Hot Plate: Fourth of July festivities, new openings in Hampden and Canton, Tacopalooza at La Food Marketa

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The harborside view from Wit & Wisdom’s outdoor bar.

We celebrate America this week in Baltimore and, with several newly announced restaurant openings and a handful of fun dinners planned, a whole lot more. Here’s a look at what to expect this week:

Openings and announcements

Hampden is getting several new restaurants this summer. First up, opening in the old Corner BYOB space on the corner of 36th and Elm, will be Nori, a sushi and ramen bar.

Right around the corner in the old Café Cito building will be a Thai restaurant called Bodhi Corner. The owners of Bodhi Corner also operate Khun Nine Thai in Mount Vernon.

Garden Party, a new outdoor dining spot from the owners of Avenue Kitchen & Bar, opens this weekend at The Rotunda. The restaurant, which will serve wine and small bites, is located on the grassy spot near Pure Barre and Floyd’s 99 Barbershop.

Button, a new café and bar on the Canton waterfront, opened earlier this week. The café is attached to the new Swim Club at Lighthouse Point and was developed by War Horse Cities.

The Charmery’s third location opens on Monday, July 2. The ice cream shop doubles as a production space, and is located in Union Collective, the Medfield space that also houses new digs for Union Craft Brewing, Baltimore Whiskey Company and a handful of others.

After many long months of waiting, the date has finally been set: Guinness’s new stateside brewery, located in Relay in southern Baltimore County, will open to the public for tours, tasting and dining in its restaurant on Aug. 3.

Alonso’s restaurant and bar in Roland Park will soon be under new ownership. The venerable spot, known for its burgers, is being purchased by the owner of Namaste, the Indian restaurant that occupies the space next door.

RIP, Chef Chris Becker

Baltimore’s restaurant community lost one of its own this week, with the passing of Chris Becker, the former executive chef at Bagby Restaurant Group, a company that, during Becker’s tenure, owned multiple restaurants including Fleet Street Kitchen and Cunningham’s.

In 2015, Amy Langrehr interviewed Becker for Baltimore Fishbowl. They discussed everything from family to his love of Baltimore to, of course, cooking and eating.

Cocktails at Johnny’s

Summertime cocktail classes return at Johnny’s on Monday, July 2, with instruction on classic Baltimore drinks, including the Black-Eyed Susan and the Southside (the Elkridge Club version).

The class will also include instruction on the Belvedere Frozen Rye, an early 20th-century drink invented at the bar at the Belvedere.


Taco Tuesday is super-sized this week, as La Food Marketa hosts its second Tacopalooza party. Last year’s was a huge hit–and a sellout–and this year promises to be just as fun.

The party, which benefits ShareBaby, The Hampden Family Center and The Center for Urban Families, includes tons of food and drinks, a taco eating contest, games and a raffle.

Stars and stripes and celebrations

Wednesday is the Fourth of July, and along with fireworks, local businesses are planning lots of fun events to celebrate.

Wit & Wisdom, which has a terrific view of the fireworks on the harbor, will host a party starting at 6 p.m. with food, entertainment, drinks and, of course, that killer view.

At The Sandlot, there will be music (a band and a DJ) starting at 4 p.m., games throughout the day and a Dogfish Head tap and can takeover.

Parts & Labor is hosting a midday barbecue with sloppy joes and hot dogs, and every purchase at P&L comes with a “cut the line” bracelet for the Sandlot party.

Rusty Scupper has crabs on the menu, with a crab feast on the third-floor lounge and deck.

Other restaurants with prime views of fireworks include Encantada, at the top floor of the American Visionary Arts Museum, and Harbor East spots Ampersea, Loch Bar, Azumi and Ouzo Bay, all of which have outdoor seating for gazing upon the water. There’s also The Bygone, which has a gorgeous view of the city from its sky-high Four Seasons location.

Sardegna wine dinner at Cinghiale

On Friday, July 6, Cinghiale will honor the food and wine of Sardegna in the next wine dinner from its “Italian Summer Vacation Series.”

The four-course meal will feature four wines of the region, alongside dishes like calamari with saffron shrimp brodo and roasted pork with juniper.

Champagne and fried chicken

Also on Friday, Chez Hugo Bistro will celebrate one of the most glorious high-low pairings in culinary history: champagne and fried chicken. The menu will be à la carte and there will be specials on bubbles all night.

Happy anniversary to Bluebird

Bluebird Cocktail Room celebrates its first anniversary next Sunday, July 7. In honor of the occasion, the Hampden restaurant and bar has a few new activities in the works. Not only is Bluebird now taking reservations on Friday and Saturday nights, they are also launching a Tiki Thursday event.

Starting July 5, Bluebird will feature a special menu of tiki-inspired drinks and food (in addition to the regular menu) and you’ll spot Hawaiian shirts on the staff and hear some island tunes over the speakers.

Planning Ahead

Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:

July 13: Chef’s Expressions Bastille Day Dinner 

July 26: Crabs & Beer Dinner at Gertrude’s 

August 23: Summer Soiree at The Pendry 

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