Food & Drink

Open & Shut: Tea Horse Sichuan Bistro; Ellie’s Tavern; One-Eyed Mike’s

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Tea Horse Sichuan Bistro: Earlier this month, local restaurateur Ping Wu—the owner behind the popular Orient Express in Charles Village and Red Pepper Sichuan Bistro in Towson—opened her third eatery in the Baltimore area. Tea Horse Sichuan Bistro debuted in soft-opening mode at Ellicott City’s Normandy Plaza on February 2, with a formal ribbon-cutting planned for April. The name was inspired by Tea Horse Road, a winding caravan path which connected merchants traveling from Chengdu (the capital of China’s Sichuan Province) to Tibet, and “pays tribute, not only to the cuisine of Sichuan, but also to its people, history, and culture,” according to a press release. Guests in can view a visual representation of this history in the form of a hand-painted mural in the dining room. 

Spearheaded by chef ZheXin Zheng, the pages-long menu features a bevy of Sichuan street foods such as dan dan noodles, wontons, and spring rolls. There are also soups; dry pots; veggies (if the stir-fried green beans are anything like those served at their sister-spots, they’re a winner); duck, beef, and chicken delicacies; and seafood dishes (the deep-fried squirrel fish is one of the most popular plates so far). As for the beverage list, Tea Horse is currently in the process of getting its liquor license finalized, but when the bar is operational, guests can expect the Tea Horse Cocktail—a drink that the staff hopes will become as popular as the electric blue Yee Mee Loo Cocktail, made famous at LA’s Formosa Cafe

Ellie’s Tavern: Now under new ownership, a popular Canton watering hole has undergone a name change. As of February 10, Cardinal Tavern has officially transformed into Ellie’s Tavern, with new owners Natalia Bauer and Andreas Visilias at the helm. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the duo intends to keep the sports bar family-friendly (the new name is even a nod to Visilias’ five-year-old daughter). Expect classic pub fare like burgers, salads, and wings, as well as new items like the French onion mac and cheese, crab rangoon dip, and a vegan curry. 


One-Eyed Mike’s Up for Auction: Speaking of new owners, this Fells Point stalwart is on the hunt. One-Eyed Mike’s recently announced on social media that the beloved neighborhood bar is headed to auction. “After much consideration, I have decided to sell One-Eyed Mike’s via auction in late February,” wrote owner Akbar Vaiya, who bought the bar in 2016 after original owner, the late Mike Maraziti, decided to sell. “We will remain open without any change in management for months after the close of the auction.”

One-Eyed Mike’s is perhaps best known for its Grand Marnier Club, where regulars can purchase a bottle of the orange-flavored liqueur to drink from when they stop by. “Mike started this club in 2003 with the hope of filling a small case in the front of the bar,” Vaiya’s post continued. “It has since taken on a life of its own, amassing nearly 3,500 Cordon Rouge Members and scores of Quintessence Members.” Vaiya’s decision to sell was not made lightly, he writes, and he hopes that “the next owner will continue to grow our Grand Mariner Club and enjoy the culture that comes along with it.” We hope so, too.

Groundwork Kitchen to Restart Food Service: After a yearlong hiatus due to the pandemic, Paul’s Place, the nonprofit whose programs aid low-income individuals and families in Southwest Baltimore, has announced that its 120-seat Pigtown restaurant has relaunched with a new chef, management, and menu. Currently, the spot is open for carryout only, serving breakfast sandwiches, coffee drinks, donuts, and pastries from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. But dine-in service is expected to begin sometime in March.

Under the stewardship of executive chef Jonathan Hicks and general manager Melanie Molinaro, the menu has been reimagined to offer “elevated yet approachable American Bistro-style” cuisine, according to a press release. Patrons can expect rotating proteins, house-made pastas, vegan and gluten-free options, and a kid’s menu. New dishes will include red curry mussels, slow-cooked short rib eggrolls, duck bao, and vegan Nashville hot chicken. There’s also a newly built bar that can seat 10, offering wines, cocktails, regional brews, and non-alcoholic options.

“We’re excited to re-launch takeout, catering, and restaurant operations,” said Tim Regan, executive director of Paul’s Place, in a statement. “We know the neighborhood is ready for us to come back. We have the right team leading the work, and we’re thrilled to have one of our own culinary training program graduates on the re-launch team, which feels full circle.”

Woodberry Tavern Launches Late-Night Service: ICYMI, chef-owner Spike Gjerde reopened Woodberry Kitchen in December as the Tavern at Woodberry Kitchen. And the second act of this James Beard Award-winning restaurant is offering up something fun to quell those late-night cravings. Every Friday and Saturday, the spot now hosts “‘Wiching Hour” from 9:30-11 p.m. The service aims to “provide a more casual, lively option for night owls, burger lovers, and industry folks with oversized brews, next-level sandwiches, and plenty of fries,” according to a press release. The menu features a house-ground burger on a toasted sweet potato bun, a grilled cheese with a side of tomato soup, and a fried catfish and oyster po’boy. On the beverage side, expect a Jack Rose made with cherry brandy, house grenadine, and lemon juice; The Wine Collective’s Vermú on tap; and Zadie’s Lager from Union Craft Brewing in a chilled imperial pint or as a Michelada. Yep, we’d adjust our bedtime for any of that.


2/17-2/19: Max’s Taphouse’s 19th Annual Belgian Beer Fest
Maybe you’ve spotted the giant inflatable pink elephant (the mascot of Belgium’s Delirium Brewery) swaying atop Max’s Taphouse in Fells Point. It’s there to signal that this weekend marks the return of the bar’s legendary Belgian Beer Fest. Beginning at 11 a.m. Friday through Sunday, Max’s will have hundreds of Belgian brews on draft and in bottles. And stick around on Monday, too, when the bar will tap a handful of specialty sour kegs for a mini Sour Day, starting at 11:30 a.m. (According to the event’s Facebook page, Max’s is planning a full Sour Fest in June.)