This week has been an emotionally fraught one for Baltimore restaurateurs, as COVID-19 cases increase and new regulations go into effect limiting dining options in Baltimore City.
Despite those challenges, the Charm City culinary community is as tough and creative as ever, developing new business models at the speed of light, and putting together creative gift packages just in time for the holidays.
Plus, there are a couple fun, safe events to look forward to this week. Here’s a look at those happenings, plus a roundup of ways local restaurants are adapting to the new environment, a preview of holiday meal options, and some excellent gifts courtesy of Baltimore’s restaurant community:
Baltimore in the spotlight
On Friday, Dec. 11, tune into Food Network to spot Miss Shirley’s Café on “America’s Favorites: Top-Notch Tastes,” a show featuring a handful of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” alumni. The episode airs at 9 p.m. – and will remind you that there’s a lot to love about this city’s food scene.
On Wednesday, The Tilted Row is partnering with Elite Wines for a fun virtual wine tasting. Get in touch with the restaurant for information about how to sign up, receive the wines and possibly pair them with some snacks.
Pivot. It’s the word of the year for restaurants, as they adjust business models – sometimes overnight – to try to stay afloat.
This week, new Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott announced that city restaurants would be closed for both indoor and outdoor dining, starting Friday at 5 p.m. Even before that announcement, local restaurants, both in and out of the city, had begun offering carryout, family meals, and other creative options, like pantry items.
Here’s a look at ways to support local restaurants right now:
Café Gia is now offering family meals designed for two, four or six people and has started local delivery within a 5-mile radius. Stay tuned: the Little Italy restaurant’s terrific limoncello, blood orange, coffee, strawberry, pistachio and chocolate ‘cellos will be available for gift-giving this year, too.
Thames Street Oyster House’s carryout menus include not only food but also drinks like hot apple cider and the restaurant’s famous eggnog.
Peter’s Inn’s carryout menu includes everything from cocktails to pantry items. Also: raclette fondue with speck, potatoes and cornichons, which might be the perfect winter food.
Swallow at the Hollow’s regular menu will be available for carry-out daily. The bar will also be selling crushes and margaritas to go; either one would pair well at home with an order or two of hot cheese balls.
Duck Duck Goose’s carryout menu will change each week. Dishes will be accompanied by heating instructions, so the food is as good at home as it would be in the pretty Fells Point restaurant.
Le Comptoir du Vin is serving sandwiches to-go and its shop is going strong; it is stocked with interesting finds. The restaurant is also offering a curated gift bag with some of its favorite pantry staples.
Zen West’s grilled wings and chalupa salad are two of the best-kept secrets in Baltimore. They’re great – and they’re both available for carryout.
NiHao’s carryout options include a dim sum set available each Saturday and Sunday early afternoon. https://www.facebook.com/NiHaoBmore/
Nacho Mama’s menu is available for carryout and delivery. Keep your eyes on their social media for announcements of fun specials.
The Point in Fells has carryout options plus a holiday menu with packages available for two to 20 people.
Foraged Eatery’s exceptional food can be ordered for pickup or delivery through the restaurant website.
Joe Benny’s has carryout and delivery options and is offering 20% off half-baked focaccia to-go.
Byblos in Federal Hill has a walk-up window for carryout.
La Calle’s terrific Mexican food is available for pickup and delivery via Toast.
La Scala offers carryout as well as fresh ingredients, via its Mercato La Scala.
Cinghiale’s to-go menu includes complete dishes as well as fresh pasta and sauces and individual salumi and cheeses.
Sammy’s Trattoria has carryout and delivery available.
Limoncello has a new curbside pickup menu with family style meals for four or six people. And a bonus: either size includes a small bottle of limoncello.
Silver Queen Café has added delivery options and is handling carryout through the front window of the restaurant, to minimize the number of people inside the space at all times. And some extra good news: the café can sell booze through the window, in addition to food.
The Verandah’s carryout and delivery options remain strong, including a variety of Indian dishes, some of which are vegetarian/vegan and/or gluten-free, and a couple three-course meal choices.
Mick O’Shea’s has carryout available and delivery should be up and running by the weekend.
Gunther & Co. has a pickup market, featuring some favorite foods.
Villagio Café’s family meals – each named after a local neighborhood – are total crowd pleasers (even when that crowd is only your immediate family). Consider the adas polo rice instead of regular; it’s a game-changer.
Abbey Burger Bistro’s multiple locations offer carryout – and really good burgers.
Huck’s American Craft’s dinner, brunch and specialty cocktails are all available for carryout.
You can grab Papi’s tacos (or its other fun Mexican food) via carryout.
