Gunther & Co. kicks off Tequila Taco Tuesdays next week

Have you recovered yet from your Valentine’s Day sugar high? Ready for something new?

There’s a lot happening this week in Baltimore restaurant news, and none of it involves heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. New spots are opening, culturally educational dinners are taking place and restaurants are providing locals with lots of opportunities to learn about – and enjoy – different types of liquors.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in and around town this week:

Openings & Announcements

Gunther & Co. has launched two new weekly events: Burgers & Bohs Mondays ($13 burgers plus $1 add-on Natty Bohs) and Tequila Taco Tuesdays, which features two tacos and a tequila drink for $15. Both events take place in the Gunther bar, which is just as attractive as the rest of the restaurant.

Belvedere Square regulars rejoiced last week when Greg’s Bagels reopened its doors. Greg’s, a longstanding Belvedere favorite, closed last year following the announcement that owner Greg Novik had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In December, Novik announced that the shop would be sold to Tommy Hearn, a former employee (and Friends School alum). Novik taught Hearn his secret bagel recipe and is now actively helping Hearn during his first days as owner.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, Chuck’s Trading Post in Hampden will celebrate its grand opening (technically, it’s been open for over a month). This grocery/deli/coffee shop is run by the owner of Corner Charcuterie Bar, and early reports suggest the selection in both the restaurant and grocery fronts is excellent.

Next Friday, Feb. 24, CinéBistro, in the Rotunda in Hampden, will open its doors. The new spot is a first-run movie theater with seven screens – and a full restaurant. If you’re looking for more than popcorn with your movie, this is the place: the menu will include everything from burgers to seafood.

Sam’s Canterbury Café has opened in the old Chocolatea space – right next door to the Ambassador. The café serves breakfast, lunch, and coffee.

South Baltimore residents can look forward to a new café as well with the upcoming spring opening of  ZuZu’s Gourmet Donuts, Coffee and Juice Bar on Charles Street in Federal Hill. The owner, Fed Hill resident Hakim Zubar, knows the industry; he worked for years at the Brass Elephant in Mount Vernon.

That’s not the only big South Baltimore news this week, either. La Cuchara’s owners have announced they will open Minnow, a casual seafood restaurant, near Riverside Park in April.

The new restaurant will be quite different from La Cuchara. It’s being planned as a neighborhood spot with fresh seafood and a menu that changes seasonally.

Later this spring, Food Network fans will have something new to cheer about with the opening of a new Charm City Cakes on President Street in Harbor East (between Roy’s and James Joyce). The shop will sell treats like cupcakes and macarons. The baked goods will be prepared at CCC’s original Remington location and delivered to Harbor East daily. 

Spirited Week

Lovers of liquor have a lot to do this week, with events celebrating spirits both local and global.

All weekend long, the Ivy Hotel and its gorgeous restaurant Magdalena will focus on all things whiskey. Tonight, Magdalena will toast the spirit with a five-course meal paired with five different Glenmorangie whiskeys. Tomorrow, guests will enjoy a guided whiskey tasting and nightcap and each morning. The day will start with breakfast and whiskey-inspired, brunch-style cocktails.

If American spirits are more your thing, head to the Mt. Washington Tavern on Thursday, Feb. 23, for the Kentucky Nights Bourbon Tasting benefiting the Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. The evening includes tastings from more than ten distilleries, plus food pairings and an educational component.

Also on Thursday, Wine Market Bistro will host a Maryland Distillery Cocktail Tasting and Talk. Bar manager Aaron Simons will introduce guests to what’s happening in local distilling – it’s a scene that is rapidly growing.

On Friday, the local distilling conversation continues at the monthly installment of the ORIGINS series at Artifact Coffee. Local distillers from Tenth Ward Distillery and Caledonia Spirits, plus a representative from the Maryland Distiller’s Guild, will be on hand to discuss the craft of distilling. The evening will also include dinner, the sampling of the wares, and spirited conversation. 

James Beard Award Nominations

The semifinalists for the esteemed James Beard Awards were announced earlier this week, and several Baltimore restaurants and one chef received nods.

Woodberry Kitchen is a finalist for outstanding service, Charleston was nominated in the outstanding wine program category and Chef Cindy Wolf received a nomination for best chef Mid-Atlantic. Woodberry Chef Spike Gjerde won the best chef in the Mid-Atlantic category in 2015.

Finalists will be announced on March 15 and the winners will be crowned on May 1.

Heat It Up

Barcocina’s third annual chili cookoff takes place on Sunday, Feb. 19. Starting at 1 p.m., guests can taste a variety of chilis (usually about ten) and enjoy drink and food specials. The event requires a ticket – and usually sells out – so grab one while they are still available. 

Vegan Weekend

Starting today, various local restaurants and venues will celebrate Baltimore Vegan Weekend. The lineup includes a vegan food crawl on Friday, the 2nd Annual Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown on Saturday and a vegan brunch on Sunday. 

Potluck at Sotto Sopra

Last month, Sotto Sopra’s spur of the moment diversity potluck dinner drew a crowd and a ton of praise. Thanks to the success of the evening, the restaurant’s owners have decided to make the dinner a monthly event; the next one will take place on Monday, Feb. 20.

Reservations are not necessary, but guests must bring a homemade dish large enough to feed 12 to 15 people. The restaurant supplies the wine and beer. The kitchen staff is given a (paid) night off and the evening is all about conversation and hospitality.

Irish History at Brian Boru

On Tuesday, Severna Park’s Brian Boru will host an Irish history dinner focused on the life and work of St. Patrick. It’s a great opportunity to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day, which is just a month away, by learning about the myth and history behind the man famous for his connection with Ireland. 

Tasting Asia at McDaniel

Thursday night marks McDaniel College’s annual Taste of Asia cultural dinner, which coincides (somewhat) with the start of the Chinese New Year.

The event, which is organized by the college’s Asian Community Coalition, is open to the public and includes both food and dance, music and other performances. 

Mushroom Inoculation at Real Food Farm

Next Friday, Feb. 24, the Baltimore Orchard Project and Real Food Farm will host a mushroom inoculation workshop. Mushroom inoculation is essentially mushroom planting. It is a multi-step project in which mushroom spawn is inserted into logs. With maintenance, the logs will then grow mushrooms.

At the workshop, participants will inoculate applewood logs with oyster mushroom spawn – and they’ll go home with an inoculated log of their own.

Planning Ahead

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

February 25: Small Foods at the American Visionary Arts Museum 

March 25: WTMD Chili Cook-off 

April 1: The Emporiyum

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