RegionAle: The Ellicott City dining scene welcomed this new beer and sandwich shop to the neighborhood last week. Chef/owner Kevin Curley, a Culinary Institute of America grad who trained under Charleston chef Cindy Wolf, offers a menu full of salads, soups, and his takes on classic American sandwiches. Among Curley’s 13 locally-sourced creations are a Louisiana shrimp po’ boy with sautéed shrimp and an Old Bay remoulade, a Florida Cubano with roast pork and Swiss cheese, and, of course, a Maryland crab cake on a potato bun topped with arugula and sliced tomato. The beverage offerings include six bottled beers, as well as a rotating selection of regional brews on tap. 5705 Richards Valley Road, Ellicott City.
Iron Rooster: Just one year after settling in at Canton Crossing, this Annapolis-based breakfast-all-day spot has expanded yet again. Iron Rooster’s third location debuted inside Hunt Valley Towne Center in Cockeysville last week, serving the brand’s signature house made pop tarts and bacon-garnished Bloody Marys, as well as heartier offerings like maple-glazed pork chops and roast pork quesadillas. Situated in the former home of Joe’s Crab Shack, the 250-seat restaurant is Iron Rooster’s biggest location yet, featuring iron accents, reclaimed wood furniture, and even an outdoor play area for kids. 50 Shawan Road, Cockeysville, 410-990-1600
Mission BBQ: This Baltimore-based pit palace—which recently cut the ribbon at its 40th location in Tampa, Florida—unveiled its newest local eatery in the Foundry Row development in Owings Mills last month. Swing by the new neighborhood hangout to indulge in classics like smoked brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, as well as seasonal offerings like prime rib, creamed corn, and caramel bread pudding. The barbecue joint joins other fast-casual destinations like Nalley Fresh, Smashburger, and Zoë’s Kitchen in the brand new, mixed-use property anchored by a 109,000-square-foot Wegman’s grocery store. 10140 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills, 410-648-2071
Nacho Mama’s: Margaritas were flowing as Canton stalwart Nacho Mama’s celebrated the grand opening of its Towson location this past weekend. The new digs—set in the former home of S&J Crab Ranch on West Pennsylvania Avenue off of the Towson Circle—mirror the Canton flagship’s aesthetic, boasting Elvis statues, Natty Boh signage, and old-school sports memorabilia. The menu also stays true to the brand’s Tex-Mex style, featuring dishes such as chili conqueso, blackened chicken fajitas, mango barbecue sticky wings, seafood quesadillas, and Chicken Chesapeake sandwiches. 2 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Towson, 410-673-0069
Caliburger: Soon after unveiling its first East Coast location in Columbia, this California-based burger joint is looking to expand its footprint in Maryland. The brand recently announced plans to open a second location in Harbour Center in Annapolis in the coming months, and is searching for a location in Charm City to open in 2017. Known for its West Coast-inspired, fast-casual offerings, the chain specializes in double-stacked hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and hand-cut French fries.
JD’s Smokehouse: Canton locals will be happy to hear that this local barbecue spot is making a comeback to the neighborhood it frequented for more than a decade. JD’s closed its Canton flagship in 2014 to focus on its location in Bel Air, but plans to return to the neighborhood in the former home of American Harry’s on the corner of South Luzerne and Foster avenues by the first of the year. Though JD’s won’t be returning to its former location on the northeast corner of O’Donnell Square— which now operates as Southern Provisions—old regulars will recognize the eatery’s signature barbecue bites (think pulled pork sandwiches, hushpuppies, and house smoked chicken and turkey) and rotating craft beer list. 623 S. Luzerne Ave., 410-327-0505
Rachel New American Cuisine: Chef Barry Fleischmann, the brains behind local catering company Scratch Mill Kitchen, is opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant in South Baltimore later this month. Situated in the former home of Breadbangers on Fort Avenue, the three-floor building will seat upwards of 100 guests and feature a menu highlighting dishes like Yukon potato soup, charcuterie plates, smoked pork loin sandwiches, grilled duck breast with grilled peaches and baby kale, and orange pound cake discs topped with assorted berries. Named after his daughter, the new restaurant will be used as basecamp for Fleischmann’s catering business, and he will also host cooking classes in the kitchen. 554 E. Fort Ave.
Atlas Restaurant Group: Alex Smith—who owns Azumi, Loch Bar, and Ouzo Bay—is already dominating the dining scene in Harbor East, but come 2017 the restaurateur will add two more spots to his list of properties in the waterfront neighborhood. Smith recently finalized a deal to acquire Fleet Street Kitchen and Ten Ten American Bistro from Bagby Restaurant Group, which is owned by his uncle, David Smith. Although details about the new concepts are still under wraps, the kitchens at both restaurants will be headed up by Julian Marucci, who most recently served as executive chef at Cinghiale before leaving his post there earlier this month. The restaurants will operate as normal until the end of the year, when they’ll close briefly for renovations during the transition. Stay tuned for updates. 1010 & 1012 Fleet Street, 410-244-6867
Baltimore Farm Alliance Pop-Up at Lexington Market: The Baltimore Farm Alliance—a collective of 12 Baltimore City farms—is continuing its work to increase access to healthy food throughout the city by launching a partnership with Lexington Market this season. Wednesdays throughout January, the Baltimore Farm Alliance will set up shop inside the market’s designated pop-up stall, serving DIY salads and affordable produce like radishes, collards, and mustard greens. Mark your calendars for the second Wednesday of every month, when guest chefs will be onsite preparing a variety of vegan dishes using all of the locally-grown ingredients. 400 W. Lexington St., 410-685-6169
Chef Cleetus at Artifact: One of chef Spike Gjerde’s best buds is making a return to Charm City this weekend, hosting a special pop-up showcasing his takes on classic cold-weather comfort foods. Chef Cleetus Freidman—formerly of Chicago hotspots City Provisions and Fountainhead—is taking over the kitchen at Artifact Coffee on December 2 and 3, serving up a special “Stews & Brews”-themed menu with dishes like Chesapeake chowder and vegetarian chili served alongside a selection of Waverly and Union brews.The laid-back event will also feature a plenty of old-school hip-hop and a late-night menu listing burgers, snacks, and classic cocktails. 1500 Union Ave., 410-235-1881
B. Doughnut: This small-batch shop took the foodie world by storm when it opened its doors in Hampden one year ago. Locals instantly took a liking to B’s beauties injected with everything from lemon curd to vanilla bean cream. But last week, husband-and-wife owners Brian and Pin Chanthapanya announced that they would be closing their flagship location to focus on a new shop opening in Leesburg, Virginia in the coming months.Lucky for our sweet tooth cravings (and our Instagram feeds), a new doughnut purveyor is moving into the space. Josh Kowitz, the owner of local farmers’ market pop-up Center Cut Donuts, will take over the shop next month, serving his inventive flavors including smoked pear, chocolate with pink peppercorn, and coconut cream with pickled strawberries. 3528 Chestnut Ave.