Hot Plate: Preakness parties, Oktoberfest celebrations, EKIBEN at The Charmery in Towson and more

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NiHao’s Mid-Autumn Festival menu includes 10 dim sum dishes and more.

From Preakness parties to Oktoberfest celebrations to seafood dinners, the next few weeks look like fun ones on the Baltimore restaurant scene. Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Openings & Announcements
There’s been a lot of happy restaurant news recently, with the announcements of openings, anniversaries and updates all over the region.

After extensive renovations, The Rec Room in Towson has opened for indoor dining.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports that Spring Café, a vegetarian restaurant featuring Afghan foods, has opened on The Avenue in Hampden.

The owners of The Local Fry, the wings-and-fries spot in the Rotunda, will open a Korean barbecue-inspired restaurant, Toki Tako, also in the Rotunda, hopefully later this year.

Taharka Brothers has opened in Cross Street Market. The creamery will celebrate its opening with free ice cream mini-scoops on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Cross Street has tons of events planned for this weekend and beyond – there’s something happening just about every hour of every day. 

Magdalena’s new concept has been announced. The Ivy Hotel restaurant reopened Oct. 1 as Magdalena, Maryland Bistro, focusing on thoughtful takes on traditional Chesapeake-region cuisine.

Pure Raw Juice has opened a new South Baltimore outpost in Anthem House/A2. It’s the popular juice bar’s fifth location.

Azumi’s exciting new teppanyaki room, which includes an iron griddle in the space, opens Oct. 6. 

Rusty Scupper’s famous brunch is back; the waterside restaurant, which has one of the best views in town, is now open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Blue Moon Too – the Federal Hill outpost of the iconic Blue Moon Café – celebrated five years in business earlier this week.

Unfortunately, the past few weeks have also brought some sad news. CJ’s Crabhouse and Grill, which has been part of the community for 43 years, permanently closed on Sept. 30.

Water dinner at Topside
On Oct. 2 and 3, Topside will host a pair of back-to-back private seafood dinners. The seven-course meal will feature a wide variety of dishes and types of seafood, from uni to oysters, and can be paired with a beverage package including paired wines and cocktails.

Oktoberfests
Even COVID can’t cancel October – though Oktoberfest celebrations will look a little different this year.

At Guinness Open Gate Brewery, the party started in late September and lasts through Oct. 4. During the event, the brewery will feature two special release beers, Festbier and Dunkel Lager, and the lawn will serve as an open-air, socially distant German-style beer hall with music and food.

On Oct. 3, Rathskeller in Elkridge will host its first-ever Oktoberfest celebration, benefiting Friends of Patapsco Valley. The festival will take place on the restaurant’s patio and in the parking lot and will be organized to allow for safe social distancing. Tickets include beer, wine and liquor tastings plus wursts (made by Binkert’s in Rosedale), pretzels and potato cakes.

EKIBEN at The Charmery in Towson
On Saturday, Oct. 3, Fells Point fave EKIBEN will head up to Towson for a collaboration with the ice cream wizards at The Charmery.

The pair will feature some special sweets alongside EKIBEN’s fantastic chicken and tofu buns.

Mid-Autumn Festival at NiHao
From now through Oct. 3, NiHao has a special feast available to celebrate the Chinese holiday Mid-Autumn Festival. The menu includes 10 dim sum dishes, half a Peking duck and brown rice buns; it can be ordered online and picked up at the restaurant.

Apples at Petit Louis
Speaking of mid-Autumn…Petit Louis’ Le Festival de la Pomme menu has launched. The three-course menu features apples and apple products (think Calvados) in a variety of ways.

Preakness parties
Though the number of fans in the stands will be limited, the Preakness Stakes will, in fact, be run on Oct. 3.

Mt. Washington Tavern, long known as a great spot to celebrate before, after or during the race, is making a big deal of it again this year, with a slate of signature drinks, tons of cool horse racing memorabilia on display, and a gift card for anyone wearing a fun hat.

The Valley Inn will also be airing the race, including on its many TVs on the patio. Post-race festivities will include a performance by The Natty Brohs.

You can also watch the race at Cross Street Market, where an all-day watch party will include Maryland-themed food and drinks. https://www.facebook.com/events/cross-street-market/preakness-watch-party/1261150080928299/

National Taco Day
Sunday, Oct. 4 is National Taco Day and a couple of local spots are going all-in to celebrate.

At San Pablo Street Tacos in Mt. Vernon, $2 tacos and $5 sakeritas and sangria are on the menu.

Papi’s in Hampden will offer three gringo tacos for $5.

Felipe’s Taqueria in Towson will offer half off all orders of two tacos or more, all day long.

Nacho Mama’s will serve $3 tacos all day.

Cosima (and Farm to Chef) news
Cosima has a new Executive Chef, Anthony Franklin. Chef Franklin is a New York native who has been in Baltimore for several years; he recently helmed the kitchen at Penny Black.

He’s also become involved – quickly – in the local philanthropy scene. He’s a finalist in the TasteWise Kids Farm to Chef competition; the final competition takes place (virtually) on Oct. 5.

The competition itself has shifted online this year and there are plenty of ways to participate – and by doing so, support TasteWise Kids’ efforts to educate kids about food and help them develop healthy eating habits.

Pink things
All month long, THB is partnering with Komen Maryland to raise money for breast cancer. The bagelry is donating $5 from every dozen bagels sold throughout the month and a portion of sales from every 20-bagel box. Plus, starting Oct. 12, you can buy special pink bagels; a portion of those sales will also go to Komen.

Wine dinners are back at Café Troia
Café Troia’s popular Italian wine dinners return on Thursday, Oct. 8.

The Towson restaurant’s first wine dinner since COVID began will start with eggplant croquettes, followed by a pasta “pie,” wild boar, and a tart with lemon-scented pastry cream. Each savory course will be paired with an Italian wine and the meal is sure to be spectacular.

Baltimore on Netflix
The Netflix show “The American Barbecue Showdown” has a little Charm City-tinged twist. One of the show’s contestants – the only home cook – is a Maryland resident named Georgia Chasen. During the competition, she created a sandwich called “The Baltimore Field Trip.” Check it out!

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:
Oct. 18: Downtown Columbia Octoberfest at Cured 
Oct. 23: Passion for Food and Wine benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 
Nov. 12: Guest’s Choice Wine Dinner at Manor Tavern 



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