Alma Cocina Latina’s outdoor patio is now open, which means there’s one more great option for al fresco dining in Station North.
Alma Cocina Latina’s outdoor patio is now open, which means there’s one more great option for al fresco dining in Station North.

With soft shells returning to menus, new spring cocktails popping up, and news of long-awaited reopenings, this week is a sunny one in the Baltimore restaurant scene. Here’s a look at what’s happening:

Openings and announcements
Alma Cocina Latina’s 24-seat outdoor patio is now open – just in time for warmer weather. Alma’s new space also has a newly opened private dining area, which can accommodate small cocktail parties and private dining.

Miss Shirley’s Café’s new location is now open. The café – the local group’s fourth – is in Concourse A at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Congratulations to Barley’s Backyard Uptown in Towson, which celebrated one year in business last week. 

The Sandlot kicks off its 5th season next weekend and has fun events scheduled all weekend long, including food trucks, drink specials, outdoor yoga and sunset salsa.

In more much-appreciated reopening news, blacksauce kitchen is open again in Remington. The hours are limited but you can also find the blacksauce crew at the Waverly Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.

After a long year of takeaway tacos and mezcalitas, Clavel fans have something to cheer about this week: outdoor dining at the Remington restaurant returns on April 28.

Baltimore County Restaurant Week
This is the last full week of Restaurant Week in Baltimore County; the promotion ends May 2, so if you haven’t had a chance to visit a new spot or an old favorite, now is the time.

Passport to Whitehall
Whitehall Market has created a passport program – when you spend $20 or more at seven different merchants in the market, you’ll receive a Whitehall Market tote with gifts and deals.

Between this and the reopening of True Chesapeake Oyster Co., there’s never been a better time to stop by Whitehall Mill.

Cookhouse Smokery
On Saturdays, Cookhouse now offers a smoked seafood menu, including options like The Skipper – a hot-smoked salmon shmear with red onion, cucumber and tomato, on a toasted everything bagel.

OMG Food
The League for People with Disabilities’ annual fundraiser, OMGFood, is back again this year, but with a virtual twist. This year’s event features a take-home paella kit created by La Cuchara. The paella, which you can cook at home, is sure to be excellent – and the proceeds from the event all go to support The League, which helps individuals with disabilities gain independence and a higher quality of life.

Johnny’s markets are back
This Sunday, the outdoor market is back in the Johnny’s parking lot. Stop by to wander and check out what’s available – or pre-order Cinghiale pasta, cheeses, meats, sauces and other prepared foods to pick up (while skipping the order line). Or do both – pre-order and browse!

Also on Sunday, Oysterfest returns to The Manor Tavern. The party includes fun games, live music, springtime cocktails and tons of seafood, including freshly shucked oysters.

Wine & spirits tasting
Wednesday evening, Peerce’s pairs wine and spirits with music and art, during a tasting event featuring a jazz trio performance and art (for perusal and sale) from 3six9 Gallery. Tickets to the event include numerous wines, bourbons, rum and tequila along with hors d’oeuvres – plus 10% off dinner if you choose to dine at Peerce’s as well.

Henry VIII Dinner
On Thursday, The Elkridge Furnace Inn hosts a five-plus course wine dinner celebrating the six wives of Henry VIII. Starting with an amuse bouche and proceeding through savory dishes to dessert, each course will focus on a single wife of the notorious king, featuring flavors and wines related to her heritage.

For example, Anne of Cleves’ Germanic roots are honored with a traditional German potato pancake with lieberwurst, and Spanish flavors get the spotlight in a roasted lamb top round paired with Rioja in honor of Catherine of Aragon.

Wine Walkabout
On April 30, join the Women’s Initiative Network at Kennedy Krieger Institute for a virtual wine tasting and food pairing event raising funds for the organization. The event is happening in conjunction with Linwoods and The French Paradox Wines, and will include an interactive tasting talk from French Paradox managing partner Peter Wood.

Spring menus
If you need more motivation to dine out this week – it’s spring menu time. That means fiddlehead ferns at Food Market, ramps with English peas at La Cuchara, ramp butter and garlic shrimp at The Corner Pantry, and even more ramps (plus, hopefully, a ramps and rose dinner) at Foraged Eatery.

Keep an eye out for soft shells, too; they’re starting to pop up on menus around the city – Silver Queen Café, The Red Star and Gunther & Co. all had them on their menus this past week.

Plus, many spots have new cocktail menus for the season, including Magdalena, where the drinks menu includes treats like the tropical Colada Cristalino, a mixture of coconut milk-washed gold rum, falernum, citrus and coconut water, and Fuisine, which just introduced 11 new drinks including a Thai take on the Tom Collins.

Planning for the future
Mark your calendars for:
May 1: Big Softy at Mulberry’s Bar
May 5: Cinco de Mayo at Maximon
August 7: Crabs, Wine & Beer Festival 

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