Alma Cocina Latina will open for carryout on New Year’s Eve and then for good (still for carryout) on Jan. 5.
Alma Cocina Latina will open for carryout on New Year’s Eve and then for good (still for carryout) on Jan. 5.

This is the last Hot Plate of 2020 – and what a year it has been for Baltimore’s restaurants and the people who love them.

Pivot was the word of the year, as restaurateurs made changes on the fly and adjusted their business models to stay afloat. Even with those efforts, fallout from the pandemic lead to many beloved spots closing for good.

As the year winds down, there’s still time to support the restaurant community – to say goodbye to 2020 with a culinary bang. Here’s a look at how you can do just that:

Openings & Announcements
Alma Cocina Latina will open (for takeout) in its new Station North space – the former home of The Chesapeake and Pen & Quill – on Jan. 5. The restaurant will also be offering a sneak-peek of what’s to come with a special to-go New Year’s Eve dinner.

Happy third anniversary to Foraged Eatery and happy first anniversary to Dutch Courage! Restaurant and bar anniversaries are always something to celebrate; this year, those celebrations feel even more important.

Unfortunately, several local restaurants have made the decision to close – temporarily. They include La Calle, Patterson Public House and Mt. Washington Tavern. The Tavern will remain open for carryout and delivery through Sunday, Jan. 3 (including on New Year’s Eve) but will temporarily close after service that day.

Feed the Industry
One of the bright spots in the restaurant industry this year has been the creation of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, a non-profit supporting restaurants and unemployed and underemployed people in the restaurant industry.

BRRF has just announced, a partnership with MileOne Autogroup. A significant donation from MileOne will jumpstart an initiative to pay local restaurants to make meals that will be given to unemployed hospitality industry workers.

Restaurants can apply for the grants to fund the meals online, starting on Wednesday.

Fast Food Market
Food Market has a fun new program: casual carryout ready in about 10 minutes between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The menu includes quick dishes like the hot honey crispy chicken sandwich and a killer burger.

Virtual Kiddie Ball Drop
The Charmery’s annual kiddie ball drop is always a favorite event for young families. It’s still on this year though – like so many other things – it’s gone virtual. Starting at 7:45 p.m., the Charmery crew will be streaming live on Facebook and Instagram and the ball will drop at 8 p.m.

Take-out Get Down
Collaboration has always been one of the strong suits of Baltimore’s restaurant industry – and that’s clearly on display this New Year’s Eve, with a fun project called the Take-out Get Down. 

Order New Year’s carryout from one of several restaurants around the city and along with your food, you’ll receive a link to a streaming dance party featuring sets from DJ Impulse and Aaron Brown.

The DJs will play music and share visuals, so even if you’re by yourself at home, you won’t really be dancing alone…you’ll be dining and dancing with other Baltimoreans.

During the event, attendees will be able to send tips to the DJs via Venmo; a portion of those tips will be donated to the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund.

The participant lineup is a good list, including: Peabody Heights Brewing, Verde, Dutch Courage, Orto, Wine Collective, The Bluebird, Sally O’s, Cocina Luchadoras, Fishnet, H3irloom, Mr. Nice Guy Cocktails and Heritage Kitchen.

New Year’s Eve and Day
Restaurants across the region will be cooking up special meals for New Year’s Eve and Day:

Gunther & Co. has put together a terrific New Year’s lineup, including two six-course tasting menu options, a bunch of a la carte items designed for two (think poached lobster with squid ink tagliatelle), desserts, wines and cocktails, and even flowers for the table.

H3irloom Food Group has a fish fry available for New Year’s Eve; the menu draws on New Year’s traditions from the African American community and includes dishes like black-eyed peas and cornbread, both of which connect to good luck.

Charleston’s New Year’s Eve five-course takeaway menu is impressive on its own, with courses like venison osso buco cassoulet and shrimp and lobster bisque. And if you want to take it up a notch, you also have the option of adding a course of golden Ossetra caviar.

Dylan’s Oyster Cellar’s New Year’s Eve menu includes a variety of types of oysters shucked or to shuck at home, caviar, lobster and even champagne jello shots.

The Duck Duck Goose menu serves four and includes options like a crab cake starter and a dramatic bone-in ribeye.

The Bar Vasquez New Year’s Eve menu is a three-course prix fixe with many options, including dishes like wood-grilled lamb steak with ricotta and a red wine pomegranate reduction sauce.

