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June 23, 2009

What's the best neighborhood bar in Fells Point?

lulu's off broadwayWe've done Canton. We've done Hampden.

But those were just warm-ups.

Now, it's really time to open Pandora's Box. What, in your humblest of opinions, is the best neighborhood bar in Fells Point? And why?

Only one bar will win.

And there are so, so many low-key bars to choose from. Fells Point has more neighborhood bars than just about any other neighborhood in Baltimore.

So what's it gonna be?

I'll tell you what bar gets my vote ...

I wracked my brain about it. And finally, I decided to go with the Cat's Eye Pub (1730 Thames St.). It's warm, inviting and has a crew of crazy regulars. But it also has some of the best local groups playing live, if roots rock/blues is your thing.

I was so close to picking Friends or Leadbetter's, but opted for the Cat's Eye in the end.

What's your pick?

(Sun photo of Lulu's Off Broadway by Gene Sweeney Jr.)


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:35 PM | | Comments (141)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Commenters' Choice Awards
        

Comments

Dead End. Hands down. Cat's Eye may have the music, but I've had too many unpleasant experiences with the "crew of crazy regulars." The Dead End has regulars who are fun to be hang with ALL the time.

I vote for Waterfront, the bartenders there rock!

The Wharf Rat is the best.

Bad Decisions. Awesome drinks that you can't get anywhere else!

Bad Decisions.

By far, the best bar in Fells Point is Bad Decisions. That bar has an awesome staff, and they take such gret care of their customers. The atmosphere is nice and friendly, mostly because the crew takes great care of everyone. Best bar in Baltimore!!!

Another vote for Bad Decisions.

Bad Decisions of course, they are more fun!

Bad Decisions...

You're probably going to have to define Fells Point, Sessa. Are you including Upper Fells, too?

Bad Decisions is my pick. A close second would be J A Murphy's on Aliceanne.

Friends

Ale Mary's.

Definitely Bad Decisions. Good prices. Has an Irish Stout that's better than Guinness.

Bad Decisions! Bartender always making new drinks. Good ppl. Good selection of scotch...plus the name says it all.

Love Bad Decisions...great drinks, good food and awesome company! :)

One Eyed Mike's-

Spectacular food, Great atmosphere, Great bartenders. This is a hands down choice for neighborhood bar, just ask those who live in Fells.

Fells proper: Friends

Bad Decisions

I like Cat's Eye Pub, but Bad Decisions is the only bar in Baltimore that actually makes a drinkable Aviation. They get my vote.

Gotta say, Bad Decisions. The entire staff is socialable, talkative, and patient to put up with a lot of us that come in. Check out the safe word, sci-fi TV playing religiously, and the oh-so popular flaming shots. Great place to begin or end your night!

bad decisions? has that place been open longer than 6 months?

place needs staying power to be taken seriously here (despite being flooded by some of their apparent regulars here)...

i'll toss a vote towards the wharf rat. slainte a decent 2nd.

Bad Decisions.

Bad Decisions. Great atmosphere, great drinks, and great people. You can actually hear yourself think whereas at most other bars I've been to the music's blaring too loud to hear the person next to you.

Bad Decisions all the way baby.

JA Murphy's

I always make at least one new friend when I hang out at Bad Decisions. Only bar I would even consider wandering into by myself. Also a fan of the creative drinks and reasonable prices.

And the bacon. :)

Bad Decisions!! Its always a great time there and a perfect place to make some bad decisions.

Dead End - friendliest staff ever, regulars and newbies are great and the food is really very good!

Never even heard of Bad Decisions!

its absolutely bad decisions!

Bad Decisions!!!

The bartenders are second to none. Ask them to make a personalized drink for you that involves fire. . . You'll get it.

The drinks are cheap, good and STRONG!

Bacon and Beer night!

"It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" Thursday night.

No other bar in Baltimore can compete!

I'm another one for Bad Decisions. They serve local Flying Dog (Frederick, MD) on tap, and even carry Xingu (from Brazil!) Aside from the selection, I've always had great times there with the boys, and I had my first ever conversation with my (now) girlfriend there.

