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March 10, 2010

What bars did you used to love that you now hate?

howling at the moon

What are some bars and clubs that you used to love but can't stand now?

It could be spots that have gone downhill over the years, like Reefers in Fells Point.

Or it could just be spots that you went to every weekend but just can't imagine yourself patronizing anymore.

When I had just moved to Baltimore, I used to like going to Howl at the Moon (pictured) in Power Plant Live.

The house piano players were pretty talented, and after a few Miller Lites, I'd sing a long with their renditions of classics like "Bennie and the Jets" and "Don't Stop Believin'." ...

Every once in a while, I'd dig around in my wallet for a $5, fill out a little request sheet, walk up to the podium and set it on one of their pianos, crossing my fingers that they'd play my song.

These days, I wouldn't dream of going to Howl at the Moon. L-A-M-E, if you ask me. But the truth is, I've just outgrown it. 

I'll bet those piano players made a killing, though.

(Baltimore Sun archive photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:36 PM | | Comments (41)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Howl at the Moon was my first thought when I read the headline. My group of friends went there all the time five or so years ago. Yeah, we outgrew it, but the quality of the entertainment has gone downhill, too.

My second vote is for the Gin Mill. I loved it there when I first moved to Baltimore, but since the bar sold and they turned all fancy-pants I don't go anymore. Unfortunately, it's not the kind of place to watch football and eat half-price burgers anymore.

I use to love Canton Sqaure (Coburn's, Claddagh's, etc) in my early to mid 20's, but now I wouldn't dream of going to those places on a Friday or Saturday night. Don't want to deal with the crowds and the rest of the early to mid 20somethings that go to those places!

This is actually kind of embarassing but about 5 years ago I used to love going to Mad River during the week because it was always empty and they used to have small acoustic acts play. Quite a different scene there now, I live in Federal Hill and haven't stepped foot in the place in over 3 years.

Canton Arts and Entertainment :)

I'm not sure there are any places I used to love that I now hate, but there are places I used to go to for one reason or another (not wanting to be a stick-in-the-mud while with a large group, didn't know any better, meeting someone and they chose the place, etc.) that I'd now just refuse to go to, no matter the reason.

Mad River, Mother's, Magerks, Ryleighs, Pickles. Maybe others.


I used to LOVE Don't Know. We'd go there every Friday for the $7 AUCD wine from 4-8pm. After New Year's, they changed the special to $2.50 glasses, and it only goes until 7pm.

It's tough to find a happy hour that goes until 8pm. Since my friends and I live in the city, but work outside of it, we can never get anywhere until at least 6:30pm, so Don't Know was perfect, but now the special is just not as good!

Gin Mill stands out. Used to be large and open, a great place for kickball teams and other large groupings to socialize and get sloppy with each other. Had some rough-in-a-good-way times there. Since the upscale renovations, its lost its musky charm.

Though I didn't go to Towson, my Tiger undgrad friends adored the York Rd. Corridor bars. It would take a freight train to drag them out there now.

I've always hated the bars in Fells Point and Canton - it's an older and less classy crowd.

Fed hill bars for life!

When The Greene Turtle opened in Towson, my friends and I were first in line. It got old, quick.

The lowlight: One night a very intoxicated female bar parton passed out on the floor. While the bartenders called the paramedics, an intrepid fist pumper noticed that the girl on the floor had opened up a spot by the bar, stepped over her and proceeded to order a beer.

Drifters/Nobles was my first thought.

All the other fed hill bars turn into amateur hour on Fridays and Saturdays....seems like the crowd as a whole has gone a bit downhill.

Come on Sam... power plant live was never cool.

This is an interesting question though, reminds me of Saint Elmo's Fire.

Most of our favorites we don't go to anymore because they closed, but Miss Irenes is the one place that we just don't like anymore.

@bryanintowson - I was really thirsty that night. Don't judge me.

I think there are a lot places that need a good scrub to get rid of the sticky floors, a fresh coat of paint, and maybe 5k in renovations/upgrades and we would like them again.

I too used to like Howl too. In fact 8 years ago, my now ex wife and I rented the place for our wedding party after getting married in Tahoe. The original piano players that they imported from around the country were awesome and funny. I went there for the first time in years 2 months ago and found that the new players were neither funny or awesome.

Doughtery's and Tyson Place. Doughtery's being that i don't like the crowd, and Tyson place being that it's no longer an executive dive bar.

Great topic!

First establishment that comes to mind: Crazy Lils.

Fins in Canton Square sticks out for me. Scary mix of people there.

Thirsty Dog (Pub Dog, Dog Pub). They added a tv = instant suckage.


8x10. We used to love going to that place 10 years ago, but I think there's a combination of factors that have led to me frequenting other venues: I may have outgrown that particular venue, and Baltimore's live music venue choices have expanded greatly since 2000.

The revision of Ottobar and Rechter Theater and the opening of Sonar and Ram's Head Live have resulted in fewer big-name acts being booked at 8x10. In the late 90's/early 00's, you could catch some amazing shows there. Acts that now play either Sonar, Rechter, Ram's Head, Ottobar, or 930 were booking at 8x10.