Harbor East Deli and Italian Disco, both part of the Atlas Restaurant Group, will offer expanded delivery menus. Azumi, another Atlas spot, will have sushi to-go. Stay tuned for more pop-ups and holiday options from Atlas restaurants (which also include Tagliata, The Bygone, Ouzo Bay, Loch Bar and Maximon).
Of Love & Regret’s carryout menu includes both food and drinks, including two-course beverage packs featuring cocktails, beers and wines.
Cross Street Market vendors are open for carryout orders; you can pick up inside the market and via its walk-up windows (Ceremony Coffee and Pizza di Joey).
Cosima has regular takeout and has launched Cosima Bottega, selling meal kits for pizzas, pasta dishes and more.
Blue Moon Café and Blue Moon Too will continue to offer breakfast-all-day carryout from both locations, plus breakfast catering options.
Speaking of pasta, Orto’s weekly pasta and sauce club, which includes optional add-ons like homemade bread, salad and drink options, is going strong. The restaurant will have a full carryout menu, with select delivery within five miles of the restaurant, starting this coming Sunday.
Also keep an eye out for Lily’s, the new spot from Orto’s owners, which opening in the former home of The Dizz. It will still be opening soon – but for carryout only to start.
Dutch Courage has all sorts of carryout options, including ribs and brisket this coming Sunday.
Zeke’s Café has a terrific carryout service and delivery within three miles. Pro tip: if you’re within those three miles, you can also order bags of coffee beans (whole or ground) for home delivery.
Gypsy’s Truckstaurant has carryout available and, of course, the food truck is still out and about.
The Chasseur’s carryout options span from food to drinks and drink kits.
Crossbar will be open for carryout and delivery.
Marie Louise Bistro’s Mediterranean/French menu will be available via carryout and deliver.
Claddagh Pub has free delivery starting Friday at 5 p.m.
Linwood’s has a newly updated curbside menu including seasonal dishes like butternut squash and apple soup, a lasagna family meal, and fun cocktails, like a blood orange martini.
Sotto Sopra’s entire menu is available via carryout.
Wicked Sisters has online ordering available, including family-sized meals.
Magdalena will be offering its spectacular food for takeout.
Dylan’s Oyster Cellar is offering carryout and delivery; you can order off the regular menu, as well as order oysters to shuck at home and other items like the restaurant’s hot sauce, a shucking knife, and their insulated tote bags, which are a perfect way to carry around a couple dozen oysters.
Brewer’s Art’s menu is available for carryout and delivery and its great Burger Night special is available for pickup.
The Food Market is offering carryout all week long and has regular specials, including a Monday night $20 carryout menu with a bunch of really good options.
Lee’s Pint & Shell has created a meal plan for weekly pickup. There are gluten-free and vegan options and the kits are available for local delivery on Sundays.
When you order from Dooby’s via Toast, you can also grab to-go cocktails that originally appeared on the menu at the fabulous Sugarvale.
Grano Pasta Bar’s delicious homemade pastas and sauces are available for carryout.
Nick’s Fish House has numerous carryout options, including family packs designed for groups, like the crab cake party pack including four crab cakes, veggies, potatoes, coleslaw and a six-pack of beer.
Newcomer Sally O’s is expanding its to-go options to include delivery plus drinks, lunch and brunch.
Charleston’s menu is available for curbside pickup; Chef Cindy Wolf received a shipment of truffles this week that inspired her to create a special truffle-oriented menu.
Rye Street Tavern offers delivery and takeout options (and they have a free delivery promo code on social media).
The Charmery is still delivering pints and pies locally and the stores are open for to-go orders.
Maggie’s Farm offers its menu carry-out and delivery through delivery services; you can also grab beer, wine and cocktails to-go.
Amicci’s has regular carryout specials, including a $10 bottle of wine add-on. Great deal!
Water Song Yunnan Kitchen will have carryout, including daily specials.
Sabatino’s has a fall/holiday menu available for pickup at IHM in Towson. Meals are fully cooked and cooled for reheating at home.
Bluebird’s take home options include gift boxes, burgers and boozy hot chocolate.
Blue Hill Tavern’s carryout deals include Family Meal Wednesdays – a multicourse dinner for two for $55.
Whitehall Market stalls will remain open for pickup.
Fries and wings are the comfort food we need right now; The Local Fry is so good at both of them. Their menu is available for pickup or delivery via Toast.
Clavel has a new online ordering system and a drive through system for cars, bikes and walk-up customers.
Cypriana’s Greek menu is available for pickup or delivery, with easy ordering online.
Red Star in Fells Point is open for carryout: the menu includes burgers and chicken sandwiches that sound terrific, plus beer and wine to go.
Pierpoint Restaurant’s weekly to-go boxes, stuffed with ingredients and premade foods, have been one bright spot during the pandemic. They continue to sell out, so watch social media closely for news about each week’s box.
