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April 10, 2009

Know of any cool bars near Merriweather Post Pavilion?

greene turtle columbiaI know, I know -- asking if there are any cool bars in Columbia is like asking if there are freeze pops in hell.

However, I thought I'd toss it out there, because a friendly (I assume) gentleman (I assume) named Todd Willis sent me this e-mail yesterday:

I was wondering if you know of any good bars or lounges(the divier the better) close to Merriweather that don’t include the likes of P.F. Changs or Clydes. I live in DC and will be heading there for a concert in August and we will be staying the night in a hotel about 5 miles from there. I am trying to figure out something do after the show.

I do have one or two suggestions ...

The Pub Dog  (8865 Stanford Blvd.) is probably the best bet. Two icy mugs of locally brewed draft beer for $4 is quite the deal. And the atmosphere ain't bad, either. Best spot in Columbia for beer drinkers, me think(ers).

Second to the Pub Dog, I would recommend the Greene Turtle (8872 McGaw Road). It's a local chain sports bar, but at least it's locally owned and has a party vibe.

Just make sure you bring a GPS or some really good directions. If you're not careful, you will get lost in the labyrinth of shopping plazas and cookie cutter houses that is Columbia.

Anybody else got ideas for Toddy?

(Sun photo of the Greene Turtle in Columbia by Algerina Perna)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:15 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music


Um...didn't you know that Howard County has a charter that will not allow Dive Bars or Lounges in the Country limits. I think Jim Rouse was a stickler for that!

Some good spots are:
Frisco Grille and Cantina
Victoria Gastro Pub
Iron Bridge Wine Company

Your suggestion are perfect---I would recommend the same. Pub Dog has good beer, great pizza, and a really laid back atmosphere. They serve food until 1:30 AM every night too.

Right around the corner, Greene Turtle is my second favorite. It's a sports bar, but better than most in my opinion.

Nottinghams is also close by, but I don't get the hype. There is often a long line to get in and a cover charge on weekends, I don't think either are worth it.

such a Columbia hater!! Where does this rage come from?
The "diveist" bars are located in the village centers. I would suggest the
Columbia Ale House in Long Reach,
Sonoma's in Owen Brown,
Zapata's in Harper's Choice

I 2nd Frisco Grille. Its a couple doors down from Dog Pub and has a great beer selection and good food

I always recopmmend Cylde's on the lake.. not dive-y but excellent cheeseburgers and a nice dark wood- and hunter green old school bar feel. Just stay away from the windows and it'll be just fine.

I second Iron Bridge if you looking to impress someone? Wife/girlfriend/date. Nottinghams if your hanging with the fellas and wanna catch a game on TV afterwards.
Sam, I understand the Green Turtle is looking to expand nationally as a franchase? I heard this on a local business report. Can you confirm? Would be nice to see another local business grow.

Um...didn't you know that Howard County has a charter that will not allow Dive Bars or Lounges in the Country limits. I think Jim Rouse was a stickler for that!

Some good spots are:
Frisco Grille and Cantina
Victoria Gastro Pub
Iron Bridge Wine Company

Posted by: Eutaw Street Historian | April 10, 2009 11:34 AM

1. Howard County does not equal Columbia. Jim Rouse developed Columbia, not the entire county.

2. That would be the "county" limits not "country" limits.

3. Iron Bridge is on the other end of the spectrum from dive bars. I doubt the person looking for a dive bar would enjoy it.

The Phoenix in Ellicott City is a little ways away from Merriweather, but it has a nice dive-y atmosphere. I witnessed a fight there last summer, during which two patrons were invited to "take it outside." They took up the invitation and continued their work on the street. Conveniently, they continued on front of a window, which provided us with a decent view of the proceedings without having to give up our seat at the booth. I never got a chance to thank them for the entertainment.

Hey Sam and ESH, you're not implying that if you aren't located within the city limits you can't possibly be cool? That if you are located within the boring, safe suburbs it usually automatically disqualifies anyone or anything from consideration for coolness? Although we don't live in the city, not all of us drive minivans/SUVs, have 2.5 children and listen to Mix 106.5. Plus we do have a bennie: we can go out at night without fearing for our lives.

I agree with all of your suggestions, Historian. I was at Victoria's on Wednesday night, excellent.

PF Changs! Clydes!

My favorite bar right by Merriweather is long gone.

