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December 8, 2009

'Baltimore's 25 Best Bars'

There's no denying it: People love lists. Writers, on the other hand, tend to loathe making them. Inevitably, someone gets left off the list who feels they should have been on the list, etc.

So I have much respect for my colleague Jess Blumberg, who put together a list of the city's 25 best bars for Baltimore Magazine. Here's a link. ...

Blumberg's list has bars you'd expect, like Club Charles, Brewer's Art, Idle Hour and the Hamilton Tavern. Those bars are unavoidable, as far as Best Of lists go. But Blumberg also shows some love to lesser known (but just as deserving) joints like the Laughing Pint and BAR.

Now, the debate: How do you feel about the list? Anybody get left off that should have made it?

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:57 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Friends, for the jukebox and not annoying DJ nights...

I wouldn't say the Hamilton Tavern is "unavoidable" -- it certainly doesn't have the same cache yet as Brewers or Club Chuck. It just happens to be awesome.

No Bad Decisions?

Must not have been decided by a vote

Kitty's Lounge on GReenmount

I strongly disagree with the inclusion of B & O. I don't think it has any personality, and to me it seems like a bit of an afterthought to the restaurant.

overall this is pretty good, but how does an annapolis bar make a list of the best baltimore bars?

Re: Annapolis, Baltimore Magazine has at times dipped its toes into the surrounding areas. Its Best Restaurants list included a handful of Howard County offerings.

Unfortunately they bombed on the best bars list and missed some quality HoCo joints (particularly beer bars). This was to their detriment, in my view and hopefully they'll expand the list to 50 next year and include worthies from surrounding areas.

I realize MoCo etc. are all but annexations of DC/NoVa at this point (too many Redskin fans heh), but a little more love for Annapolis, for Westminster and Frederick and HoCo never hurts. Baltimore Magazine whiffed badly in that regard.

Anyway, three gimme great beer bars in HoCo that must be included next year:

Frisco Grille
The Judges Bench
Victoria Gastro Pub

There's a Sly Fox Pub on Fort Avenue in the "no man's land" between Federal Hill and Locust Point, near the Southside Market complex. So why in heck did they list and write up the Annapolis location without mentioning the Baltimore location, which indeed has the same ownership? Sounds like someone just took a list produced by someone else and assigned an intern or the like to do the actual write-up......... no?

(And BTW, neither Sly Fox Pub is to be confused with the Phoenixville, Pa. brewpub of the same name, which contract bottles Brewer's Art's bottled beers for them.....)

ADM - Probably because the Sly Fox in Annapolis is an awesome bar and the one on Fort Ave is pretty mediocre. I think the owners are brothers, not the same person.

Can someone (Sam?) organize a smackdown (beer-brawl?) between Baltimore Beer guy and Beer in Baltimore guy?

Oh sniggity OH SNAP!

Snub the Mt. Royal Tavern? Dullard hipsters.

Also, adam, are you saying the Hamilton Tavern isn't unavoidably awesome? Is that what you're saying? I'm telling owner Tom Creegan you said that. I'm telling!

sam- you are right and i take it back.... hamilton tavern is indeed unavoidable awesome.

and to alexander up there.... most people refer to that "no mans land" on fort ave as riverside or simply south baltimore (you might catch a realtor referring to it as Federal Hill). It is a great place and certainly a land of men.

Don't forget Beer In Baltimore (.com) guy!

Round-robin beer brawl?

OK, how about "Name That Beer" at Max's? Sam pays the beer tab, right? Right??? [crickets chirping...]

I know that Baltimore Mag frequently dips into Annapolis & Howard Co for it's "Best of" lists - that was my point! It's BALTIMORE magazine, so the inclusion of Annapolis & Columbia businesses always irks me a little. This time it just irked me a lot b/c it's a topic so near and dear to my heart :) Seriously though, there are many other deserving bars in Baltimore City (and ok, the county too) that should have gotten the nod over Sly Fox in 'Naptown. Keep it real Baltimore Mag

Count me among those who've browsed right past listings outside the city.

With all due respects to our suburban neighbors, you're a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't wanna drink there.

Shirley's Honey Hole!!!!!

Thank you Baltimore Magazine for saving me about an hour of scanning the physical pages of this piece to put on my site!

P.S: Annapolis and Howard County (sorry Brian!) are not Baltimore. It isn't called "Baltimore and Surrounding Areas Magazine". Just sayin'.

"P.S: Annapolis and Howard County (sorry Brian!) are not Baltimore. It isn't called "Baltimore and Surrounding Areas Magazine". Just sayin'."

So true, but they opened that Pandora's box in mentioning ANYTHING outside of BaltCo for other listings, cat's out of the bag.

Baltimore's a metropolitan area more than a city, personally. Take San Diego for example, where if you went into the city you'd find a ton of good bars (and culture, and dining, and ...) but miss out on the bulk of their beer experience (most of the breweries and bars are scattered throughout the county and its various suburbs). Baltimore city is fortunate in that most of the beer and good bars experience is in the city but not all of it. HoCo (and other areas) doesn't have a lot but I felt a few were worth mentioning, even in a magazine called 'Baltimore Magazine'.

In the same fashion I don't think you can publish a 'DC' styled magazine that talks about dining or libation without extending its reach into NoVa and Southern MD. A City Paper can skip that, yes, but DC is a whole metro area just as Baltimore is.

Sorry for the longwinded response, this is just how I am, I get going on things heh.

And and and I have no horse in this Sly Fox fight.

Gecko's needs to be on this list. Great employees, great owner, great food, and great times every time you go.

Baltimore Tap House is another great bar but may not have made the list because they do not serve food. They always have a great beer selection and they have the best bartender ever (Kelley!). Plus, they have the best ladies night in Baltimore.

And, of course, Bad Decisions.

Siana- Growlers is a great bar and owned by a great guy, John Bates. What is there ladies night?

Sly Fox in Annapolis deserves to be on this list and anybody who has ever been there will agree with me. The outside patio is fantastic and during the winter months it is a cozy and very comfortable neighborhood pub.

Only been to Gecko's once, but it is pretty nice, I forsee the Abbey being on the list next year.

And the bar that I grew up in,Racer's, I am happy to see that Racer's made the list, even though it is in the county, as Sly Fox is in Annapolis. Racer's should be the host of the next Midnight Sun party.

Jason Z: Ha! I tried not to call it Growlers here but I do still call it Growlers to people who know what I'm talking about. Their Ladies Night is Tuesday after 8 and it's half off almost any drink for the ladies. Kelley does not make the drinks small or weak, so it's a good deal.

The Dizz! To me, the Dizz is the platonic ideal of a Baltimore neighborhood corner bar (despite the unfortunate name change).

Siana - Isn't it just that your partial to the few bars that haven't thrown you out yet?

I vote Turps because he is really really cute

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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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