baltimoresun.com

July 30, 2008

I hate Fab Five Friday

Secret: I am sick and tired of coming up with Fab Five Friday ideas week after week and making list after list of best this and worst that.

I want to end it. My glass is empty.

All in favor?

I mean, I'm not opposed to doing Best this and Best that from time to time, but not every gosh darn week.

So, unless I receive a flood of comments begging me to keep FFF alive, I'll stop making it a weekly thing.

Or, if you wanna give me good ideas each week, I'm down for that too.

But I'm burnt out! I've done something like 60 lists. And when it comes to bars/nightlife, there's not that much to list.

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:56 PM | | Comments (14)
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July 25, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Of all the places in Hampden, where would you most want to settle in for a beer?

Hampden has this weird mix of blue collar joints and hipster hangouts. So a Fab Five Friday list is going to vary wildly from person to person.

My list has a little of everything. Or at least I'd like to think so. See for yourself, kids ...

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:50 AM | | Comments (3)
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July 22, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I've already done the five best places to get a beer in Fells Point.

I'd like to do the same for Hampden.

Think about it: the five best places to get a beer in Hampden.

Suggestions?

Clipper Mill counts. 

Should Remington count, too? 

(AP photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:50 PM | | Comments (14)
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July 18, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Sorry I'm late on this one folks but it's been a busy, draining day. But Midnight Sun soldiers on.

And now, without further delay, I give you the five bars with the best arrays of flat screen TVs in this fair city ... 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:02 PM | | Comments (1)
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July 15, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

bertha'sLast week, I sat and stared at your comments on my HD glasses post.

You were talkin' TVs, and I was diggin' it.

Then it hit me: Sessa, do a Fab Five Friday about the bars with the best, most awesome array of flat screen TVs.

So I'm doin' it.

Are you?

(Photo of the semi-new flat screen TV at Bertha's by Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:36 AM | | Comments (27)
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July 4, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Happy 4th!

And thanks for your list of fake bar names.

Here are my five favorites ... 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:30 AM | | Comments (2)
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June 24, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Since I'm lounging on sandy beaches right now, I just can't be bothered to do a Fab Five Friday list this week.

Instead, I'm going to present the topic today and give you two weeks to list your suggestions.

We have already done a list of the best fake band names. Now, I want to do a list of the best fake bar names.

If you opened a bar, what would you name it? I already know JMGiordano would call his sports bar Fumbles. And bryanintimonium would be the proprietor of Ful. What about the rest of you? Ante up.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:06 AM | | Comments (11)
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June 20, 2008

Fab Five Friday

When I was coming up with my list of the five most ideal beers to have on tap, I kept closing my eyes like I was actually dreaming.

It was weird, but rewarding.

You guys had some great lists of your own, too.

I think the one you mentioned most often topped my own list. Coincidence? There are no coincidences, kids.

Either way, it wasn't easy drawing up a list of only five beers I'd love to have on tap at all times.

But by gosh I did it.

I tried to keep it a well-rounded list. But since I'm no big fan of porters or stouts, I gave ales and lagers first dibs.

Voila ... 

 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:37 AM | | Comments (15)
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June 17, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

If you could walk into a bar and have five beers of your choice on tap, what would they be?

That's this week's Fab Five Friday.

Mmmm ... my mouth is watering at the sight of the cold, frothy cups in this photo.

Think about it: cinco cervesas (That's Spanish!).

I'll list mine in just a few days. 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:42 AM | | Comments (18)
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June 13, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Good morning kids.

It's time for the five best gay- or gay-friendly bars in Baltimore.

This was a tough list for me, because my list of MS reader suggestions was rather ... limited.

But, being the brave leader that I am, I have decided to go ahead with the list. Here it is ... 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (5)
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June 10, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Yesterday's fire at Grand Central (and a timely suggestion by MS commenter a) got me thinking.

How about a Fab Five Friday list of the best gay- and lesbian-friendly bars in Greater Baltimore?

I say Greater Baltimore because there aren't too many in Baltimore proper.

I'm going to be relying pretty heavily on your suggestions. So hit me with them.

(Photo of the Hippo from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:35 PM | | Comments (16)
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June 6, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Stink, stank, stunk.

Are you ready for the smelliest Baltimore bars?

Here's a link with the back story, if you're new to the topic.  

And now, it's time for the list ... 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:49 AM | | Comments (12)
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June 5, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of our rousing discussion about body odor and ciggy smoke, I'd like to make this week's FFF a list of the five stinkiest Baltimore bars and clubs.

You may tee hee, but I'm at least halfway serious here folks.

It's time we noted the bars and clubs that need to clean up their act so we can take the clothespins off our schnozes.

So give me your suggestions for stinky stinky Baltimore bars.

Hurry -- we don't have much time!

(Photo by Chicago Tribune) 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:03 PM | | Comments (12)
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May 30, 2008

Fab Five Friday

And now, it's time for Fab Five Friday: Destination Dundalk.

Oh, yes indeed.

Using a mix of your recommendations and my own personal prowess, I have compiled the five best bars in Dundalk.

Let me preface this list by saying that no FFF is the end-all be-all of anything. So don't take this too seriously, folks.

But I'm always down for a good debate.

So here goes ...

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:58 PM | | Comments (9)
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May 27, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Now that I've gotten a taste of Dundalk courtesy of JMGiordano, I'd like to make this week's Fab Five Friday the five best bars in Dundalk.

We went to five alone Saturday night. Of the five, two or three were hits, and the other couple were misses.

But I want to hear from you guys.

What are the best places to go drinking in Dundalk? 

(Photo by Lloyd Fox/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:57 PM | | Comments (6)
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May 23, 2008

Fab Five Friday

In hindsight, I probably should have broken down this week's Fab Five Friday: Best Bars of the 'Burbs' into three or four FFFs by county.

But here at Midnight Sun, we've never played by the rules.

So, using your ideas, I compiled the five best suburban bars in Greater Baltimore. 

Ready?

Here goes ... 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:04 AM | | Comments (9)
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May 20, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I rarely review bars in the 'burbs.

So many bars have been renovated and reopened in Baltimore proper, it's hard enough for me to just cover the city -- let alone the suburbs.

I want to try and make amends this week.

What are the best all-around non-chain bars in the suburbs?

Since I don't know that many, I'm going to need plenty of input.

Fill me in.

(Photo of An Poitin Stil from Sun archives)  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:47 AM | | Comments (28)
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May 16, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Picking the perfect last call song can be tricky.

Some bars play atrocious closing songs just to get people out.

Others aim for a slow, recognizable tune to ease people down.

Here's my list of the five best last call songs:

1. "Closing Time" by Semisonic (pictured)

The best closing song ever! It's about ... closing time! At a bar!

Just kidding.

Here's the real list ...


Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:13 AM | | Comments (4)
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May 15, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

There's no denying it -- we struck a nerve with last week's fake band name FFF.

So this week, I'm going to stick with a musical theme and ask you:

What's the best last call song?

If you're a bar owner, what do you play?

If you're a bar-goer, what would you like to hear at the end of the night? 

(AP file photo of a London pub taken close to closing time)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:52 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

May 9, 2008

Fab Five Friday

At first, I thought I'd list my favorite fake band names.

But you guys had so many awesome suggestions, I couldn't compete.

So I'm not even going to bother with my own.

I'm just going to rank yours. 

No. 1 gets a prize. 

Some of them were sick.

Some of them were hilarious.

Some of them were hilariously sick. 

Here they are, your five best fake band suggestions, in order ...

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:34 AM | | Comments (3)
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May 6, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Oh man, I've got a good FFF this week.

If you had a band, what would you call it?

I'm looking for the five best fake band names.

I'll rank yours and give you mine at the end of the week.

