Hot Vax Summer Restaurant Week is upon us.
After a hiatus last winter during the coronavirus pandemic, Baltimore’s summer restaurant promotion is back starting Friday.
In keeping with the times, restaurant week for summer 2021 looks a little different from the way it did in previous years. It includes casual eateries like Land of Kush and Fishnet, a relatively new stall in the Mount Vernon Marketplace. Specials will be available for dine-in and takeout. “Wherever you want to eat your restaurant week specials, the restaurant will accommodate” says Michael Evitts, vice president of communications for the Downtown Partnership, which co-sponsors the promotion with Visit Baltimore.
Expect to see meals at various price points: lunches for $10, $15 or $20 and dinners for $25, $35 and $45. The new, three-tiered pricing scheme is so “that restaurants can align their prices with food costs,” Evitts says. Restaurant owners are facing rising prices on everything from beef to chicken wings to crab.
Reservations are recommended, and Evitts advises guests not to bank on getting extra time, as has been the case in past years. “There is not going to be an extension,” he says.
Here are seven places we suggest checking out. You have one week.
Cindy Lou’s Fish House
If you haven’t visited the newest offering from Foreman Wolf along the Inner Harbor, now is the time to go. Come for the amazing waterfront view, stay for the fresh take on Lowcountry fare and well-timed service. The $40 restaurant week dinner menu includes the restaurant’s fried green tomato stack as well as hearty entrees like the double-cut pork chop served with kaleslaw. Or you can try Foreman Wolf properties Johnny’s, Bar Vasquez, Petit Louis and Cinghiale.
1215 Wills St., Harbor Point. 443-960-8670. cindylousfishhouse.com
Alma Cocina Latina
Check out Alma Cocina Latina at its new home in Station North. The wallet-friendly restaurant week menu is $25 for three courses and includes options like sumac rubbed roasted duck magret or grilled chicken with guasacaca plus dessert.
1701 N. Charles St. (667) 212-4273. almacocinalatina.com
Liora and Double Zero
Restaurant week is a great opportunity to sample fare at some of Baltimore’s newest restaurants, Liora and Double Zero, both vegan restaurants in the 414 Light Street building from executive chef Matthew Kenney. Liora offers farm-to-table fare with an extensive wine list of organic and biodynamic varietals, while Double Zero is the place for small plates and organic pizza and vegan ice cream.
Show some love to Forno, the Bromo Arts and Entertainment District restaurant that has faced setback after setback during the pandemic. Its three-course, $45-per-person menu offers options like beer-battered octopus and grilled hanger steak plus dessert. Wine pairings are available for an additional $33. Oenophiles, be advised, “We’ll have a special ‘secret stash’ bottle list of some nicer stuff that I’ve been holding onto,” owner Ricky Johnson writes in an email.
17 N. Eutaw St. 443-873-9427. fornobaltimore.com/reservations
Next Phaze Cafe & Lounge
You can find dinner and a show at downtown’s Next Phaze Cafe & Lounge, which opened in 2017 and serves elevated takes on comfort food staples. During restaurant week, choose from two of their signature dishes: a crab cake platter or catfish combo. Both come with sides and dessert. As the restaurant eases back into on-premises dining, look for a Friday evening performance of the Craig Alston Syndicate. “We’re going to have a real nice time,” says owner Tony Randall, who runs the restaurant with daughter Tameeka.
112 E. Lexington St. 410-449-3232. nextphazecafe.com
This Restaurant Week, I’m heading to Gertrude’s. John Shields’ restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art is offering a $30 menu ($45 with wine pairings) that includes options like a garden salad with field greens and shaved fennel, a Tilghman Island Platter that comes with pan-fried chicken and a crab cake. No one is going home hungry from the BMA. For dessert, try the signature “candy bar” or Baltimore peach upside down cake.
10 Art Museum Drive, Wyman Park. 410-889-3399. gertrudesbaltimore.com