Food & Drink

Open & Shut: Rize + Rest; Zander’s; Suspended Brewing; Joe Squared

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Rize + Rest: This fittingly named newbie, which debuted in the Patterson Park/Highlandtown area a few weeks back, specializes in both breakfast (“rize”) and dinner (“rest”). The concept comes from chef Randall Matthews, who once traveled the globe opening restaurants for celebrity chef Michael Mina’s The Mina Group. That stint eventually brought him to Wit & Wisdom, the former restaurant inside the Four Seasons Baltimore, where he fell in love with Charm City. 

A Prince George’s County native, Matthews says opening his own spot in Baltimore was not only appealing for its tight-knit community feel (that Smaltimore-ness, if you will), but it was also a more affordable place to purchase a building for a restaurant. Matthews has spent two years fully gutting the former small grocery store at 3100 E. Baltimore St. to bring to life his vision for a neighborhood gathering spot—equipped with light woods, a white marble bar, and lots of lush greenery.

“In the mornings, Rize is the cafe coffee shop—very modern and comfortable,” he says. “And then 5 p.m. is Rest, where there’s full service, candles on the table, and the playlist changes.”

Expect a morning menu of massive biscuit sandwiches in varieties like egg and bacon, egg and Parmesan, or fried chicken, plus pastries and coffee drinks. In the evenings, the offerings switch over to dishes like smoky burrata with balsamic, black truffle and lobster spaghetti, and sea diver scallops over brown butter cauliflower puree. Cocktails include a clarified milk punch cheekily named “Baltimore Tap Water” and a take on an espresso martini with rum and coconut milk.

Matthews says he takes culinary inspiration from his past experiences—understanding what the market wants today—as well as from family recipes. “Growing up, in my family, there were no chefs, but there were a lot of people who knew how to cook,” he says with a laugh. One recipe that made it on the menu? His mother’s focaccia, which he serves with apple jam and smoked herb butter. 

Rize + Rest is open Tuesday through Saturday. Keep an eye out for the debut of the brunch menu in the new year.

“The biggest thing for us is providing strong hospitality, but also memorable experiences,” Matthews says. “We want to focus on the community, know their names, understand what they like and don’t like. We’ve seen some of the same people eight or nine times already, and we’ve only been open four weeks. That’s something we really take pride in.”

Mama’s on the Half Shell: This Canton staple has officially debuted its long-awaited second location in Owings Mills. Located in the Foundry Row development off of Reisterstown Road, the new outpost offers everything city dwellers have come to love about the original seafood spot, including an impressive raw bar, crab cakes, jumbo wings, and those famous fresh-squeezed Crushes. Expect more space, too, as the Owings Mills location offers more than 200 seats. 

Medium Rare: Steak and frites chain Medium Rare has arrived at The Rotunda in Hampden. The new Baltimore location (previously, the closest were in Bethesda and Washington, D.C.) takes over 3,000 square feet of what was once CineBistro, including the movie theater’s former kitchen space. While Medium Rare only offers prix-fixe service, it’s a steal. For $28.95, diners can get a three-course meal of salad, bread, and a Coulotte steak with hand-cut fries. (There’s also a vegan version that swaps grilled portobellos in for the steak.) Weekend brunch ($31.95) offers diners a choice of eggs Benedict, French toast and sausage, steak and eggs, or egg frites and sausage to pair with bottomless mimosas, screwdrivers, Bloody Marys, soda, coffee, or juice.

Zander’s: Pre-pandemic, diners briefly got to experience the historic Alex. Brown & Sons investment bank building downtown. Boasting original marble walls and columns, historic portraits, and its dazzling domed skylight, the renovated circa-1901 building housed the Alexander Brown Restaurant for just over a year before it closed due to the struggles of COVID restrictions. Now, the team behind Allora in Mt. Vernon has revived the building yet again, with a new concept that focuses on classic cocktails, starters, pastas, and prime cuts of meat (think: a porterhouse, bone-in 10-oz. filet, and boneless ribeye) in the gem of a space. Open Thursday through Saturday for lunch and dinner service, partners Brendon Hudson and David Monteagudo are starting out with dishes like shrimp cocktail, scallop crudo, cacio e pepe, and a burger with gruyere and caramelized onions.


Cafe Dear Leon Owners to Open Italian Restaurant: Aside from Mama’s on the Half Shell, another Canton favorite is expanding—sort of. The owners of Cafe Dear Leon, the cozy coffee and pastry shop on O’Donnell Square—where patrons are regularly waiting in lines out the door—recently announced they will debut a new Italian concept. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, co-owner Min Kim will open the sit-down dinner spot in the former Shiso Tavern space at 2933 O’Donnell St., just three doors down from the cafe. Details are still at a minimum, but Kim told the paper to expect fresh pastas and other Italian dishes. 

Suspended Brewing to Relocate: It’s the end of an era for this Pigtown brewery, which will serve its last pint in the neighborhood on New Year’s Eve. Suspended announced last month on Instagram that it plans to relocate to a smaller space in North Baltimore. “Like many other small businesses, we have struggled to find steady footing ever since [the pandemic] and, lately, having such a large taproom has presented its own challenges,” ownership wrote, adding: “The move is more than an address change: it’s an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. There is a lot of work ahead, so we don’t have a timeline yet, but will share the journey along the way.” Looking to say goodbye to the Washington Boulevard taproom? Stop by this Sunday, Dec. 17, for a special closing event in collaboration with local art business Okay Everything. Expect a new beer release, all of the taproom’s art for sale, and special Suspended and Okay Everything merch. 


Joe Squared: This staple in the Station North food, beverage, and arts scene—an anchor in the neighborhood for the past two decades—is sadly closing its doors. Last month, the worker-owners behind the bar (Joe Squared was revived after a nine-month hiatus in the wake of COVID-19 after a switch to a co-op model) took to social media to announce that it will close at the end of December. “The restaurant landscape has changed drastically since COVID, and facing lower turnout, higher expenses, and a lack of resources, we have likely reached the end of our journey,” the statement reads.

The beloved dive has long been known for its signature square pizza, risottos, rum drinks, and live music lineup in its “Downsquares” performance space. A two-day farewell bash is planned for Dec. 29 and 30, when more than 20 local bands—including Super City, Glorian, and Manners Manners—are set to take the stage to celebrate all of the good times. “We love you all very much, and we can’t thank you enough for all the years of memories,” the owners summed up in their message. 

Charmington’s: After 13 years in business, this Remington coffee shop will serve its last cup of joe on Dec. 23. “Though our chapter here may be ending, the memories and connections we’ve made will always hold a special place in our hearts,” the shop wrote on Instagram. “We’re immensely grateful for the support, trust, and loyalty you’ve given over the years.” Charmington’s made headlines in 2015 when President Barack Obama stopped by, and the eatery has been known as a welcoming spot that puts a focus on creating a healthy environment for its workers. “You can help us end things as we started, by supporting the staff and being considerate as we finish our time here,” the post continued. The coffee shop’s remaining hours will be Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.