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Tio Pepe, Franklin and Charles Streets Downtown - Spanish Fine Dining since 1968


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I did a search and couldn't find anything on Tio Pepe's.

This is a Spanish Restaurant in Baltimore that was amazing the two times I have been there. The first time there, my wife had a special with scallops and a lemon wine butter sauce. The scallops were the best I have ever had ... melted in my mouth and the flavor was amazing. I had a dish called the 3 Amigos which was lamb beef and pork (either pork or chicken ... I forget) and it was really good.

The second time there I was with a group of people and we ordered fish that was filleted table side. The presentation was wonderful and the flavor amazing.

The sangria was also a definite hit ... in their pitchers with the fresh fruit.

Has anyone else happened upon this restaurant?

If so ... which dishes were great and which ones should be avoided?

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I did a search and couldn't find anything on Tio Pepe's.

This is a Spanish Restaurant in Baltimore that was amazing the two times I have been there.  The first time there, my wife had a special with scallops and a lemon wine butter sauce.  The scallops were the best I have ever had ... melted in my mouth and the flavor was amazing.  I had a dish called the 3 Amigos which was lamb beef and pork (either pork or chicken ... I forget) and it was really good.

The second time there I was with a group of people and we ordered fish that was filleted table side.  The presentation was wonderful and the flavor amazing.

The sangria was also a definite hit ... in their pitchers with the fresh fruit.

Has anyone else happened upon this restaurant? 

If so ... which dishes were great and which ones should be avoided?

To be honest your appraisal is completely opposite from my experiences and from what I've heard from others about Tio Pepe's in the recent past (if you define the recent past as starting some time in the late '80s). It used to be the go-to, "high end", celebration dinner place in B-more, but by now it's a shell of its former proud self. In truth I haven't been there in 7-8 years, but that last experience and everything I've heard about TP's since places it somewhere in the triple digits on my list of places where I want to dine in the city where I grew up. I could commend them on sticking to their guns and not being tempted to change with the times, but the truth is that the food just seems tired and uninteresting.

There is something to be said about their sangria, though. It is seriously good.

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I think that virtually everyone who is from Baltimore has been to Tio Pepe's and there are still people who love it. At this point, there are many, many other places where I would rather spend my money.

Sadly, I am convinced that the only way to get a good meal there is to know the secret handshake. My neighbor, a well traveled and fairly sophisticated eater, swears by it. BUT, her father went to Tio Pepe's so often that he had "his own table." The people there have known her since childhood and she orders things that aren't listed on the menu. They take very good care of her. I'd go to Tio Pepe's with her or someone like her but not on my own. The last meal I had there was hideous beyond belief.

But, as others have pointed out the sangria is always good. And, if you have enough of it you will forget about the food.

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The last time I was there was for one of my proms in the '80s. From what I understand, the food hasn't been the same since the owner/chef died.

My favorite memory of the place was when I was 13 and they made me wear a tacky, oversized green blazer since I didn't wear the proper required jacket.

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I grew up in Columbia, Maryland and I remember it being a big night out when my parents went to Tio Pepe's circa 1975. Seeing it discussed reminds me of watching Carol Burnett and beating up my little brothers and mom taking about ten times as long as usual to do her makeup.

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Well, here we go with age....I first went to Tio Pepe in 1972 when my girl friend at the time (who grew up near Moravia and Sinclair) swore that it was THE place she wanted to go to for her birthday. At the time Tio Pepe, along with the Pimlico Hotel, the Prime Rib and Ernie's were THE places to go in Bawlmer.

We went. It was a disaster. Two weeks earlier we had been to EL Tio Pepe in Georgetown. Neither Tio Pepe nor El Tio Pepe made a paella, zarzuela or gambas ajillas as good as I did. Serious. Nevertheless she was impressed, Tio Pepe was a BIG deal then and she was impressed.

I should note that for the next several years, every year on her birthday, she asked me to make paella and jambas ajillas.

I haven't been back to Tio Pepe since. Nor El Tio Pepe either which I believe went out of business in the early '90's.