Go! 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:43 AM | | Comments (22)
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May 2, 2008

Fab Five Friday

More than any other cocktail, the mojito is the quintessential summer drink, methinks.

When made well, the icy mix of sugar, lime, mint, rum and soda water tickles my fancy.

And Baltimore has a few bars and clubs that make really good mojitos.

Here they are ...


Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:35 AM | | Comments (13)
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April 29, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Last week's warm weather FFF got me thinking about mojitos.

I wrote about mojitos once before on MS, but I've never ranked them.

They're minty. They're sweet. They're cold. They're a treat.

It's time for FFF: Mojitos.

Who do you think has Baltimore's best mojito?

(Photograph of a mojito from Little Havana from Sun archives)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:32 AM | | Comments (10)
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April 25, 2008

Fab Five Friday

With warmer weather finally here, we can take advantage of all the bars with ouside seating.

Here are my five favorite places for outdoor swilling.

1. Woody's Rum Bar and Island Grill, 821 S. Broadway

It can be tricky to find this third-story deck the first time, but once you do, you won't want to leave. It has the best view of the Fells Point waterfront and $2 Coronas from 5 p.m. 'till close Thursdays. 

2. Little Havana, 1325 Key Highway

With or without the steel ship, and as Greg S said, the fenced in back patio has a "prison-by-the-harbor feel." But the mojitos are some of the city's best, and there is no better summer drink than an ice cold, minty mojito.

3. Nick's Fish House, 2600 Insulator Drive 

Yes, the crowd here can get a little frat-tastic on Friday and Saturday nights, but the live music is usually good and the wooden deck is pretty big. It's usually one big throwdown, and I like that.

4. MEX, Power Plant Live

MEX has the biggest wooden deck downtown, and some pretty solid drink specials too.

5. Bay Cafe, 2809 Boston St.

A taste of Ocean City right here in Baltimore! Seriously though, the Cafe is a mecca for the college and post-college crowd. And it does have one of the best outdoor drinking/carousing areas in town, as well as decent deals on rum drinks.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:26 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 22, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

A couple of people asked to do a list of the best bars with outdoor seating.

Now, Epicurious L.I.Z. did a Top Ten Tuesday topic on this last year, but she focused on restaurants.

Here at Midnight Sun, we don't worry about food.

Except the epic Jumbo Slice.

And bacon vodka. Is that technically food though?

Anyhow, I'm not going to repeat any of the restaurants on L.I.Z.'s list.

Come Friday, I'm gonna give ya the five best spots to sit and sip outside.

But first, I need to hear your favorite suggestions for sunny day swilling.

Hit me!

(Photo of Little Havana from Sun archives) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:45 AM | | Comments (17)
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April 18, 2008

Fab Five Friday

What a delicious topic, eh FMEB-bers?

A free one too, I might add.

Here we are -- the five best free bar snacks in Baltimore.

Thanks for your suggestions, too.

1. Personal pizzas at Birds of a Feather, 1712 Aliceanna St.

This one wins by a long shot. On Friday evenings, owner Alicia Horn brings out homemade personal pizzas for her customers. They're fantastic.

2. Old Bay cheese balls/doodles (pictured) at Quigley's Half-Irish Pub, 633 Portland St.

Jim Quigley claims to have invented these addictive snacks, and I'm not one to doubt him. Either way, I can't get enough of them.

3. UTZ hard pretzels at Duda's Tavern, 1600 Thames St.

Crunchy and salty enough to keep you reaching for the big plastic jar on the bar all night.

4. Peanuts at the Midtown Yacht Club, 15 E. Centre St.

On my way in, I always stop by the giant barrel of peanuts and scoop up a generous handful. Then I worry about getting a drink.

5. Garlic knots at Pasticcio Kitchen, 2400 Boston St.

Here's a happy hour snack that can easily replace dinner before a night out in Canton. Mmmm ... garlic knots.

(Photo by me) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:49 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 15, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

After last week's discussion, this was an easy choice.

I've decided to make this week's FFF topic the top five best free bar snacks.

The caveat is, they have to be something the bar sets out for free.

Like the free Old Bay cheese balls at Quigleys, which just might be on my list.

The hard Utz pretzels Duda's in Fells Point also might be on the list. 

What else can you think of? 

(Photo by KRT) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:29 AM | | Comments (10)
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April 11, 2008

Fab Five Friday

 

In retrospect, this Fab Five idea sounded better than it actually was.

Some of you might compare it to bacon vodka.

Either way, the list of the most un-Baltimore spots stands: 

1. Pur Lounge, 2322 Boston St.

An easy choice. Nowhere else charges a $20 cover. Viva Miami! 

2. Ixia, 518 N. Charles St.

This lounge is un-Baltimore in a good way, methinks. It has a nitro bar. A nitro bar. That's too forward-thinking for Charm City.

3. Stadio/Palma/Redwood Trust, Redwood and Calvert streets (pictured)

This massive club has changed hands so many times I'm not sure what to call it. Either way, it never really fit in here. 

4. Xanadu, 10 S. Calvert St.

Formerly Club X Ultra Lounge, this high-end club has little character -- and Baltimore is all about character. 

5. The Den, 3327 St. Paul St.

I feel like I'm in another city when I go here.  

(Photo by Amy Davis/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:05 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

April 9, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Ever been out to a bar and immediately thought, "That doesn't belong in Baltimore"?

This week, I want to list the most un-Baltimore bars around town.

I'm not talking about chain bars that are un-Baltimore in a generic sense, but bars that stick out like a sore thumb and make you wonder how they're still in business in Charm City.

Give me some suggestions. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:09 AM | | Comments (19)
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April 4, 2008

Fab Five Friday

When it comes to free live music, we don't have it that bad in Baltimore.

There are a bunch of bars around town with consistently high-quality live music.

Ready to rank them? I sure am.

Here goes!

1. Cat's Eye Pub, 1730 Thames St.

From Carl Filipiak to Naked Blue, I have seen some sick shows in this Fells Point pub. They have live music seven days a week -- most nights it's either free or there's a small cover.

2. Bertha's, 734 S. Broadway (pictured)

Bertha's sounds really good -- especially considering how long and narrow it is. 

3. Bedrock Baltimore, 401 W. Baltimore St.

Much, much better now that the stage is no long 10 feet off the ground. The high ceilings make for solid acoustics.

4. Brass Monkey Saloon, 1601 Eastern Ave.

When beginner bands need a place to play, the Monkey is there for them. Gotta give it props for helping local groups find their footing. 

5. Red House Tavern, 2239 Essex St.

This bar's weekly open jams and regular live performances are worth checking out.

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:49 AM | | Comments (6)
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April 3, 2008

To clarify

Don't think I made this clear enough with yesterday's Fab Five post.

I'm looking for bars with consistent live music.

Preferably free live music. 

So clubs like the 8x10 or the Ottobar don't count.

But bars like the Red House Tavern do.

So give me more stuff like that. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:15 AM | | Comments (5)
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April 2, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

We've never listed the best bars with live music around town -- and there are a bunch of 'em.

The bars I want for this week's Fab Five list have to be places that consistently host live music.

I'm thinking about places like the Red House Tavern, the Cat's Eye Pub, Leadbetter's (pictured) and Bedrock Baltimore.

Got some suggestions for moi?

(Photo by Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:33 PM | | Comments (7)
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March 28, 2008

Fab Five Friday

For the record, this is Fab Five Friday: College Throwback Edition.

I seriously haven't played some of these games since college.

I don't miss some of them. But I still play a couple.

1. [Expletive]-hole

A perennial favorite. I love how you constantly have to be on edge -- the game can change in a moment.  

2. Beer pong

Who knew tossing a Ping-Pong ball into a plastic cup could be this awesome?

