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August 24, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here it is -- my list of the five best Baltimore dive bars.

Remember -- I went for places that you won't find in travel books or city guides. These places are the real thing.

1. Rendezvous Lounge, 136 W. 25th St.

The only bar I've ever fought in. A guy I was drinking whiskey with took a swing at me, and we wound up wrestling on that nasty floor. Nobody seemed to care. When the scuffle was over, we went back up to the bar and ordered another shot of whiskey. They make you put a $5 deposit on the cue sticks for the pool table, in case you're thinking of breaking one over somebody's head.

2. BAR, 1718 Lancaster St.

Here, the "wine list" is 1. White and 2. Red. The fan only has two prongs left and the pool league has been dead for years (just like the roses in the vase sitting on the bar), but BAR is still there, by God.

3. The Venice Tavern, 339 S. Conkling St.

A this basement bar, they still serve beer in those tiny 8-ounce glasses you see in black-and-white 1940s movies. The back walls by the pool table are a shrine to old boxers, including Vince DeSantis, who helped run the place back in the day.

4. Muir's Tavern, 36 E. Fort Ave. (pictured)

This place is also a packaged goods store. One time I went in there and asked for a six pack of Yuengling to go. The woman behind the bar grimaced and said, "We don't serve imports." Enough said.

5. Locust Point Tavern, 1515 E. Clement St.

The only bar I've ever been to with a screen door. From the outside, the place looks like a bar/house hybrid. Step inside, and you're hit with a musk that could only come from decades of spilled beer and cigarette smoke.

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:50 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays


Yeah, but that's not the REAL Rendezvous Lounge. I used to hang out at the original one and I don't remember any violence.

Nice list! My fave is Grundy's, located on (suprise) Grundy Street. The locals can be found perched on a stool playing the beautiful wood-veneered, '96 Wild Cherry video slot machine. The beer is super cheap too.

Yep, that's the new&"improved" Rendezvous Lounge. The old one was across 25th from the current location, and it was smaller, dirtier, cheaper and all-around dive-ier. Nothing against the new one, but the old one was a special kind of dive.

I dont know if it is "dive status" but the Raven Inn on Loch Raven Blvd is a great hang out and very old itself....still only have old barmaids working there...

The old Vous, now the sterile Anderson Honda sitting there, was like the non-MICA M.R. Tavern. Great 45 jukebox: they still have Clarence Cater? Pabst on tap and canned meals at the bar. 39 now and still haven't made to the new Vous.

The bar in locust any chance is that the bar that is modeled in season 2 of the Wire?

I'm not sure, Ryan. Might be.

A lot of Locust Point bars are alike -- mostly blue collar crowds, a bartender who owns the place, whose parents owned the place, dirt cheap beer and camaraderie.

They did a pretty good job of capturing that feeling in season 2 of The Wire.

The "lower level" of the Ferndale
Tavern is a great dive bar.

I have been to Bar and it was hilarious. There was a TV on the bar and I asked the barmaid if I could put on the Oriole game. She said, No, the owner does not like the TV turned on....haha...then why is it there?

PAPPAS in Towson/Parkville on Joppa road takes the cake for dive bars.

They have recently remodeled but before they had $1 natural lights on tap, FREE golden tee, 50cent pool tables, cheap music and frozen mugs, not to mention keno. peanut shells were everywhere on the floor.

I think the bar in Season 2 of the Wire was the now-defunct Clement Street Cafe. It was the corner of Clement and Jackson.

you need to hit some VFW's and some Amer. Legion joints. Seriously. GREAT dives.
Also, what's up with the Sly Fox? Are they moving or something?

Don't leave out Moontimes in Catonsville; best Karaoke on the west side

BAR - be careful if you enter the ladies room, you might end up in the cellar if you hit the soft spots in the floor!

Don't forget the Valley View Inn on Satyr Hill Road in Parkville.....

Maybe too far from the city, but "Ernie's Place" tavern in Westminster right on main street. cheap package store and a MUSK only to be matched by that of the Locust Point Tavern

Ziggy's in Dundalk, cheap beer, nice people

You cannot be taken seriously if Dizzy Issies is not on this list. That is all. Case closed

you cannot be taken seriously when you do not read the actual blog entries before posting comments.

case closed.

Iampieri's in Catonsville. Oh boy, what a great old place.

The Bar Maid named Nikki is the best reason to keep going to the Venice Tavern. Wow, what a body!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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