Review: Mt. Vernon's Leon's of Baltimore
Reader Joshua Reynolds loves gay bars. Except he's straight. This makes him an oddity.Here he explains his obsession.
When I first moved to Baltimore I didn't really set out to just go to gay bars. It just sort of happened. How? It went something like this : I live in Mount Vernon. I like to go to bars. Mount Vernon has a lot of gay bars, ergo, I go to a lot of gay bars.
My favorite gay bar to go to in Baltimore used to be The Drinkery. It will always have a place in my heart. It's not every day you see a someone who is a dead ringer for Santa Claus sitting at the bar drinking Coors Light.
But the best gay bar in Baltimore that I've been to has to be Leon's, a bar with lots of history that may be the oldest gay bar in the city.
We (my girlfriend and me) were at Leon's for the first time during the February double blizzard. It wasn't all that busy but the people that were there were partying like lunatics. There were about 15 guys who had their shirts off and were dancing and sweating for hours. Everyone was extremely loaded and my girlfriend took someone else's shoes by mistake. There was no big commotion over the mistaken shoe robbery. It's that kind of place. The attitude here is, just grab a cheap beer and start talking with the always conversational patrons.
Sundays are *the* time to go to Leon's. Two words: happy hour. Make it five: really, really cheap happy hour. All domestic beer, rails and call are two for one between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. By 6 p.m. on a recent Sunday, the bar was packed. And here lies the beauty of Leon's: Yeah, people were drunk and smoking outside, but it never got loud and rowdy to annoy the neighbors. And there wasn't a horrible mess left by patrons when they either left or went back inside. How many bars can you say that about?
The bartenders at Leon's are also attentive. I don't know his name, but there's one mustachioed bartender who's excellent at paying attention to the patrons and being aware of when they need a drink. (The bar also recently added late night fare and Sunday brunch at their new Triple L.)
While there's not much room to get around the oval bar when it's crowded -- requiring close and personal contact with others when walking around just to the jukebox or or the john -- Leon's is still a comfortable atmosphere that's welcoming even to the occasional straight interloper.
Joshua Reynolds is a regular reader of Midnight Sun. He is a 36-year-old bartender who's worked in Portland, New York, and now Baltimore's The Bullpen. Erik Maza edited this post.
Photo: Leon's (Chiaki Kawajiri/Baltimore Sun)