3. Kings/Circle of Death

It's worth it just to see the face of the person who has to drink the cup. Unless that person is you.

4. Never Have I Ever

Discover all kinds of hilarious dirt on your friends while drinking? I'm in.

5. Quarters

I'm not a huge fan, but I can't deny the popularity of quarters -- especially with the New Jersey crowd. That should say something about the game. Zing! 

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:32 AM | | Comments (16)
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March 25, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Chug! Chug! Chug!

This week, let's rank the five most awesome drinking games.

It can be trickier than you think.

Example: Which is better -- beer pong, flip cup, quarters, Edward 40-hands or beer scavenger hunts?

I'm sure there are more that aren't coming to mind right away either.

Hit me! 

(Photo by Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:00 PM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

March 21, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Here it is, my list of the best ladies night specials around town. 

1. The Crease, 523 York Road, Towson

Heh. Every college student at Towson knows about this special: Ladies drink for $5 every Wednesday night.

2. Dick's Halfway Inn, 8013 Philadelphia Road

Dick's can be a party zone -- especially after 8 p.m. Thursdays, when ladies pay $6 for all they can drink.  

3. Don't Know Tavern, 1453 Light St.

Here, ladies can drink all the wine they want on Fridays until 8 p.m. for $5. 

4. Castaway's, 2206 Boston St.

Every Wednesday, ladies drink free beer after 9 p.m.

5. Night of the Cookers (pictured), 885 N. Howard St. 

Every Thursday from 7 p.m.-10 p.m., when ladies order a cocktail, they get an entree for free.

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:37 AM | | Comments (12)
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March 18, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of yesterday's post about the potential banning of ladies nights, I think it's time to do a Fab Five Friday on Baltimore's best ladies nights.

A respected bar owner once told me something like this:

"There are so many ladies specials in Baltimore.

"On any given night, at any given bar, a girl can drink for almost nothing in this city." 

So, what are the best ladies deals around town? 

(Photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:51 AM | | Comments (14)
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March 14, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Sometimes I gripe about how hard it is to come up with these lists.

This one wrote itself.

Heck, my first nightlife column for The Sun was how to dodge meatheads in Federal Hill.

So here it is: The five biggest meathead hangouts in all of Baltimore. 

1. Magerk's Pub and Grill, 1061 S. Charles St.

Yo, bartender, lemme get a round of Miller Lites and some shots of Cuervo for the ladies.

2. Mad River Bar and Grille, 1110 S. Charles St. (pictured)

As the bartender told Casper's friend, "This is Mad River, bro." ...

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:27 AM | | Comments (6)
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March 12, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Remember a while back when we did the best hipster bars?

Well, I think it's time we flipped that.

Yes, it's time for a list of Baltimore's best meathead bars.

Don't know what a meathead is?

You probably are one.

Zing!

Personally, I think this will be one of the easiest lists I've ever done.

It's ... frat-tastic! 

Give me your suggestions for the places with the highest concentration of gelled hair, popped collars and the word "bro."

Go!

(Photo by Chicago Tribune) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:29 PM | | Comments (33)
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March 7, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Voila*: My list of the five best bar namesakes:

1. Larry Gross (pictured) of Captain Larry's, 601 E. Fort Ave.

Dude is an ex-cop who used to pierce people's ears in the bar (after sterilizing them in a shot of vodka, of course). There are bullet holes in the ceiling. Enough said.

2. Kooper of Kooper's Tavern, 1702 Thames St.

Kooper was bar owner Patrick Russell's yellow lab who used to hang out in the bar. Kooper is rumored to have saved at least one life in his day. He passed away last May. 

3. Liam Flynn of Liam's Pint-Sized Pub, 911 N. Charles St.

Flynn has an apartment just across Charles Street, but he lives at the bar. That's one of the reasons why I love the place. But Liam's has been popping up on too many of these lists. So I'm retiring him after this one.

4. Roland Muir, Muir's Tavern, 36 E. Fort Ave.

It's all in the family at Muir's, and I like that. Old man Muir opened his bar back in 1944. His son, Roland Jr., still runs the place.

5. Bertha E. Bartholomew of Bertha's, 734 S. Broadway

Back in the day, Bertha's owner Tony Norris found a stained glass window dedicated to the memory of Bartholomew. No one knows who she was, but Norris named the place after her and hung the window above the bar.

(Photo by Nanine Hartzenbusch/Sun Photogapher)

*Voila is French for 'There it is.' 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:26 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

March 5, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I'd like this week's list to be about the city's best bar namesakes.

Liam's, Kooper's, Max's,  etc. all apply.

What do you guys think?

Any suggestions? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:58 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 29, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Putting together this list of the best TV bars was a bit trickier and a lot more fun than I originally thought it would be.

Thanks for all your suggestions

At first, I didn't want to include the Drunken Clam from Family Guy

But after reading some of your comments, I reconsidered.

Here's my list of the five best TV bars. 

1. Cheers from Cheers

The king of TV bars. How many scenes were actually filmed outside the bar? Everybody knows your name at Cheers, and no other TV bar could ever match it. 

2. Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons

No Moe's makes The Simpsons something something. 

3. The Drunken Clam from Family Guy

Dan Thanh was right. God drinks at the Drunken Clam. Talk about a powerful patron. 

4. Ten Forward from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Where else could Capt. Picard turn when things went awry? Whoopi Goldberg was there with good advice and occasionally even a glass of illegal Romulan Ale.

5. Kavanagh's from The Wire (pictured)

A bar where dead police men are laid on the pool table before their funerals? That's old school, and I like it.

(Photo by Paul Schiraldi/HBO) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:19 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 27, 2008

The Drunken Clam

At first, I was going to put the Drunken Clam (the bar from Family Guy) on this week's Fab Five Friday list.

But I thought about it some more, and changed my mind.

Unlike Moe's from The Simpsons, the Clam doesn't have a bartender who consistently adds color to the show.

The Clam is just a place where we get to see all the guys hang out.

I like the moving neon clam sign on the outside of the place, but aside from the episode where the English take over, the Clam itself doesn't bring much to the show.

Your thoughts? 

(AP Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:39 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 26, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

What do you think is the coolest bar on TV?

I want to make this week's list the five best TV bars.

Hit me with suggestions. 

By the way, the picture is of the Boston bar that was the inspiration for the TV show Cheers.

(Photo by St. Louis Post-Dispatch) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:22 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 25, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, the winner

Whew.

This was a tough one.

But I'm going to have to call JTK the winner of the Barguments Fab Five Friday.

He gave the funniest responses, and thusly, wins a copy of the book.

Congrats, buddy. Send me your address, and I'll send you a copy.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:19 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 22, 2008

Re: Fab Five Friday

Here are my answers to this morning's Fab Five Friday list of barguments:

1) Love ya. Hee hee.

2)  I would have to nominate the middle part to Korn's "Freak on a Leash," when the singer is making those demon noises. Ah, crap, now it's stuck in my head.

3) Pleasing my girlfriend, of course. And by that I mean writing five times better. 

4) Harrison Ford. Get off my plane!

5) Tough one, but I'm gonna have to drink the butter. Mmmmm ... butter.

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:55 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Fab Five Friday

Thanks again for all of your bargument suggestions.

In case you're just tuning in (and slightly mentally challenged), a 'bargument' is an argument best hashed out in a corner bar.

I thumbed through the book Barguments by Doug Hanks and picked out my five favorites. 

1) Choose one of these rules to obey for the next 14 days: Going for a hug every time someone offers you a handshake or ending all telephone conversations with "Love ya." 

2) You suddenly have the ability to implant a song in your enemies' heads. Which one do you pick?

