As the spring temperatures roll in, the local restaurant scene is experiencing a rebirth of its own. This Friday, restrictions will ease to allow 50 percent indoor capacity and 75 percent outdoor, and many dining destinations are currently planning to resume in-person operations.
After a year of focusing on its curbside program, Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen at the Baltimore Museum of Art officially reopened for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch earlier this week, featuring its signature crab cake platters and other locally sourced fare. Inside Mt. Vernon’s Ivy Hotel, Magdalena, a Maryland Bistro is launching indoor and courtyard service on April 1, with new spring dinner and cocktail menus inspired by local traditions. (Think seared Ocean City scallops, a crab cake sandwich with spicy greens, and a Berger Cookie-infused vodka drink.) Just in time for the return of the O’s, downtown brewpub Pratt Street Ale House is also reopening on April 1 with $1 beers to celebrate. In Hampden, kitchen service at Frazier’s on the Avenue is making a comeback (did someone say crab tots?) on March 31. And Sandlot in Harbor Point recently announced that it will be returning for its final season (the outdoor oasis was conceived as a temporary, five-year installation) with a lineup of food trucks, live entertainment, and activities kicking off on April 30.
Little Miner Taco: Last week, SouthBmore.com broke news that a Washington, D.C.-based developer has plans to build a retail collective in Barre Circle near Pigtown. In addition to a new gallery curated by Charm City’s own Currency Studio, tenants will include Little Miner Taco—which has become known around the region for its birria tacos and kids-eat-free program—as well as a cafe from the Little Miner’s owners Mackenzie Kitburi and Kathy Voss. Though the project is in its early stages, locals can now get acquainted with Little Miner by visiting its taco truck, which will be permanently parked at 1009 W. Barre Street every day except Wednesday. Swing by to quell cravings for the mouthwatering, meat-filled tortillas that are dipped in birria broth, filled with toppings, and fried on a flattop.
Mez: In other taco news, this Locust Point newbie has made quite the impression with its vegan and gluten-free offerings since debuting in January—even winning the coveted “Best Dish” award during last month’s Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week. Stationed inside Share Kitchen next to Diamondback Brewing, Mez offers handmade corn tortillas filled with plant-based toppings such as crispy tofu, walnut bean chorizo, roasted sweet potatoes and—the Vegan Week favorite—shredded king oyster mushrooms seared and slow roasted in achiote seeds. Sample for yourself by placing an online order for takeout or delivery this weekend.
Papi Cuisine: Fans have been lining up around the block to snag stuffed lobster tails, baked mac and cheese, and the fan-favorite crab cake egg rolls (which we recently honored with a 2021 Dining Award) from this Fleet Street hotspot in Fells Point. Now, chef Alex Perez is preparing to expand his footprint with a larger restaurant in South Baltimore. The chef has been teasing his newest location—taking over the former home of Minnow and The Hot Dry on the bottom floor of The Flats apartment complex—on Instagram. Stay tuned for more details on the grand opening in the coming weeks.
The Choptank: On the subject of expansions, Atlas Restaurant Group is headed south with a second location of its Fells Point crab house, The Choptank, slated to open in downtown Annapolis next year. Similar to the original, the new dockside destination on Ego Alley will feature a menu of Maryland-inspired eats and drinks—including Eastern Shore fried chicken, Orange Crushes, and steamed crabs—and offer a patio experience with outdoor games. Atlas is tapping interior designer Patrick Sutton to enhance the space, which will highlight varnished wood ceilings and industrial features inside, as well as a covered rooftop deck overlooking the water.
Orto Chef Matt Harper Named One of 100 Emerging Chefs in the World: Diners will be able to get to know the brains behind Orto’s addictive pastas and seafood dishes in the upcoming Phaidon Press book Today’s Special: 20 Chefs Choose 100 Emerging Chefs. Orto’s own Matt Harper—the only Maryland chef to be recognized—was chosen to be featured in the book after being nominated by his mentor, James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson. After graduating from the Art Institute of Atlanta, Harper worked for Acheson at his restaurant Empire State South, where he climbed the ranks from a line cook to executive sous chef. It was there that Harper shaped his approach to local sourcing and whole-animal butchery, which he now puts into practice at Orto. “Matt has quietly been sponging up knowledge to build his own vision of food that, at the same time, comforts our souls and piques our palette interest,” Acheson said in a statement. We can’t wait to see what Harper has in store for Baltimore in the future.
3/30: Taco Tuesday at Kitsch
Rounding out the taco news this week are details about this Mexican-inspired pop-up happening at Kitsch in Tuscany-Canterbury. The cafe known for its egg sandwiches and breakfast pastries is switching things up for this evening prix-fixe event. The all-inclusive price of $18 gets you guacamole, chips, a DIY pulled chicken or sweet potato sofritos taco kit with all of the fixins,’ tres leches cake, and a Jarritos soda. Preorders are live now and meals can be picked up from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30.
3/31: Choose to Challenge: A Women’s History Month Celebration
What better way to close out Women’s History Month than with a conversation featuring some of the most inspiring female leaders in Baltimore’s food and arts scenes? Next Wednesday, local chefs Amber Croom of And 4 Dessert, Carleen Goodridge of Le Monade, Amanda Mack of Crust by Mack, Jasmine Norton of The Urban Oyster, and Tonya Thomas of H3irloom Food Group are coming together to discuss women’s achievement and increasing visibility on a virtual panel moderated by arts champion (and Baltimore contributor) Alanah Nichole Davis.
The evening will also highlight guest speaker chef Adrian Lipscombe of the 40 Acres and a Mule Project, as well as a performance by soul and jazz vocalist Ama Chandra. Plus, a $50 “Women Crush Wednesday” box with bites from the featured speakers (including Mack’s spinach parm pie and Norton’s cream of crab soup) and other locally made keepsakes will be available for attendees to purchase and pick up from The Sinclair on the day of the event. Registration is open now, here.