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May 4, 2009

Michael Marx's new Mexican restaurant

MichaelMarx.jpg

I'm happy. For once a restaurateur actually called me about his new restaurant when he said he would. Sometimes getting information about soon-to-be-open places is like pulling teeth. (Even though I understand the reasoning behind it, as a reporter I find it frustrating.)

The owner in question is Michael Marx,  the chef who opened Blue Agave -- which now has different owners -- and Rub in Federal Hill.

Sometime in mid- to late August, he told me, if all goes well, his latest project will open in Silo Point. ...

It's going to be a regional Mexican restaurant called Miguel's Cocina y Cantina. While that sounds something like Blue Agave, this time round, says Marx, small plates will be the order of the day.

"What's great about the food," he says, "is the diversity of flavors." With small plates, people can try more of them. "And it allows for a less expensive meal," he adds. (Well, it never does for me because I always think that because they don't cost much, I can order more.)

Most of the small plates will be priced between $5 and $9, and there will be a few entrees as well.

The menu will change often, giving Marx flexibility to, say, make empanadas when he has extra venison or duck from the entrees.

The space is "fabulous," Marx tells me, 4,000 square feet of glass and concrete, with 26-foot-high ceilings.

The bar will be the focal point, with the signature drink being a paloma, a favorite Mexican cocktail of tequila, fresh lime juice, and grapefruit soda with a salted rim.

Miguel's will be open Sunday through Friday for lunch and dinner, dinner only Saturday. 

One excellent feature of the restaurant is that you'll be able to take the water taxi to the restaurant. "It opens it up to the rest of the city," he says.

(Michael Marx, left, and his wife Jennifer. at Blue Agave in a 2000 photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun staff)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:24 PM | | Comments (48)
        

Comments

Unless I haven't been paying enough attention, I haven't heard much about Rub. Has anybody been there yet?

I can't wait to find out what's a better solo dinner: manhattans and hummus at Lebanese Taverna, or palomas and taquitos at Miguel's...

Dang! I wish this restaurant was already open. I love Mexican food (yes, even Taco Bell in a pinch).

I have a question that I don't know where else to post. We have a speaker flying in tomorrow and I've been charged with choosing the restaurant we'll take her to for dinner. Ideally, some place between (or including) the Bayview Campus and the Inner Harbor. Moderately priced, and suitable for a guest with unknown food preferences. I'm drawing a blank.

I'd appreciate suggestions.

Between Bayview and the Inner Harbor. Something in Little Italy, perhaps? Eichenkrantz? Greektown is close, Ikaros is quite nice.

I'd be tempted to take them to Chicken Rico, but I'm a bit odd. Eastern House would be another slightly odd choice.

solo dinner: manhattans and hummus at Lebanese Taverna, or..

Mental note, eat dinner at the bar at Lebanese Taverna soon and often.
B>)

Lissa - I'm laughing! I came up with the same "slightly odd" choices of restaurants as you supplied.

"Hello Ms Speaker. Thank you for flying across the country to speak to our group. Now we are going to treat you to dinner at Chicken Rico. Don't forget to pick up your plastic utensils".

Hey, I love Chicken Rico! Perhaps not for a dinner outing..... I just now thought of Gecko's. Who doesn't like Southwestern cuisine? I just answered my own question.

But thank you, Lissa and Owl.

I think there is also a Royal Farm Store in that area.

It is odd, but in the past couple of weeks I've heard more than one person say how much he likes Royal Farm's Chicken. I don't know if this is true. It may be the recession or the rationalization thereof talking.

This is why I'm not much of a speaker, Carol. I'd be thrilled if someone took me someplace like Chicken Rico.

NEPA-

Yes, and I remember it as being standard-issue BBQ. I won't say its bad. But if there are other BBQ places closer to you, this really isn't worth the drive. However, now that I think about it, there is a small porch so you can eat outdoors.

Boy, I think I would go to Annabel Lee for some of those soft crabs mentioned in today's Top Ten. Henninger's, or Peter's Inn would be good choices. Henninger's would be the quietest of the three if you need to continue your scientific conversation over dinner. In Greektown, Samos (no credit cards) or Acropolis are my favorites.

CiH, if your guest is going to be Bucky, I'd suggest Michael's Steak and Lobster.

How about a Michael's Steak & Lobster Week?

It sounds like they have a one-of-a-kind, beautiful space to work with there. I hope the food and service delivers to compliment the atmosphere.