3) If you could instantly become five times better at doing one thing, what would you choose? 

4) If you had to tap a president from film or television to run the country, who would get the nod?

5) Would you rather drink a glass of melted butter or eat a small bowl of mayonnaise? 

I'll post my answers to these barguments in a little bit.

And I'll mail a free copy of the book to the commenter with the funniest answers. 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:02 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 19, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of our recent Barguments discussion, I think it would be fun to do a Fab Five Friday on the best Barguments.

These can be ones you've overheard, ones you've actually discussed yourself, or ones you think would be good Barguments.

So, please dish. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:23 PM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 15, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Whether you were for or against the smoking ban, you're going to have to accept it now.

And though it's forced smokers to stand out on the street for their fix, the ban has also made some bars much more tolerable.

So here's my list of the bars I like visiting better now that smoking is prohibited inside.

1. Liam's Pint-Size Pub, 911 N. Charles St. (pictured)

It was hard to breathe in Liam's before its self-instituted smoking ban Jan. 2. I'm so glad the bar made that decision. My eyes used to burn in there.

2. Light Street Station, 1400 Light St.

A curtain of smoke used to hang in this place. Sure, that was part of its charm. But I'm kind of glad it's gone.

3. Frazier's on The Avenue, 919 W. 36th St.

Karaoke is easier to sing when there's no smoke in your face. 

4. Walt's Inn, 3201 O'Donnell St.

Again, karaoke is easier to sing when there's no smoke in your face.

5. Sidebar Tavern, 218 E. Lexington St.

I always thought the Sidebar was too small for the number of smokers who piled in there on Friday and Saturday nights. So I'm glad it went smoke free before the ban. It's better now. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:49 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 14, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I usually post this earlier in the week, but between the primary and Paetec, it's been a pretty busy few days.

This Fab Five Friday (FFF) is about the bars you love going to now that the smoking ban is on.

Do you have any suggestions for me?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:58 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 8, 2008

Fab Five Friday

We discussed it.

I defined it.

Now it's list time.

Here are the top five hipster hangouts in Baltimore.

1. Rocket to Venus, 3360 Chestnut Ave.

Hipsters are everywhere inside the Rocket. Everywhere

2. Mount Royal Tavern, 1204 W. Mount Royal Ave.

A dive bar filled with hipsters on Friday and Saturday nights. Go figure. 

3. Club Charles, 1724 N. Charles St.

To quote a frequent MS poster, Club C. is more hip than a legless man. 

4. The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St.

One of the city's most popular hipster clubs. Go there, and a hipster encounter is inevitable. 

5. The bar at Holy Frijoles, 908 W. 36th St.

The only place in town where you can test your music snobbishness while eating fajitas and slurping cucumber margaritas. Pomegranate margaritas are soooo last year.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:25 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 6, 2008

Hipsters vs. indie kids

In light of this week's Fab Five Friday topic, I thought I'd draw the line between indie kids and hipsters.

Hipsters fix up and look sharp. Their hair is meticulously messy. Sometimes they sport tattoos.

They are music snobs. Some manage to look bored no matter what is happening around them.

Indie kids have greasy, messy hair because they bathe less frequently than hipsters.

They can also be music snobs, but not nearly on the level of hipsters.

Indie kids are more grounded and less concerned with looking or acting cool.

They often have pale, pasty skin.

(Photo of hipster MC Naeem Juwan of Spank Rock) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:54 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays, Random stuff
        

February 5, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I am not a hipster.

But I have friends who are.

I'm glad Baltimore doesn't have too many hipsters, because there is a certain pretentiousness most hipsters have.

And thankfully, Baltimore is largely an unpretentious place.

But I think it would be fun to do a Fab Five Friday on the city's best hipster hangouts. 

Got any suggestions? 

(Photo of the Mount Royal Tavern by Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:35 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

February 1, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Thanks again for all your winter bar suggestions.

Since things got out of hand last week, let me make it clear: Brewer's Art, Max's Taphouse and the Dog Pub are retired from these lists because they've been mentioned so many times before.

Here it is: my list of the five best winter bars.

1. The Wharf Rat, 801 S. Ann St.

The massive fireplace, the fresh-brewed ales on tap made it an easy No. 1.  

2. Bertha's (pictured), 734 S. Broadway

Three words: hot buttered rum. 

3. Dizzy Issie's, 300 W. 30th St. 

A fireplace isn't the only cozy aspect of this comfortable neighborhood bar. 

4. Mum's, 1132 S. Hanover St.

Ask them for a shot of Evil. Trust me. It will warm you right up. 

5. One World Cafe, 100 W. University Parkway 

Hot drinks are key, and One World has plenty of them. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:48 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 29, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

I asked you. You gave me. It's on.

This week's Fab Five Friday is about the best winter bars.

Who do you nominate?

And why?

(Photo by Jed Kirschbaum/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:22 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 26, 2008

Winter bars?

What makes a bar a good winter hangout?

I'm thinking about making this a Fab Five topic.

Your thoughts? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:57 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Fab Five Fridays
        

January 25, 2008

Let me clarify

After fielding a bunch of negative comments and a pretty funny phone call from Max's owner Ron Furman, I need to clear something up.

Longtime Midnight Sun readers will know that after a while, I retire bars from Fab Five Friday lists.

So, in this case, I purposely left out the Brewer's Art and Max's Taphouse -- because they're in a category of their own.

They're like the Beatles.

They're above lists.

I guess I didn't make it clear enough on today's Fab Five Friday list.

But I hope everybody understands now. 

(Photo of local indie rocker Jason Dove by Andre F. Chung/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:49 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

Fab Five Friday

Here it is, my list of the city's bars with the best beer selection.

Remember, the Brewer's Art and Max's Taphouse were left off the list on purpose.

Here is why.
 
1. Mahaffey's Pub, 2706 Dillon St.

You'll find more than 100 different bottles and drafts at Mahaffey's -- more than any other Canton bar. Plus, it's the only spot in the neighborhood with cask conditioned ale. 

2. Ropewalk Tavern, 1209 S. Charles St. 

Ropewalk offers more than 150 microbrews. Enough said.

3. Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar, 902 S. Charles St.

The list of tasty draft and bottled beer varies whether you're ordering upstairs or down, and rotates often. 

4. Joe Squared, 133 W. North Ave.

Owner Joe Edwardsen stocks a random selection of really good beer, both on tap and in bottles. 

5. Grand Cru, 527 E. Belvedere Ave.

Though a little pricey, Grand Cru is a good choice if you're near Belvedere Square and need some options. 

(Photo by Doug Kapustin/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:45 AM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 23, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

We've talked about it.

Let's do it.

This week's Fab Five Friday is on the bars with the best beer selection. 

Max's Taphouse in Fells Point and the Brewer's Art in Mount Vernon will not be included in the list.

Whatcha got for me? 

(Photo by Getty Images) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:58 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 18, 2008

Fab Five Friday

As noted before, Baltimore is not known for its good service.

But here at MS, we'd much rather focus on the positive. So, on that note, here are the five bars and clubs with the best service in the city. 

1. Waterfront Hotel, 1710 Thames St.

Even when it's packed, the bartenders are on their game. I've never had bad service at the Waterfront.

2. The Annabel Lee Tavern, 601 S. Clinton St.

The bar staff here bent over backward to accommodate the people I was with, even though it was late at night (they didn't know who we were, of course). We couldn't have asked for better treatment.

3. Birds of a Feather, 1712 Aliceanna St.

Owner and bartender Alicia Horn takes care of her customers with free homemade pizzas and an encyclopedic knowledge of the many scotches she serves.

4. Ixia (pictured), 518 N. Charles St.

Tom Cusack and the rest of the crew run a tight ship. You get better service at Ixia than nearly every other Baltimore lounge.

