Gertrude’s staff-led holiday row home contest is back again this year.

The lights are strung and (some of) the gifts are wrapped: it’s Christmas and Hanukkah week in Baltimore. There’s a lot to celebrate this week and local restaurants are stepping up to the plate. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

Openings and announcements

Chocolate (and shoe) lovers have something new to celebrate, with the long-awaited reopening of Ma Petite Shoe in Hampden. The shop, which closed during the pandemic, is now open in the Avenue space that formerly housed Sugar.

A new Italian spot, Tre Fratelli Italian Ristorante, is slated to open soon in the Federal Hill space formerly occupied by Light Street Café. The restaurant will be helmed by Pedro, Elmer and Julio Lovo; Pedro Lovo and his wife are the former owners of Federal Hill’s Brendali.

Happy birthday to 1157 bar + kitchen. The tiny-but-excellent south Baltimore spot turned eight this week.

Mi & Yu Noodle Bar in the Rotunda is now under new ownership and is celebrating its reopening with a party on Dec. 17.

Holiday houses at Gertrude’s

Gertrude’s, at the Baltimore Museum of Art, has a fun tradition in which their staff creates holiday houses. This year, the BMA’s security, shop, and visitor services teams also got in on the action, creating houses of their own.

The houses are on display at Gertrude’s and diners can vote on their favorite house. When you cast that vote, you’re also entered to win a brunch or dinner for two at the restaurant.

Joyful Jams

This Saturday is the last Joyful Jams event in Harbor East. Head to the neighborhood for holiday tunes, complimentary hot chocolate while you shop, and to bring your pet to meet Santa.

During the afternoon, Kneads, the new bake shop from the H&S Bakery team, will be offering a preview of their goods starting at noon. This is a great chance to try their baked goods and coffee before the shop’s January opening.

Pit beef & crab soup

Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, when you stop by Wells Discount Liquors, you can also grab pit beef and crab soup from the BG Culinary pop-up. There will also be a wine tasting inside the store. On Sunday, Wells will host another wine tasting – and welcome a visit from Santa.

Christmas in the Caribbean

On Saturday evening, Baltimore Spirits Company will head to the islands for a tropical holiday party featuring a Jimmy Buffett playlist, boat drinks, and (what else?) cheeseburgers from Chuck’s Trading Post.  There will also be a roast pig, giveaways and tons of prizes.

Sweaters & tunes

Also on Saturday night, The Local Oyster’s Locust Point outpost is getting into the holiday spirit with an ugly sweater holiday karaoke event – a great opportunity to sing some carols without braving the weather.

Feast of the Seven Fishes at the Pendry

On Wednesday evening, the Sagamore Pendry Hotel will have a special guest, Chef Andrew Carmellini. Chef Carmellini will prepare a special Feast of the Seven Fishes meal at Rec Pier Chop House.

Gingerbread houses at Manor Mill

On Sunday, Manor Mill is hosting a day of family fun with parent-and-child gingerbread house decorating. The event also includes contests, Christmas movies, music, and lots of cheer – and there is a BYOB option for adults.

Pariah Brewing holiday market

On Sunday, Chuck’s Trading Post will pop up at Pariah Brewing Company during the brewery’s holiday market event. The brewery will host a variety of vendors selling great gifts, from jewelry to coffee to baked goods, and Chuck’s will provide the sustenance.

EKIBEN + Clavel

On Wednesday, the crew from EKIBEN will pop up at Clavel, for a collaborative dinner, starting at 5 p.m. The menu includes a handful of creative dishes that combine the best of both restaurants’ cuisines – think pork, chive and glass noodle empanadas and dumplings filled with shrimp and serrano soy sauce with chili lime dressing.

Prigel Ice Cream Factory

On Thursday, Prigel Family Creamery is opening the doors to its ice cream room to guests, who can come in and work with the creamery’s head ice cream maker to create custom flavors. Every guest will start with a pint of ice cream and have the opportunity to make it their own by adding toppings, sauces and extracts.

Take home treats

From cookies to a full holiday feast, local restaurants are offering great takeaway options this week.

The Charmery is now scooping a variety of different holiday season flavors, including Jelly Donut, a donut ice cream with raspberry jam, created with Hanukkah in mind.

Foraged Eatery is selling batches of its terrific chocolate chip cookies in cute tins. With 24 hours notice, you can purchase two dozen cookies to give as a gift, share with others – or keep for yourself.

Thames Street Oyster House has a luxe holiday meal available to take home and serve, with options like a 5-pound baked stuffed lobster and a 5-pound New York strip. Orders must be placed (through the website) by Dec. 21 and will be available for pickup on Dec. 23.

Hersh’s has reprised its Holidays-at-Home meal kits this year. The restaurant is offering two options for meals made for four people: wood-fired porchetta or Roseda dry-aged New York strip roast. Each meal also comes with a salad, two sides and a dessert. Orders must be placed by Sunday, Dec. 18 and can be picked up on Dec. 22 or 23.

From now through Dec. 20, when you purchase one cooking class certificate from Pierpoint Restaurant, you can buy a second for half price.

Heading out for the holidays

While many local restaurants close for Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, others keep their doors open and often have special plans in place for the holidays.

Bondhouse, in Fells Point, is offering a last-minute chance to confer with the Big Guy on Christmas Eve, during a Brunch with Santa starting at 11 a.m.

If you’re looking for a Christmas Eve cinematic experience, Southpaw Cocktails has you covered. The night before Christmas, the Fells Point bar will screen “Die Hard,” coupled with specialty cocktails and takeout Chinese food.

SoBo Café, which does not usually open for brunch, will do a special brunch on Christmas Eve, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Heritage Smokehouse is also open for brunch (and happy hour) on Christmas Eve.

Copper Shark has a special Christmas Eve prix fixe menu, including items like Island Creek oysters with cranberry mignonette, duck confit ravioli, and filet with foie gras creamed spinach and truffled mushrooms.

Little Donna’s is open on Christmas Eve, serving a fish-forward menu with dishes like slow-cooked calamari stuffed with kielbasa and fried oysters with green chili spoon bread.

Cinghiale will host its annual four-course Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner on Christmas Eve.

The Manor Tavern will be closed on Christmas Day but is open Christmas Eve and serving a special menu.

Cosima will also serve a special prix fixe menu for the evening, including options like a chilled Sicilian seafood salad and grilled swordfish over eggplant caponato.

Sotto Sopra will be open for dinner on Christmas Eve and open from noon until 9 p.m. on Christmas Day.

Mama’s on the Half Shell is also open on Christmas starting at noon.

Blue Moon Café will also be open on Christmas Day, starting at 8 a.m. (Fells Point location only).

For more holiday options, check out last week’s column.

Planning for the future

Mark your calendars for:

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve at Allora

Jan. 12: Sinister Speakeasy at Towson Tavern

Feb. 4: Fermentation Class at HEX Superette

Kit Pollard

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

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