In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Bluegrass Etc.; Cilantro; Vida Taco Bar; Cafe Cito

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

By Lauren Cohen | March 23, 2017, 2:18 pm

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Bluegrass Etc.; Cilantro; Vida Taco Bar; Cafe Cito

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

By Lauren Cohen | March 23, 2017, 2:18 pm


Bluegrass Etc.: The dining options at the Inner Harbor Fairfield Inn and Suites now span far beyond your typical continental breakfast. Bluegrass Etc., a spinoff from the owners of South Baltimore staple Bluegrass Tavern, celebrated its grand opening inside the hotel last weekend. Open for dinner daily, the new spot features the same Lowcountry dishes as its flagship, including charcuterie and cheese boards, baked creole crawfish mac and cheese, smoked fried chicken with country gravy, and blackened catfish jambalaya. The bar program is also similar, highlighting an array of bourbon and craft beer. 101 S. President St., 410-837-9900

Rec Pier Chop House: Earlier this week, Fells Point officially welcomed the brand new Sagamore Pendry Hotel to the neighborhood. Aside from the multi-million dollar property’s grandiose touches (think an open-air courtyard and Montauk-inspired pool deck), the hotel also boasts its own dining destination that opens to the public on Saturday, March 25. Under the helm of New York-based chef Andrew Carmellini, who has been lauded by the likes of Esquire and Food & Wine, Rec Pier Chop House will offer a seasonally focused menu with an Italian slant. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service, the restaurant will feature everything from blue crab benedicts and chicken parmigiana sandwiches to rockfish cacciatore and a 16-oz. boneless rib eye.The Cannon Room, the hotel’s 20-seat whiskey bar, will also debut this weekend. 1715 Thames St., 240-309-7487


Cilantro: Next month, city locals will no longer need to trek to Owings Mills to get a taste of the authentic eats from this Mediterranean mecca. Cilantro is making moves downtown, opening a new shop at the intersection of Lombard and Light streets that is slated to debut in the beginning of April. Though the eatery—best known for its house-made falafel, shawarma, and pita platters—will highlight a few seats for dining in, it will primarily focus on carry-out business. (Here’s hoping it becomes a new OrderUp option before long.) Dishes to look forward to include Greek salads, kefta kabobs, and DIY wraps topped with a number of traditional sauces. 30 Light St.

Sarku Japan: From pita and pizza to burritos and barbecue, the new Foundry Row development in Owings Mills has quickly become a dining destination that offers eats to please all palates. Later this month, the area will become even more diverse as it welcomes Far East fare from Sarku Japan. The popular mall vendor will open its doors in the development’s Southeast corner across from Mission BBQ, selling its signature teriyaki chicken, sushi rolls, and bento boxes. 10100 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills

Vida Taco Bar: Ever since it opened on Main Street in Annapolis two years ago, this Mexican spot has become a destination for top-notch tacos and tequila. Now, the bar has its sights set on Charm City. Come December, Vida will open its second location inside a new apartment building at Harbor Point—Beatty Development Group’s mixed-use community in between Fells Point and Harbor East. The bar pairs its variety of colorful sangrias and margaritas with unique tacos filled with everything from chicken and butternut squash to braised rabbit and chipotle-marinated octopus. 1405 Point St.


The Inn at the Black Olive: This boutique hotel in Fells Point, backed by actor Woody Harrelson, will undergo a major makeover in the coming months. The five-story inn will be converted from its current state into an apartment building with 12 units and a first-floor restaurant. Owner Jack Dwyer recently told the Baltimore Business Journal that the hotel’s eatery, previously inhabited by Agora Market, could be rebranded into a craft brewery concept. Construction is expected to begin this spring. 803 S. Caroline St., 443-681-6316


Chefs Cycle Fundraiser at Gunther & Co.: This May, Gunther & Co. co-owners Jerry Trice and Nancy Hart Mola will join more than 250 chefs on a three-day, 300 mile bike ride across California with the goal of raising $2 million for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. In advance of the trek, the duo is hosting a dining event at their Brewers Hill restaurant on Tuesday, April 4 to help raise funds to support the cause. Tickets include cocktail samplings and featured eats from chefs Neill Howell of The Corner Pantry, Zack Mills of Wit & Wisdom, Ben Lefenfeld of La Cuchara, Scott Hines of B&O American Brasserie, and Brian Lavin of Gnocco. 3650 Toone St., 443-869-6874, 6 p.m., $95

Cinghiale Date Night: Book a sitter, throw on something fancy, and head to this Harbor East restaurant to take advantage of its new date-night menu. Featured every Friday evening, the $50 shared prix-fixe includes dishes such as gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and mustard greens, spaghetti frutti di mare, and a chocolate-hazelnut semifreddo. To sweeten the deal, Cinghiale will pair a bottle of wine with the meal for $25. 822 Lancaster St., 410-547-8282

Origins: A Speakers Series: This intimate discussion moderated by Spike Gjerde returns to Artifact Coffee on Thursday, March 23 with a panel addressing school farms. Cozy up in the restaurant’s private room to hear Beth Mathie of Great Kids Farm, Sharon Hood of Roots Farm at McDonogh School, and Dr. Daniel Schochor and Eric Oberlechner from West Baltimore’s Green Street Academy weigh in on the benefits of teaching children where their food comes from. A family-style dinner inspired by the evening’s panel will be served following the talk. 1500 Union Ave., 410-464-8000, 6:30 p.m., $60

Towson Hot Bagels Celebrates Maryland Day: You can always count on Towson Hot Bagels (THB) to get into the spirit whenever a holiday rolls around. Overthe years, we’ve seen the beloved breakfast-and-lunch chain turn its bagels green for St. Paddy’s and purple during Ravens season. But in honor of Maryland Day on Saturday, March 25, THB is really upping its game, rolling out dough dyed black, red, yellow, and white. Throughout the day, all locations will be serving Maryland flag-patterned bagels while supplies last. Multiple locations including 3301 Boston St., 410-732-9090


Bel-Loc Diner: Sadly, this weekend will be the last for locals to sip piping-hot coffee at one of the hallowed booths inside the Bel-Loc Diner. We can’t say we didn’t see it coming. Last summer, a spokesperson for the 53-year-old Parkville landmark announced that, facing retirement, owner Bill Doxanas had entered into a deal to sell the vintage spot to Starbucks Corporation—which planned to raze the building to make way for a coffee shop with a drive-thru window. From there it was only a waiting game. Despite a staunch effort from local nonprofit Preservation Maryland, the current structure will not be able to be maintained when Starbucks moves in. The Bel-Loc, fittingly named after the Baltimore beltway and its location in Loch Raven, has long been a gathering place for locals looking to scarf down pancakes, jam to jukebox oldies, and meet with neighbors over paper placemats. 1700 E. Joppa Road., 410-668-2525

Cafe Cito: Hampden locals took to social media earlier this week to lament the loss of this beloved breakfast-and-lunch spot. “No words can describe our love for your support over these past three years,” owner Dave Sherman wrote in a message posted to Facebook. “To my Cito Crew, by far the best crew I've ever worked with, one million thank you’s.” Sherman, who opened breakfast stall Ground & Griddled inside R. House in Remington last fall, has yet to disclose the reasons behind the unexpected closure. The shop, best known for its Spanish-inspired breakfast sandwiches, will operate its last service on Saturday, March 25. 3500 Chestnut Ave., 443-682-9701

Meet The Author

Lauren Cohen is the digital senior editor at Baltimore, where she covers food, events, lifestyle, and community news.

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