5. The Stalking Horse, 26 E. Cross St.

Manager Marc McFaul also helps oversee Ropewalk Tavern. But the service at Stalking Horse (which just reopened) has always been better.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 16, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Gman had a good point yesterday with his comment:

Lotta crying over bad service here. How about a review of the best "service" restaurants in the city? A Fab Five Friday is it?

So this week, I'll list the five bars/clubs with the best service in Baltimore.

If you've had some really good service at a bar or club lately, let me know.  

(Photo of bartender Ted Anderson at John Steven Ltd. by Amy Davis/Sun Photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:45 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 11, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Without further ado, here are my five favorite Baltimore bar names.

1. Slim's Ace of Club, 4200 Belair Road

I drove by this place a year ago and couldn't stop laughing when I saw the sign. It still makes me chuckle.

2. Dick's Halfway Inn, 8013 Philadelphia Road

No comment.

3. The Horse You Came In On, 1626 Thames St.

The tail end of one of my favorite vintage cut-downs.

4. Ale Mary's, Fleet and Washington Streets

This bar has fun with but doesn't make fun of relgion. That's a fine line, and I like the way it walks it.

5. Bar, 1718 Lancaster St.

Much more confusing than Don't Know or No Idea Taverns.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:55 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 8, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

This week's topic is the best bar names in Baltimore.

We're talking funny names, ironic names, etc. 

For example, if it was a bar instead of a carryout restaurant, Eat Must Be First, the Chinese place by Lexington Market, would top my list.

Got any suggestions for me? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:26 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 4, 2008

Fab Five Friday

Researching for this week's Fab Five Friday on the city's best dance parties, I realized just how few there are left.

Remember five years ago when Taxlo dominated the Talking Head? Not anymore.

But the city's dance party scene hasn't completely bitten the dust. Here's my list of the five best survivors.

So without further delay, here is my list ... 

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:46 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

January 2, 2008

The next Fab Five Friday

Patchen's comment earlier today got me thinking about dance parties around town.

I think they'd make a good Fab Five Friday, especially since they've changed quite a bit in the past few years.

Remember when TaxLo was at the Talking Head Club? Sometimes it was one of the biggest nights of their week.

But now, more dance parties (Reaction!, Automatic!, etc.) are bringing live bands into the mix. 

So in a couple days, I'll give you my five most favorite dance parties in Baltimore.

Got any suggestions for me? 

(Photo of the now defunct Have a Nice Day Cafe by Barbara Haddock Taylor) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:09 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 21, 2007

Fab Five Friday

This was one of the toughest Fab Five Fridays I've ever put together -- because a ton of good music came out this year.

Some of these albums stayed in my car stereo for weeks at a time.

Even with two honorable mentions, I still spent a long time figuring out this list.

So here it is, the best Baltimore albums of 2007: 

1. Hamsterdam 2: Stash to the Strip by Darkroom Productions Inc.

When Darkroom makes the beats, local MCs step up their game. 

2. Spiderman of the Rings by Dan Deacon

Deacon makes music for the five-year-olds in all of us.

3. Hail Megaboys by J-Roddy Walston and the Business

Everybody knows Baltimore is a rock town, but nobody put out a better rock album this year than J-Roddy. 

4. If Children by Wye Oak (formerly Monarch)

A morbid but brilliant debut album. 

5. The Collective Now by the Seldon Plan

Their catchiest, most cohesive album yet. 

Honorable mentions: Come Back Home by Caleb Stine and the Brakemen and The King of Roq by Blaqstarr

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:34 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 19, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

Some of you (JM especially) are going to hate me for this, but I'm going to do it anyway.

This week's Fab Five Friday is on the five best albums released by Baltimore musicians this year.

Got any suggestions?

I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't. Nobody but me seems to care much about local music around here.

Maybe that's why Baltimore's scene gets such little national attention.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:46 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 14, 2007

Fab Five Friday

We were blessed with a bunch of new watering holes in 2007.

Sure, a few bars closed -- especially in Fells Point -- but a number sprung up to take their place.

Here are the best new bars and clubs of 2007:

1. The Lo-Fi Social Club (pictured)

Owner Neil Freebairn didn't fit into any of the city's music scenes, so, with the Lo-Fi, he made a club where everyone feels welcome.  

2. Mosaic Lounge

General manager LG Concannon and the rest of Mosaic's planners turned a hot seasonal lounge into one of the city's best year-round dance clubs.

3. McCracken's on Key

A lot of new bars are semi-expensive. Not so at McCracken's. Here, you can play pool and shoot darts for free, and domestic bottles are $1.75.

4. Don't Know Tavern

I love sinking into the plush leather sofa and chairs near the front of Don't Know. Sometimes I head to the back of the bar for some air hockey, shuffleboard and pool, too. 

5. Illusions Magic Bar

This super swanky lounge has classic decor and nightly magic shows.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:21 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 13, 2007

Some Fab Five suggestions

It occurred to me last night that you guys might not remember a lot of the new bars and clubs that opened this year.

Here are a few: Mosaic Lounge (pictured) and Angels Rock Bar in Power Plant Live, the Lo-Fi Social Club, Don't Know Tavern, the Local High Rise, Tyson's Tavern, McCracken's on Key, Mustang Alley's, the Stalking Horse, Quigley's Half-Irish Pub and Illusions Magic Bar.

Rank them as you wish.

(Colby Ware/Special to The Sun)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:31 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 12, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

This week's Fab Five Friday is the best new bars/clubs of 2007.

We've been pretty lucky when it comes to bar openings this year.

Got any nominations for me?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 10, 2007

Sour grapes

You can't please everybody all the time.
 
Got this e-mail last week from a Midnight Sun reader.
 
It's about my Fab Five Friday on wine tastings.
 
Hi Sam,
If you're going to give out information about wine events I'd like to see something more definitive than "I believe." Nobody cares what you believe. Just put down the facts. Other than that your information sucks.
Ed Y
S Baltimore

 

Your thoughts? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:14 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 7, 2007

Fab Five Friday

I'm not a huge wine fan, but I'm always down for wine tastings -- provided they don't cost too much, and the servings are generous.

And yes, while there are a few fancy, expensive wine tastings on this week's Fab Five Friday list, they're not totally exorbitant.

With that in mind, here's the skinny: 

1. Five wines for $5 at Charlotte's, 1542 Light St.

With The Vine out of commission for the next few months, Charlotte's has stepped up as its temporary successor. Head there Tuesday evenings for the most unpretentious tastings in town.  

2. Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Wine Bar, 902 S. Charles St.

Five generous pours for $15 on Tuesday nights is the second best deal you'll get around town. 

3. Chesapeake Wine Company, 2400 Boston St.

Here, you get roughly eight wines for $25 at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights.

4. Bin 604 Wine Sellers, 604 S. Exeter St.

Monthly tastings aren't cheap -- $29 to be exact -- but the folks at Bin 604 really know what they're doing. Their next one is Dec. 27, I believe.

5. The Wine Market, 921 E. Fort Ave.

The Wine Market's tastings are more sporadic, and usually cost around $20-$25. 

If you have any suggestions for the list, I'd love to hear them. 

(Photo by Los Angeles Times) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

December 4, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

Well, I was going to do the five best wine bars, but Sun uber-foodie Elizabeth Large struck first with the Top Ten wine bars around town last week.

So instead, this week's Fab Five Friday will be the best wine tastings.

Got any suggestions? 

(Photo by Los Angeles Times) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:20 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 30, 2007

Fab Five Friday

We are indeed blessed when it comes to Baltimore bars.

Fells Point has some of the best watering holes on the East Coast. Federal Hill and Canton perfectly fit the bill for the post-college crowd.

