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June 15, 2009

What's the best neighborhood bar in Hampden?

hampden drinkingNow that we've voted Mahaffey's the best neighborhood bar in Canton, I'd like to know:

What's the best neighborhood bar in Hampden?

I was considering allowing Remington in this one, but I think I'll tack that onto the best neighborhood bar in Charles Village thread. We'll get to that in a couple weeks.

For now, let's focus on Hampden.

Rocket to Venus (3360 Chesnut Ave.) has an attitude that, in my opinion, makes it the antithesis of a neighborhood bar ...

Same goes for Golden West Cafe (1105 W. 36th St.), Holy Frijoles (908 W. 36th St.), etc. I like the down-home vibe of places like Nutty Pub (3520 Chestnut Ave.) and Frazier's on the Avenue (919 W. 36th St.).

As recently as a few months ago, I would have tossed Kolper's out there as a suggestion, but I'm scared of that place after that violent incident from a little while back.

If you had to pick a Hampden bar that is the warmest, most welcoming spot in the neighborhood (complete with its own crew of regulars), what would it be?

(Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:09 PM | | Comments (35)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Commenters' Choice Awards


I live in Hampden and I usually head to Friends in Fells or Dizzy Issies in Remington. Rocket has good food at least, but it ain't cozy. I live across the street from Kolpers and it has been closed since the whole head stabbing incident, thankfully. That place was always bad. It is for sale so hopefully something decent will move in. What I'm saying is my favorite Hampden bar is my house.

No go for GWC. Bad service = bad bar.

I second Fraziers.

I liked the vibe at Flip's - casual, outside deck area, very friendly staff. But unfortunately it's been closed for most of 2009. The place next door, I think it's called Hampden Station, seems like the complete opposite

Honfest '09 was the first time I've been to Hampden in years and I was pleasantly surprised by the beer selection at Holy Frijoles.

Didn't enjoy the lack of available menu items and service though...

Gotta be Dimitri's, right? That slobbering drunk cartoon on the door says it all. And during Honfest this weekend, a makeshift sign outside advertised a "pockey book sale" inside...

The best neighborhood bar in Hampden is probably one that existed before all the yuppies moved in 15 years or so ago and made it a "hip and trendy" place.

I didn't know anything good actually existed in Hampden.

Yikes, Remington! I don't consider that part of Charles Village. You couldn't pay me to go to a bar in Remington!

Chris: ding ding!

Anyone old enough to remember "Sparwassers"... from before when Mt Washington became hip?

Griffiths Tavern

Zizimo's! I think they pay those guys to stand outside and smoke as a deterrent to curious hipsters!

Rocket bartenders for the most part are attentive and quick and they have the 3 for $3 beer special. HON has good beer selection and best air conditioning in the city.

NOTE: Sun web site guru Lauren Custer tells me Nutty Pub is up for sale and no longer in business. I can't say I'm surprised -- I never saw that place even so much as half full.

I like the Rocket. It seems fashionable to hate it, and I wouldn't drive across town for it. But if you're already in the neighborhood, it's a good spot, so I don't think it's fair to dismiss it from the debate entirely.

Frazier's is probably the least prententious of the lot, and I do like it, but I have had some seriously bad service there.

I live here, and if my neighborhood buds and I want a cold one, our go-to is Holy Frijoles. The Hon Bar is actually pretty fun, too, and I love the Wednesday night Irish music. It's on the small side, so you can't bring a huge crowd, but it has a very different vibe at night than Cafe Hon does during the day. Can't stand the touristy vibe of Cafe Hon; love the night time scene of the Hon Bar, even with the garish new paint job.

And my apologies to Chris and Mr. Rational. I didn't realize I was ruining the 'hood by moving here with all my tax dollars.

Oh, and the Nutty Pub has been closed for a while.

Went to Zissimo's & Golden West yesterday. Zissimo's was my kind of place - no frills just nice people and that locals feeling that can't be replicated.

Golden West - worst service ever! I thought after they got ripped to pieces on EL's blog they would've shaped up, but NO! During a festival why would you have one hipster working the bar when you advertise to-go drinks on a sign out front? This place must be a front for some hipster factory in the basement!