That said, I also really gotta give love to Terri (sp?), the hilarious and awesome bartender at my second choice, the Cat's Eye Pub. She's truly a living treasure of Baltimore. Hmm... I wonder what it would be like if she poured at Bad Decisions!

Slainte, where else can you get a lager & lime.

How many more employees does BD have that can come and post on here?

Uhm, has anyone ever been to BAR?

Hands down #1.

Bad Decisions gets my vote! Where else can you find Beer & Bacon happy hour, excellent and unique drinks, and random roller derby girls hanging out?

Ok.. we get it. Bad Decisions is the best bar since Cheers and the bartenders are better than Sam Malone.

Time to move on to a new neighborhood...

Bad Decisions!

One more for Bad Decisions.

The best bar ain't Bad Decisions, it's just down the street at "1919"... free pool, $2 big PBR's all the time...

@Andy - If you had ever been to Bad Decisions you'd know that the staff consists of 3 people (the owner and 2 bartenders - none of which have commented here) and you'd also understand why people are voting it the best bar!

---

Gotta give it to Bad Decisions! It doesn't matter how long they've been open - they offer selection, atmosphere and service no other bar in Fells can even come close to! - and that's what matters!

Wharf Rat or Ale Marys.

I wish that I still lived in MD so I could go to Bad Decisions more often. Unfortunately, the place opened shortly before I moved to Ohio so I have only been there a few times, but I never have had a bad experience. Always fun, interesting people with great events taking place. If you just want to drink and enjoy good company, this is YOUR bar.

Wharf Rat when I'm feeling social, Birds of a Feather when I just want some friendly warmth.

Without pause, my vote goes to Bad Decisions.

I've never seen a place amass such a loyal following in such a short span of time, but it's for good reason. The guys there know their alcohol and their beers, and they carry things you'll find nowhere else. They're personable, they're helpful, and they genuinely like their customers. And it's not just the staff that's friendly; the loose atmosphere of the place encourages strangers to get to know one another. Just as someone else said earlier, I make new friends virtually every time I'm there.

All of this is why I, as the Bacon Bishop of Baltimore, chose Bad Decisions as the site for the Bacon & Beer Happy Hour, which now routinely draws hundreds of people every time.

(And on a personal note...it was on the heels of a typical Saturday night at Bad Decisions that my best friend and I fell so deeply, madly, and permanently in love.)

bad decisions? has that place been open longer than 6 months?

place needs staying power to be taken seriously here (despite being flooded by some of their apparent regulars here)...

Its been over a year, and they have to start sometime.


Dead End - friendliest staff ever, regulars and newbies are great and the food is really very good!

Never even heard of Bad Decisions!"

Its on the corner of Fleet and Washington.

I'm another one for Bad Decisions. They serve local Flying Dog (Frederick, MD) on tap, and even carry Xingu (from Brazil!) Aside from the selection, I've always had great times there with the boys, and I had my first ever conversation with my (now) girlfriend there.

I met my girlfriend there too. We should have a group picture of all the people getting together from BD.


Slainte, where else can you get a lager & lime.

Bad Decisions.. heck, they'll throw in some peppers too if you want.

How many more employees does BD have that can come and post on here?

Well, there are only 3 employees at BD... none of them have posted here yet.


Uhm, has anyone ever been to BAR?

Hands down #1.

You mean BD? Yes. Yes, we have.

Dead End Saloon. Bartenders complete with 'hon' glasses.

Bad Decisions. No tourists there, no fake people out to show off, and the out-of-towners don't know about it. It's just Baltimore people, talking Ravens and drinking Boh's.

Can't beat it.

Friends of course...Buffett-free jukebox,cheap beer,very comfortable and dimly lit..

I like Bad Decisions. Hell, I LOVE Bad Decisions. But they lack in the food department, and that one (big) minus takes them out of first place. I reiterate my choice of Dead End since they don't suffer the food minus.

DUCLAW!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Blarneystone.