Restaurant gift cards are always welcome and are a great way to support local restaurants right now. Restaurants have also gotten creative, coming up with cool gift ideas featuring favorite products, meals and drinks.
Aldo’s has created a series of excellent gift boxes including high quality food items, recipes from Chef Sergio Vitale, and serving suggestions.
Cake by Jason is selling a cookie decorating kit with 20% of the proceeds going to the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library.
Civic Works’ Real Food Farm has put together a gift option for its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, allowing gift-givers to purchase either weekly or bi-weekly CSA shares for others.
Woodberry Kitchen has a selection of holiday gift boxes including some of the restaurant’s favorite things.
Of Love & Regret has a fun Box o’ Booze collection featuring its house-infused cocktails.
You’ll receive a free bottle of wine when you buy a $50 Papi’s gift card (which you can use at either Papi’s location, Wicked Sisters, Alexander’s Tavern or Huck’s; buy cards at the other spots for use at all of them, too).
The Bluebird Cocktail Room has packaged a few of its cocktails into pretty gift boxes.
1157 bar + kitchen has a holiday wine and whiskey bag including meats, cheeses and other treats. It sounds like an ideal gift for a wine and whiskey lover.
Vaccaro’s has holiday cookie tins for humans and bags of doggy biscotti for furry friends, too. The famous bake shop also has a truck that delivers pre-ordered treats to certain drop off spots all around the area, from Fallston to Annapolis.
Towson Tavern has a gift card deal right now: buy $100 worth of gift certificates and receive an additional $20.
Pierpoint chef/owner Nancy Longo has put together a couple fun holiday-themed baskets, including a holiday snack basket that would make any food lover happy.
Café Troia is offering a $10 off coupon for every $50 spent on a gift card.
Joe Benny’s has put together cases of wine and holiday baskets for gifting (or enjoying yourself).
Hanukkah has started, Christmas is around the corner, and right now is the time to consider purchasing holiday snacks or dinners from local restaurants. There are many options:
City Seeds has a Holly Jolly Christmas Dinner box available including a terrific array of sides, like honey-glazed carrots and pecan and chestnut stuffing.
H3irloom Food Group’s holiday menu is live and it’s impressive, with options like whole red snapper and whole roasted duck.
La Cuchara has holiday cookie packs, Hanukkah and Christmas Eve dinners and many other wonderful items available through its Marketplace.
Gertrude’s holiday menu includes options for two or four-person dinners, to be picked up curbside, and a variety of wine, beer and cocktails, like the bourbon and cranberry juice Getting’ Blitzen. You can also check out Gertrude’s annual Holiday Row Home competition and vote for your favorite – all online.
The Tilted Row has a mix-and-match holiday menu with cocktail and wine pairings also available.
Woodberry Kitchen’s Hanukkah menu is available right now and Christmas menu will be available soon.
Hersh’s holiday menu includes four different roasts, sides and a la carte cocktails and wine.
Gunther & Co.’s holiday meals include dishes for Christmas Even and a fun virtual New Year’s dinner cook-along package.
The Linwood’s holiday catering menu includes a wide variety of options, from lobster mac-n-cheese cupcake appetizers to a gluten-free Yule Log cake.
Bar Vasquez will have its regular menu and a four-course prix fixe menu available for Christmas Eve dinner.
Liberatore’s has several holiday to-go packages – meals designed for four to six people – available for pickup on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.
Cinghiale’s Feast of the Seven Fishes menu will be available from Dec. 22 through Dec. 24.
Petit Louis’ Christmas Eve menu will be a three-course prix-fixe.
The Corner Pantry’s holiday menu includes dishes like whole roasted duck with chestnut and herb stuffing and orange and ginger sauce.
Crust by Mack has a crab pie, available now for preorder, that looks unbelievably good.
Cunningham’s holiday menu includes ham, roast beef or roasted salmon available by the pound, plus a selection of sides, breads and desserts.
Chef’s Expressions will sell holiday to-go boxes from Manor Tavern. The boxes include hors d’oeuvres by the dozen or tray and entrees, sides and desserts designed for families.
Blue Hill Tavern’s holiday options include individual hot meals and boxed lunches plus a holiday party at home package, designed for companies to send to employees…since in-person holiday parties are on hiatus this year.
Ida B’s Christmas menu includes family dinners like BBQ pit ham with apricot chipotle glaze and a honey-roasted whole duck.
Of Love & Regret’s holiday platters include crab balls, shrimp, and a gorgeous pretzel plate.
Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for these upcoming events – because one day soon, there will be events again:
Dec. 19: Holiday Market at Clarksville Commons
Dec. 23: Feast of the Seven Fishes at Elkridge Furnace Inn
Jan. 17: Gnocchi Cooking Class at Cosima