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February 11, 2010

What are Federal Hill's best/worst bars?

a shot glass at the idle hour, which is out of the bounds of this particular surveyMidnight Sun guest columnist Todd Schaefer sent me this post about the best and worst Federal Hill bars. I like how he breaks it into five different questions.

As a frequenter of many Federal Hill bars, I'm always curious to hear how people perceive different local watering holes.

A place that I might love, you might hate for the same reasons. What appeals to you? A place that's quiet and never crowded, or a bar that's literally bouncing to the beat of DJ Pauly D's set?

With all that in mind, I pose the following question to you, the Midnight Sun readers: In your opinion, what Federal Hill bar is most likely to: ...

1. Have the best chance of meeting an attractive person of the opposite sex?

2. Have, on average, the cheapest drinks, specials and food?

3. Be the most annoying?

4. Give you free drinks?

5. Be the one bar you’d go to if all others closed?

For the sake of narrowing the bars down some, we'll limit the Fed Hill bar area bordered by East Hamburg Street to the north, Hanover Street on the West, Light Street on the East and Fort Avenue to the South.

For me, it depends on the night and the motive as to which bar I might visit or avoid. However, I do have my favorites as well as those places that I just can't stand to be in for more than five minutes. 

Now it's time for you to weigh in.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


All irrelevant to me. My one and only priority: which has the best beer? That makes the run-off between Dog Pub, Muggsy's Mug House, Metropolitan, and Ropewalk.

TAPS must win any contest. The boys that promised to bring us the best beer bar in Federal Hill are accomplished liars. How many taps you got down there? 4?

I don't understand Question #5. If all other bars closed, wouldn't your decision be made for you? Other questions are lame too.
Best overall places in my opinion: Ryleigh's, Stalking Horse, Regi's and Dog Pub.

Metropolitan has a serious fly issue - I won't go back there.

I'm with AVM4...but I usually go- Abbey, Metropolitan, Muggsy's, and Reserve has been added in the fold with some decent beer selections and close to home.

I know that everybody loves to bad mouth Taps but I was there last Tuesday night and they still had over 12 taps on draught. There special was $2 drafts which was a pretty good deal, too say the least. I received a lot better service there then I did later on that night up the street at the Reserve. The food at both places was decent but for me it comes down to the service, in which Taps wins. Maybe I just went on a good night and got lucky but it seemed so non pretentious to me. I wish them the best of luck as well as Muggsy's which I went to at last call before heading to Cross St.. Both bars seem to be doing very, as the crowds were great, even though the snow storm seem to bring everybody out that night.

Worst Bar:
The Reserve. The food service is a joke. The owners act like they are the greastest thing ever to happen to the bar scence. The bartenders are more worried about their friends and drinking then actually providing real service.

I'd rather go to No Idea, where the bartenders actually are willing to serve you like a real paying patron.

1. Have the best chance of meeting an attractive person of the opposite sex?
Stalking Horse

2. Have, on average, the cheapest drinks, specials and food?

3. Be the most annoying?
Mothers/ Mad river

4. Give you free drinks?
Pub Dog (just the gm though)

5. Be the one bar you’d go to if all others closed?
Ropewalk/ Muggsys

Can we all agree that Mad River is the worst?

I'm not sure what it's called now, but there used to be a really great bar called bandaloops that somebody bought and totally ruined.

Damnations! If you look outside your window, it appears that hell hath frozen over, but I now have confirmation.... someone had something nice to say about TAPS.

1. Stalking Horse or Magerks

2. Don't Know, Crazy Lils, Nobles

3. Mad River

4. Nobles

5. Don't Know or Nobles

"Anonymous" -- This was meant to be a quick, one-minute survey, but thanks for taking the time to comment on my "lame" questions.

My favorite bar is The Abbey

PS The Reserve has good food as well as service and the owners are nice. They overstaff, which I think is important.

The Abbey has simple but great food and has a very comfortable crowd and a nice hideaway spot of upstairs.

Metropolitan is also a great place to go for good food and drinks.

Muggsy's- you can never go wrong when Danny is bartending.

i think good beer, friendly staff, mature patrons, and tasteful music are important. im usually going to a bar to drink, hang out with friends, and make good conversations.

I love The Abbey, great food and fun people... The Owner is amazing and it's an all around good time.... Great beer, Great Burgers and a fun staff

Sam's post asked 5 simple questions that nobody seems to be answering.
1. Ryleigh's (after 12) 2. Crazy Lil's 3. Mad River 4. Magerk's 5. Magerk's

I'd also like to give props to Stalking Horse for having slushies that dominate my world and 3 different floors that offer a variety of settings and sound levels.

Also, like Sam said, it depends on the night. Certain specials and the type of clientele expected each night usually help me decide where and where not to go.

Being from outside of the city, it's a rare occasion when I venture to Fed Hill solely to visit the bar scene. But, I would have to say that Dog Pub would be the first place I would think to go. Great atmosphere, good food/service/beer. I have no complaints.