If the guy sitting in his mother's basement posting "Bad Decisions!" over and over again INSISTS on doing that, could he at least put a little variety in his posts? I mean, besides using a different name every time?

I don't think anyone has mentioned it, but how about that place across the street from Ale Mary's??

1. Friends
2. Wharf Rat
3.Ale Mary's

WTF is is bad decisions? that fact that everyone jumped on this article like flies on [ahem] makes me never want to go near that place. seriously. can so many votes, out of nowhere, for a new place look like anything but a bunch of douche bags trying to pull one over?
"unique drinks" wtf? you mean like a "I'm a stupid frat boy and I want to order some stupid [stuff] with a sexual innuendo" or a "it's girls night out, honey, and we're getting [housed] on sweet drinks!" Yeah, my favorite bartender doesn't know how to make those.
bad decisions sounds like bad times

I don't drink GM but I'm going to go with One Eyed Mikes! Awesome food and great staff. And clearly a trip to Bad Decisions has to happen soon. That's alot of votes for such a new place, so it must be good.

Blarney Stone...

Have you met Iggy? He's like a walking tourist trap...

I'm curious as to why there is a handful of people who are so upset that Bad Decisions has gained such a loyal following in just over a year.

Moreover, how can these people be so passionately against the place when they admit to knowing nothing about it?

I don't think people are against Bad Decisions the bar. I think they are against the one person (who may or may not be in his mother's basement) who keeps posting it over and over and over and over.

I've never been to Bad Decisions, but I drive by it frequently. What gets me about the place is the ridiculous, stencil-looking canopy for a sign. It is cheesy to say the least. Sorry, but it is. I know it's a neighborhood place, but still. Just as bad as 1919.

Or maybe, just maybe, this article was posted to Sam's Twitter feed and that's the reason for the flood of responses.

Naaa man, he's obviously in his mother's basement. :) You know what? I bet Bad Decisions is in his mother's basement. Has anyone else even seen this place? It's probably his mom selling Coors out of a cooler set up on his air-hockey table.

Bad Decisions? Isn't that in Dundalk?

1919 - possibly the last in the tradition of great dive bars Fells was once famous for. Clearly the readers around here are to young to remember back in the day when sailors and hookers there did roam.

Bad Decisions sounds too crowded.

Leave me alone.

Bad Decisions rules! It's loaded with aggressive tops!!

I love Bad Decisions. There's good women there.

Bad Decisions is my Famly! Great Beck's Premier Light!

Sailors and hookers?? I am so there..

I've never been to Bad Decisions, but I drive by it frequently. What gets me about the place is the ridiculous, stencil-looking canopy for a sign. It is cheesy to say the least. Sorry, but it is. I know it's a neighborhood place, but still. Just as bad as 1919.

Maybe you should walk in one day... I'll buy ya a shirley temple.

I don't think people are against Bad Decisions the bar. I think they are against the one person (who may or may not be in his mother's basement) who keeps posting it over and over and over and over.

News of this poll is spread all over twitter, facebook, myspace, you name it, and several email lists. Just wait for the people who only check their email at home get off of work.

Bad Decisions? Isn't that in Dundalk?
Only if all of Canton is as well.

Don't hate on Bad Decisions!!!! It has good drinks and the owner is CRAZY!!!!

Dundalk is "East Canton".

Cheerleaders > Bad decisions

Hi,

I am the owner of Bad Decisions. Let me first assure Sam and everyone else that no one is voting over and over again. I know just about every person who has voted for the bar so far. Come by on a random night and you can meet them too.

Also if you have never heard of BD you must not be a regular reader of Midnight Sun as Sam has written about us several times.

To anyone who has not been by yet, why not come in and give the place a shot before you bash us.

Thanks for all the praise and mostly good comments. It was a very fun first year.

I didn't want to say anything before, but I heard Bad Decisions was a front for a dog fighting ring.

Bad Decisions. Best Bar in Bmore. I'll be there tonight for SBTB trivia.

1. I think it is ridiculous to nominate a new bar in Fells as best in the neighborhood when there are so many awesome storied places.

