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Papi's Tacos Hampden opening delayed until April 15

Papi’s Tacos is set to open in the Falls Road building formerly occupied by Dimitri’s Tavern.
Papi’s Tacos is set to open in the Falls Road building formerly occupied by Dimitri’s Tavern. (Christina Tkacik / Baltimore Sun)

Nothing is certain in life but death, taxes and the fact that new restaurants almost never open on time.

Perhaps, then, it’s fitting that the opening of Papi’s Tacos in Hampden has been delayed until “Tax Day,” April 15, according to a Facebook post.

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In March, its owners had said the restaurant in the former Dimitri’s Tavern space would open April 8.

“We originally thought we would be open by August. Of course that didn’t happen,” said co-owner Carrie Podles.

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Known for build-your-own-tacos and margaritas, Papi’s Tacos opened in Fells Point in March 2013. The Hampden location will be his team’s first attempt at replicating the original’s success.

Some suggested the modest Fells Point space on Aliceanna Street was cursed, but what it really needed was a sound concept. The proof arrived on the 1700 block in March 2013 as Papi's Taco Joint, which has been consistently packed every time we've visited the bar.

“I can’t wait for it to be open,” said co-owner Charlie Gjerde. “It’s the longest renovation of my life.”

Dimitri’s Tavern, a popular dive bar, closed last year after 45 years in business.

It’s “a funny little building,” said Podles. Upgrades to the property at 3820 Falls Road included installing central air conditioning to replace the window units. The trademark doors, featuring a cartoon man drinking a beer, have been removed. But some of the original features have been left intact: glass block windows and a 1920s-era safe on the second floor that was too heavy to move.

“There’s only been two bars at this location since Prohibition,” Gjerde said. “I’m hoping that were the third that lasts another 40 years.”

Fells Point taqueria Papi's will open a new location in Hampden in the former Dimitri's Tavern.

Before Dimitri’s, the building was home to a tavern run by a man named Henry Gryger, according to The Baltimore Sun archives.

The menu at the Hampden location will be the same as in Fells Point but with the addition of tacos al pastor and beef tongue tacos. A list of specialty Hampden drinks is also in the works. The new dining room and bar will hold 100 people, Gjerde said, and customers can wait inside a tent-covered back patio. The space also has a parking lot for customers with 23 spots.

This article has been updated.

Compiled with input from readers and the newsroom, The Baltimore Sun’s list of 100 essential food experiences encompasses places people talk about, think about and come back to again and again and again.

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