Hot Plate: Light Up Lexington, Grano Pasta Bar Opens in Federal Hill

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Light Up Lexington
Light Up Lexington

Next week is as busy as ever in the Baltimore restaurant world, with wine events and fundraisers, opportunities to check out spaces new and old and tons of new spring-inspired dishes and drinks. Here’s a look at what we have to look forward to in the week to come:

Light It Up

On May 4, get to know Baltimore’s venerable Lexington Market at the fourth Light Up Lexington. The event includes live music (including a 9-year old DJ!), local beers from Union Craft Brewery and food from market vendors working with chefs from some of Baltimore’s best restaurants, including Bookmakers, Ejji Ramen, Neopol Smokery and The Local Fry. 

New Kids on the Block

Fans of Grano Pasta Bar in Hampden will be thrilled to hear that the popular eatery has opened a new Federal Hill outpost on South Charles Street. The petite restaurant is BYOB and offers ten different pastas, all made from scratch. 

Remington food incubator R. House has announced another new tenant: ARBA, a Middle Eastern street food-inspired concept from Farid Salloum, the owner of Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen, a massively popular South Baltimore eatery. Baba’s fans are already buzzing about the news; everyone agrees that more of Salloum’s food is welcome news for Baltimore. 

Focus on Vino

On Saturday, April 30, take a drive to the country, to visit Old Westminster Winery for their Bubbles & Boar event. The food and wine festival will feature a whole pig, roasted by Parts & Labor, plus a variety of snacks from local farms, cheesemakers, bakers and chocolatiers. The “bubbly” portion of the event is fun – the winery’s own sparkling Albarino.

Also on April 30, check out The Gathering Wine Fest at Owings Mills Metro Centre. The festival will feature over 80 wines, plus local music, arts vendors and a bunch of popular food trucks, including Gypsy Queen and Iced Gems #2.

May 1, get to know the wines of Sir Peter Michael at Magdalena. Chef Mark Levy is creating a six-course meal to pair with some of the California winery’s best vintages. Chef Levy’s dishes are reliably gorgeous and interesting; this is sure to be a memorable meal. 

Dining for a Cause

On Friday, May 6, support arts education organization Young Audiences at their tenth annual Taste the Arts Fundraising Gala. The party, at the Hippodrome, will feature arts and music performances and tapas from 25 local restaurants, including Alma Cocina Latina, Clavel, La Cucara, Tio Pepe, Charm City Cakes, Blue Pit BBQ and the Local Oyster, and beer from Union Craft Brewing.

During the month of May, Shake Shack will partner with No Kid Hungry to raise awareness about childhood hunger. Shake Shack guests who donate $2 or more to No Kid Hungry will receive a voucher for a complimentary shake on their next visit – and they can also feel great about supporting an organization that does wonderful things to combat childhood hunger. 

Celebrating Spring at SkyBar

The folks at the Mt. Washington Tavern are happy that it’s spring – and SkyBar season. Starting Monday, May 2, SkyBar will host a fun contest – #TagTheBar – to identify the “craziest, funniest, and most appropriate one-liners” that describe the bar. Fill out a custom coaster at the bar or online and you might win a prize. Winners will be selected in early June. 

Spring in the Air…and on the Plate

All over Baltimore, chefs and bartenders are freshening up their menus to reflect the change in the seasons.

At B&O American Brasserie, Executive Chef Michael Ransom has just debuted a handful of new dishes and head bartender Brendan Dorr has a brand new spring cocktail menu as well. Both are filled with fantastic choices, like the Purple Rain cocktail (lavender-infused cachaha and honey-apple shrub both smell and taste great together) and a poblano pepper stuffed with dirty rice and smoked lamb shoulder that is so good, you’ll be thinking about it for days.

The patio is open at Wit & Wisdom and the restaurant has debuted a new seasonal menu for both food and drinks, including an extensive raw bar and dishes from Chef Zack Mills’ outdoor smoker. From behind the bar, lead bartender Jonathan Levy is pouring a regularly changing “punch of the day” and lead sommelier Julie Dalton has selected a variety of favorite roses for the season.

Gertrude’s at the BMA, which has long been known for its embrace of all things local and seasonal, has a couple fantastic new additions to its lineup, including some beautiful pink cocktails and a batch of locally-foraged ramp kimchi that has been fermenting and will finally be ready for consumption on April 30.

At Thames Street Oyster House, the menu includes classic dishes that are great all year (that lobster roll!) but Chef Eric Houseknecht also plays with seasonal flavors. Additions to the menu this month include grilled swordfish with house ricotta ravioli and Alaskan red king crab ceviche that sounds phenomenal.

Just down Thames Street, and just in time for crab season, Riptide by the Bay is expanding its crab and seafood menu to include numerous shellfish and a handful of new seafood and shellfish combination plates designed for one or for a group.

If cooking at home is more your speed, you’re in luck, as the farmers’ market season has begun, with markets opening up all over the city and beyond. In addition to extremely popular markets at Waverly and under the JFX, many smaller markets have already kicked off this year. The Pikesville Market opens on May 3, featuring twenty vendors, from meats to desserts (and, of course, produce).

Planning Ahead

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

May 7: Heavy Seas Taco Festival

May 19: Tipsy Tea at Homewood Museum

May 20: Truck Stop B’More Food Truck Festival 

June 11: FEASTIVAL -A Food Adventure for a Cure, from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation


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