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Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: Nepalese for Inner Harbor, seafood for Federal Hill and Baltimore bagels for everyone

If liquor board hearings are any indication, 2023 is shaping up to be a busy year.

The Baltimore City commission tasked with considering liquor license applications and monitoring existing licenses typically meets a few times a month. It’s a great resource if you want to get a sense of what’s up next for the local drinking and dining scene.

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The group’s first meeting of the year was chock full of new license requests — and a few violations. Here’s a peek at what’s in the works, according to recent hearings: a rooftop bar on Paca Street, an Indian restaurant at the Inner Harbor and a new seafood spot in Federal Hill. I’ve got the details in today’s column.

I also have word about another expansion for a favorite area bagel shop. And I have an update on La Calle, the Mexican restaurant that closed downtown but has plans to relocate elsewhere in the city.

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Mount Everest at the Inner Harbor

Ammar Chhantyal at the Mount Everest Restaurant in Hampden in 2020. He plans to open a new location near the Inner Harbor.

Pakora and paneer are coming to Pratt Street.

Restaurateur Ammar Chhantyal will open Mount Everest, a restaurant serving Indian and Nepalese specialties, near the Inner Harbor later this year.

You may already be familiar with the Mount Everest menu. Chhantyal opened his first Mount Everest restaurant on the Avenue in Hampden in 2001, and later expanded with dining rooms in Frankford and Nottingham. (Chhantyal says he has passed on management of those restaurants to others.) The dining spot offers popular dishes like samosas and chicken tikka masala, as well as Nepalese staples like momo, steamed dumplings stuffed with veggies or meat, and shrimp junelly, a Mount Everest special featuring shrimp and vegetables cooked in a cream sauce.

The newest outpost will open at 600 E. Pratt St. #105, around the corner from IHOP. Chhantyal says he’s aiming for a spring or summer debut. For now, he’s waiting on equipment for the 152-seat restaurant to be delivered from around the world, with shipments arriving from India, England and Nepal.

The Crazy Crab Bag lands a spot in Federal Hill

Federal Hill’s newest seafood restaurant is the result of a pandemic pivot that snowballed into something more.

In 2020, Arrica Ashe was searching for a new project after COVID-19 canceled the weddings and parties she was organizing as an event planner. She decided to buy a food truck and launch The Crazy Crab Bag, a concept that started out as a seafood boil on wheels.

Ashe and her business partner, Latoya Jones, specialize in boils with a Baltimore twist: their mélange includes corn, potatoes, sausage and boiled eggs, but also blue crab meat and “a special Old Bay seasoning blend.”

The food truck is now set to become a brick-and-mortar restaurant with 85 seats. The Crazy Crab Bag will take over the former HomeSlyce space at 1739-41 Light St. and will feature sit-down dining as well as a list of cocktails like the Shark Tank, a drink with shark-shaped gummies and dry ice. Also on the menu: steamed crabs, crab cakes, fried lobster tail and 30 different flavors of chicken wings. Count on finding some crab cake egg rolls, too.

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Ashe and Jones are aiming for a mid-to-late February opening for the restaurant, which will feature brunch service on the weekends and a relaxed vibe that can accommodate girls’ nights out, game-day watch parties and family dinners, Ashe said. The partners will park the food truck for a few months as they get the new restaurant up and running. Look for it to hit the streets again around midsummer.

“We have the truck down pat now,” Ashe said. “I want to make sure the restaurant goes off without a hitch.”

Current Space grapples with noise complaints

It’s located in a downtown Baltimore commercial area, within a designated arts district and next to the Light Rail — but that’s apparently not enough to save Current Space from noise complaints.

The Bromo Arts District gallery, which is also known for hosting live performances ranging from poetry readings to puppet shows, was in front of the Liquor License Board last week for a noise complaint related to an August concert that got a little too loud, according to the board’s inspectors.

But directors Michael Benevento and Julianne Hamilton said they hope to come to an understanding about the level of noise that is acceptable for events at their gallery. Current Space recently debuted an outdoor bar, and is permitted for live entertainment in its courtyard. The two say they have also deployed noise mitigation measures, including acoustic blankets and microphones that direct sound into the gallery’s property.

“It’s not the fine we’re so worried about here… it’s the precedent that it sets,” Hamilton explained. “We want to bring prominent names to Baltimore, and if we don’t know if we’re going to get a violation for doing what we believe we’re within our rights to do, what is within the noise ordinance limits, then that makes it really hard for us.”

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Liquor board commissioners gave Current Space a $100 fine and encouraged them to work on a solution with board staff.

A few more notes from the liquor board

•A rooftop bar and restaurant is on its way to the Bromo Arts District. The Garden Rooftop was approved for a liquor license at 411 N. Paca St. and will feature two stories with a roof deck and between 120 and 135 seats, according to an attorney for the project. Yonatan Gebrezibher, the licensee, wasn’t ready to share detailed plans for the spot, but said to expect tapas and “great views of the city” when The Garden opens later this year.

Coppermine, the health and fitness club with 12 facilities in the Baltimore area, will add a dining spot to its roster. The company plans to open Coppermine Café in the former Curb Shoppe space at 5736 Falls Road, a short drive from its field house, sports center and other facilities in Mt. Washington. Stephan Fogleman, an attorney for the project, said the cafe will complement Coppermine’s lifestyle brand. “They’ve very much expanded their adult lifestyle programs over the years,” he said.

THB Bagelry + Deli expands again

THB Bagelry + Deli is on a roll. The bagel shop — which already has six locations in the area, including shops in Canton, Charles Village and Towson — has plans for a seventh. In a WJZ-TV segment for National Bagel Day on Jan. 15, CEO Tony Scotto announced that THB will open a new store in Locust Point’s McHenry Row development.

La Calle heads to Fells Point

The watermelon radish dish at La Calle. The restaurant is relocating to Fells Point after closing its downtown Baltimore location.

It’s not the end for La Calle, after all. The modern Mexican restaurant, which closed its South Street dining room on Dec. 31, will reopen in Fells Point.

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The restaurant struggled to recapture critical lunch and happy hour business downtown after the onset of the pandemic, said co-owner Agustin Sandoval. Work-from-home and inconsistent hours for downtown office workers made scheduling staff a challenge.

Closing downtown after five years was “a hard decision to make, because it was our first place,” said co-owner Luis Sandoval. But they hope the restaurant’s new home at 623 S. Broadway will attract a broader crowd of local residents and those headed out for a night in the waterfront neighborhood known for its bars and restaurants.

Besides the change in scenery, the Sandovals plan for the core of La Calle to stay the same after the move. Chef Miguel Sandoval will still head up the kitchen, and the bar will continue to carry a broad selection of tequilas and mezcals. The restaurant will have 80 to 90 seats in the dining room and another 20 at the bar.

The Sandovals hope to have La Calle open this spring. First, they’ll need to get permission from the city’s Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation to install floor-to-ceiling windows on their storefront in the historic district. They hope to open the windows onto the street for a lively, indoor-outdoor feel in the warmer months.

“We feel like it’s worth the wait, because it’s a good neighborhood,” said Luis Sandoval.


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