With a caution about some NSFW profanity, I offer this remembrance.

I've always had such a bad time getting in and out of concerts at Merriwether that pre- or post-gaming never even occurred to me. You can tailgate there, right? That seems like it would be the best option, especially in August.

But for HoCo bars, my favorite is Ellicott Mills Brewery in Old Ellicott City. Recently tried Diamondback Tavern and it wasn't bad. I truly can't think of any good spots in Columbia. Nottingham's makes me angry -- where do they get off with that cover charge?!

Yum, yes of course, but does the Olive Garden really count as going out, though?

Hee hee.

PK - Get up on the wrong side of bed this morning? Geez.

Maybe you should go and kick your dog to feel better.

Hi Sam, Wouldn't know. I've never been to the Olive Garden. Fortunately.

Maybe it's time for you to free your mind and cut loose those old stereotypes that limit your might be surprised what you find.

Oh, Yum, I'm just kidding. Obviously everyone who lives in the suburbs isn't lame, just like everybody who lives in the city isn't addicted to heroin.

But I will never let the truth stand in the way of a good joke, Yum. Never.

Also: Columbia sucks.


I know, Sam. Sorry. Just grumpy today. Lost my sense of humor somewhere on the way to work. The 'burbs can suck the life out of you if you aren't one of the minivan/SUV-drivin', 2.5 kids raisin', 106.5 listenin' drones and you aren't careful...

For my money, Pub Dog is the best bar in Columbia. Frisco and Sonoma's are tolerable. Everything else has terrible service, is way over-priced, or usually both.

Now that I'm temporarily back in HoCo, I have to laugh at a good portion of these posts. I grew up in EC and this county sure isn't what it used to be. I know, what is?

I agree w/ Pub Dog and Victoria Gastro Pub as good spots, but disagree that Sonoma's is even a little bit dive-y. I spent lots of Tues nights there when I was doing marketing/merch sales for The Grilled Lincolns. Sonoma's bartenders are attentive, they have good drink specials and a decent menu.

When I used to work on Brokenland Pwky, I went to Sonoma's quite a bit. The service there was always good and friendly. I'd recommend that. Sorta tough to find if you're not familiar (behind the McDonalds sorta).

Nottinghams. Blah.

Pub Dob wasn't open when I was working in Columbia, but I like the one in Fed Hill so I'm sure they did a good job over in the 'burbs too.

2nd Chance Saloon off Stevens Forest is a new arrival and definitely divey.

Zapatas is my favorite.

The new Looneys is about 4 miles south and I hear they are going to offer a free shuttle to and from every show. Oh yeah, and it already is the best Bar in Howard County

There is a cool little mexican place around there with a really good beer selection. I usually stop in with my buddy when we goto the beer supply store. I don't know the name of it though.

Just stay clear of Notinghams and you should be alright. Also be careful driving after a few in Columbia. Those cops think they have nothing better to do.

If someone is actually looking for good beer, lots of selection, definitely Frisco Grille (near Pub Dog)

Judges Bench in downtown Ellicott City is very dive-y but still nice and lots of beer selection

I haven't been in Phoenix Emporium down there but that screams dive

Victoria is beautiful, not so much a dive but still great beer with dark wood and mood-y lighting

Ellicott Mills is plain old and the basement bar is very dive-ish

Pub Dog's lively

Diamondback is intimate and has its charms

Avoid Nottinghams

Haven't checked out Columbia Ale House or 2nd Chance Saloon but both probably do a great dive impersonation, not sure about Michaels Pub or Looney's either

Hi its Todd. Let me first clarify the situation for everyone. We are heading up to Merriweather for the Phish show in August. My buddies and I have a couple of hotel rooms so nobody has to drive home that evening.
I have been trying to find a couple of "local" bars in the area but all I am finding are chains. If anybody knows a couple of chill local hangouts that are within $10-15 cab ride of the pavillion please let me know. It doesnt have to have sawdust and peanut shells on the floor but I am not looking for Clydes or a quite wine bar.


$10-15 cab ride in the clusterf*** that will be post-Phish show traffic? You might as well walk!

YP: How come you get to be so defensive and then say something boneheaded likes this:

Plus we do have a bennie: we can go out at night without fearing for our lives.

I live in Baltimore City and I never fear for my life when I go out. Nor should I.

Plus, I am pretty sure it's a fact that if you say "bennie" you are not cool.

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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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