Hot Plate: Nacho Mama’s Opens in Towson, RegionAle Opens in Ellicott City, OyFest at Union Craft

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Nacho Mama's will bring its famous hubcap margaritas to Towson, starting tonight.
Nacho Mama’s will bring its famous hubcap margaritas to Towson, starting tonight.

With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday and the holidays fast approaching, Baltimoreans are getting busy with parties, family gatherings and other festivities.

As a result, local restaurants are only hosting a few special events this coming week – they’re likely to be packed no matter what. But don’t worry, there are still enough events popping up to keep you occupied all week long.

Openings & Other News around Town

The Baltimore area has had a busy few months with openings, moves and expansions. Even this short week is no exception.

After more than a few delays, Nacho Mama’s in Towson officially opens its doors to the public today.

The kitchen, helmed by executive chef Jesse Sandlin, will feature old favorites from the Canton location, like the pulled pork quesadilla and wings, but is also experimenting with new items, including pork belly chicharones.

Fans of the original Canton Mama’s will be happy to see that some of its Elvis décor has made its way north – as have the hubcap margaritas and, of course, lots of Natty Boh.

On Monday, November 21, Ellicott City gets a brand new fast casual restaurant, called RegionAle. The menu will rely on local ingredients, but will draw inspiration from different spots all over the country, offering specialty sandwiches from each of those regions. Don’t worry: crab cakes make the cut and since the chef and owner, Kevin Curley, previous worked under local phenom Chef Cindy Wolf, they’re sure to be good ones.

RegionAle plans, ultimately, to have craft beers on tap, though its liquor license hearing doesn’t take place until next month.

The Baltimore beer scene got a little more exciting this week with the opening of Key Brewing Co.’s Dundalk tap room.

The tap room, located in the brewery’s production facility, will feature the brewery’s five regular beers as well as one-off brews made in the facility. The space, which features a bar and picnic tables, plus pinball machines, foosball and a pool table, will be open on Fridays and Saturdays.

There’s big news today out of Harbor East. Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Ouzo Bay, Azumi and Loch Bar, has announced that it will take over and reconcept Fleet Street Kitchen and Ten Ten. Both restaurants were previously owned by the Bagby Group, which also owns several Bagby Pizza locations and Cunningham’s in Towson.

Fans of Canton’s erstwhile JD’s Smokehouse will be excited to learn that the restaurant’s owners have struck a deal to take over the South Luzerne Street space that has, for years, been American Harry’s. JD’s hopes to open in the new space by New Year’s Eve – but first, they will tackle a handful of upgrades, including increasing the number of beer taps from 8 to 30.

Chef Cyrus Keefer, most recently at Alewife, has announced another big move, leaving restaurant kitchens behind to focus on the non-profit and catering world. In his new role as culinary director at City Seeds, an organization that helps create jobs in the culinary industry for people with challenges to employment, Keefer will oversee catering, job training and pop-up events.

With its opening coming up soon, announcements about Remington food hall R. House have been fast and furious lately. This week, the big news is the addition of R. Bar, which will add beer, wine and cocktails to the space’s diverse food selections. With Aaron Joseph and Amie Ward, two of Baltimore’s most well-respective, creative bartenders, behind the effort, R. Bar is sure to be a lot of fun.

Oyster Eating

Proud of your oyster eating prowess? On Saturday, November 19, put your money where your mouth is at the Baltimore Oyster Eating Contest. Held as a part of OyFest, a collaboration between The Local Oyster and Union Craft Brewing, the contest’s $100 entry donation goes directly to No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger. 

Baltimore on Chopped – Again!

Just a couple weeks ago, Josh Hershkovitz, of Hersh’s, made a splash on the Food Network show Chopped. This Tuesday, Food Network viewers will get another glimpse of Baltimore, when Sarah Murray, sous chef at La Cuchara, will appear on the show.

Murray can’t report the show’s results, of course – tune in to the Food Network at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22 to find out how she did. 

Brunch Time

Have you been to Delights by Mina, downtown? Its name is a good one: the restaurant and its chef, Ramatou “Mina” Fofana, who hails from Burkina Faso, truly are delightful.

Starting this weekend, Delights by Mina will offer regular Sunday brunches, featuring traditional brunch items, crepes and free cocktail mixers (Mina’s is BYOB).

Goodbye, Pikesville Rye

The night before Thanksgiving is, traditionally, one of the biggest bar nights of the year. It’s fitting, then, that Colette in Station North has chosen Wednesday, November 23 as the time for its official bon voyage celebration for Pikesville Rye’s three-year, 80-proof iteration.

Pikesville Rye was once a locally made spirit but now produced by Kentucky-based Heaven Hill Brands, will still be available. Its six-year, 110-proof version will still be available, but production has stopped on the three-year rye, which has a lot of fans in the area.

To mark the occasion, Colette will have drink specials all night as well as rye-flavored desserts – a proper send-off, indeed.

Thanksgiving Plans

You still have a few days left to finalize plans for turkey this Thursday. For a good overview of places open this Thanksgiving, check out this roundup.

If you’re dining at home, consider stepping up your wine pairing game. On Sunday, November 20, sommelier Chris Coker will host a Thanksgiving-themed installment of his Coker Uncorked wine class. Held at Bartender’s Pub, the class will focus on what to serve with holiday dishes.

There’s also a little time left to place orders for Thanksgiving dinner items from local restaurants and shops, including the Foreman Wolf group restaurants, Atwater’s, Ceriello Fine Foods, The Charmery, and Parts & Labor, which is offering everything from Albright Farm turkeys to stuffing starter kits.

A Better Black Friday

Not interested in rising before dawn to battle the crowds at the mall? Who could blame you?

But if you do want to get out of the house for some post-Thanksgiving activity, drop by Mount Vernon Marketplace between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. on November 25 for a Black Friday Party at Juniper Culinary Apothecary.

The party will include free appetizers, cocktails and sale items from the shop, which is a seriously charming corner of the market filled with bulk herbs, teas and other hard to find superfoods.

Planning Ahead

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

November 26: Kooper’s Tavern 17th Annual Oyster Festival

December 6: Beam Craft Bourbon Dinner at The Chausseur 

December 13: Celebrate the Classics wine dinner at La Cuchara



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