Alma Cocina Latina’s three-course New Year’s Eve menu includes dishes like 12-hour roasted pork shoulder.

Sotto Sopra’s regular carryout menu will be available New Year’s Eve; it includes plenty of New Year’s-worthy dishes, from a charcuterie board to seafood risotto or pork ossobuco.

The La Cuchara Marketplace has tons of excellent ingredients, prepared foods, and drinks that would make New Year’s Eve special. It’s open Wednesday through Saturday but you can place your order online anytime.

Linwood’s holiday catering menu – which includes everything from crab dip for four to a whole roasted beef tenderloin – is available for carryout on New Year’s Eve.

Thames Street Oyster House has several options available for New Year’s Eve, including a seafood platter, a 5-pound baked stuffed lobster, and an American paddlefish caviar add-on.

Liberatore’s locations are offering four different heat-and-serve packages for pickup on New Year’s Eve.

Woodberry Kitchen has a holiday supper and a holiday brunch menu, both available for curbside pickup on New Year’s Eve.

The Prime Rib is not open on New Year’s Eve or Day but if you want to start early or continue the celebration into the weekend, the venerable spot has an extensive takeaway menu, including classic dishes like jumbo lump crab cocktail and, of course, roast prime rib.

Café Troia is open for in-house dining as well as carryout on New Year’s Eve. The Towson spot is offering the full regular menu plus specials like lobster bisque and roasted branzino.

After a brief holiday break, The Corner Pantry is open again and ready to meet all your pastry needs, among other things. Look for specials this week and consider buying some breakfast items ahead of time to nosh on first thing on Jan 1.

Toast to 2021 with a flight of Japanese whiskies, mezcal or bourbon, or a bottled cocktail from The Elk Room.

Azumi’s take-home sushi rolls and extravagant entrees, like Australian Wagyu priced by the ounce, are a good match for New Year’s Eve.

The Capital Grille has a four-course holiday dinner, including dishes like a Kona-crusted bone-in ribeye, available for pickup on New Year’s Eve or Day.

At Bushel and a Peck, the New Year’s Eve dinner for two package is a steak-and-cake: petit filets paired with jumbo lump crab cakes.

The Four Seasons has a New Year’s Eve special including an in-room three-course meal and sparkling wine, plus a late check-out the next day.

Le Comptoir du Vin’s shop is filled with New Year’s-worthy cheeses, wines and other goodies.

Sobo Café’s New Year’s menu includes a dinner-for-two featuring scallops, steak or lamb or a slow-cooked pork and sauerkraut for two to four.

McFaul’s IronHorse Tavern’s curbside options for New Year’s include meals anchored by crab cakes, brisket or lasagna.

Huck’s American Craft is selling Bloody Mary and mimosa kits to-go – a good thing to grab in anticipation of New Year’s brunch.

At The Tilted Row, the three-course carryout menu includes dishes like coddies with mustard sauce and a roast leg of lamb with ratatouille and mint pesto.

Of Love & Regret’s take-home options include appetizer platters and a three-course dinner with options like filet mignon topped with bearnaise and truffle mashed potatoes.

Limoncello’s four-course carryout meal sounds fabulous, with dishes like grilled calamari with black olive tapenade and a whole Maine lobster over linguine with spicy red sauce.

Sally O’s three-course menu includes dishes like a snack plate starter and duck three ways.

Dooby’s regular menu – including bottled cocktails from Sugarvale – is available for pickup on New Year’s Eve.

Grano is offering a Santo Stefano Feast for two on New Year’s Eve, including courses like roasted octopus and shrimp ceviche with balsamic pearls.

Petit Louis’ New Year’s Eve menu includes dishes like lobster bisque and pan-roasted sea scallops with winter black truffle beurre blanc. Petit Louis is one of many local restaurants that has recently mastered the carryout game: the packaging and prep are top-notch.

Cosima’s extensive Italian menu is available for carryout and some delivery on New Year’s Eve.

Johnny’s is offering its regular menu and specials, like a champagne and citrus cake, to-go for New Year’s Eve and to-go brunch all day on New Year’s Day.

If you’d prefer to cook on New Year’s Eve, a trip to Johnny’s might still be in order. The Cinghiale pop-up shop inside Johnny’s sells fresh pastas and sauces, among other things, and the selection is terrific. Some items sell out, though, so try to get there early.

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
Jan. 6: CookHouse reopens with regular hours 
Jan. 17: Gnocchi Cooking Class at Cosima 

Kit Pollard

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