Alma Cocina Latina is one of many Baltimore restaurants with fun plans in place for Valentine's Day. Photo courtesy of Alma Cocina Latina.

This week, Baltimore restaurants start to get their Valentine’s Day festivities underway – but that’s not all that’s on the agenda. It’s a sweet and spicy week here in Charm City – here’s a look at what’s happening:

Openings and announcements

Towson’s Red Pepper Sichuan Bistro has announced the opening of an Ellicott City outpost. The restaurant, which is in Normandy Plaza, opened Feb. 2.

The Oregon Grille has officially reopened under new ownership by Atlas Restaurant Group. Though some familiar faces remain both in the kitchen and front of house, the restaurant has received a refresh and looks ready for its new era.

NiHao in Canton closed briefly, after Lunar New Year, for a refresh. The Canton restaurant has done some revamping and will reopen on Thursday with a fresh, newly redesigned menu.

Sadly, the Federal Hill location of Mi & Yu Noodle Bar announced it will close by the end of the month, if not sooner. Mi & Yu’s location in Hampden will remain open (though it is under different management than the Fed Hill spot).

Restaurant Weeks

Restaurant Week season is winding down but there are still a few days left to enjoy the deals in and around Baltimore City – the promotion winds up this weekend (though a handful of restaurants often extend their offerings for a few extra days). But if you miss it, don’t worry: restaurant weeks will be back again this summer.

We all scream…for breakfast

Saturday, Feb. 4 is a favorite day on many kids’ calendars National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. As in years past, The Charmery is spearheading the celebration here in Baltimore, with a fabulous lineup of custom, breakfast-inspired flavors, like coffee cake, apple cinnamon oatmeal, and (for the adventurous) spicy Bloody Mary sorbet.

All The Charmery locations will participate – and jammies are the encouraged attire.

Old Baltimore at Pierpoint

On Saturday, Pierpoint Restaurant brings back its popular Old Baltimore dinner. The prix fixe meal draws inspiration from classic Charm City restaurants: think crab fluff from Thompson’s Sea Girt House and deviled eggs from the Women’s Industrial Exchange tea room.

Fermentation education

Also on Saturday, HEX Ferments will host a class on the basics of veggie fermentation and kombucha, including the history of these foods in our diets and their important role. The class, which takes place at the new HEX Superette, also includes a hands on element and attendees will take home a jar of vegetables to ferment at home.

Grow your own microgreens

On Sunday, home chefs hoping to use hyper-local ingredients can get a head start on future harvests during a grow your own microgreens class at Manor Mill. The class is lead by the owner of Valley Mill Microgreens and attendees will take home a single-use growing kit with everything needed to grow microgreens at home.

La Cuchara + Suspended Brewing

On Tuesday, La Cuchara chef/owner Ben Lefenfeld will be behind the bar at Suspended Brewing. The restaurant and brewery have teamed up to create a collaborative beer called La Cuchara Water Color Dreams. The beer will launch on Tuesday, during the chef’s pop-up at the brewery.

Mother & Son dinner

Valentine’s celebrations start early at Das Bierhalle. The Parkville restaurant is hosting a mother-and-son dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Dinner options for the moms include steak, chicken and portobello schnitzel and there will be two seatings 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Food for Thought

Students of food systems and their impact have good reason to head to the Baltimore Museum of Industry later this month. On Feb. 10, the museum’s newest exhibition, called “Food for Thought,” will open.

The exhibit, which is an expanded version of one that has been in the lobby of the City Schools headquarters since last September, focuses on food insecurity and the stories of food and nutrition professionals working in the city schools.

Valentine’s Day is almost here

Valentine’s Day – Feb. 14 – is on a Tuesday this year, which means celebrations will likely begin as early as this Thursday, Feb. 9. Baltimore restaurants are offering plenty of ways to show your love – but you should make those reservations sooner rather than later.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, Union Collective’s Chocolate Fest is back to help you kick off the holiday week. During the annual event, Union Collective companies will offer all sorts of sweet stuff, from a special chocolate Magic Shell topping for ice cream at The Charmery and chocolate cask beer at Union Craft Brewing to the release of a chocolate and chili pepper liqueur at Baltimore Spirits Company, a chocolate (and vegan chocolate) menu at Vent Coffee and wine and chocolate pairings at The Wine Collective.

The Maryland Zoo is offering friends and lovebirds an opportunity to make the most of the holiday during the two weekends bookending Valentine’s week. On Sunday Feb. 12 and again on Feb. 19, the Zoo will host a Galentine’s Flamingle Brunch, featuring a brunch buffet with bottomless mimosas ans signature cocktails, drag performances, trivia, fun activities, and interactions with the Zoo’s animal ambassadors.

All month long, you can surprise your sweetie with something sweet from Towson Hot Bagel. Throughout the month, THB’s Cinna-Bagel is back on the menu. The cinnamon sugar-topped bagel is available with cinnamon sugar cream cheese and a caramel drizzle, too.

For those who would rather dine in – but who don’t want to do all the cooking themselves, Pierpoint Restaurant has a special Valentine’s Day dinner box available to order and take home.

At Bondhouse, a $95 dinner for two includes an appetizer, two entrees, a dessert and two glasses of wine. The restaurant’s full menu is also available.

Of Love & Regret’s Valentine’s weekend will include lots of food and drink specials created with the holiday in mind.

Copper Shark’s Valentine’s Day specials (offered only on Feb. 14) include local oysters prepared three ways and a luxe surf and turf including filet mignon, Maine lobster tail and Maryland crab.

The Ivy Hotel has a luxurious two-night stay deal created for Valentine’s Day, which includes a meal at Magdalena, which will be offering a four-course Valentine’s menu with optional wine pairings (along with its regular menu, as well).

The Valentine’s menu at McFaul’s Iron Horse Tavern includes dishes like bacon-wrapped scallops and shrimp alfredo.

Alma Cocina Latina will celebrate Valentine’s Day all week next week, with longer hours, live music on Feb. 15, and a curated tasting menu for couples.

On Valentine’s Day, Chef’s Expressions will host a ticketed wine supper benefiting Tastewise Kids. The meal, which will be hosted at The Gramercy Mansion, includes courses like oysters with caviar, buttered egg and a tempura chive and cornbread blini paired with Besserat de Bellefon Bleu Brut Champagne.

Explorer’s Restaurant in the Royal Sonesta on Light St. will offer a special multi-course Valentine’s menu, with options like corn and crab chowder and crab cakes, on Feb. 14 and then again the following weekend, Feb. 17 and 18.

Planning for the future

Mark your calendars for:

Feb. 15: Little Red Dress Party at Duck Duck Goose

Feb. 18: Full Sensory Screening of Labrinth at The Charmery

May 11: Bourton & Bowties

Kit Pollard

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

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