Hot Plate: St. Nicholas Greek Festival, wine dinner at Cosima, First Friday events and more

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The St. Nicholas Greek Festival starts Friday, June 7.

Regardless of whether the weather cooperates, Baltimore restaurants are celebrating the summer months this week. Here’s a look at what’s happening.

Openings and announcements

Mari Luna Mexican Grill, the formerly closed location near the Pikes Cinema Bar & Grill, has reopened with a limited schedule. The restaurant is offering a brunch buffet every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Mari Luna’s other location remains open as usual.)

Stanford Kitchen, an offshoot of the popular Stanford Grill in Howard County, opened an Owings Mills location this past Monday. The restaurant, which will serve classic American food, is owned by Blueridge Restaurant Group, owner of seven restaurants in Maryland and Florida.

Heavy Seas Alehouse in Little Italy will close this weekend; another new restaurant will open in its place, though no information on the new concept is available yet.

New additions

Magdalena introduces Sunday brunch service this week, with the inaugural meal on Sunday. The menu includes luxe brunch dishes like house-cured lox, a waffle made with Vahlrona chocolate, and breakfast sausage and foie gras-stuffed Yorkshire pudding, plus a specialty cocktail menu that goes far beyond the traditional Bloodies and mimosas.

As of June 1, The Corner Pantry has reintroduced one of its most popular summer events: Lobster Roll Fridays.

First Friday (and more) in Hamilton

June 1 is the first Friday of the month, which means fun events pop up all over the city.

Hamilton has one of the most vibrant First Friday celebrations. This month, that includes no corkage fee and discounted full-sized pizzas at Silver Queen Café and a cooking class at Emma’s Tea Spot (Emma’s has also started hosting Saturday morning kids’ cooking classes). At Zeke’s Café, the First Friday dinner will be a backyard barbecue featuring burgers, hot dogs, potato salad and chips for $10.

On Saturday, Walther Gardens hosts its annual HomeGrown Festival, featuring live music, artists and makers from all over the area, and lots of food.

Rum & Reggae

Head to the garden at the Village Learning Place tonight for the annual Rum & Reggae event, featuring reggae bands, rum samples and Caribbean-inspired food from The Verandah. The event is free for kids and benefits programs organized by VLP.

Hot in Fed Hill

This Saturday, Federal Hill establishments will open their doors for the Federal Hill Summer Swirl, a “wine tasting experience” that will help you get to know the neighborhood.

And have you stopped by Ludlow Market, Bar and Bottle Shop yet? The new restaurant and store, located in the former Wine Market Bistro space, is hosting a three-night pop up from June 1-3 to help people get to know the new menu from chef Christopher Audia.

The event starts at 6 p.m. each night and will feature craft cocktails, beers and small plates like beef fat fries and black-eyed pea fritters.

Backyard Summer Series at Rye Street Tavern

This Saturday, June 2, Rye Street Tavern will host the first in a summer-long series of lawn parties featuring all-you-can-eat BBQ. This week’s focus will be on Memphis, Kansas City and St. Louis-style ‘que, which will be available with sides like hush puppies, mac and cheese and cornbread.

Spirits of Maryland

On Sunday at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the Maryland Distillers Guild will celebrate all the spirits of Charm City with the second annual Spirits of Maryland: Baltimore.

The event features 15 Maryland distilleries, music, snacks and oysters from The Local Oyster. Admission includes samples from all the attending distilleries, a signature glass and access to the museum.

Cocktail classes at Johnny’s

Sundays aren’t the only “fundays” during the hottest month of the year.

Throughout the summer, Johnny’s will host cocktail classes the first Monday of every month, including next Monday, June 4, when Johnny’s staff will offer lessons in making the Ernest Hemingway favorite Death in the Afternoon and a classic Manhattan.

The cost of admission ($25) covers the instruction, recipe sheets, snacks and the two drinks.

Italian pairings at Cosima

On Wednesday, June 6, Cosima hosts An Evening of Italian Pairings, a wine dinner featuring five courses, each paired with Italian wines presented by Otto Sheridan of Free Run.

Courses include dishes like soft shell crab with tomato tagliatelle tossed with scallions, basil, garlic and a lemon caper wine sauce, and wild boar chops with a confit of garlic and duck. If the weather permits, the dinner will take place on Cosima’s patio, which is one of the loveliest outdoor spots in town.

The Feast of St. Anthony in Little Italy

The Feast of St. Anthony Italian Festival returns on Saturday and Sunday weekend to Little Italy, with St. Leo’s Church serving as host. The celebration, to take place along Stiles and Exeter streets, includes food stands for calzones, meatballs, pizza and dozens of other dishes, as well as an indoor sit-down pasta dinner. Spectators can enjoy a Roma sausage-eating contest, live music, a bocce tournament and gladiators roaming the streets.

St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival starts

The St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival is always a favorite among local food lovers: it’s a fun party with tons of excellent nosh. This year’s festival starts on Thursday, June 7 and runs through the weekend. The theme is “B’More Greek” and the festival, which takes place in GreekTown Square, includes music, dance, arts and crafts and kids’ activities, plus lots of traditional Greek food to enjoy at the festival or take home.

Planning Ahead

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

June 9: Feastival benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at The Sandlot 

June 13: Evening of Traditional Beverages at Homewood Museum 

June 15: Twilight on the Terrace at Gertrude’s 

Edit: The original version of this post included an incorrect date for Tacopalooza. The La Food Marketa event is July 3, not June 3, as originally stated.

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