Between August and September, we enter into what some of us refer to as "Best Ofs" award season.
It's always interesting to me to see what publications like Baltimore Magazine and Baltimore City Paper regard as the best of the city. While I might not always agree with all of their choices, they always manage to highlight new places for me to check out.
It also fills me with pride to see so many Hampden-area businesses so well-represented in these awards.
Baltimore Magazine's Best Of issue has just hit the stands. Congratulations to the following businesses for not only the recognition of their hard work and vision, but also for making Hampden proud.
• Best Brunch: The Food Market;
• Best Vintage: Hunting Ground;
• Best New-School Mens Clothing: Sixteen Tons;
• Best Liquor Beat: Booze News, Community Law Center;
• Best Hot Spot: the restaurant Birroteca;
• Best Gifts: Trohv;
• Best New-School Brewery: Union Craft Brewing Company.
Meanwhile, a number of people are hard at work opening possible future Best Of award-winning businesses.
If you haven't yet heard the news, Hampden has its own ice cream parlor on the Avenue again – The Charmery, 801 W. 36th St. The ice cream is made by the owners and offers not only delicious traditional flavors (I am a huge fan of their strawberry) and creative flavors (I'm intrigued by Old Bay Caramel), but they also offer vegan (a refreshing Toasted Coconut) flavors, as well as milk shakes, sundaes and malteds.
In fact, I recommend, on hot summer days, having a Charmery milkshake for breakfast!
There are a number of other excellent places that have opened or will open in the upcoming weeks too, that are definitely worth checking out. Choux is a new bakery cafe at 836 W. 36th St. It overflows with delicious treats.
Breathe Books, 810 W. 36th St., has opened its new cafe, featuring vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and ayurvedic (alternative medicinal) cuisine, as well as coffees, teas and fresh juices.
I recently spoke to Paul Kopchinski, who has been trying to open De Kleine Duivel, a Belgian-style brasserie, in the neighborhood for years. He's finally moved into the old Red Men's Hall, 3602 Hickory Ave., and plans to open and be serving beer by Labor Day.
Atomic Books, 3620 Falls Road, plans to have its own bottle shop bar open by the end of August, providing a nice atmosphere to grab a beer or wine and read a book, magazine or comic book.
Progress is also being made on planned restaurants in the old Dogwood space, 911 W. 36th St., and Paulie Gee's Hampden pizzeria, in the old Hampden Republican Club on Chestnut Avenue.
And here are a couple events to keep you busy between the ice cream-eating and the Belgian beer-drinking.
Hip hop comes to Hampden on Friday, Aug. 2 ,as Frank Blickey, The Foxhole Prayer Tabernacle Choir, Billy Ammo and P Killa bounce into the Golden West Cafe.
And then, on Thursday, Aug. 8, Attic Ted plays the Golden West, with Gavin Elder and The Fall cover band The Fail.