But there are still things I wish this city had.

Here are my five wishes for the Baltimore nightlife scene:

1. Better service

I can't tell you how frustrated I get with Baltimore bartenders. If anything about this city's bars and restaurants really needs to change, it's the quality of service.

2. More dance clubs

There are not enough places to dance in Charm City. 

3. More locally brewed beers on tap

I wish more bars had Clipper City (like the one pictured), Brewer's Art and Oliver Ale suds on tap.

4. Better parking

No one wants more parking garages in their backyard, but Fells Point and Federal Hill get tied into a knot on some Friday and Saturday nights. That needs to change. 

5. More horseshoe bars

I know the layout of most rowhouses won't allow it, but I really like wraparound bars. They are the only thing I like about chains like Applebee's. J. Patrick's in Locust Point has one. Horse shoe-shaped bars give a place more of an intimate feeling. I like that.

(Linda Coan/Sun Photo) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:02 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 28, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

Since people are putting together their holiday wish lists, I thought it would be nice to have one for Midnight Sun too.

So this week's Fab Five Friday topic is five things you wish for in Baltimore's nightlife scene.

More cigar bars?

More tequila bars?

More places to go dancing?

I'll give you mine in a couple days. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:25 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 23, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here are the top five things I'm thankful for about Baltimore bars.

1. They're unpretentious.

In most city bars, no one has a chip on their shoulder. I love that.

2. No cover charges

You can count on one hand how many bars have covers outside of the Power Plant. Thank you, Baltimore.

3. Cheap Natty Boh

Sometimes you need to go on a tear. And if you want to go on a cheap tear, Boh is the beer to do it with. At Tyson's Tavern, they're $1, all the time.

4. The Fort Avenue bar crawl

A dozen bars -- some dives, some yuppie joints -- lined up in a mile-long stretch. Anyone thirsty? 

5. Baltimore Bars have soul

80 percent of the watering holes in town have histories -- they're not some plastic-y feeling spot. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:37 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 21, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of the holiday, this week's Fab Five Friday is going to be the top five things I'm thankful for about Baltimore bars.

No, good service will not be one of them.

Washington might have a lot of trendy lounges and clubs, but I think Baltimore is a better bar town. What are you thankful for? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:10 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 16, 2007

Fab Five Friday

I am by no means the expert on where the 30+ set hangs out in this city.

And I didn't get too many suggestions the other day.

But here it is: my list of the five best places for the 30+ set in Baltimore.

1. Paul's, 701 E. Fort Ave.

Totally unpretentious Federal Hill hangout for the 30 and 40+ set. 

2. Mosaic, 4 Market Place, Power Plant Live

Mosaic can get flooded with 30-somethings on Friday and Saturday nights. 

3. Waterfront Hotel, 1710 Thames St.

See a live band downstairs, and if you meet someone, head upstairs to the best lounge in Fells Point for some conversation. 

4. Maggie Moore's (pictured), 21 N. Eutaw St.

Perfect hangout pre- or post-Hippodrome show. It's elegant but also semi-informal. 

5. Grand Cru, Belvedere Square, 500 E. Belvedere Ave.

A little expensive, but it comfortably straddles the line between informal and business casual.

Honorable mention: James Joyce Pub, 616 S. President St. 

(Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:47 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 14, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

In light of Stan's request, I'm going to make this week's Fab Five Friday the best places for the 30+ and 40+ set.

Your responses to my earlier request were funny but unhelpful.

Anybody got some real suggestions?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:29 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 9, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Well, here it is: my list of the five best Irish pubs around town.

This is a subject I was a little leery of touching, because people are pretty opinionated about it.

It's the nightlife equivalent of Elizabeth Large's Top Ten Tuesday on crab cakes

1. Liam's Pint-Size Pub, below Kumari, 911 N. Charles St. (pictured)

The best pub in Mount Vernon, hands down. Most nights, Liam himself is there at the bar -- drinking, not serving.

2. Patrick's of Pratt Street, 934 W. Pratt St.

Take your hat of to a legend, son.

3. J. Patrick's Irish Pub, 1371 Andre St.

From MS contributor Rob Hiaasen: The people are friendly, the beer is cold and reasonably priced ... and no TV competes against the music or conversation.

4. Mick O'Shea's, 328 N. Charles St. 

Every bar should be welcoming, and the unassuming Mick O'Shea's is just that. 

5. Slainte, 1700 Thames St.

Slainte is a Saturday morning go-to for European football.

Honorable mention: Mike McGovern's, 1129 S. Clinton St.

Love how low key this place is. It would have made the list, but it's only open three days a week.  

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:36 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 8, 2007

More on "Irish" pubs

You know what, MB?

You're right.

I have never been to a pub in Ireland.

But I'll bet they don't have big wooden signs that say 'Irish Pub' inside them.

Or flags covering the walls.

Or Irish knick-knacks everywhere.

Do American bars here have American flags and murals of Uncle Sam and apple pie and baseball everywhere?

Of course not.

(Well, maybe in Texas.) 

And, as for what makes me the authority on Irish pubs ... I'm the nightlife columnist.

=)

(Photo of Galway Bay Irish Pub by Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:56 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Fab Five Fridays
        

Fab Five Friday sneak peek

I'll tell you right now which two "Irish" bars aren't going to be on tomorrow's list of the best Irish pubs.

An Poitin Stil in Timonium (pictured)

Yes, I'm leaving the Stil off my list. Why? Because an authentic Irish pub doesn't have to say it's an authentic Irish pub.

And I doubt very seriously if any pubs in Ireland have so many Irish posters, artifacts and tchotches all over the place. The Stil is out.

The James Joyce Pub on President Street in Harbor East.

Plastic, plastic, plastic. James Joyce needs a few more years of 'wipe, don't scrub' to make this list.

(John Makely/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:40 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

November 7, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

Baltimore has no shortage of Irish pubs.

But a bunch of them are plastic-y impersonators of real Irish establishments.

So on Friday, I'm going to reveal the five best pubs in Baltimore.

Do you have any suggestions for me? 

The picture is of Maggie Moore's, by the way. It may or may not make the list.

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:09 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

October 19, 2007

Fab Five Friday

This one was actually a lot harder than I originally thought it would be.

Not only did I get 0 responses from my weekly plea for help, but it was hard for me to think up five places where I've danced in this city -- let alone five of the best places I've danced in this city.

A made a good point in her comment; maybe Baltimore isn't a big dancing town after all.

Here's my list:

1. Paradox (pictured), 1310 Russell St.

Can't leave the Baltimore club scene off the list, and there's no better place in the city to SpongeBob than Paradox. Lines of people waiting to get in snake around the block some nights. ...

(Colby Ware/Special to The Sun)

Continue reading "Fab Five Friday" »

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:24 AM | | Comments (0)
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October 5, 2007

Fab Five Friday

This list of the five best places to see a rock band was one of the toughest ones I've put together yet. As always, feel free to debate my choices:

1. The 8x10, 8-10 E. Cross St.

My favorite place to see live music in this city -- whether rock, bluegrass or what have you. There is hardly a bad sightline in the club, and the dance floor is springloaded so it bounces slightly when it's packed.

2. The Talking Head Club, 203 Davis St.

The quintessential rock club: that musky odor of cigarette smoke and spilled beer, a busted pool table, the unswept floor. And most importantly, the solid sound system.

3. The Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St.

I'm not sure how the city's music scene could live without a venue like the Ottobar, which pairs Baltimore bands (like the Oranges Band, pictured) with nationally touring rock acts. The parking lot next door is a definite plus, too.

4. Sidebar Tavern, 218 E. Lexington St.

The Sidebar's owner Richard Ashburn called me once to chide me for calling his club dirty. But I don't know what kind of rock/punk club the place would be if the walls were graffiti-free and I could eat off the floor.

