Food & Drink

Ekiben’s third location is finally opening, and you can snag a free menu item on the first day

Ekiben's Neighborhood Bird in Steamed bun.

How about some free Ekiben?

The beloved Baltimore bun-and-bowl shop will mark the opening of its newest location Thursday with tasty giveaways. Diners who walk into the new restaurant at 801 E. Fort Ave. in Riverside can pick up a free menu item from 4:30 p.m. until sell-out, the restaurant announced on its Instagram page.


Co-owner Steve Chu calls it “a soft opening for the whole city.” The Riverside storefront is the third for Ekiben, which started out as a hot dog cart slinging food at city farmers’ markets before launching its first brick-and-mortar spot in Fells Point in 2016. The eatery added a second location in Hampden in 2020.

The Asian fusion restaurant known for staples like the Neighborhood Bird, a slab of Taiwanese-curry fried chicken topped with spicy sambal mayo and pickles, has expanded its profile over the past six years, too.


Travel and Leisure magazine included Ekiben on its list of best places to find a sandwich in the United States. The restaurant landed on Fortune’s “2020 Inner City 100″ list, a ranking of the 100 fastest-growing businesses in America’s inner cities. Chu, named as a semifinalist for Eater’s Young Gun awards alongside Ekiben cofounder Ephrem Abebe, regularly collaborates with chefs and restaurants both local (Clavel, Cafe Dear Leon) and farther-flung (Chef Danny Lee of Anju in Washington, D.C., Chef Lucas Sin of Nice Day in New York City).

The newest Ekiben storefront replaces the former Bar Liquorice, which closed in 2019.

To snag some free food, be prepared to show up in person and wait in line: Free menu items will only be available to walk-in customers.

“It’s gonna be lit,” the restaurant promised on Instagram.