As a native Hampdenite who achieved a college education, I tend to like Frazier's the best. It's the one place where my old local buddies and my newbie friends feel comfortable together drinking beer. My Hampden friends tend to struggle acting cool at Rocket's, and you should have seen the faces of my hipster buddies when I took them to Dimitri's one time. Priceless.

Ok boys...let's play nice

Griffith's Tavern on Hickory! If you don't know, now you know!

Seriously though, my vote is for Holy's. I do think the neighborhood could use some more bars though. A new wine bar, 13.5%, is supposed to open on The Avenue by the end of the month

I like Frazier's. It's very down-to-earth, no-frills. The bartenders are funny and the customers are so varied that there's always some good people-watching.
That said, I also like Rocket to Venus and Holy Frijoles (although the food has gone downhill at Frijoles) for a more "night out", esp. if I want fancier drinks or food.
Golden West has always been fine as far as beer goes, good selection and all, it's just always a little too warm back there for my taste. But I've always gotten good service.
The Hon Bar is vastly improved over the years, although I like it better on weeknights personally.

On the "can't we all just get along" note- I KNOW there are plenty of reasons some of the natives don't get along with some of the newer residents, but people had to move out in order for them to move in. This happens everywhere and change ain't gonna stop. Not all the new people are bad (I think {hope} I'm not so bad...) just like most Hampdenites don't follow stereotype.

Frazier's. Hands down. I like Rocket just fine, but it tends to get crowded if you show up with more than 8 people in your group. Fraziers just has more space to put people, and the open area in the back is set up great for just hanging out and relaxing with a beer.

However, Rocket does get points for having Brooklyn Brown on tap. And let's watch the Remington bashing. We're not all drugged out weirdos. Just some of us (them).

Frazier's or HON for neighborhood bar.

As a beer writer, aficionado, and snob: The Wine Source. Grab something good and head home.

If I have to drink/eat in the neighborhood: Rocket to Venus. Appetizers my vegetarian wife can love.

Holy Frijoles for sure. Have had some great food and drinks there, and the service was good, too. Golden West -- went there once. Will never go back. Service was so poor, I can't believe they're still in business.

If you want to go the Wine Source route, definately pick up a bottle (or 2) and head to Grill Art for dinner. Great food, reasonable prices, and NO corkage fee for the wine!

In my opinion, the best bars are Holy Frijoles and Frazier's. I always have wonderful and friendly service. The absolute worst is Golden West. I always felt that the service was so bad it was laughable, but after a recent experience I changed my mind. The server dropped a piece of my food, said, "Oh crap, I dropped a piece", and literally didn't return until we got the check. Are. You. Serious.

Golden West has been getting a bad rap. I went last week for lunch and sat at a table (not the bar). Our waiter was very attentive and polite. The service was quick and the food was good. I'll be going back again

Griffith's Tavern ("The Icehouse") on Hickory Avenue.

The best bar in Hampden? You mean you don't know...?


In Hampden the best neighborhood bar will depend on what you're seeking. The neighborhood is very eclectic.
All the young Obama loving crowd that want to help the poor but have absolutely no association with them will get on over to Rocket to Venus, Golden West, or Holy Frijoles. All three have college employees that forgot to take any courses on customer service. I guess there all going to be government or MVA employees.
Griffiths and D'Mtris will allow you to hang with locals of the old school without any trouble.
Zissimos is good for a beer at 7 AM, heroin deals, and a fight if you're looking for it.
Cafe Hon is clean and has some class to it without being pretentious...I mean come's Hampden. [crap-o] it's Baltimore for that matter.
Flips was good. Interesting mix of people, mixed service, clean, nice atmosphere.

The new wine bar should be interesting though.

The Dizz is part of Remington but probably the best because the food is good, the service is decent, the mix of people is good, and about to expand again.

Griffiths Tavern the "old icehouse"

Definitely Griffiths - it's old school.

If you are looking for old school, go the Back Stretch Salon on Old Cold Spring behind the Exxon. There is no sign of gentrification, yuppies or hipsters there. I know that it is technically Medfield, but close enough..

dimitris by far

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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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