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Based on reviews elsewhere, it sounds like much of the menu is now lacking but that the suckling pig is still a strong point.

Has anybody had the suckling pig at Tio Pepe recently?

I would love to know - Tio Pepe is the first restaurant where I ever had Roast Suckling Pig, and it was fantastic. I remember at the same meal (late 1980s), there was also a great spinach, white grapes, and pine nuts side dish, and a rolled pine-nut cake, sliced from a loaf (tableside) for dessert, not to mention the first good Sangria I ever had. These four things are in my memory over 25 years later. Tio Pepe was a *great* restaurant; I haven't been in over a decade, maybe even fifteen years - I wonder how it compared, mano-a-mano, to Taberna del Alabardero when both were in their primes.

This was one of the first good, fine-dining restaurants I'd ever tried (it was right around the time I went to Russian Tea Room in New York City where I had the first Beef Stroganoff of my life that wasn't Stouffer's, as well as a Chicken Kiev that squirted like a cherry tomato when I cut into it), and both of them stand out in my mind as "pioneer fine-dining restaurants" for me. Wow, I was relatively old, being in my mid-to-late 20s, compared to some of the young guns of today.

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Tio Pepe, Baltimore.   That brings back memories; I was there twice in the mid 70's.  It felt like the exquisite dining experience in Baltimore.   Haven't been back since.  In fact I'm surprised its still around, having opened at the end of the 60's.   I did not have the suckling pig, but recall it being talked about.

I just did an extensive search on the web for comments about the suckling pig.  Comments at review sites are few and far between with one strong review for the dish in 2015.   I'd suggest you go,order it and report back.

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We celebrated our 36th Anniversary at Tio Pepe Tuesday night.  Many of my wife's Baltimore friends had raved about it.  Very old school, surprised they are still in business given the location was not inner harbor.

The food was excellent.  We both had seafood dishes which were really good and large.  We both cleaned our plates.  Their wine list was fairly priced as we had a reserva Rioja 2014 Marquis de Riscal for 42 dollars.

I would go back.  And I do need to get up to Baltimore more as it was only about 40 minutes from Annapolis.

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10 hours ago, MarkS said:

We celebrated our 36th Anniversary at Tio Pepe Tuesday night.  Many of my wife's Baltimore friends had raved about it.  Very old school, surprised they are still in business given the location was not inner harbor.

The food was excellent.  We both had seafood dishes which were really good and large.  We both cleaned our plates.  Their wine list was fairly priced as we had a reserva Rioja 2014 Marquis de Riscal for 42 dollars.

I would go back.  And I do need to get up to Baltimore more as it was only about 40 minutes from Annapolis.

The first luxe fine dining restaurant I ever went to was Harvey's in DC (early-mid 1980s), but Tio Pepe was probably one of my first five (*) - I believe I went there in 1988, and was just blown away by two things: a side dish of Spinach, Pine Nuts, and Grapes; and a dessert of Pine Nut Cake which was sliced from a rolled-up log. I fell in love with the service, the dessert cart, and the whole formality of the atmosphere. I just can't remember if I ever went back a second time (**), but I've driven past on dozens of occasions, each time with a little smile on my face.

(*) My guess, in no particular order, is Harvey's (DC), Tio Pepe (Baltimore), La Maisonette (Cincinatti), Ernie's (San Francisco), and Russian Tea Room (New York City), all in 1990 or before (I got a very late start, by today's standards). Now that I'm typing this, I also remember Dominique's (DC), my first visit (of several) to Le Lion d'Or (DC), and some AAA-Mobil five-star/diamond-whatever rated place in Bar Harbor, Maine that burned down and wasn't all that impressive (Mobil and AAA were pretty much the only dining guides to go on back then).

(**) Wow, I just this second remembered I got Roast Suckling Pig and had no idea what it was.

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a side dish of Spinach, Pine Nuts, and Grapes-We had that on Tuesday.  It was a great dish

I remember Harvey's.  They advertised their drinks as free bar pour.  I had no idea but my Vodka Tonic was delivered as a tall glass of Vodka and a bottle on tonix water.

 

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