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November 5, 2009

Let's help out Brad

willie don and his sudsBrad of Beer in Baltimore sent me this plea for help:

I've got a chef from a popular DE brewery/brewpub coming into town tomorrow afternoon and evening for a show at Ram's Head.  He's asking me to suggest places "besides Max's, Wharf Rat/Pratt St., Brewers Art, Cat's Eye for some great beer and food."

I'm the beer guy and can name a few more great beer spots like Mahaffey's.... but he's also asking about good food. Care to help?!

I've got a few suggestions, but I'd appreciate some help with this one, too ...

Don't be fooled by its crappy Web site -- the Abbey Burger Bistro (1041 Marshall St.) has upscale pub fare (I like the build your own burger menu), as well as a fairly extensive beer list. It can get pricey, but then again, so can Max's. It all depends on what you order.

The Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar (902 S. Charles St.) also does food and beer well. Their beer selection tends to be better than Abbey's, but the Metro's service leaves a lot to be desired.

Don't rule out DuClaw (901 S. Bond St.), either. I'm not a huge fan of their beers, but I do enjoy sampling their latest brews, and their food is solid.

What other options can you think of, gang?

(Baltimore Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:10 AM | | Comments (46)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Ale Mary's, Red Star, Mahaffey's

Annabel Lee! There food is really darn good. Try the sliders and duck fat fries!

Joe Squared.

One-Eyed Mike's

Yellow Dog Tavern

Annabelle Lee Tavern

...just for starters...

Thirsty Dog

I second Red Star. The beer selection isn't extensive but they always have a few decent ones on tap. And the food is usually great.

Todd Connor's
The Dizz.

jack's bistro needs to be in the running.

I think that Slainte has the best-poured Guinness in town.
Rocket to Venus has a great selection on tap with some great appetizers to boot- especially great if you are looking for (gasp) a vegetable or something not fried.

Jack's definitely needs to be in the discussion. The burgers are great, and the drink selection is too.

I think you meant to say the beers at DuClaw are "blegh!"

Growlers on Fleet and Potomac, no food but great beer!

Hudson Street Stackhouse has a nice beer selection and good food - plus Happy Hour on Fridays from 4 to 7. I really like the food (and of course the atmosphere) at the Dead End Saloon (great steamed shrimp for about $12/lb.) but not sure how extensive their beer selection is.

Hard Rock Cafe
Cheesecake factory
He's a tourist right?

Thanks guys. Keep 'em coming (as well as reasons why).

He's the head chef from the Dogfish Head brewpub in Milton, DE. Good dude.

I'm fwd'ing him this link now so he can stay updated with the comments.

Thanks Sam and everyone.

foodwise, Jack's is head and shoulders above the other places that have been mentioned. beer selection is more debatable, but Jack's might take the prize there too.

Hudson Street Stackhouse's food is not good!. No flavor. Agreed though that they do carry a decent selection of beer.

One-Eyed Mikes, definitely! Great food, great beer and awesome wait staff.

Ale Mary's has good beer, but i don't think an out-of-towner would be impressed by tots.
The Abbey

i also dig joe squared. their pizza rocks and the atmosphere is oh so hipster. for some reason, i also find myself and shula's sports bar when i just want drinks and munchies.

That picture of Schaefer is awesome

What they said.

Aaaaaand maybe Miss Irene's. They've got I think 12 or so taps, mostly the usual suspects but usually one oddball too.

Blue Hill Tavern same thing, more for the ambiance/food than beer but they don't abandon good beer either.

I really like Annabel Lee but there's only three taps, really, one of them Guinness. You're almost forced to go to the (750/bomber) bottled selection although they do that fairly well and put them in those cool clear glass chillers w/ice on the bottom.

B&O American Brasserie...great bar and outstanding food...

Being a HoCo boy, I'd go with....

Victoria Gasto Pub

or Frisco Grille

What type of food is he looking for?

One option is always to hit the Wine Source in Hampden, grab a selection of your favorite beers, hop on 83 and devour BBQ at Andy Nelson's.

Great food and the ultimate beer selection.

Yellow Dog is a good one. Nice intererior. About 6 taps, usually interesting and an extensive bottles list. The menu is unique as well.


that is a classic picture. One of my favorite moments bartending was when Willie Don came into my place and I was able to serve him a diet coke and a burger.

I think I'll have to throw my vote behind Ale Mary's. The tots may not be impressive, but they are fun, but the rest of their food is awesome as well. They also offer a down-home B-more feel, and VERY accessible to Ram's Head.

Personally, I also like that they have board games there too. Nothing better than resorting to Trivial Pursuit when you've been hanging out with someone for too long and you have nothing left to say. haha.

PLUS, post-dinner firey cocktail (aka blackout) at Bad Decisions across the street. Win.

I can't think of any good beer selections not listed above, but I have been to his restaurant a few times and I think he'd do well to go to Joe Squared. I like the pizzas at God Fish Head's Brewpub, but Joe Squared does it right.

His restaurant also has a very popular calamari appetizer that I like a lot, but I prefer Joe Squared's.

Obviously you don't want to sell him on the idea by saying "this place has a menu like yours, only better," but it is true.

