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November 9, 2010

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)

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:00 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bar stories


Surprise! A review of an actual bar is posted, but it's written by a contributor and not the nightlife "expert."

The Park Bench (bad name) is either opening tonight, or has recently opened. Old Boomers spot.

I'm not sure I know where Boomers was? Address?

My thoughts exactly Jen. +1

Don't forget a great place to grab a 6 pack to go on a Sunday to head home to watch the game if you're out of beer. I peeped in the Leather Lounge- not much has changed but a cage and some apparatuses I'm not familiar with strapped to the wall. And I gues some added leather. I didn't stay, I have no problems with gay bars but "my hypocrisy goes but so far"- Doc Holiday (Toombstone)

-sigh- sadly @Jen and @EBT this is probably as get as it will get.

I think the blog's name should be changed to Pitchdork.

Nice little twist on bar reviews, I thought it was funny and actually a little insightful.

Solid review.

I have spent many an evening at Leons and most of what I remember is ridiculous dancing and fun.

Plus, I usually wake up with money in my pockets!

Great bar.

Solid review.

I have spent many an evening at Leons and most of what I remember is ridiculous dancing and fun.

Plus, I usually wake up with money in my pockets!

Great bar.

This bar sounds fantastic plus I love a bar where a shoe theft is a topic of conversation.

Do you have to take your shoes off when you go inside? I don't understand why your girlfriend mistakenly ended up with someone's shoes. Then again, 2 4 1's for 5 hours could explain a lot of things. I prefer the Drinkery though. I have yet to go in there and order a Miller Light and not get 2 served. Seems like it's always 2 4 1 in there...

cheers, Santa!

And they're right next to the Catholic Review.


"Joshua Reynolds loves gay bars. Except he's straight. This makes him an oddity.Here he explains his obsession. "

1999 called and they want there tagline for another lame sitcom/movie back.

In case it isn't clear, it's gotta be some pretty small, petty, intellectually compromised folks that post on these threads just to hate on the host, & with such tired, unoriginal quips & complaints. Life's gotta be pretty damn joyless if this is what makes you feel good about yourself, for shame. In other news, there should be a straight bar crawl at gay bars, with pics.

Hey there! I really agree with you. I am a bartender by profession. But I wasn’t doing quite well. But when I went through your website and cocktail recipes, I found it really helpful. I am now doing great and also earning good tips.bye.bartending school

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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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