Didn't the Loco Hombre operation next door buy it?  Aren't they physically connected now?  I haven't been by there in 4-5 years.

Yes, the Classic Catering people also own Loco Hombre and yes, to enter Loco Hombre, you walk through Alonso's. They also planted their demon seed across the street in what used to be the Hair Cuttery. It is now a breakfast place called Miss Shirley's.

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Alonso's is technically in Hampden which is the buffer zone between Roland Park and the city. I think it has also lost a lot of its charm as well.

Alonso's in Hampden? Not a chance. I love neighborhood boundary discussions so here goes. Alonso's is actually in a neighborhood known as Keswick but now commonly referred to as Alonsoville. There are several distinct neighborhoods that are surrounded by Roland Park and often lumped in with it, much to the chagrin of the true Roland Parkers. Keswick, Evergreen and Tuxedo Park fall into that pot but it is fairly obvious when you take a look around - the houses in those neighborhoods are much more modest and are not the architectural marvels that Roland Park houses are. Hampden's northern boundary is 40th Street and Cold Spring Lane is well north of 40th. But, most people aren't interested in all of that and I think it is generally accepted that Alonso's is in Roland Park. And, even though it doesn't feel like, except when home owners receive their tax bills, Roland Park is within Baltimore City limits.

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Alonso's in Hampden?  Not a chance.  I love neighborhood boundary discussions so here goes.  Alonso's is actually in a neighborhood known as Keswick but now commonly referred to as Alonsoville.  There are several distinct neighborhoods that are surrounded by Roland Park and often lumped in with it, much to the chagrin of the true Roland Parkers.  Keswick, Evergreen and Tuxedo Park fall into that pot but it is fairly obvious when you take a look around - the houses in those neighborhoods are much more modest and are not the architectural marvels that Roland Park houses are.  Hampden's northern boundary is 40th Street and Cold Spring Lane is well north of 40th.  But, most people aren't interested in all of that and I think it is generally accepted that Alonso's is in Roland Park.  And, even though it doesn't feel like, except when home owners receive their tax bills, Roland Park is within Baltimore City limits.

As a former Charles Villager (a neighborhood near Keswick) thank you for clearing that up, Alonso's is definitely not in Hampden, being on the East side of Charles St.
Ruth

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As a former Charles Villager (a neighborhood near Keswick) thank you for clearing that up, Alonso's is definitely not in Hampden, being on the East side of Charles St. 
Ruth

 
But Alonso's is on the west side of N Charles ... biggrin.gif

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But Alonso's is on the west side of N Charles ... biggrin.gif

 
Yep, as indicated by its location on WEST Cold Spring Lane. It may or may not be in Roland Park, but it's definitely not Hampden, which is to the south and west of this area. I wouldn't call it Keswick either.

Damn, it's been way too many years since I too was a Charles Villager. mad.gif

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But Alonso's is on the west side of N Charles ... biggrin.gif

 
You are so right TedE, I guess it has been longer than I thought. It is confusing which neighborhood is which, for example I lived in Charles Village and on Abell Avenue (a world unto itself) but some people considered my neighborhood Waverly. Alonso's burgers were good, and I guess we should let people decide what name they give their community, but Alonsoville wink.gif ?

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EYHO: Since 1938 Alonso's has catered to stressed-out executives, party-hearty college students, and everyone in-between. Its very essence screams nostalgia; Alonso's is history personified. Wood-paneled walls evoke '70s-style club basements; the servers' beehive 'dos take you back to stereotypical Bawlmer gals who crack wise and call you "Hon." A wide array of interesting curiosities decorate the entire establishment: the "original" Jurassic Park dinosaur egg, Civil War paraphernalia, handwritten letters from Martin Luther King Jr. For nostalgia alone, Alonso's is a great place to throw back a few drinks with friends at the end of the day. Unfortunately nostalgia doesn't change the fact that the food is not very good.

I hated to break up your wonderful prose, but I only want to reply to the first part: Alonso's has actually been there since 1931, easily making it onto our list of Oldest Restaurants in the Baltimore and Annapolis Area.

Didn't the Loco Hombre operation next door buy it? Aren't they physically connected now? I haven't been by there in 4-5 years.

Yes, it was the same ownership, although Loco Hombre closed - Namaste's will be opening there very soon.

Alonso's in Hampden? Not a chance. I love neighborhood boundary discussions so here goes. Alonso's is actually in a neighborhood known as Keswick but now commonly referred to as Alonsoville. There are several distinct neighborhoods that are surrounded by Roland Park and often lumped in with it, much to the chagrin of the true Roland Parkers. Keswick, Evergreen and Tuxedo Park fall into that pot but it is fairly obvious when you take a look around - the houses in those neighborhoods are much more modest and are not the architectural marvels that Roland Park houses are. Hampden's northern boundary is 40th Street and Cold Spring Lane is well north of 40th. But, most people aren't interested in all of that and I think it is generally accepted that Alonso's is in Roland Park. And, even though it doesn't feel like, except when home owners receive their tax bills, Roland Park is within Baltimore City limits.

Alonso's is on the corner of W. Cold Spring Lane and Schenley Road, thus putting it just to the southeast of Roland Park proper (which, incidentally was the first planned suburban community in the United States), but unless someone can figure out a better name than Alonsoville, I'm sticking with Roland Park. Oh, and get this: Alonsoville has these great t-shirts that deal exactly with this discussion.

Web site?

Website

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Alonso's dates back to the 30's??   Wow.  I ate and drank there in the 70's.  Pizza i recall, but not the burgers.  TV's I recall, and what was then more commonly known as National Boh, not Natty Boh.  Ahh, National Boh!!!   In the late 70's one of the cheers at old Baltimore Memorial stadium was "C'mon Lowenstein, hit the National Boh sign"   It would roar out of the drunken miscreants in section 34.  And by the way, a cold National Boh, or Natty Boh is far tastier in a hot ballpark than sitting at Alonso's or anywhere else.  Aside from a hot ballpark setting its a pretty lousy beer at least imho.  :)

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