Assuming this is about food and less about beer, not mentioned so far:

John Steven Ltd.--That's my "go-to" compromise for best food with good beer as well.

Duda's Tavern--small, cozy, intimate, and good notch-above-pub-grub food often.

I would second Mahaffey's, Ale Mary's etc. if you don't mind the lack of elbow room. Heard great things about Jack's Bistro, but haven't eaten there yet. I wouldn't write off Brewers Art even if he's been there lately--new menu and new chef, so even if he hits there regularly it's worth considering.

Hamilton Tavern
Always has some good beers and great bar food.

The Laughing Pint in Highlandtown. Good beer selection, great prices, fresh, healthy and delicious food. You will not be disappointed.

I want to second the Laughing Pint. Their menu is phenomenal.

I'd also suggest Lebanese Taverna in Harbor East. Great food, and located near almost everything else on this list.

Oh, forgot to mention, if he wants to go to One-Eyed Mike's I'll gladly let him drink from my Grand Marnier bottle :p

Hamilton Tavern.
Crosstown Burger with bacon and egg.
4 drafts, each is good.
Great spot.

For great food and decent enough drinks i like Birches and Henningers.
And, i am a definite foodie. =)

I agree with ADM IV -- a previous visit top Brewer's should not rule out one this time.

I agree with Russell re. Joe Squared
I agree with everyone about One Eyed Mike's

But I want to keep him north of Pratt Street.

I love Jack's but I wouldn't consider it a viable option for pre-concert. It's more fun if you close the place down.

Why just one place to eat and drink? I usually never eat at my favorite bars.

I'll second Mahaffey's, DuClaw's (Mother's Milk is on my personal BANNED list for a reason but it's a really fun reason), Ale Mary's are all great beer places.

Jack's Bistro is great but their beer selection IS small compared to the places above. But you can get really good food and a couple of good beers to go with it.

I have to say that the service at Hamilton Tavern is horrible if you are not a regular. They are nice to the regulars and kind of mean to the non-regulars. The last time I was there, I was eating with a small group of people who also were new to HT. When the owner came out to give us our food, he almost basically just threw the plates down in front of us without even saying a word.

And what' s wrong with Max's? I love that place. I was just there for lunch and everyone who works there is really cool. I always have the best time when I'm in that bar. Granted, it can get a little douchey on weekend nights due to the frat boys taking over Fells Point. But for the most part, it's a great bar with great staff who know their beer.

Mahaffeys in Canton
Dudas in Fells Point

"I have to say that the service at Hamilton Tavern is horrible if you are not a regular. They are nice to the regulars and kind of mean to the non-regulars. The last time I was there, I was eating with a small group of people who also were new to HT. When the owner came out to give us our food, he almost basically just threw the plates down in front of us without even saying a word."


This happened to me and my wife trying to get seating about two weeks ago. It was early, before 6 on a Friday. It was NOT crowded, but as usual the bar was full and the limited 2 tops in the back were full.

However, there were plenty of 3 and 4 tops open. We tried to sit at them. You know, open table, eat some food, have 2 pints and leave quickly, our usual m.o.

The server, younger guy with gelled brown hair - you'd recognize him in an instant, let's just say his look does not fit the feel of the bar- was extremely rude to us, and told us that we were not allowed to sit there, and we would either have to stand behind the barstools until something opened up or stalk those eating on the landing.

In disbelief, I asked him if he was serious. He was. I laughed at how surreal it seemed, and told him to never mind, and went down the street to a competing bar with a great beer selection and good food.

I called and left a message for them when I got home. The G.M. who called me back sounded like this wasn't the first time they had this complaint, and was tripping over himself with embarrassment when I told him how often we were there, and that we had been to both the night-before-opening night and opening night.

I thought this was an isolated incident, but I have been hearing more and more from folks (including people who have known the owners for years!) that they have had similar experiences.

It's a damn shame, the place has great food and a great beer selection, and it right around the corner from my house. But I don't know how willing I would be to go back - I know I'm no longer in the "booster club" for them like I once was.

bad service a ham.tav seems to be spreading, even to regulars.

Back on topic:
A.Lee, Peters, Laughing Pint, Ale Mary's. Seconding (thirding? fourthing?) Brewers with the new menu

how about Golden West or the new place at the AVAM, The Fun House? Great food and not your typical frat-y scene.

Salt (Butcher's Hill).

i really want to try the new place at AVAM !!

Anyway ~ thanks to this blog, i am hearing about Jack's Bistro.. however one of my fav friends does not eat burgers (but does eat meat), do they have anything else outstanding there besides Burgers?
Inquiring minds want to know..

You guys rock. I'll let you know where he ended up, since I was unable to get out tonight and meet up with him.

Siana: nothing wrong with Max's again, it's one of his usual go-to spots when he's here. He's just looking to visit some new spots that have good food and beer.

Thanks again peoples!

A pickled egg, a Slim Jim and a Bud at Shirley's Honey Hole. Life is good.

Good God almighty, Brad. After all that work and input from all of Sam's loyal and helpful readers, you don't manage to do anything with the guy after all..........

Sam, make Brad go stand in the corner.

Jack's Bistro. *** It'll change his life **

Now if we could only find a place with good crab cakes and beer!

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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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