2. Number One Hands-Down:
- Horse You Came in On (I was going to refer to it simply as "Horse", but I feared being branded a poser Phish fan who abbreviated songs on a mail-traded set from Camden - ie "Wolfman" instead of "Wolfman's Brother")

Live (good) Music (ie few buffett and Eagles covers), huge, laid-back, good beer selection, no pretense...everything that a good Baltimore neighborhood bar should be

3. My runner-up top five (in no particular order)

- Waterfront Hotel
- Bar
- Friends
- Ale Mary's (yes i know its newish)
- Cat's Eye

Koopers has gone downhill as far as service since it sat atop my #1, and Red Star is too inconsistent, but I definitely hit both of those places whenever I go to Fells.

Bertha's is classic, but I really do feel as though it is truly unsafe to be in there...not because of the patrons, but because of the looming electrical fire that will occur there.

Check the website listed above tomorrow for my review of "The Hill" in Federal Hill.

What is this a free advertisement space now?

You gonna offers us free drinks if we come by to?

bad decisions!!!! yeahhhh! the best!

John Reusing, I applaud your coming on here and defending your turf. It's a rough bunch in here.

However, despite the overwhelming support for your bar, we are going to have to go with The Greene Turtle. Right, Ayatollah Sessa?

Peter -- when can I take you up on that Shirley Temple?

I'm all for BAD DECISIONS, the haters in this thread are amusing. I'm from from the burbs between DC, Annap and Baltimore but if I'm not off to Brewer's it's BD. It all depends on the crowd I'm with.

When it comes to the fairly limited food selection, I'll say this: don't go to BD hungry! Eat something at BOP, take a long walk to Fleet & Washington to let your food settle, and hit the drink. It's worth the walk.

Go to BD for the drinks, the homey atmosphere, the friendly staff. As for all the other bars out there? Maybe they can borrow a page from BD when it comes to building a loyal following by word of mouth.

Bad Decisions...I was just there last night sampling the wonderful scotch!

Also BEER AND BACON night is #1

Bad Decisions is starting to sound a little douchey and tiresome. Best to steer clear.

Ale Mary's

ledbetters. call me an old man, but i dig having live music every night, and old playboy's on a rack near the back.

I find my visits at Bad Decisions are always fun, enlightening and entertaining. You really can't beat bartenders who will make a custom drink to meet your every whim...and then set it ablaze!!

Vote for Bad Decisions

Maybe there should be a Midnight Sun HH at BD one of these days?

Maybe I missed something, but Sam wasn't taking a vote on the most storied bar in Fells Point; he was asking for the best one. Since when does a "new" bar have a waiting period before it can be a favorite?

If someone with a new cake recipe handed me a slice of the finished product, and it was the best cake I'd ever had, I certainly wouldn't say "Oh geez, I this tastes better than anything else in town, but I can't call it my favorite because it hasn't been around for ages."

When it comes to the fairly limited food selection, I'll say this: don't go to BD hungry! Eat something at BOP, take a long walk to Fleet & Washington to let your food settle, and hit the drink. It's worth the walk.

I second that! I do almost the same thing, except I usually pick a few flowers en route, stop at the knitting store for some supplies for that sweater I'm knitting my mother, then celebrate with a Triple-Sunshine-Crush-On-A-Gilmore (without the espresso) when I get there.

I'm a big fan of just about all of the places mentioned, and used to work at both Slainte and One Eyed Mike's.

That being said, I go whole heartedly with Bad Decisions. John and his boys have done something near remarkable in the past year or so. The knowledge of their product combined with being genuinely nice friendly people who are actually HAPPY to see customers walk in the bar has rightfully garnered them a large regular customer base in an extremely short period of time.

Keep up the good work guys.

All the rest of you, stop in and check it out. Whaddaya have to lose?

What if, instead of a slice of cake, it was a slice of Spam?

I'm quitting my job right now and high-tailing it to Bad Decisions.

What about Sharky's? They have over three hundred softball teams!

Sam's changed his vote.

It's official. Bad Decisions wins!

