On Thursday nights, Guinness Open Gate Brewery is screening movies – complete with snacks and beers – in a heated outdoor tent.
On Thursday nights, Guinness Open Gate Brewery is screening movies – complete with snacks and beers – in a heated outdoor tent.

This week is a big one for Baltimore restaurants – and not just because every restaurant in the region has taken full advantage of the Bernie meme. Who knew Bernie Sanders and his mittens would be such a fan of outdoor dining in Charm City?

Whether or not Bernie makes it to any Baltimore restaurants this week, there’s a lot for locals to enjoy. Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Baltimore City reopens for dining
Mayor Scott announced earlier this week that Baltimore City restaurants will be permitted to open for both indoor and outdoor dining, starting Friday. Several new parameters are in place, though: restaurants max out at 25% capacity indoors and 50% outdoors, diners are only permitted to stay for an hour, and all patron contact information must be logged to make contact tracing easier.

Some restaurants are opting to remain closed/carryout only for now or are delaying their opening for a week or two or three, while they get their spaces and staffs up to speed. Given the new one-hour rule, some are also requiring reservations and, as the Nancy by SNAC owners posted on social media, they’ll be encouraging you to “eat fast and get to steppin’.” (It’s a joke…but they’re right. Diners really can’t linger – yet.)

So before you head out to your favorite spot, be sure to check on guidelines and protocol. And in case you don’t feel comfortable dining in just yet, restaurant carryout and delivery is still an option at many places.

Openings & announcements
Toki Tako, the Korean-taco spot from the owners of The Local Fry, is set to open next week. The menu looks terrific and like lots of fun. It includes a la cart tacos or ssam and a couple DIY meal kits.

Ministry of Brewing celebrated one year in business on Jan. 21. Thanks to COVID, they’ve been closed more than they’ve been open for that year but on Friday, Jan. 22, they’ll be celebrating by opening their doors once again.

After a month-long hiatus, La Calle has reopened.

La Cuchara has also reopened its restaurant kitchen. While the Basque spot never fully closed, for the past few weeks, only its Marketplace has been open.

Saving Baltimore’s restaurants
Even with limited indoor and outdoor dining and carryout, Baltimore’s restaurants are still in trouble. Right now, there are multiple ways to help support them simply dining in or carrying out.

One of those ways is via the Save Baltimore 2021 virtual gala. The event isn’t until Feb. 6 but the silent auction starts Sunday, so you can check out a variety of different items and experiences available for bidding.

The event is organized by Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, which has also organized a GoFundMe that will funnel grants to local restaurants in need – 100% of donations go directly to restaurants that have applied and been approved for those grants. The Famous Fund, as it’s called, has raised over $225,000 so far.

New & cool
One of the brightest spots of the pandemic has been watching Baltimore restaurants’ creativity shine – and that hasn’t stopped, as restaurants continue to offer new and interesting products.

EKIBEN has partnered with the D.C. streetwear brand MAJOR on a line of very cool hats. They’re available now but quantities are limited, so grab one before they’re sold out.

The Gundalow Gourmet crew has added a couple new additions to their Whitehall Mill location menu, including a grab-and-go smoothie ingredient package including exactly what you need to make Gundalow’s classic Mainstay Smoothie at home.

Cunningham’s Café has a handful of new freezer items available to purchase and take home, including things like cookie dough and chicken noodle soup.

Woodberry Kitchen’s pop-up this weekend is all about the taco, including hand-pressed tortillas and a variety of fillings.

Give back with wings
Despite the Ravens’ tough loss last week, some good has come from their trip to Buffalo, with members of the Bills Mafia banding together to donate to Lamar Jackson’s charity.

A generous Federal Hill resident is taking a cue from that and from now through the Super Bowl, they will donate $1 for every order of wings sold at one of several spots to Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen’s preferred charities, including Blessings in a Backpack and Kaleida Health. Very generous – and a great way to support local restaurants.

Currently participating restaurants include SoBo Café, Don’t Know Tavern, Delia Foley’s and AJ’s on Hanover.

Delivery outside the city
Keep an eye out for local restaurants coordinating pickup spots in far-flung areas. For example, Tio Pepe has partnered with Sacred Heart Parish in Glyndon for a big drive-through delivery on Jan. 22. Vaccaro’s has also scheduled pickup spots everywhere from Severna Park to White Marsh.

Social media is a great way to keep up with these sorts of deliveries.

Supporting Village Learning Place with The Verandah
Village Learning Place has a terrific fundraiser in place: for $40, you will purchase a meal kit with the ingredients for chicken or vegetarian paneer masala, which you’ll then learn to cook via Zoom, as The Verandah Kitchen chef/owner Radhika Sule walks you through the steps.

The fundraiser is open now and the class is on Feb. 1.

Brewers Hill neighborly love
Brewers Hill Neighbors has put together a promotion to help support the neighborhood’s restaurants. For every $25 spent at Blue Hill Tavern, Gunther & Co., Hucks American Craft, Knotty Pine or Mobtown Brewing Company, you’ll receive a ticket for a raffle – with multiple prizes – that will be held online Feb. 16.

Pasta on Zoom
The Verandah’s not the only spot in town getting in on the virtual cooking class action. Cosima’s cooking class this week will be held on Sunday, via Zoom. Attendees will pick up ingredients at the restaurant, then follow along from the comfort of their own kitchens.

Movies at Guinness
Starting this past week, Guinness Open Gate Brewery will host a movie night every Thursday through Feb. 11. The movies will be screened in a heated tent and safety protocols will be observed. While you’re watching the flicks, you can munch on snacks like popcorn and candy and, of course, enjoy Guinness beers.

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
Feb. 6: Save Baltimore Gala 
Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day specials all over town
Feb. 27: Whiskey, Wine & Fire at The Manor Tavern 

Kit Pollard

Kit Waskom Pollard is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributing writer. She writes Hot Plate every Friday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.