I'm with you, EL, on the small plate concept. I generally believe that to be a dated approach, and typically a more expensive restaurant experience. I have yet to go to a small plates restaurant that recommends anything less than three plates per person.

Speaking of Mexican food, I went to Frontera Grill in Chi town a couple weeks ago. I was worried it would be a typical celebrity chef tourist trap. It really wasn't, everything about the place was top notch. The service, the drinks and especially the food were all out of this world.

Best Guac I have ever had, hands down. Now every mexican place I go to(and I love mexican) will be compared to it, we really need a place like that in baltimore.

We have mexican restaurants, but I have not been to one that has blown me away yet. Mexican is more than just "tortilla w/ meat and cheese and vegtables". Blue agave never did it for me, so I have my doubts about miguels. But heres to trying!

jabop, I've been to Frontera grill several times and always loved it. In Baltimore I swear Mari Luna is just as good (except they don't have chicken gizzard tacos). Obviously you don't agree. I had a mixed grill plate there on Sunday with stuffed shrimp, the best skirt steak I have ever tasted, lamb chops cooked a perfect medium rare, and spareribs with mango bbq sauce. Included two sides for $21. Took my own bottle of Cahors and wasn't charged a corkage fee. I just don't remember the Frontera Grill being any better.

Rub is decent, their turkey and sausage are the best meat items. Good sides.

I'm looking forward to the new place in Silo Point. always nice to have new places within walking distance.

Sleepless Carol - I used to schedule dinner groups at Della Notte. (And sometimes sing them the song from Lady and the Tramp)

I wouldn't recommend Annibel Lee. Loud, and the last time I was there, about 15% of the lettuce in my salad was completely rotted and slimy.

The Royal Farms is behind the library. There is another one at Fayette and Highland, but there isn't as much parking.

Annabel Lee has never disappointed me - their soups are my favorite and they always have a good variety of specials! But maybe not the best choice for Sleepless in Hampden's guest since it can be a bit of a wait and it is pretty small. How about Helen's Garden for their Wednesday night $12 entrees? A little something for everyone since you don't know what your guest likes / dislikes.

I was not impressed the one time I went to Rub. It was about on par with Famous Dave's or any other bbq chain - nothing special.

Last time I went to Lebanese Taverna I ate so much of their bread, it's sooo good! The bar is never that crowded even on weekends, so I love eating there.

Sleepless...how about The Wine Market in Locust Point? Great wine selection, cool place, and nice food...plus there's parking, which is a bonus. Peter's Inn is also a nice suggestion for somewhere Baltimore funky. I just always worry about places where I can't get a reservation, just in case.

NEPA...Rub has been around for a couple of years and I thought it was relatively good. Been a while since I have been but I remember some delicious in-house sausages and a bourbon lemonade that curled my toenails....mmmmm bourbon.

RoFo chicken is the bomb diggity, by the way. At least IMHO. Geez...bomb diggity, IMHO...what year is this??

Locust Point is only between Bayview and the Inner Harbor if you are going by kayak.

What about parking for this new place? What is the deal w/ Silo Pt. parking?

Lissa

Looked at the Kayak club website. If in the area, it's a must join, in my opinion.

Strawberry,

Silo Point has a (close to) 500 space parking garage. I surely hope that will be open to diners so they don't take my street parking. Very much looking forward to Miguel's though.

LEC, this is my third year in the kayak club, and it is great fun. When I moved here, I had to give up curling, so I decided kayaking could try to replace it.

Baltimore is very pretty from the water.

New Mexican food doesn't taste the same her as it does in new mexico. In new mexico we have red chile and green chile that give the food flavor, here it doesn't have that flavor so it taste pretty gross. If you want real New Mexican food go to New Mexico!!!

Thanks to everyone who made dinner suggestions. I emailed my choice to the organizer (who'd specifically asked me to choose), who wrote back "no, we're going to Mama's". So much for my clout.

Two in our party ordered fish & chips, which arrived with the fish hanging over the edges of the plates. The waiter referred to it as "whale & chips". When they'd finished eating, it still looked a full serving remained on their plates ... but they both said it was very good.

I had the seafood melt (open faced sandwich), also very good. Oh and we all shared 2 combo platters of raw oysters which is the main reason I like going there.

What a great idea - kayaking over to the Wine Market!