5. Fletchers Bar, 701 S. Bond St.

This list wouldn't be complete without Fletchers. It's home to Noise in the Basement, an awesome local rock showcase, and also has the feel of a classic rock club.

(Colby Ware/Special to the Sun) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:31 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

October 3, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

This week's Fab Five Friday topic is the five best places to see rock bands in Baltimore.

Now, DIY venues like the Bank and Floristree Space don't count because they don't have their permits straight. We're talking bars and clubs around town.

So what are your suggestions? I'll give you mine on Friday. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:27 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 28, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here's my list of the city's best karaoke bars. Feel free to debate them.

1. Frazier's on The Avenue, 919 W. 36th St.

Yes, it's on everyone's top list, and for good reason. I gave the crowd here a taste of my soaring falsetto once, and they ate it up. 

2. Walt's Inn, 3201 O'Donnell St.

Only been here once, but it sticks out as one of the craziest karaoke bars I've been to. The corner bar was jammed, and the wait for a song was long. But we had a blast.

3. Nevin's Cross Street Station, 31 E. Cross St.

Drunken, crazy karaoke. I've seen some hilariously sloppy performances late night at Nevin's.

4. 1.7th Generation, 123 W. 27th St.

Singing karaoke from your seat? Why not?

5. Nick's Fish House, 2600 Insulator Drive

I've never been, but I've heard good things about this karaoke night. I'm sure the crowd is full of Polo shirts and gelled hair, but I'll bet they sing a mean "Livin' on a Prayer."

(Chiaki Kawajiri/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:32 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 26, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

Who doesn't like to rock the mike?

This week's Fab Five Friday is the best spots for karaoke around town.

Whatcha got for me?

Places that only have karaoke once a week or once a month still count.  

(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:21 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 21, 2007

Fab Five Friday

This is by far one of the trickiest lists I've come up with. Thanks for some great suggestions.

Here you go: the five best places for blind dates.

1. Tapas Teatro, 1711 N. Charles St. (pictured)

From Maryann James, Sun dating columnist/blogger: You can have a drink, and if it goes well, you can bond over the so-played out tapas concept, and if it's even better, check out a movie at the Charles. also, since it's tapas, if the date falls flat midway through your meal, it's not like it's a long, drawn-out dinner to wade through. 

2. One World Cafe, 100 W. University Parkway

Here's a fun, fairly low-key locale where you can have a coffee or something stronger, and then, if everything goes well, move on to dinner (and more drinks). It's not too far north of the Charles or too far south of the Rotunda if you want to see a movie.

3. Ale Mary's, 1939 Fleet St.

This cozy corner bar is clean and rarely crowded around dinnertime, which means you can talk at a normal volume. The food is good and decently priced. Plus, the place's religious-themed decor gives you something to talk about if the conversation runs dry. 

4. Sobo Cafe, 6 W. Cross St.

Probably the most expensive spot on the list, Sobo is a cute little restaurant with a small bar. It's intimate and romantic, but not over the top. 

5. Red Brick Station, White Marsh

I nominate this spot based on its success rate. From commenter Andrew: "About five years ago I went on a blind date at Red Brick Station in White Marsh. We're getting married in two weeks. So yeah, that turned out pretty well ..."

(Michelle Gienow/The Sun) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:12 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 20, 2007

Come on, people

I need Fab Five Friday suggestions. The topic is best places to take a blind date.

If you wanna see a good list, you gotta do your part and post a comment. Come on, now. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:27 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 19, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

For this week's Fab Five Friday, I'm going to enlist the help of Sun dating columnist/blogger Maryann James.

The topic: Best places to go for drinks on a blind date.

Last week, some of you complained that my lists were too repetitive. Hogwash, I say. I've repeated two bars twice in two months. Still, I've retired the Brewer's Art and also promise not to include the Dog Pub for a long time to come.

Now you gotta hold up your end of this. Every week I ask for your suggestions. So if you want to see new names on my lists, you need to post your offerings. So let's hear 'em.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:07 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 14, 2007

Fab Five Friday

You know a great bar when you're there all night and never notice its lack of flat-screen action.

Here is my list of the city's best TV-less bars:

1. Dog Pub, 20 E. Cross St.

With a classic, clean pub feel and plenty of cheap good microbrews, this TV-free spot is a personal favorite. 

2. Club Charles, 1724 N. Charles St.

A classic come-and-be-shocked Baltimore bar. The walls are blood red, and the jukebox has a fantastic selection. The only drawback -- they don't round off their drink prices, so you leave the place with a pocket full of pennies, nickels and dimes.

3. Rocket to Venus, 3360 Chestnut Ave. (pictured)

This sleek new hipster magnet in Hampden has a surprisingly large beer selection and is thankfully smoke-free during dinner hours. It was an easy pick for the list.

4. Dionysus, 8 E. Preston St.

For this one, I'll defer to Midnight Sun reader/Dionysus expert J.M. Giordano:

"On their third anniversary, the Preston Street hipster hang out Dionysus has managed to remain TV -free. Like bars of old, the comfortable downstairs lounge/bar relies on conversation about the arts and politics instead of Ravens games and American Idol."

5. Idle Hour, 201 E. Fort Ave.

Even though they whip out a flat screen for Ravens games, I'm still going to count Idle Hour as a non-TV spot. Seriously talented DJs spin vinyl there several times a week, too. 

(Monica Lopossay/Sun Photographer)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 12, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

I'd like to make the next Fab Friday about the best bars without TVs, but I'm worried I might not find enough. What do you think?

The picture is of the Idle Hour on Fort Avenue, which has a flat screen, but only breaks it out for Ravens games. 

Oh, and by the way, I went to Stalking Horse last night, and yes, it's still closed. Thanks for all your help, guys ... Mather, I thought you lived in Federal Hill. Where's the love?

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

 

 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:03 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Fab Five Fridays
        

September 7, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here is my list of the best five places to watch the Ravens play.

1. Mother's Federal Hill Grille, 1113 S. Charles St.

Mother's goes insane on Ravens games. They set up a big tent in the parking lot next door called the Purple Patio, and inside the place gets jam packed. If you want to get riled up before the game, Mother's is the place to do it. 

2. McCracken's on Key

I'll bet you've seen this place a dozen times but never been inside. It's right across Key Highway from Little Havana. They've got a few big screen TVs, excellent service and $1.75 domestics. I went for the first time last night and I'm sold. 

3. Looney's Pub, Canton Square (pictured)

At Looney's, a lot of the fans know each other and have no qualms about shouting, whooping and swilling extra loud.

4. Padonia Station, 63 E. Padonia Road, Timonium

The Station is big enough where you can usually get a table or a barstool in time for the game. At game time there's a mix of old-school regulars and early 20-somethings. Plus, they (purposefully?) call their happy hour the Grande Happy Hour, which sounds old-timey and inviting.


5. Bedrock Billiards, 401 W. Baltimore St.

Here, you can shoot pool upstairs while watching one of the numerous TVs or head downstairs to the more relaxed lounge. Bedrock is in a classic building with super high ceilings, and they've decorated the place well.

(Algerina Perna/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:53 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

September 5, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday topic

It's football time, baby!

Since the season starts in less than a week, I'll list my five favorite city bars to watch the Ravens on Friday.

But first, I'm going to need some suggestions. Where do you go out to watch the game? 

Also do any Baltimoreans actually go to ESPN Zone to watch football, or is that crowd strictly tourists?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:03 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 31, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here's my list of the best places to lounge in the city. Remember -- these aren't just places that call themselves lounges. These are places you can actually relax. 