I'm dating myself here but...the Ram's Head in Annapolis.

Back in the day,(early 80's), it was just a little hole-in-the wall in a basement off of West St. It was the only place in town with a decent beer selection. They had 110 different bottled beers from around the world.

They also offered a limited, but good, pub menu and a sandwich bar where you made your sandwiches and paid by the weight.

It was our go-to place for years.

Fins or whatever is at that address was never beloved by me-- although when it was in the iteration that played Casablanca on loop I wouldn't have totally shunned the place. I 2nd the no more love for pub dog-- but that's probably b/c the kids I know who worked there don't any more. I liked Dizzy Izzies better than "The Dizz"...
But, I gotta say, I like the changes to the Gin Mill-- I just wish they ran the Thursday night wine tasting on a night I could go.

I second Don't Know! - It used to be our "go to place" The atmosphere is perfect after a long week at work, and the food is great! BUT w/o happy hour going until eight, it makes it impossible to get there in time to enjoy it. Plus they raised the prices. Needless to say my friends and I have ventured elsewhere on Friday nights.

Shirley's Honey Hole. They've ruined the place with all of those surveillance cameras.

Aw man, I missed this yesterday!

I've commented here about this before but man, Lime fell hard and fast for me.

@CJ: Thirsty Dog has a TV now? Damn. I move away and the place goes to hell.

@Patchen -- I totally forgot about Lime. Is that place still even open? I went to Lime every week when it first opened. But the novelty wore off fast. Maybe it's because Former Roommate Jeremy had his own bottle of Patron Silver there and convinced me to take a few shots of it when I was already drunk. Just thinking about that makes me shiver.

I would have to say Doughtery's too. Although I like half the bartenders- the other half suck- it's like a Ying & Yang. And gone are the days of the pool sharks and regular crowd.

I third Dougherty's. I use to drink there all the time, but the vibe in there changed about a year or so ago, and I've never been able to put my finger on why.

I agree the gin mill. since the "renovations" all the locals were basically ran out. It use to be, you could go in by yourself and you would know someone. Have not been in for at least 2 years.

@Baltimel @Steele- we changed up the Friday happy hour til 7pm because people were hanging at Don't Know til 8pm then leaving for the rest of the night. Now we get a crowd throughout the night and we can still offer one or two glasses at $2.50 each instead of $7 for all you can drink and we include guys in the deal now as well.

If you are looking for all you can drink wine then go to No Idea Monday and Wednesday and it's all night for $10. (gratuitous plug;))

Globe Brewing. Oh, wait.............

Baltimore Brewing Company/DeGroen's. Oh, wait...............

Rocky Run Tap & Grill in Columbia. Oh, wait............

Okay, I'll second Skinsfan's suggestion of The Ram's Head Annapolis, for all the same reasons and more--losing the spectacular Blue Point Oyster Stout, no longer brewing there, etc. I don't think the Ram's Head Live even carries Fordham beers anymore!

I would say Mosaic. I used to go there all the time but then they changed hands and it became one of those places where people sit around and look at other people. They seem to have catered to a crowd who doesn't care about the music, but rather what everyone looks like.

Hell, let me just say Power Plant in general. I will never go there again.

Ah, some great comments here, love it.

Mad River is my answer. We used to go there when we were in the mood for ridiculous, crazy, crowded grind-fest dance party, aka like once every couple of months or so, and it would be awesomely fun for one night. I never find myself in that mood anymore and when I'm obligated to go there for reasons similar to what AK described, I dread it and try to bail, haha. I guess I'm getting old. Eeeek.

These Gin Mill comments are cracking me up! They describe EXACTLY why I despised the Gin Mill until recently. Football, kickball and getting sloppy. Isn't that what Looney's is for? Living behind the Gin Mill in its sloppy, sports-loving heyday was a nightmare from hell. Now, the Gin Mill has a mean Gin Fizz and I have seen exactly zero patrons openly vomit in the dining area lately (more than I can say for its previous incarnation).

@jason i think if i went to no idea monday and or wednesday for aucd, i'd probably get fired, haha

I don't mind that Don't Know isn't aucd anymore, it's still a good deal... just am sad that it ends at 7, like every other happy hour i can never go to :-(

U should raise it to $3/glass and have the special go till 10 so people stay longer :-P

Since we're on the subject of Happy Hour, can anyone tell me why just about every HH starts at 4pm? Don't most people work until 5pm?

I would assume because most bars that aren't open early open at four to get the after work crowd.

We used to go to Thirsty Dog (dog pub) all the time before 8x10 shows. Had a very chill, laid back vibe despite being so close to Majerks. One awful day the yuppies discovered the gem and kicked out all dogs, beer specials became not-so-special, the once awesome hand-made pizzas suddenly became greasy and hurried. Done with that place. At least we'll always have Mums

Ryleighs - back when the floor by the front window was all warped. That was our place. We had a many saturday night and Sunday Funday there. The bar tenders knew us, even though we were nobodys. Now I NEVER go there. Could not even imagine. Oh, the good ol' days.

pickled parrot.... worked there for a time , met my wife there.... place jumped the shark long ago...

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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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