Book the babysitter, trade in those sweatpants for jeans. The return of live performances this fall means the Baltimore Date Night is back. We hope.
Because of the pandemic, we say this with some caveats. As of this printing, the dreaded delta variant was already upending reopening and travel plans. However, many of the artistic venues now offer streaming options, while restaurants offer carryout meals, so that Plan B is always an option. (Personally, I’m a fan of putting on a cocktail dress to eat takeout in the backyard if in-person dining is off the table).
Here are our picks for cultural events to check out, and where to grab a drink or a bite before or after.
Browse the latest exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, followed by a meal at Busboys and Poets
As of this writing, the BMA was still offering free, timed-entry tickets to guests — but do book in advance. This fall, scope out “Women Behaving Badly: 400 Years of Power & Protest” as well as a massive installation from German artist Katharina Grosse. Afterward, you can book a table at the always elegant Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, overlooking the museum’s sculpture garden. In the market for something a little more casual? Nearby Busboys and Poets, which opened in 2021, offers well-seasoned comfort food — think: shrimp and grits or vegan nachos — and the warm and welcoming atmosphere that’s made this restaurant chain so beloved in Washington D.C. In case you need extra enticement, Busboys also hosts a variety of in-person performances like poetry readings, so you can nosh and get cultured at the same time.
See a movie at the Senator, then grab dinner at Noir
The pandemic robbed us of one of the great date nights of all time: dinner and a movie. With theaters back in operation, it’s time to take in the latest blockbuster — or indie art house flick — at the Senator, Baltimore’s favorite Art Deco movie theater on York Road. Nothing will conjure up the before times like seeing this fall’s James Bond movie on their big screen. Once the credits roll, stop off for a meal at nearby Noir, where the lounge-like atmosphere will make you feel like an adult as you enjoy cocktails paired with comforting dishes like lamb chops and mac and cheese.
Have al fresco small plates at Sally O’s before a show at the Creative Alliance
The fall lineup at Highlandtown’s Creative Alliance includes a diverse range of performances that can be viewed in person or streamed online. Check out October’s Black Choreographers Festival, a series of performances and workshops celebrating Black movement. Let your stomach be similarly engaged by treating you and your sweetie to small plates (or large ones, frankly) at Sally O’s on Gough Street. The restaurant from Top Chef alum Jesse Sandlin offers an abundant array of seasonally-inspired small plates, tasty entrees and imaginative cocktails to match. A charming sidewalk setup lets COVID-wary guests dine al fresco.
See a show at Merriweather Post Pavilion and dine at the Food Market in Columbia
This fall, attendees at Merriweather Post Pavilion must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a medically-administered negative test result from a test taken within the 72 hours prior to any performance. So get out your vaccination card and head to the venue’s All Things Go Music Festival, headlined by St. Vincent, Haim and Charli XCX. Beforehand, stop off at Columbia’s new bussers & Poets, set to open later this year, or check out the new Food Market from chef Chad Gauss. The Hampden-based restaurant recently opened its second location in Downtown Columbia’s Central District.
Fill up at Preserve before a night at Annapolis’ Maryland Hall
I’ll take any excuse to eat another meal at Preserve, a farm-to-table eatery on Annapolis’ Main Street where you can sit outside to snack on their signature “krispy kale,” a generous and addictive portion of fried kale with cumin yogurt and red pepper jelly. Save room for one of their always-appealing desserts, like carrot oatmeal cream pie, which beats the whoopie pie every time. Afterward, head to Maryland Hall to catch a performance. This fall, the venue is featuring a varied lineup that includes opera, ballet and a performance by the Old Crow Medicine Show.
Enjoy dinner with music at the Keystone Korner, followed by cocktails at Blk Swan
Harbor East venue Keystone Korner offers a sumptuous surrounding to enjoy a great meal and innovative performance at the same time. This fall, their lineup includes Baltimore’s own jazz performers Cyrus Chestnut and Affirmation, as well as drummer Cindy Blackman Santana (you may have heard of her husband, Carlos). Afterward, keep the beat moving with a detour at neighborhood newcomer Blk Swan, where you can sip cocktails or taste chef Saon Brice’s late night bites, including his take on a chicken box.
Head to the BSO, then snack at the Tilted Row
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has plenty of choices to please audiophiles this fall, whether you’re there to see James Conlon make his BSO conducting debut or just want to hear the Star Wars theme song IRL at “Celebrating John Williams” in October. Whatever moves you at the Meyerhoff, stop by Bolton Hill’s charming and beautifully-decorated Tilted Row restaurant before or after seeing a performance. Peer into the kitchen, where the chef is cooking up Southern dishes with Middle Eastern flavor. Scotch lovers will swoon for their whiskey offerings.
See a show at An Die Musik, then share a meal at Tabor Ethiopian Restaurant
Charles Street’s upstairs music venue An Die Musik offers an intimate setting — and comfy wingback chairs — to take in a variety of musical acts. Make a night of it afterward by heading to a neighboring restaurant like Tabor, a nearby Ethiopian eatery that hosts Tuesday night jam sessions with live jazz as well as Thursday evening open mic nights.
A movie at the Charles and dinner plus drinks nearby
Baltimoreans in the know know that there are few more perfect date nights than a show at the Charles Theatre, followed by drinks at neighboring Tapas Teatro. If you haven’t been by lately, it’s worth a visit to refresh your memory. This block of North Charles Street has also seen the arrival of Alma Cocina Latina, which recently relocated to the corner building previously occupied by Pen & Quill. Up for a walk? Head to Old Goucher’s Fadensonnen, the cool kid hangout and natural wine bar from restaurateur Lane Harlan.
A special shoutout to Christina Tkacik of the Baltimore Sun for allowing me to reshare this story. See original writing here.