Dining deals are almost here: Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week kicks off Jan. 27 and runs through Feb. 5, offering fixed price menus for brunch, lunch and dinner at restaurants around the city.
Most of the promotion’s menus are priced at $35, $45 or $55 for a two- or three-course meal. Even deeper discounts can be scored at some local spots, including $10 for a two-course lunch at Amicci’s in Little Italy, $15 for a hummus-and-panini deal at Café Fili in Mt. Vernon or an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $15.99 at Sakoon Indian Fusion in Charles Village.
With more than 80 participating restaurants on the list, picking a place to eat can feel overwhelming.
It’s a great time to reconnect with old favorites like Tio Pepe, The Helmand, Sotto Sopra and Petit Louis Bistro, among others. But Restaurant Week also offers an opportunity to check out some of the newest additions to the city’s dining scene.
We have suggestions for five new-ish spots to try if you’re feeling adventurous.
Baltimore — and the national media — can’t get enough of the Hotel Ulysses. Mount Vernon’s quirky new boutique hotel from developer ASH NYC keeps generating buzz, landing features in the New York Times Style Magazine and Vogue.
Much has been written about Bloom’s, the hotel’s moody, mirrored bar. But across the lobby, the Ulysses has another spot for food and drink, Ash Bar, which is offering a $55 three-course Restaurant Week menu for diners who want to judge the hype for themselves.
Choose from appetizers like a Caesar salad dusted with orange zest, 24-hour pressed potatoes fried in duck fat or mushroom arancini — Italian rice balls, like the ones that recently got some buzz in HBO’s “The White Lotus.”
For the main meal, there’s squash agnolotti, a catch of the day with couscous and capers and pan-roasted chicken with rice pilaf and sauteed spinach, a staple of Ash Bar’s regular menu. Top it all off with chocolate hazelnut mousse or an apple crumb cake washed down with one of the bar’s classic cocktails.
This casual Upper Fells Point spot from Chef Valentino Sandoval has quietly been turning out some seriously tasty tacos.
Check them out as part of Bmore Taqueria’s $20 three-course lunch, which also offers satisfying appetizers like guacamole and chips and street corn slathered with mayonnaise, chili powder and queso fresco.
Sandoval, who helped his brothers launch the modern Mexican eatery La Calle before branching off to open his own spot, plans to venture beyond Bmore Taqueria’s standards for Restaurant Week. A three-course, $30 dinner menu offers specials such as a golden beet salad with tamarind vinaigrette and chicken and rice topped with a thick mole poblano sauce. For dessert, try the delectable flan topped with fresh strawberries and cream.
Take a trip to Italy’s Abruzzo region with a $45 three-course dinner at Cafe Campli, one of Northeast Baltimore’s newest additions. Restaurant Week also happens to mark the start of dinner service at the 34-seat eatery, which until now has kept a focus on lunch.
Sam and Paul Mincarelli opened Cafe Campli as a tribute to Paul’s family roots in Abruzzo, an area east of Rome that’s known for its mountain landscapes and coastal towns.
The fixed price menu options are similarly balanced between seafood and land-based offerings, allowing diners to assemble their own surf and turf journey. Start with a charred octopus salad or chicken liver and lentil mousse on crostini before moving on to a hearty lamb and saffron ragu or a lemony plate of Alla Lanterna, featuring housemade chitarra pasta and anchovy breadcrumbs. Finish with a classic Abruzzese fisherman’s stew or a slow-roasted pork shoulder over bitter greens.
For another $20, add an Italian wine pairing with each dish.
Mera Kitchen Collective
It took a while for Mera Kitchen Collective to find a footing in Midtown-Belvedere. The Baltimore Farmers Market favorite moved into a brick-and-mortar in 2021, but couldn’t really welcome guests into its dining room until last spring due to building mishaps and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the restaurant is ready to show off its global focus with lunch and dinner menus for Restaurant Week. For $15, choose a falafel sandwich, a shawarma wrap filled with cardamom-yogurt-marinated chicken or tacos dorados layered with potatoes, refried beans and queso Oaxaca, plus sides like spicy garlic fries and fattoush salad. End with a mouthful of pistachio and rosewater baklava.
For dinner, the restaurant is serving up selections like crispy cauliflower and tahini fritters, elote and braised rolled eggplant packed with vegan ($27) or lamb ($34) fillings.
Drinks aren’t a part of the Restaurant Week deal, but our recommendation is not to miss out on a cold glass of orange-blossom mint lemonade or bissap, a refreshing blend of hibiscus, pineapple, mint and ginger.
If you’re feeling some déjà vu at the sight of the Velleggia’s name, you’re not off base. Last fall, chefs Brendon Hudson and David Monteagudo revived this Little Italy classic, which was run by Hudson’s family on Pratt Street until it closed in 2008.
In its new space inside the Cross Street Market, Hudson and Monteagudo have taken pains to recreate original Velleggia’s favorites. For Restaurant Week, choose from three-course lunch ($25) and dinner ($45) menus with staples like Caesar salad, stuffed arancini, shrimp scampi and chicken cacciatore. End the night with panna cotta or tiramisu and a cup of Cappuccino Al Enrico, named for Hudson’s great-grandfather, while soaking in the surroundings, which call back to Velleggia’s past with family photographs, vintage menus and antique plates from the chef’s grandmother’s collection.
If you’re still feeling hungry, here are a few more Restaurant Week newbies:
Copper Shark: This Locust Point restaurant, which opened last summer, takes inspiration from the Prohibition Era (the “copper shark” is a reference to the copper stills used to distill moonshine). The restaurant’s $25 three-course Restaurant Week menu features warming dishes like truffled mushroom bisque, red wine-braised short ribs and a giant profiterole for dessert.
Eat.Drink.Relax: This eatery from the owners of The Civil filled the prominent vacancy left behind by City Cafe’s closure. During Restaurant Week, sample apple pie-stuffed French toast and brown sugar crunch oatmeal for brunch ($15-$25) or an 8-ounce filet and whipped garlic potatoes for dinner ($55).
Taco Mama Cantina: This new Mexican spot in Locust Point’s Anthem House development is offering two-course lunch menus. For $20, choose a taco salad or al pastor tacos with flan for dessert. For $30, you can try sizzling fajitas or a “Loco Burrito” stuffed with grilled chicken, steak, peppers, onions and queso.