Bad Decisions for sure!

I have always hated the name of BD, so I never tried it, but now I want to have a drink or two there. For once a SS post has created GOOD buzz for a place.

MARTYBASSLOVER -- NOOOOOO!!!!!

Just a question, does BD have food? or is it limited to special bacon days? Definitely looking forward to checking the place out either way

Gonna have to go with Wharf Rat. Great atmosphere, some of the best beer in the city (do they still have the 3 for $5 deal?), and decent pub food.

That said, Bad Decisions has some awesome drinks. They need food, though.

Since it's Bad Decisions doesnt need my vote, I'll go;

#1 OEM and Max's (tie)

#3 Ale Mary's

Congratulations, Bad Decisions! You have won me coming down there! That will also be the prize for last place. Besides, I stand to learn something from an organization that knows how to get out the vote like you do!

I've never been to BD, but it is now on my "gotta go to list!"

wasn't going to weigh in on the ballot stuffing...but it's out of Leadbetters 2, for the saloon doors; Rodos or Moby's for the polite clientèle and Max's, I like the chairs but the beer selection is a little weak.

I'll buy a sheryl temple for the first 5 people that pretend to be the guy asking for it. Ask the barkeep to give me a ring when ya get there.

locust point man: Bad Decisions does have food, mainly of the appetizer variety. They're not pretending to be a place where you'd eat dinner, but they're accommodating if you get the munchies.

If i'm not mistaken, a few weeks ago, BD closed early for lack of customers on a Monday night...

I know cause I heard ALL the folks who live there showed up ten minutes too late, at 10:05pm.

Yup, thats good business sense...

I'm obviously late to the party, but Bad Decisions is pretty much the only bar I go to in Fells any more. John is a fantastic proprietor, and I can't say no to Lagunitas IPA on tap.

If you haven't been, you owe it to yourself to check it out. Don't let the modest decor throw you, the drinks are top-notch.

Not that I don't love Bad Decisions and their cheap drinks and aces staff, but in my mind it's not quite a 'neighborhood' bar so much as a 'people who use twitter and are into social media events' bar. And it's to their credit that they utilize those outlets, because it's obviously working incredibly well for them.

Fuzzy hearts to that place, but for my neighborhood dollars I give it up to Leadbetter's or Dead End Saloon.

Slainte by far! Especially on weekend mornings with plenty of English Premiere League and genuine football fans! At night time, it's about as low key and perfect as it can get!

Bad Decisions first, Max's second. I'm a beer snob, and BD has few, but never a bad selection ... I'll choose Max's if I want lots of beer variety. When I want a mixed drink that's truly unusual, like a Dark & Stormy with homemade falernum, I don't know anywhere else to find it besides Bad Decisions ... especially without the attitude that I've found at a lot of Fells Point and Canton bars. A cook, food menu, and redecoration wouldn't be bad, but I respect John for not losing sight of his true aim: a bar worthy of a perfect drink.

Already voted, but I'm going to throw out some talking points on some of the other bars that I also enjoy in my fave neighborhood just for discussion's sake.

Ale Mary's definitely is a contender as well, and I think would be my second choice bet. I've watched a couple of ball games there, and it definitely always feels very Baltimore to me. Love the tots and their mussles are to die for.

Max's has excellent selection, and the food is awesome, but it definitely doesn't have a homey, "this is my place" kind of feel for me. Too many college kids on the weekend, prob. Also, that bartender with the ponytail made fun of me in not a fun, teasing way once, and I hold a grudge, so I can't really throw them any support.

Horse You Came In On is a fun place for when I feel like being a little anonymous and going lil crazy. One of my favorite nights out was hanging out there with a bunch of Rugby players. Definitely scores some points for crazy times.

I also am a HUGE fan of Kislings. I don't know if they're technically Fells or Canton (I think they prefer Canton), but I see them more as a Fells bar. The wings are amazing and they have good specials every night. Excellent place to go hang out if you're looking for low-key and a good place to watch a game. MMMMM now I want wings.

Okay, so that's enough out of me. :) Just thought I'd try to bring in some more players.