1. The Living Room Lounge at the Waterfront Hotel, 1710 Thames St.

When I'm in Fells Point and need to chill out, this is where I go. Downstairs gets packed crazy with loud live music. But the upstairs lounge, with its wood paneling, fireplaces and leather furniture you can sink into, is almost always calm and quiet.

2. Red Maple, 930 N. Charles St.

More than five years after it opened, Red Maple is still one of the city's go-to lounges. Though it tries too hard to be like New York City (and I've never been able to get over the $10 cover), Red Maple can be irresistibly hip.   

3. Ixia, 518 N. Charles St. (pictured)

Yes, it's a little stuffy and a little pretentious. But those vintage couches and chairs by the bar are pretty comfy. And, with the awesome new nitrogen bar run by Tom Cusack, Ixia has a drink list you won't find anywhere else.

4. The Den, 3327 St. Paul St.

Here, the decor is sharp and swanky: beds, booths, a cherry wood floor and granite bar. Go there on a Thursday night or early on Friday or Saturday, before the annoying Hopkins frat crowd takes over.

5. The Brewer's Art, 1106 N. Charles St.

I agonized over including this one, because it topped the list of places to take your snobby hipster friend from Washington a couple weeks ago. But the upstairs lounge is a prime place for kicking back. And the beers on tap are awesomely delicious. Plus, it's recently smoke-free.

(Kim Hairston/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:36 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 29, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

What's the best lounge in Baltimore?

I'm talking everything from high-end places like Red Maple to laid-back bars with comfy lounge areas. And just because a place has the word "lounge" in its name doesn't mean it's really a lounge.

I'll give you my list on Friday. What's yours?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:02 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 24, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here it is -- my list of the five best Baltimore dive bars.

Remember -- I went for places that you won't find in travel books or city guides. These places are the real thing.

1. Rendezvous Lounge, 136 W. 25th St.

The only bar I've ever fought in. A guy I was drinking whiskey with took a swing at me, and we wound up wrestling on that nasty floor. Nobody seemed to care. When the scuffle was over, we went back up to the bar and ordered another shot of whiskey. They make you put a $5 deposit on the cue sticks for the pool table, in case you're thinking of breaking one over somebody's head.

2. BAR, 1718 Lancaster St.

Here, the "wine list" is 1. White and 2. Red. The fan only has two prongs left and the pool league has been dead for years (just like the roses in the vase sitting on the bar), but BAR is still there, by God.

3. The Venice Tavern, 339 S. Conkling St.

A this basement bar, they still serve beer in those tiny 8-ounce glasses you see in black-and-white 1940s movies. The back walls by the pool table are a shrine to old boxers, including Vince DeSantis, who helped run the place back in the day.

4. Muir's Tavern, 36 E. Fort Ave. (pictured)

This place is also a packaged goods store. One time I went in there and asked for a six pack of Yuengling to go. The woman behind the bar grimaced and said, "We don't serve imports." Enough said.

5. Locust Point Tavern, 1515 E. Clement St.

The only bar I've ever been to with a screen door. From the outside, the place looks like a bar/house hybrid. Step inside, and you're hit with a musk that could only come from decades of spilled beer and cigarette smoke.

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 6:50 AM | | Comments (21)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 22, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

This week, the topic is Best Dive Bar. I'm going to post my list on Friday, but I'm open to suggestions.

It's a tough topic. There are so many awesome little dives scattered around this city that a list of 10 would barely do them justice, and I only have five slots to fill.

I don't want this list to look anything like AOL City Guide's best of Baltimore dive bars, either. These have to be real dives that few people have heard about. I want the local Baltimorean's guide to dive bars, not the tourist's list.

Whatcha got for me? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:05 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 17, 2007

Fab Five Friday

Here is my list of the five bars you can use to impress your snobby hipster friends from Washington:

1. The Brewer's Art, 1106 N. Charles St.

The best of both worlds: the upstairs parlor where your friends can mingle with other hipster friends and argue about the similarities between Interpol and Joy Division, and the dungeon-like downstairs lounge where you can all drink delicious beer together.

2. The Dog Pub, 20 E. Cross St.

Formerly the Thirsty Dog, this is a place where you can wow your friends with two glass mugs of microbrew for $3.50 and tasty, cheap personal pizzas. It's got the classic Baltimore look, too -- long and narrow with plenty of wood and brick.

3. Ixia, 518 N. Charles St.

Go here if you want to say, 'Look! Baltimore has hip/classy/semi-pretentious restaurant/bars with fancy martinis too! And here, you don't even have to pay a ridiculous $10 cover like you would back in Washington!"

4. The 13th Floor, The Belvedere, 1 E. Chase St. (pictured)

Just as Patchen said in his comment, the view is something your D.C. compadres will never get back home. Grab a drink, wow em, and head somewhere else -- the 13th Floor should be a stop on a bar tour, not a destination. 

5. Leadbetter's, 1639 Thames St.

If your friends are the let's-drink-Natty Boh-because-it's-cool type, take them here. Do it on a Friday or Saturday night when a few bikers are in there and the guy who looks like Dee Snider is serving drinks. That's how you get your Baltimore on.

(Karl Merton Ferron/Sun Photographer) 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:34 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 15, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday

This one comes from my roommate Patchen: The five best Baltimore bars to impress your snobby hipster friend from Washington.

I'm looking for places that are not just cheap, but have a great atmosphere and solid service. Baltimore seems to get a bad rep or no rep at all when it comes to bars. What people don't realize is that we've got some pretty cool spots here.

I'll give you my list on Friday. What's yours? 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:26 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 8, 2007

The next Fab Five Friday topic

What are the best places to pre-game? 

I'll give you my top five favorite spots this Friday.

Inner Harbor bars count, Ridgely's Delight bars count and so do Federal Hill spots -- as long as they're in walking distance from Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. Leave me a comment with your favorites.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:24 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

August 3, 2007

Fab Five Friday

As promised, here's my list of the five best places to get a beer in Fells Point. Feel free to debate them.

1. Max's Taphouse, 737 S. Broadway.

Max's is heaven for beer geeks -- the biggest selection in the state, I believe. Cellar master Casey Hard is constantly on the prowl for delicious new brews. It's also the only place I've been to where the bar staff can pair just about any cigar with the right beer. And yes, a wild and crazy crowd comes to Max's on Friday and Saturday nights, but you can usually escape them by heading upstairs to the Mobtown Lounge.

2. Friends, 1634 Aliceanna St.

Friends has never let me down. I can always get a table there -- even on Friday and Saturday nights. The list of beers on tap is fairly long, the music selection is always solid and the crowd is, well, friendly.

3. Cat's Eye Pub, 1730 Thames St. 

Great local music always makes the beer taste better. At the Cat's Eye, you can soak in some of the area's best local talent -- usually for free. Sometimes I go there just to sip a beer and stare at all the junk on the walls. I always find something new. 

4. The Wharf Rat, 801 S. Ann St.

Knock back a few locally brewed Oliver Ales and soak in the classic atmosphere. What more do you need out of a bar?

5. The Dead End Saloon, 935 Fell St.

I'd forgotten about this place until someone commented on it recently. If you want to get away from the fuss and foot traffic of Broadway and Thames Street, head to the Dead End. You won't be disappointed.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:47 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        

July 31, 2007

Coming soon: Fab Five Fridays

Hey everybody -- I need some help. I'm starting up a new weekly feature similar to Sun food empress Elizabeth Large's Top Ten Tuesdays called Fab Five Fridays.

I'm looking for suggestions for the first one, which is the five best places to grab a beer in Fells Point. Got any ideas for me? What are your favorite beer spots in that neighborhood? I'll tell you mine Friday.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:09 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Fab Five Fridays
        
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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 erik.maza@baltsun.com. 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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