Just wanted to chime in, cause I am excited.
Yes there will be parking on site.
Been to Frontera and Topalabompo. Have great respect for Rick Bayless. I promise you won't have to get on a flight to get that same quality.
I lived and worked in Santa Fe with Mark Miller. "New Mexican" cuisine is great. But, it's different than traditional Mexican.
Finally, if you know my food, small plate or not, you won't leave hungry! Or, feel like you spent too much.
Look forward to feeding you all soon.
Vaya con comida Mexicana!!!

If you want real New Mexican food go to New Mexico!!!

EL wrote about a new Mexican restaurant, not a New Mexican restaurant

The only kayak dock over there is at Tide Point. It'd be cool if there were one at Silo Point, too, but I think the tracks would probably block access anyway.

You said the magic words to get me there. Loved Mark Miller back in his Berkeley days and from what I understand he has continued that quality in Sante Fe.

I love the small plates idea so I can try more things. Come up with a well selected and reasonably priced ($4 to $6 dollar range) wine by the glass menu and you've a got a customer for life. Remember you don't need overoaked, overripe, overpriced CA wines. Think Southern France and Italy. Think Kermit Lynch imports. Mark Miller will vouch for the quality of Lynch imports.

It's maybe an eight-block walk from Tide Point to Silo Point. You can get across the tracks at Hull St. nowadays (a relatively recent change).

Hal, I've walked from Fort McHenry to Patterson Park. Walking is good.

Of course, you've run it, you over-achiever, you.

Modest Hal is an over-achiever? (As well as a Pastafarian ...)

A lot of runners worship the pasta....

If this place is going to be anything like Blue Agave under the Marx reign, I'm not going. That food was an insult to the cuisine of Mexico. Go to Chicago, check out Bayless' places and those of some of his former chefs like Chilpancingo and Ixcapuzalco. That's what I'm talkin' about.

The next time I have a yen for a chimichanga I'll just pop over to Chicago to get one. I've heard they're very good.:-)

Rick Bayless was on with Sara Moulton on the Food Network and someone called in asking for a Chimichanga recipe. Both Rick and Sara said they had no idea what a chimichanga was. I'm not saying you can't get one in Chicago just don't go to Frontera.

Mexican food in Chicago? What the hell? If you don't know what a chimichanga is then you don't know Mexican food. Go to Tucson. The only good Mexican food I've ever had is there. It's light years better than anything I've had anywhere else. And don't even tell me about Tex-Mex. That's crap. Totally desert ghetto.

It looks like I won't be popping over to Chicago or Tuscon until I replace the dilithium crystals in my transporter.:-(

Anyone like Chevy's Fresh Mex food? I thought it wasn't bad. I liked the fresh salsa verde and just baked tortilla chips that arrive as soon as you are seated.

There's one on Rt. 2 (Solomon's Island Road) near that huge new town center being built.

Fl Rob, I thought Chevy's wasn't bad either. My kid thinks they use too much cilantro, but he says that about every place that makes Tex Mex.

My favorite place to get Mexican food is on Reisterstown Road in Cherryvale plaza. I have no idea what it's called but it's owned by Latinos and the menu and recipes all seem pretty authentic to me. We got some kind of pork thing that my neighbor from California was raving about and it was pretty darned. good. Why I can't remember the name of that place I'll never know!

RayRay on this of all days? Dilithium crystals go in the warp drive not the transporter. Duh.

I was in a Chevy's in Orlando and noticed the menu said to ask your waiter about locally brewed beers that might be available. So I did and his answer was "we have Bud Light and they brew it in Tampa." I had Dos Equis amber.

EEL,
Good choice. That made me laugh.

There is a new beer called Beachbreak from Ft. Lauderdale, its an ale but I haven't tried it.

The Landshark beer, which is now the namesake of Dolphin Stadium, is pretty good.

All in all, Florida is WOEFULLY lacking in good, locally brewed beers. Thankfully there is Sweetwater up in Atlanta.

Joyce,
I'm not a fan of cilantro at all, and I didn't think Chevy's overused it. I first visited Chevy' in San Francisco and had the steak fajitas. It came with a skirt steak that was so tough as to be inedible. I had a much better experience at the Chevy's in Annapolis, but I didn't get the steak fajitas.

My family is visiting San Diego from overseas soon. I want to take them to a sit down mexican restaurant which serves really good mole. I, myself, don't really know what is best yet.

James, your family is in luck. In San Diego nearly every Mexican restaurant serves guacamole. That is Spanish for "a mound of mole."

Link spam at 11:06 AM! (It's shilling hotel rooms in London.)

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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