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Our Guide to Ethnic Dining on the Purple Route

Blue Agave
Blue Agave - Steve Ruark
The project is not a small one. 

My mission is to sample ethnic eats on the Charm City Circulator Purple Route, which goes through Mount Vernon and Federal Hill and Penn Station. [See the main story for more details on my adventure.]

I pull out the route map on the computer and toggle the screen with a Google map of downtown restaurants. I whip out my notepad and match up the restaurants with the bus stops. That way, I have a plan before I hit the road. Free bus ride and cheap ethnic eats: It's a fine way for the budget-conscious to get through the winter months. 

After feeding the meter for two hours, I checked the Charm City Circulator site on my smart phone to see whether the next bus would be heading north on Charles or heading south on Saint Paul Street. 

The Charm City Circulator's winter buses run Monday-Thursday, from 6:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, it runs until midnight and starts at 9 a.m. on weekends. That makes the Purple Route an ideal transportation option if you want to take advantage of happy hour dining and beverage specials, rather than jumping onto that traffic jam on I-95 or I-83. 

My advice for evening dining is to find cheap street parking (if you don't live in the area) and take a whirlwind tour of the international culinary destinations. Travel the world on the Purple Route.

Here’s a list of some restaurants to help you get started. We do welcome your suggestions if I have missed a favorite ethnic restaurant of yours.

The bus stops at Light and Cross Street and there are a variety of choices within a two-block radius.

Light & Cross Streets 
Thai Yum       
1006 Light St.
Maria D's – Greek and Italian      
1016 S. Light St.
Thai Arroy
1019 Light St.
Kiku Sushi Restaurant        
1017 Light St.
Elvis Sandwich Shop, Mexican; no table service        
1022 Light St.
Wok & Roll, Japanese and sushi      
1025 Light St.
Blue Agave, Mexican
1032 Light St.
Byblos Lebanese Cuisine        
1033 Light St.
No Way Jose Café, Mexican
38 Cross St.

North Charles & West Pleasant
Cazbar, Turkish
316 North Charles St.
*Lunch special: three courses, Ottoman Express, $11.99

Lumbini Restaurant        
322 N. Charles St.
Check website for coupon
Mick O'Sheas        
328 North Charles St.
Ban Thai       
340 North Charles St.
Sotto Sopra, Italian
405 N. Charles St.
* Offers a $15 two-course lunch special. 

Dara Bunjon has a passion for food – its origins, preparation and consumption. Her passion became her business Dara Does It. Her rants, raves, reviews, reminiscences, and recipes can be found regularly on her Dining Dish and Dara Does It blogs. 

All photographs by STEVE RUARK
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