Oktoberfest season kicks off this week, with celebrations around town. Photo courtesy of Guinness Open Gate Brewery.

From Campari to paw paws to early Oktoberfests, this week, the Baltimore food scene is full of fun news and events. Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

Openings & announcements

The Baltimore Banner reported this week that Chaps Pit Beef is moving its primary location from its iconic Pulaski Highway digs to a newer building next door – one with air conditioning.

The Italian company Illva Saronno, the maker of spirits like the amaretto liqueur Disaronno, has acquired a majority stake in Sagamore Spirit and will be moving its global headquarters to Baltimore. The company also owns an Irish distillery called Royal Oak.

The Prime Rib, which has been closed for renovations since early July, reopened last weekend. Upgrades to the space include a longer bar and the addition of a third dining area.

Maryland Restaurant Week

Restaurant Weeks aren’t quite over yet. The Restaurant Association of Maryland hosts one last, end-of-summer promotional week, starting on Sept. 15 and running through the 24th. During this ten day stretch, restaurants all over the state will offer deals – like dinner for two for $55 at Mama’s on the Half Shell or a three-course carryout dinner at Amicci’s for $20. 

New menu at Kneads

Have you been to Kneads yet? The Harbor East spot is more than just a bakery. With talented chef Cyrus Keefer in the kitchen, Kneads is offering a lineup of creative but approachable takes on familiar dishes. A fresh new menu includes dishes like steak frites gussied up with black garlic teriyaki and wakame butter, and fried chicken paired with succotash, corn gravy, fried oysters and hot honey.

Birthday celebrations

As of last week, Allora in Mt. Vernon is two years old – and still thriving.

On Friday, Sept. 15, the Locust Point outpost of The Local Oyster will celebrate its first anniversary with a fun tiki party. The event includes tiki drinks, grilled oysters, live music and more – and is sure to be a good time.

Congrats to the teams at both Allora and The Local Oyster!

Fells Point Farmers Market goes back to the Harbor

On Saturday, the Fells Point Farmers Market once again decamps from its traditional location, heading east to Harbor Point. The market will pop up at Central Plaza starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with all of its usual fun vendors and activities.

Maryland Wine Festival

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Carroll County Farm Museum hosts the 39th annual Maryland Wine Festival. The event includes tastings from dozens of local wineries, as well as food and craft vendors, and a retail shop carrying glasses and bottles of wine.

Negroni Week

Negroni Week, a national celebration of the classic cocktail, rolls into Baltimore (and elsewhere) on Sept. 18. During the weeklong event, which is organized by Imbibe Magazine, bars and restaurants around the country feature negronis and similar takes on the Campari cocktail and, while doing so, give back to Slow Food, an organization that promotes healthy and environmentally conscious food and drinks.

Here in Baltimore, numerous venues are participating in the week, from Southpaw in Fells Point to Koco’s Pub in Lauraville – and many spots in between.

At B-Side Cocktails, the Negroni Week menu includes five variations of the drink – one from each B-Side bartender. The drinks will be available throughout the week.

On Sept. 20, Dutch Courage raises a toast to the Negroni’s main spirit, hosting a Campari Cocktail Dinner. The menu is stacked with sophisticated dishes like mousseline of monkfish with brioche baton and kumquat confit, and inked blue crab risotto with torched squid rings and preserved lemon. Each course will be paired with a Campari cocktail created specifically to highlight the flavors of the dish.

Sherry at La Cuchara

On Thursday, La Cuchara hosts a tasting of Lustau sherries. The tasting, which will be held at the bar, features three sherries from Lustau, paired with traditional flavors. Tickets are available now.

Monkeys at The Elk Room

Starting on Sept. 22, The Elk Room will become a tropical island, as Monkey 47 Gin stages an eight-day takeover. Look for themed entertainment and a special tropical cocktail list during the event.

Tequila at Pierpoint

Over at Pierpoint Restaurant, the spirit of choice on Sept. 22 is tequila. Chef Nancy Longo is hosting a third installment of the restaurant’s popular tequila dinner, featuring a variety of tequilas and mezcal cocktails alongside Mexican-inspired dishes like stuffed Chile Relleno with toasted corn sauce, and shrimp and scallop ceviche with pickled cabbage.

It’s paw paw time!

Paw paws are a key part of the culinary history of the Chesapeake Bay watershed – but they are also notoriously finicky in terms of harvesting and have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it season. And that season is now.

Unsurprisingly, Foraged Eatery is right on top of the season, featuring the fruit in several dishes, including a sweet pudding.

Oktoberfest season

Oktoberfest celebrations – with all of their brats and pretzels and beer – are almost here.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery kicks off three straight weekends of parties on Sept. 23. Though Guinness is an Irish brand, during Oktoberfest, the facility erects a beer tent inspired by the German celebrations and serves a variety of German-inspired specials. Plus, they will release five Oktoberfest beers this month.

Another solid local option to celebrate is Maienfels Biergarten on N. Paca St. The biergarten is open every Friday and Saturday evening from May through Oct. 21, and always features live music, German food, beers and drinks, and fun activities like a beer stein holding “camp.” Plus, a portion of the proceeds each week are donated to the St. Francis Neighborhood Center of Baltimore.

It always feels like Oktoberfest at Das Bierhalle in Parkville, which celebrated five years in business this week. This season is an especially fun one at the Bierhalle, packed with events and specials.

Planning for the future

Mark your calendars for:

Sept. 23-24: The Big Dill Pickle Party

Sept. 29: Maryland Italian Festival

Sept. 30: Wine in the Wilderness at the Maryland Zoo

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

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