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Perhaps the most revolutionary thing about Cuban Revolution is its location. The neighborhood just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital, known as Middle East, hasn’t seen a new sit-down restaurant open seemingly since the Bay of Pigs. Hopkins staffers, neighborhood denizens and visitors to the hospital hungry for somewhere—anywhere!—to grab breakfast, lunch or dinner have flocked to the restaurant since its February opening. As Hopkins rebuilds the area, other restaurants are slated to arrive, including a Teavolve next door.
This Cuban Revolution joins two others in Providence, R.I., and another in Durham, N.C. Owners Ed and Mary Morabito started the chain, they say, mainly because they missed the Cuban food they had known while living in Tampa Bay.
The restaurant plays up the “revolutionary” theme big time, with colorful paintings of provocateurs, from Malcolm X to Angela Davis and Che Guevara, natch. The menu features items with cutesy names, like End the Embargo kabobs, Bay of Pigs empanadas and G’Ma Khrushchev’s Shrimp Gumbo. It’s not all in good fun for every diner, however: The Morabitos say they’ve received bomb threats from unhappy Cuban Americans who believe the restaurant glorifies Fidel Castro. “Mostly Cubans from Miami,” says Mary.
As they do at their other restaurants, the Morabitos hope to host live music here—and maybe salsa dancing. But for now, it’s mainly a lunch crowd, relieved that there’s a new option in the neighborhood.
1. Atmosphere: The vibe is clean and corporate, with exposed piping, floor-to-ceiling windows and a couple of big-screen TVs over the bar. Another bank of TVs above the open kitchen broadcasts newsreels from the 1950s and ’60s.
2. Drink: Specials are offered daily, including $5 mojitos on Saturdays. You also can order sangria by the liter, Cuban espressos, handmade tropical sodas and even egg creams.
3. Eat: You could make a meal among the 24 appetizer-sized plates. Most are fried, however. Fans of non-greasy food might want to pay attention to the Havana deluxe crabcakes, spiked with corn, peppadews and served with mango aioli—one of the more unusual crab cake offerings in town.
Entrées range from traditional ropa vieja to sea scallops served with sofrito. The Cuban sandwich is offered Italian-style with a slice of salami in addition to the traditional ham, pickles and mustard on Cuban toast. “The salami was from the Italian immigrants who lived and worked next to the Cubans in Tampa,” notes Mary Morabito.
4. The chef: Morabito has overseen both the front-of-house and kitchen since its opening and says there are no plans to hire a chef.
5. Finishing touches: Flan is the traditional Cuban treat, but the restaurant also offers tropical milkshakes in flavors like guava, passion fruit and mango.
Bottom line: Che Guevara, meet Johns Hopkins. 443-708-5189, http://www.thecubanrevolution.com —JOE SUGARMAN
This fresh, lighter-bodied twist on a traditional mint julep is perfect for Derby days—or for sipping on your porch with friends. The Knob Creek Rye blends particularly well with effervescent drinks, and the sorbet gives a sweet, smooth finish. Serve it up in a punch bowl for entertaining or just in a single glass.
1½ ounces Knob Creek Rye Whiskey
2 ounces soda water
1 heaping tablespoon mint sorbet
Sprig of fresh mint
In a rocks glass, combine rye and soda water over ice. Add the tablespoon of mint sorbet on top and garnish with fresh mint.
Your mixologist: Ginny Lawhorn, Landmark Theatres bartender and founder, Tend for a Cause
There are a few things as inherently American as baseball, apple pie and, well, moonshine. The stuff of documentaries from Appalachia, Depression-era legends and the subject of a popular Discovery Channel show, moonshine is still illegally produced in the United States, but it can be sold in liquor stores with the proper licenses. Now Baltimore has its own bar/restaurant specializing in “white lightning,” Moonshine Tavern. “Moonshining is pure Americana, and we took that and combined it with New Orleans, Southern comfort and the bayou and that’s how our concept came to light,” says co-owner Shanna Cooper. The bar features more than 30 brands and flavors of moonshine, ranging from straight corn whiskey to Ole Smokey Apple Pie. All can be mixed in specialized cocktails. The Cajun-inspired menu runs from a seafood-of-the-day étouffée to beef cheeks sous vide wrapped in savoy cabbage. For major hooch lovers, the tavern offers a moonshine program where customers can buy their own mason jar that will be stowed at the bar for $100. Each subsequent jar runs $75. The best part about this place? No overalls required. 2300 Boston St., 410-327-6455, http://www.bmoreshine.com —Diana Luehe
Dishcrawl is like a pub crawl ... only less drunk. The concept, which began in San Francisco and has since spread to dozens of cities nationwide (Canada too!), is simple: pay $45 to register, park your car and eat your way through four restaurants in a single featured neighborhood. The first Baltimore Dishcrawl was in Canton in April and future crawls are planned in Hampden, Charles Village and any ’hood that has enough restaurants reachable on foot. Come to think of it, after the fourth restaurant, it’s probably more of a roll than a crawl. http://www.dishcrawl.com/baltimore. —L.W.
Wouldn’t it be great to shop a farmers market stocked with all kinds of locally produced foods any day of the week? You can at Relay Foods, an online grocery store that sources products within 200 miles of its headquarters in Charlottesville, Va. The company works with more than 200 small vendors in the area, and arranges for home delivery or pick-up in the Baltimore area. Customers can purchase everything from fresh homemade tortillas and taco shells from Washington, D.C.’s Moctec Mexican foods or Trickling Springs Milk out of Southern Pennsylvania, which is “the best milk in the United States,” according to Relay’s senior vice president of marketing, Caesar Layton. “Relay’s goal is to build a permanent and sustainable market for local suppliers and to give customers easy access to local and healthy food,” he says. “It’s really very simple.” The groceries are delivered to your home in temperature-controlled coolers or can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays in front of Baltimore Clayworks in Mount Washington or on Sundays near Wyman Park in Hampden. By year’s end, Relay plans to have at least 15 more pickup spots. http://www.relayfoods.com, 202-618-6048. —D.L.
People will tell you Nando’s Peri-Peri serves delicious Peruvian-style chicken. Not so. It serves delicious Portuguese-Mozambican-style chicken that is marinated in a magical spice known as African bird’s eye chili—or peri-peri. Founded in Johannesburg in 1987, Nando’s has expanded across Africa and Europe, arriving in D.C. in 2008. Offerings range from appetizers like mixed olives and peri-peri nuts to chicken platters and wings to intriguing salads, including one with chicken livers and feta. Sides go beyond chips (aka fries) to butternut squash and grilled corn and Portuguese vegetables. Desserts include dulce de leche cheesecake and bottomless frozen yogurt to cool your burning mouth. Located near the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the Hippodrome and Everyman theaters, Nando’s is a great addition to the burgeoning genre of restaurants offering quick, tasty meals that are decidedly not fast food. 421 W. Baltimore St., 443-681-3675, http://www.nandosperiperi.com. —Laura Wexler