As far as question 2 goes, you can't beat Nobles on kickball nights -- typically they have dollar bottles and $5 cheesesteaks that are pretty decent.

I like going where the serious talent is so I can make them sweat and dance up on me...I can do this pretty much where ever...i can do it at the 7/11 if I choose....You can't beat getting girls all bothered, be it at the Stalking Azz or the Cross Street Meat Market...I do my thing regardless...PEACE

I like your list, Jason Z!

"I'd rather go to No Idea, where the bartenders actually are willing to serve you like a real paying patron." Bwahahahahaha. Please. Come to No Idea and get ignored!

@Madison n S marrtt Ass- I personally apologize if you have ever been ignored at No Idea by me or any of the staff. Please feel free to stop by again and I will comp your check up to $100. Please contact Sam for my personal information and either call me or send me an email if you ever have any problems there. -Jason

Jason, what are you doing up at 6:26 a.m.? Or did you never go to sleep?

1. Have the best chance of meeting an attractive person of the opposite sex?
Mad River, Mothers.

2. Have, on average, the cheapest drinks, specials and food?

3. Be the most annoying?
Mad River (probably directly related to my answer to question #1)

4. Give you free drinks?
I've never been so fortunate

5. Be the one bar you’d go to if all others closed?

Note to self: Make comment in future about being ignored at Don't Know or No Idea.

1. Have the best chance of meeting an attractive person of the opposite sex?
Mad River, Mothers.

2. Have, on average, the cheapest drinks, specials and food?

3. Be the most annoying?

4. Give you free drinks?
Definitely Taps

5. Be the one bar you’d go to if all others closed?

One of the bartenders at No Idea got snippy with my friends & I about drink orders, & I haven't been back since. What's that worth in comped checks?

Great Danton- did it go like this

"Uhm.... uhm..can I get....what do you have on tap? uhm.. what are your specials uhm.. what's cheaper a draft or a bottle..uhm can I get one Miller Lite bottle, 5 different shooters, uhm hold on one minute, hey babe, what do you want? uhm make that 6 different shooters, uhm can I get a free birthday shooter for my girlfriend and I know that you are busy right now and all the bottles are displayed but what bottles do you have and what's on draft again. Can I put it on 4 credit cards please. I'll take care of you later."

-next time know what you want ahead of time treat others how you want to be treated. Be nice:)

JFO - Exactamundo, except there was no Miller Lite, no shooters, no girlfriend, no birthday, no split checks, & no inquiries regarding the taps, prices, or specials. Laterz!

did you happen to say "exactamundo" or "laterz!" anywhere in the proximity of the bartender? cuz that would have been cause for ignoring in my book ; )

Then hopefully you, 21224, don't tend bar at my new favorite establishment, The Irony Works. Witty handle, though!

@ The Great Danton: i don't tend any bar, but I do frequent (too?)many. Prost!


As for being a bartender in federal hill.. I go where I feel comfortable, get great service feel like im at home.. see friends.. have great food and eye candy. Ryleighs defenitly has the best food. great service... Pete rocks.. Mothers and Ropewalk always are a staple in my book.. great service Jackie and the team rocks there. Most annoying.. defenitly Mad River... Best drink specials Magerks for sure... however Dont know has great regular prices on drinks. As for getting a free drink ( in other words the bartender buys you a drink) can happen everywhere.. but you gotta spend money, be a regular, and tip big. Dont ever think just because your there you deserve a free drink.. you have to earn it.. Get our attention.. be a regular, spend money TIP BIG :).. if you get our attention .. youll get ours.. maybe not a free drink but special treat me defenitly. youll have your fav drink memorized and comming to you the next time you come to in before your tush hits the seat. For those of you that are not aware of what to tip.. 15 percent is a standard. your supposed to give that at worst. At least 20 percent is expected if proper service is given... I consider myself a 30 percent bartender.. Because .. in fact most of my tips are 30 percent due to the attention and special care I try to give my customers. Keep in mind though customers. Dont split checks if at all possible... know what you want or ask and we can help you.. and dont whine about drink prices... if you cant afford to drink out stay home.. thats why they make 6 packs.. you have to spend money to drink socially.. its a luxary.. you pay more for the service.. the atmosphere .. the attention and the eye candy. I can remember this one time I waited on a group of people.. 5 people sat at the bar ordering dollar beers or whatever the cheapest thing was and shots.. shots of Patron I might add.. for like 4 hours.. the tab came to 70 bucks and some change and this gurl wanted to show off and pay the tab.. 4 hours 70 bucks 5 people.. thats actually about average.. she stares at the check like its the biggest tab shes ever seen...then tips 3 dollars on it.. when approached to make sure the service was appropriate .. she replys ." im not from here.. im not used to city prices" the my dear.. stay your sweet arse at home :) cheers :P

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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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