Bad Decisions! Great, cool interesting drinks that are hard to find any where else.

I am sensing that these Bad Decisions people do not live in the neighborhood.

The house I bought is about 300m away... Michael Phelps can swim that in about 2.5 mins.

I moved from Baltimore to DC a couple years ago (much shorter commute), but still consider myself a Baltimorean. I missed the opening of Bad Decisions, is it worth a trip up to try it out? Or should I just chalk it up to missing out on a cool new bar?

I just came back from Bad Decisions. What a bunch of awesome people! I had a blast and can't wait to have my happy hour there next week. Get ready for a 21 Jump Street marathon, John! I am Netflixing the DVDs right now.

Oh, and of course I have to do a special mention of One Eyed Mike's. Those guys are very cool and brunches there are a blast.

this is riged!!!

Bad Decisions!!! If you need good time with good friends stroll in and make some "BDs". I do not clearly remember many of the times I made some BDs; however I know I was having a great time.

Here's the problem: How are we defining "neighborhood bar"? A bar that treats its neighbors well? A place that serves as a de facto community center, like the classic English/Irish bar? A place that epitomizes Fells Point? Or the best bar that happens to be in that neighborhood? Even with the last one, are we looking for food, ambiance, beer selection, mixed drink selection, most TV sets tuned to the local sports team, the bartenders with the biggest cheats/breasts, best "meat market"........ just what are the standards here?

Having said that: If I'm coming down for the best beer variety, Max's. Best "cheaper than flying to England" bar: Wharf Rat. Best food with my beer? Could be Duda's, could be John Stevens. Best music scene? Cat's Eye. From there, of course, the categories could get derogatory, such as Best Place to Get Insulted, Best Collection of Stupid "WOOO Girls,", etc.

Just heard that Eddie Vedder was going to stop by BD on Saturday.

Any bar where people bring their laptops to browse where they drink is no bar I enjoy. Ale Mary's has my vote; amazing food, terrific beers, awesome people. It feels more neighborhood, and I won't have to worry if my new sweater isn't hip enough.

Bad Decisions hands down

Good God. Sessa, you have certainly stirred the Midnight Stew pot, haven't you.

Alexander, I'm judging best neighborhood bar by the rules I laid out in the first 'What's the Best Neighborhood Bar' post: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/midnight_sun/blog/2009/06/whats_the_best_neighborhood_ba.html

Abject, I knew Fells Point would stir the pot. But I didn't foresee such a flood of responses in favor of Bad Decisions.

The best bar in Fells in The Horse. However, this is only on Saturdays with Mark at the back bar. He has been an institution there for a while.

This place gets a little sketchy during the week but I can always count on a good time on Saturday nights

Bad Decisions = lame, and trying too hard. If this thread has told me anything it is to stay the hell away from that place.

I hope the ballot stuffing works and "BD's" becomes most popular bar in Baltimiore filled with meat heads and sorostitutes.

sorostitutes...LOVE IT

So, what is the best neighborhood bar in Fells Point?

Peter -- Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not a dude.

Bad Decisions isn't even the best bar on the corner of Wash & Fleet!

I agree with Alex IV except I'm going to Ale Mary's for food + beer.

I read the first 30 posts and got bored. I like the idea of a bar needing staying power and don't think I'll be stopping. Does Facebook mention anything about a free flaming drink with proof of Mdnight Sun post? Wharf Rat for me please. Thinking of their beer and big fire place makes me wish it was winter now. You can sit down with a group of people and get rowdy or even chill with your girl over a quiet brewksi.

"first 5 people that pretend to be the guy asking for it"

Just pretend to be one Anonymous... Never said you actually had to be one. ;)

Bad Decisions!!!

Peter -- I am the ONE anonymous that keeps replying to you. Stop calling me a dude...I'm offended! :-)

Bad decisions sucks!!!

I come all the way from Virginia to go to Bad Decisions.

Ale Mary's

So did BD win yet?

Bad Decisions is the place to be

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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 erik.maza@baltsun.com. 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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