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January 20, 2010

The five best new bars of 2009

Recession be damned, a bunch of new bars opened in and around Baltimore last year.

Though it might be 2010, there's still time to look back at the area's best new spots. Thanks for all your suggestions and nominations. I thought long and hard about this one, and have come up with the five best new bars of 2009.

Here they are ...

turp's1. Turp's (pictured), 1317 N. Charles St.

Location, location, location. Mount Vernon needed a sports bar like whoa. We said that last March. But Turp's manager (and namesake) John Turpin has thought the same thing for years. Turp's fills a void like few bars can. Finally, Mount Vernon has a proper sports bar. I couldn't think of a better one for the neighborhood than Turp's.

2. Banner's, 1401 Decatur St.

Banner's has everything you'd look for in a neighborhood sports bar: Delicious, cheap drinks, snappy service and colorful decor. I just hope it bounces back from the fire soon.

3. Azul 17, 9400 Snowden River Parkway, Suite 127, Columbia

Who would have thought a chic tequila bar and lounge would take off ... in Columbia? The owners of Azul 17 knew just how to angle it, too: A ton of high-end tequilas and cocktails, including one of the best margaritas I've ever had. And you never see this place coming: In classic suburban style, it's in a strip mall. I love it.

4. B&O American Brasserie, 2 N. Charles St.

Mixologist Brendan Dorr's inventive, seasonal drink lists never cease to impress. Hotel bars aren't known for being adventurous, but the B&O bucks that trend. Not only is it one of the best new bars, it's one of the city's best hotel bars, period.

5. Looney's South, 8180 Maple Lawn Blvd, Maple Lawn

Say what you will about Looney's -- this bar has been a smash hit since it opened early last year. It's clear the area was thirsty for as many flat screen TVs and domestic bottles as possible, and Looney's South delivers. Plus, there's regular live music. Score!

(Photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:09 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I couldn't believe when we moved to Mt. Vernon last July that there wasn't a sports bar in the neighborhood. Turp's showed up in the nick of time, the beginning of football season.

I think it also adds a nice "college bar" for the UB crowd.

The problem I have with Turp's though, they do not carry sports subscription options such as ESPN Gameplan for football or ESPN Full Court for college basketball.

Guess where I don't spend my money when the 'Cuse is playing...

Turp told me how much things like that cost- you have to pay per your capacity. I think it was something outrageous from what I recall.

Not Guttman's?

Shirley's Honey Hole

Looney's has 24 Beer's on tap and the best happy Hour around (not just alot of Domestic btls) Ask the other Howard County Bar's..Looney's is Def a smash Hit

I am glad to see Azul 17 on your list Sam..
Agree with you-one of, if not the best Margarita I 've ever had (la Raspa!) and, great deals on Tuesday nights! Also, i love the uber cool decor..

the cocktails at Mr Rains Fun House are amazing!! I don't think you can find better, more interesting drinks anywhere else in the city.

Looney's has been a pleasant surprise. Good food and a fun atmosphere.
My wife just found a new job (whew)and we are celebrating by checking out Azul 17 tonight. We both love Mexican food and she is a big tequila fan.
Nice to have some new non-chain options in Columbia.

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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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