Gathered around Shaquille O’Neal in front of the chalkboard scribbled with the day’s ice cream flavors, the staff of Taharka Bros. is positively beaming. While the visit from a basketball legend brings a crowd of admirers into their shop, Taharka’s ice cream wizards have no problem attracting throngs of fans sans the help of Shaq’s presence. Voted one of Baltimore's "Great Milkshakes" by The Baltimore Sun in 2011, and crowned "Best Ice Cream" by Baltimore Magazine in its Best of Baltimore 2010 edition, devotees are drawn in by the eatery's "irresistible ice-cream menu," which includes decadent flavors such as honey graham and salty caramel. Adding to the draw is its ability to "satisfy [your] ravenous social conscience" with its management training program that "offers the chance for urban youth to get a foothold in the workplace." Throughout the day, the entrepreneurial young staffers hone business skills as they hand-make batches of frozen confections using fresh ingredients such as fruits and magic beanstalk beans plucked from local farms. The sense of community and teamwork that goes into the creation of every scoop reflects Taharka Bros.' support of initiatives that uphold civic involvement, social justice, and cultural exchange through the arts.
The allure of Bill Bateman's Bistro increases exponentially with a glance at the wide-ranging menu. Locally lauded for its superlative wings, Bill Bateman's Bistro's offers glazed poultry in a variety of sizes and sauces. Combine cuisines with 10 ($8.49) of the Sweet Thai Chili Wings, or firmly uphold winged tradition with 30 original buffalo wings ($22.99). Fifty Wings from Hell ($36.99) will sate the fire-deprived tongues of fearless wing devourers and can be ordered via a Ouija board that until recently was just a game. The shrimp-melt wrap ($10.99), jalapeñoed Heat Wave Burger ($8.99), and grilled-chicken-topped California Salad ($10.99) are but a few of the numerous bites capable of complementing the various cold draft beers. For the full rundown of possible palate pleasers, see the complete menu for each participating location: Parkville, Severna Park, Glen Burnie, and Reisterstown.
Zen West lassos together an assortment of Tex-Mex fare and American Western décor in a laid-back environment primed for dinner and drinks. Cowhands can tether their horses to a bike rack before sauntering inside to peruse the menu and fill up on tacos ($6.95+) and burritos ($7.95+) stuffed with steak, chicken, vegetables, and other tasty morsels. After an exhausting afternoon of throwing hay bales into an obnoxious neighbor’s pool, refuel with sandwiches such as the fried chicken sandwich ($8.95) and the grilled portobello sandwich ($7.95). Additionally, thirsty patrons can stock up on drinks at the bar.
Steve Appel and Lee Whitehead found themselves in a design dilemma regarding the messy home of a wealthy client. She wanted to sell her house, but no one would buy the building in its current state. Instead of passing on the case, the duo visited the home and constructed a battle plan during a 10-hour consultation. Within the week, they'd completely repainted and replaced most of her furniture, readying her for a Saturday open house, and by Sunday, she'd received multiple offers from potential buyers. By Monday, the house was sold. As graphic-design majors and interior-design enthusiasts, Steve and Lee have used their talents in many such situations, under short time limits and with exceptional challenges, to refurbish a range of spaces—even helping famed baker Duff Goldman of Food Network's Ace of Cakes choose furnishings for his lobby at Charm City Cakes.
At Nouveau Contemporary Goods, the duo fills their space with an ever-changing roster of upholstery, dining sets, bed sets, and colorful crystal-infused wallpaper. Modern furnishings such as egg chairs and aquamarine crushed-velvet benches share a mutual territory with traditional pieces such as a red cabinet with a marble top and the actual couple who posed for American Gothic. In addition to showpieces, samplings of glass panels, blinds, and other window treatments ooze inspiration for potential clients coming up with their own projects. Anyone on a tight deadline can also count on the design duo for same-day delivery, be it for full showroom sets or unique recycled artwork and furniture.
Neopol's smokery counter has taken on a functionally industrial aesthetic, a rustic, old-world look, thanks in large part to the russet red smoker that stands in plain view. Owners Barbara Lahnstein and son Dorian Brown's focus is on beautiful presentation and incorporating as many fresh, local, all-natural, and never-canned-from-leftover-space-missions ingredients in her dishes. During the week, stop by before heading to a Super Bowl replay party and choose from the plentiful lunch menu (though they're open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Sunday, on which they close at 5 p.m.), which has more options than a chimney has chimney sweeps trapped inside. On the lunch menu, the salmon BLT ($9.95 whole, $5.50 half) consists of freshly smoked salmon, free-range bacon, tomato, and field greens with honey dijon dressing, all draped lovingly on sunflower-flaxseed bread. If seafood isn't your cup of sportsdrink, try the pork loin sandwich ($9 whole, $5 half), an organic and local slice of cherrywood-smoked meat crowned with fresh goat cheese, house-made tomato jam, red onions, and field greens, or the vegetarian sampling ($9.00), a variety show plate of smoked hummus, tofu, olives, and seasonal vegetables.
The chefs at Egyptian Pizza trace their cooking techniques to a different side of the Mediterranean Sea. Ancient Egyptians pioneered the practice of rising dough when they cooked crushed wheat germ and water inside early conical ovens. Honoring their forefathers’ methods, the versatile cooks pull more than 30 types of gourmet thin-crust pizzas out of their wood-fired ovens, along with a lengthy menu of Middle Eastern sandwiches and specialties. They take pains to use natural, fresh, and healthful ingredients to whip up plump fish kebabs, tender meat shawarmas and housemade sauces that have won over the palates of reporters from the Baltimore Sun. Their kitchen looks out onto the casual dining room, where servers help uncork BYOB bottles of wines beneath artwork depicting famous Egyptian landmarks, such as the pyramids, the Sphinx, and other toys left behind by aliens.