Though the reopening of the Baltimore restaurant scene hasn’t been all smooth sailing, the past few weeks have brought some good news in terms of openings, collaborations and upcoming events.
Here’s a look at what’s happening locally:
The usual disclaimer
While the restaurant industry is slowly but surely coming back to life, everyone is still in a state of uncertainty and flux. Some restaurants have limited hours, some require reservations and others don’t take reservations. Many are adjusting their approaches as they learn what works and what doesn’t. Plus, if employees or patrons test positive for COVID-19, restaurants may temporarily close for cleaning without much notice.
So before heading out, check to make sure the restaurant you plan to visit is open and verify their guidelines about reservations and safety.
Openings & announcements
It’s a great time for carbs in Baltimore City. Bottoms Up Bagels has opened a brick-and-mortar location on Greenmount Avenue, CRUST by Mack is open in Whitehall Market and Ovenbird Bakery opened in Little Italy. Early reports from all are spectacular.
Ceremony Coffee Roasters’ new Whitehall Market location has opened, joining CRUST by Mack, White Tea, FireFly Farms Market, Gundalow Gourmet and Homebody General Store in the new Hampden marketplace.
A new outpost of Colin’s Seafood & Grill opened earlier in June in the Loch Raven Shopping Center.
Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria, a new Mexican spot, has opened at The Shops at Kenilworth. The chain restaurant is now open for outdoor and limited indoor dining and has already earned some local fans.
Bushel and a Peck Kitchen & Bar, a new restaurant from the powerhouse team behind Iron Bridge Wine Company, will open in Clarksville in September.
Hotel Revival has a new executive chef, Justin Vaiciunas, an industry veteran who has worked in cities across the country, from Detroit to Chicago to Miami to San Diego. He has recently launched new lunch, dinner, brunch and kids’ menus at the hotel.
The past few weeks have brought a few sad announcements, too, including the closure of the beloved Baltimore County restaurant The Milton Inn, and the news that Clyde’s, a Columbia mainstay since 1975, has announced it will close July 18. A Rake’s Progress, the Washington, D.C. restaurant helmed by Baltimorean Spike Gjerde, has also closed permanently.
Plus, acclaimed drinks expert and manager Chelsea Gregoire announced she has left True Chesapeake Oyster Co. (though Gregoire isn’t going away altogether; she is shifting her focus to her consulting business, Drinkable Genius).
If you’ve been hoping to get back to one of Baltimore’s many public markets, you’re in luck: As of June 29, Northeast Market is once again open to the public, and Broadway Market will reopen at 50 percent capacity in early July and is offering curbside carryout and delivery until then.
Over at Cross Street Market, The Sweet Shoppe is closing after 32 years and being replaced with another location for local ice cream makers Taharka Brothers.
Other markets have opening plans and renovations in the works. To check on current status, visit individual markets’ social media pages or check out bpmarkets.com.
Celebrating an anniversary is a big deal in the food and beverage industry. This summer, a couple popular spots have big birthdays.
Manor Hill Brewing celebrated five years of great beer in June and this summer, Petit Louis Bistro turns 20. The venerable Roland Park bistro has put fête plans on hold for now and anticipates throwing a bash for its 21st next year.
Happy hour is back at Abbey Burger Bistro
A sure sign things are starting to return to normal: the reemergence of happy hour deals for dine-in customers. At Uptown Abbey, the Mount Washington outpost of Abbey Burger Bistro, that means $4 drafts and wine and deals on popular apps like fried pickles and crab tots, from 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The restaurant also has a terrific new outdoor space allowing diners to choose whether they dine in or out.
Al fresco and more
The local restaurant scene continues to evolve, as restaurants adapt to changing needs and guidelines. Though restaurants throughout the state are currently allowed to open both outside and at 50 percent indoor capacity, some remain closed except for carryout and some are still outside only.
Restaurants continue to work creatively, too, figuring out ways to make the most of their outdoor space.
At Dutch Courage, the tented courtyard is outfitted with carefully spaced tables and chairs and lots of greenery.
Guinness is making great and safe use of its outdoor space with clusters of tables and chairs strategically positioned around the grounds.
Cosima has tented its gorgeous patio, so it can be used rain or shine.
In Roland Park, Petit Louis has tables festively scattered throughout its front parking area and Vida Taco Bar in Harbor Point has expanded its fun outdoor seating to 70 seats – and those are just a few of the local spots creating fun outdoor dining environments.
For your listening pleasure
A pair of local restaurant and food industry experts, Martha Lucius and Dave Seel, are teaming up on a new podcast all about the industry here in Baltimore and across the country. The podcast, called Holy Guacamole, is sure to be worth a listen. Both know their stuff when it comes to the industry and have tons of insight about what can and should change as restaurants reopen.
Another local food-and-restaurant podcast worth a listen is Rouxde Cooking School the creation of food writer John Houser III and his podcasting partner in crime Rebecca Madariaga. Together, the two of them are smart, funny and insightful about food–and sometimes NSFW.
