Cake by Jason won the Maryland Zoo’s pastry competition, earning bragging rights and the honor of naming one of the Zoo’s new African penguins.
Cake by Jason won the Maryland Zoo’s pastry competition, earning bragging rights and the honor of naming one of the Zoo’s new African penguins.

This week’s April showers mean more than just May flowers: it’s also time to start thinking about springtime produce. Baltimore restaurants are jumping into the season with new menu items, fun events, and big plans for Easter, which is just a week away.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the Charm City culinary world:

Openings and announcements
The Baltimore Farmers’ Market is back! Last Sunday, the market under the JFX opened for its 45th season of coffee, produce, meats and so much more.

A few restaurants have recently shifted hours. Le Comptoir is no longer serving lunch and at Café Gia, lunch service is on pause during April. But Ampersea is now open for weekday lunch and weekend brunch is back at Patterson Public House.

Sadly, Towson’s Kyodai Rotating Sushi bar announced its closure last week. The restaurant, which was a downtown Towson staple for two decades, is just down the street from San Sushi and Thai One On, which also recently closed.

Sweet stuff at the Zoo
The Maryland Zoo has announced the winner of its penguin-themed baking contest. Congratulations to Cake by Jason, which came out on top and, as a result, had the opportunity to name one of the Zoo’s new penguin chicks. The team chose the name Croquembouche, after the French pastry dessert. So sweet!

Beers & burritos
There is a “food day” for everything and Friday, April 8 is – believe it or not – National Beer & Burrito Day. Papi’s Tacos is celebrating with beers and burritos of its own – and news that the Fells Point location’s renovations are nearly complete, so it should reopen any day now.

Masters cocktails
The Mt. Washington Tavern will have the Masters on its TVs this weekend and a trio of cocktails to enjoy along with the match. If you order any one of three special Tito’s cocktails – the John Daly, On the Greens or The Tiger – a portion of proceeds from the drink will benefit First Tee of Greater Baltimore, a local organization that does youth outreach via golf.

Brunch at Guilford Hall
Guilford Hall is one of Baltimore’s newer breweries and the crew there has not wasted any time planning fun events designed to draw a crowd. This Saturday, Guilford Hall hosts its first drag brunch, starting at noon. Dubbed Divas & Drafts, the event features an a la carte brunch menu, a bottomless mimosa option, and plenty of beer.

Sushi at The Boiler Room
On Sunday, The Boiler Room hosts a sushi brunch featuring the work of a pair of sushi chefs known for their gorgeous creations.

Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table
On Wednesday, Gertrude’s proprietor John Shields is back with a new installment of his virtual class, “Chesapeake Farm & Bay to Table.” In this Zoom class, he’ll welcome Master Gardeners from Baltimore City, who will talk about how to make the most of your herb garden, and he will share a visit to Max’s Degrees at the farmers’ market and a cooking demonstration showcasing herb-encrusted chicken.

Yappy Hour at The Choptank
With warm-ish weather back, it’s puppy time on local patios. The Choptank is hosting a Yappy Hour on Wednesday, including a dog-friendly food menu, pictures with the Easter Bunny, raffle prizes and donations to the Baltimore Humane Society.

Plus, for two-legged kids, there will be an Easter Egg hunt and other fun activities.

Whisky at Bondhouse
Also on Wednesday, Bondhouse in Fells Point hosts a whisky event featuring tastings and cocktails made with Craigellachie single malt.

Spring produce
Ramp season is here – a surefire sign that early spring is upon us. Foraged Eatery is making the most of the vegetable’s brief appearance by adding ramps to a gorgeous grilled strip steak with potatoes and green garlic puree. 

At Dutch Courage, both the food and drinks menus have bee updated for the season, with tons of colorful new options on both. There are 15 new cocktails available plus springtime dishes like roasted asparagus with carrot romesco.

Speaking of spring, it’s time to sign up for CSAs. Sally O’s is making it easy for its Highlandtown neighbors: the Gough St. restaurant will be a pickup spot for the Richfield Farm CSA.

Easter plans
Easter is on Sunday, April 17, which means there’s still just a little time left to make reservations and place orders.

Jimmy’s Famous Seafood is getting in on the Easter action early, with The Easter Brunch Eggstravaganza, taking place on Saturday, April 9. The event includes a buffet and a complimentary mimosa for adults, plus tons of crafts and activities for kids – plus a visit from the Easter Bunny.

Patisserie Poupon’s Easter options include delicate chocolate nests, along with their usual slate of beautiful desserts.

Firefly Farms in Whitehall Market sells a variety of goods that would be great to take home for Easter, from cheeses to wine – and they have sweets, too, including cute striped chocolate Easter eggs from Hungary and an Italian Easter cake baked in the shape of a dove.

The Heritage Smokehouse Easter carryout menu includes options like a five-pound smoked boneless leg of lamb.

Valley Inn is hosting an Easter brunch and egg hunt the day before Easter, on Saturday, April 16. The Easter Bunny will be on hand and there will be lots of fun for kids, including games and face painting.

The Corner Pantry is closed on Easter Sunday but has a terrific menu of carryout items available to preorder and pick up on April 16, including everything from deviled eggs to a whole roasted side of salmon to hot cross buns.

On Easter, Gunther & Co. will offer a brunch prix-fixe including options like short rib tostada and shrimp and grits.

True Chesapeake Oyster Co. will have an Easter brunch buffet including a variety of sweet and savory dishes, plus a la carte raw bar items.

Towson Tavern’s Easter brunch buffet will include classics like a waffle station and eggs benedict, along with local favorites like crab balls.

Hersh’s is open and taking reservations for Easter brunch, which is sure to book quickly, so make reservations sooner rather than later.

Darker than Blue’s Easter brunch buffet will feature southern classics (and bottomless mimosas), eaten to a soundtrack of live jazz.

The Manor Tavern will offer an all you can eat buffet for Easter, including everything from an omelet bar to smoked salmon.

Petit Louis will be open for brunch and dinner on Easter – with dining options available inside and out on the new tented patio.

Sotto Sopra opens at noon on Easter Sunday and will be open for both brunch and dinner.

Urban Oyster and Urban Burger Bar will both serve a pair of fun drinks in honor of the holiday: pineapple upside down cake milkshakes and creamsicles.

At Duck Duck Goose and No Way Rosé, the new spot from DDG check Alfred Ashish, the regular menus will be available. Note: seating at No Way Rosé is first come first serve, even on Easter.

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for:
May 1: Fire Hero Chili Cook Off at Of Love & Regret 
May 28: Brew at the Zoo 
June 11: Chesapeake Seafood Festival 

Kit Pollard

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