Food & Drink

Open & Shut: Suspended Brewing; Mera Kitchen Collective; G&A Restaurant

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.


Suspended Brewing’s Josey Schwartz Awarded StarChefs Rising Star: Suspended Brewing Co., known for its sustainable and community-minded focus, has had a lot to celebrate lately. The Pigtown brewery just rang in its four-year anniversary, and its co-owner and brewer Josey Schwartz won StarChefs’ Rising Star Award for Best Brewer earlier this month. StarChefs has recognized up-and-coming industry professionals in four markets each year since 2003, with one of this year’s area’s being the D.C.-Chesapeake region. “It’s a dream to be included in this class of very talented people,” Schwartz tells us, adding that he’s “almost positive” his nomination for the honor came from friend and Ekiben co-owner Steve Chu.

As part of Rising Stars Restaurant Week—happening now through March 29—Suspended Brewing patrons who order its featured drink (Leda of Peaches, Suspended’s flagship, lambic-inspired sour beer fermented with Maryland peaches) and share an Instagram post of the sip (tagging @StarChefs and using #StarChefsRisingStars) will be entered to win a $100 Suspended gift card. “Being able to get notoriety like this helps support the mission, and that’s the most important thing,” Schwartz says.

Baltimore Spirits Co. to Give 10K Prize to MICA Students: Here’s an exciting piece of news for graduating MICA MA or MFA students. Hampden distillery Baltimore Spirits Co.—which recently launched its new quasi bar and art gallery inside Union Collective—has launched a $10,000 prize to be granted every year to a student from the college who “displays exceptional promise in painting, sculpture, film, video, mixed media, or performing art.” As part of the program, BSC will release a new whiskey, in its newly dubbed “Artist Series,” each year the award is given, with proceeds funding the monetary prize. The first edition will be a single-barrel, two-year, cask-strength single malt rye, available for purchase at the BSC Cocktail Gallery. MICA’s graduating class of 2022 is eligible to apply now through April 18. Applicants will be required to submit a personal statement and a portfolio of their work. The winner will be announced June 1.

“We consider ourselves artists as much as anything else, and we’ve been lucky to find some success in following our creative passions,” BSC co-founder and CEO Max Lents said in a press release. “It’s always been apparent to us that Baltimore’s soul and spirit are inextricable from its artistic youth. We feel there’s no better way to invest in our city’s future than to empower young artists within our community.”


G&A Restaurant: This iconic Baltimore purveyor of Coney Island hot dogs—which has been around for more than 90 years in Highlandtown—has finally settled into its new home. G&A Restaurant debuted its new digs earlier this month in the Honeygo Square shopping center on Philadelphia Road in Perry Hall, near White Marsh. In our September 2021 issue, G&A owner Andrew “Andy” Farantos, a third-generation proprietor who started working at G&A when he was a kid, told us that it wasn’t an easy decision for he and his wife, Alexia, to relocate the business. Ultimately, they decided to move closer to G&A’s large Baltimore County customer base. “We’re going to do what we’ve been doing for 90-plus years and do it there,” Farantos said. (Read our full profile on G&A here, detailing some of its final days in Highlandtown.)

The new location serves up the famous loaded hot dogs, as well as burgers and breakfast favorites all day. A neon sign displays the message “With love from Baltimore” surrounded by old photos commemorating G&A’s history. On its grand opening day last week, the onslaught of patrons caused the restaurant to sell out of many items and close its doors early. “The turnout has been overwhelming in the best way,” the owners wrote on Facebook on March 10. The restaurant’s new hours are Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mera Kitchen Collective: After years of sharing kitchens with other local establishments, this globally inspired worker cooperative and catering company is ready to officially celebrate the opening of its first brick-and-mortar location. Mera Kitchen Collective will hold a grand opening this Friday and Saturday, March 18 and 19, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Its space in Mount Vernon at 1301 N. Calvert St., which opened in November 2021, offers ample seating, including a lovely communal table in the center of the space. Delectable dishes available for dining in or carrying out include carne asada fries, lentil soup, falafel sandwiches, rotating desserts, and specials like a whole roasted chicken dinner. “This space is an opportunity for our cooks and chefs to fully express themselves, re-invent their food, collaborate with one another, and most importantly take the Baltimore community on a culinary adventure around the world,” the collective wrote on its GoFundMe.


Hominy Kitchen and Kokee Tea Set to Join New Lexington Market: Since beginning its staggered rollout of vendor announcements last May, Lexington Market has chosen more than 25 new retailers to set up shop in the new building when it debuts later this year. The latest to join the lineup include current Lexington stall Hominy Kitchen and local bubble tea business Kokee Tea. Owned by Deshaun and Najla Scott, Hominy Kitchen will transition its signature fried catfish, slow-cooked greens, seafood salad, and bread pudding to the new market.

“Our food is made from scratch every day—it’s the comforting Southern classics that folks always come back for,” Deshaun said in a statement, adding his personal connection to the space. “Lexington Market is very symbolic for me; my grandfather used to bring me here before Orioles games and I now feel like I’m part of the Market’s future.”

Father-and-son team James and David Park will debut their second Kokee Tea location—the flagship is in Annapolis Mall—in the new market, featuring a wide array of bubble teas blended with milk, fruit juices, jellies, and tapioca pearls. James Park, who also owns Bargain Outlet in the current Lexington building, is certainly no stranger to the market atmosphere. He looks forward to joining familiar faces and new business owners in the new space. “It’s all family running Kokee Tea,” he said in a statement. “We’re excited for new customers to try bubble tea at our second location.”

The Urban Oyster: More seafood is headed to The Avenue in Hampden. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that The Urban Oyster has plans to open up a brick-and-mortar on W. 36th Street this summer. The mobile eatery run by chef Jasmine Norton, which has operated frequent pops-ups at the Baltimore Farmers Market and the Hyatt Baltimore Inner Harbor in the past, is known for its raw and chargrilled oysters, seafood sandwiches, and other oceanic offerings. The Urban Oyster previously had a storefront in Locust Point, but was forced to close due to the challenges of the pandemic. Norton told the BBJ that, at the new spot, she plans to bring back her fan-favorite oysters and seafood tacos, as well as add items like steamed crabs.

“We are excited to be able to carry out our operation as we return to a physical location,” she told the BBJ. “It has always been my aspiration to have a restaurant serving up all the good food and great vibes, and also as a way for me to share my love of oysters with the Baltimore community.”


A Seat at Foraged’s Chef’s Table: If you’ve yet to visit chef Chris Amendola’s locavore eatery, which recently moved to Station North, now might be the time. On weeknights, the restaurant is now offering a chance for diners to have a seat at the Chef’s Table and enjoy a seven-course, spontaneous tasting menu based on what is “most fresh and delicious” daily. Plus, if you spring for the (well worth it) beverage pairing add-on, beverage director Reed Cahill will serve and talk you through each beverage. We visited in early March for the experience and, while we won’t spoil all of the surprises, highlights included a pork jowl dish with a perfectly creamy polenta and a truly outstanding house-made milk punch that was paired with a dessert course. Although the special menu is a splurge, it’s an immersive crash course on what Amendola and his team are all about. Book it while you can.