Baltimore's Black Restaurant Challenge: Black History Month for Foodies

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A close-knit group of Baltimore chefs has dreamed up something new for Black History Month this year. Baltimore's Black Restaurant Challenge is a sort of "Restaurant Week" designed to spotlight the city's African-American-owned restaurants. 

The concept is simple: Organizers are asking people to participate by visiting two black-owned restaurants between February 2 and February 25, 2018. Then, share your photos or videos of the experience on Facebook or Instagram and invite your friends to take on the challenge, too. Those who take part can receive discounts from more than 20 African-American-owned restaurants. The wide range of dining spots serve up everything from Louisiana Creole cooking to vegan soul food.

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One of the eateries involved in the challenge is The Urban Oyster, an oyster bar unique in the city for two reasons—not only is owner Jasmine Norton Maryland's first black oyster bar owner, she's also the state's first female oyster bar owner, too. Her goal? To make oysters approachable (and delicious) for "oyster skeptics." Some in the African-American community, she explains, wouldn't consider eating them raw. For apprehensive patrons, she specializes in preparations to tempt every palate—char-grilled oysters, dressed up with delicious toppings like bacon, barbecue and cheddar, or parmesan, mozzarella, and garlic-butter. Norton sources only local oysters.

The Urban Oyster doesn't have a permanent physical restaurant yet. It operates as a pop-up oyster bar, borrowing space at cutting-edge marketplaces like R. House in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood, or Modern Cookshop in Fells Point. You'll also find Norton's tasty combinations at events like Light City Baltimore this April, and the famed Baltimore Farmer's Market, Sunday mornings under the Jones Falls Expressway.

The Urban Oyster celebrates its first anniversary with a weeklong pop-up at R. House, running February 12 through 18, and will offer a "Buck a Shuck" special from 5p.m. until closing time at 9 p.m. each evening. R. House is at 301 West 29th Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21211.

For the full list of restaurants to visit for this month's Black Restaurant Challenge, click here.

Megan Viviano