Mera and Alma doing good
Mera Kitchen Collective and Alma Cocina Latina are collaborating to help Baltimoreans in need. The teams from both organizations have been working together under the umbrella of José Andres’ World Central Kitchen and have provided over 40,000 meals to those in need during the pandemic.
They recognize that this need is ongoing and have plans in the works for a new relief kitchen, similar to World Central Kitchen, but with the focus on Baltimore.
Dining Out for Life
Moveable Feast’s annual fundraiser, Dining Out for Life, looks a little different this year. In normal years, the organization partners with local restaurants, who support the cause by donating a portion of their proceeds from one specified day in September.
This year, Moveable Feast is giving back to the restaurants, recognizing them for their valuable efforts over the years. From now through Sept. 17, Moveable Feast is highlighting its restaurant partners on its website and hosting periodic virtual #TakeOutThursdays events with livestreams of musicians and talks from experts. The idea behind the initiative is to encourage people to get carryout from great restaurants then join together online for a community experience.
For more information about this year’s initiative, and to donate directly to Moveable Feast, visit their website.
Stepping up wines by the glass at Limoncello
South Baltimore’s Limoncello has invested in a Coravin system, which allows wines to be poured by the glass without compromising what’s left in the bottle. This means some higher-end wines normally only sold by the bottle will now be available by the glass, which is great news for wine drinkers who like to experiment without committing to a whole bottle.
Cane Collective at The Corner Pantry
On Friday, July 3, the creators of Cane Collective cocktail mixes will pop up at the newly expanded Corner Pantry to share samples and inspiration for summertime beverages. The pop-up will start at 11 a.m. and last until 3 p.m.
Cocktails Al Fresco in Mt. Vernon
Speaking of cocktails…also on July 3, the Sugarvale crew will be hosting an al fresco cocktail party outside Dooby’s on N. Charles Street. Drinks will be ordered online and picked up outside the restaurant.
Blue Pit and BARCS
From now through July 4, Merrick Pet Care will make a $10 donation to BARCS for every order placed at Blue Pit BBQ. This effort is part of Merrick’s nationwide initiative to support animal shelters as it promotes its new line of slow-cooked BBQ for dogs.
Staycation Supper Club
Many vacations are on hold this year but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy something semi-exotic. Eddie’s has put together a “Staycation Supper Club” series of heat-and-serve dinners inspired by vacation destinations. The meal sets, which serve six, include appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts. As a bonus, Eddie’s is putting together three-hour Spotify playlists to enhance the dining experience.
The first supper club menu, “Tropical Paradise,” is available through July 4. Its playlist was built by local musician (and Eddie’s customer) William Cashion of Future Islands.
Pierpoint Restaurant’s camps and classes are back! The restaurant will begin to offer its popular in-restaurant classes again on July 7. Classes will include between 8 and 10 people and the cooking focus varies. Information about options is available on the restaurant’s website.
Free Zoom class with Husch Vineyards and Chef’s Expressions
On July 9, Chef Jerry Edwards of Chef’s Expressions will host a wine tasting and pairing class via Zoom. The class will feature three wines from Husch Vineyards. Chef Edwards will provide recipes to pair with the wines, so attendees can cook at home and follow along. The vineyard’s owner and winemaker will also be on hand to talk about the wines and answer questions.
Chilling in the city
Order & Chaos has a new lineup of summer drinks on the menu, including some involving CBD, like the CBD Chiller, a mix of citrus CBD-infused soda, raspberry syrup, lime juice and basil. The Key Highway café is now also serving THB bagels.
One of the most delightful things about Baltimore’s food and restaurant scene is the genuine love chefs and business owners have for one another–and that they show that love through fun collaborations that the rest of us get to enjoy.
Right now, The Charmery is working on several especially sweet collabs. Together with Ekiben, they’ve created a new flavor called Matcha Madeleine. The matcha-infused ice cream is mixed with bits of madeleine cookies. Even sweeter: $1 of each pint is donated to Black Running Organization.
The Charmery has also teamed up with another favorite local ice cream maker, Taharka Brothers, to create Dance of the Earthquake, a chocolate, coconut and peanut brittle ice cream available by the pint or scoop (and named after a Peter Tosh song). All profits from Dance of the Earthquake benefit the Job Opportunity Task Force.
The ice cream empire has a third fun collaboration in the works, as well: Pints & Pages with Atomic Books. The two companies have put together ice cream and book pairings. For $25, you can purchase a specially selected summer reading “essential,” along with a pint of ice cream created specifically to complement the book. There is an option for kids and another for grownups, so readers of all ages can enjoy this collaboration.
Pints & Pages delivery and pickup starts July 9. Pre-orders must be received by July 5.
Maryland Food Truck Week kicks off
Maryland Food Truck Week starts on July 10 this year. The event–which is actually 16 days long, not just a week–benefits Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland.
Though in past years it has included several large gatherings of trucks, this year’s Maryland Food Truck Week will instead focus on smaller events scattered around the area. More than 75 food trucks are participating, so there’s sure to be something for everyone.