What’s Good About Baltimore?

I know there are many-a-feelings about Baltimore around these parts. I have my own feelings – some positive, some negative – but what do you all say? What are some good and positive points about our neighbor one hour to the north? A comrade – currently a Charlottesville resident -is in the very early stages of considering relocating to Baltimore. Clearly the scenery will be a big change (and probably a downgrade, let’s just be honest), but we all know that while Baltimore is not favored by everyone, there must be some good/fun/interesting things about living in the city.

I’m talking aside form the “touristy” options – yes, I know the aquarium is good, but no one wants to go there more than once. Same with the club and bar scene that only 21-year-olds want to frequent. What are the other options?

Restaurants? Venues? Good dive bars? Local hang-outs and coffee shops? What are your suggestions for someone that might, maybe, possibly, be moving there – tell us where he should hang out.

Bring it.

13 Comments so far

  1. MBFan (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

    Hampden is a really cute, funky part of B’more. Lots of great little boutiques and restaurants.

    http://www.livebaltimore.com/nb/list/hmpdn/


  2. tonigm (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 1:13 pm

    I thought this looked mighty intriguing:

    JAY’S ON READ is a very New York kind of bar, known for their Martini Menu, their separate olive menu at no charge, and their classic martini glasses. Eight draft beer selections by the chilled pilzner and half or full pitchers are offered. Live piano sing along Tuesday through Saturday 8:30 to 12:30 AM. Cocktail hour piano featuring light jazz from 5:30 to 8:30 PM Wednesday through Friday, along with Port wine and cheddar served free at the bar. 225 West Read Street Baltimore, MD. 21201, (410) 255-0188.

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/music/bal-li.scenecol21sep21,0,7530118.column?coll=bal-artslife-music


  3. DCeiver (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

    I recommend a visit to the American Visionary Art Museum (http://www.avam.org/)–an outstanding collection of work by self-taught artists–from high polish to high weirdness. Enjoy food and drink at the Joy America Restaurant while you’re there.


  4. DRFS (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

    the baltimore holiday parade is this sunday…you should go check it out. Hampden is the place to be for that.
    http://www.mayorschristmasparade.com/
    check flikr for pics for baltimore and Hampden…it’ll give you a feel for the place. Baltimore is a great city…very working class but artsy fartsy too.


  5. Mik (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

    In Clarendon we have the Four Courts, in Baltimore, they have the James Joyce (near Fells Point, a hop, skip and a jump away from the Inner Harbour). The bars around Baltimore aren’t bad, not to mention the areas that aren’t surrounded by the ghetto. You take the bad with the good and enjoy cheaper everything compared to D.C., it may however, be a tad pricier than Charlottesville.


  6. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

    I love going up to Tapas Teatro, and the cool theatre and bars in that section of town. Baltimore is a cool place, for sure.


  7. Anon (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 4:22 pm

    Max’s on Broadway is a great beer bar: Think along the lines of the Brickskeller or RFD, except with good service, and a [ever so slightly] smaller number of higher quality beers that are actually in stock when you ask for them.

    Being part of an actual state, they have representation in congress.

    They aren’t denied their 2nd Amendment rights.


  8. Robis (unregistered) on November 29th, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

    I always remember what Anne Tyler said about Baltimore: “If you woke up one day and didn’t know where you were, Baltimore is one of the last places in the world where you could look out the window and immediately identify the place.”

    I think Baltimore has more overt culture than DC in terms of outlets. In Hamden is Atomic Books and their sister store Atomic Pop. There is the aforementioned Visionary Museum (which I could visit every week and not get tired of it). There’s the entirety of Fells Point–which always feels like a mini-vacation at some small port town to me. There’s an excellent coffeehouse there called Latte-Da. The place is small and has a homey feel, and not a corporate logo to be found affixed anywhere. They also have free internet, which one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

    Just this past weekend, I found Harbor Newsstand, which carries a better selection of magazines than I’ve ever seen in this area.

    As far as food, there are three places (of varying aesthetic) that I really like. The first is a tapas place called Pazo, between the Harborfront and Fells Point. The second is a place in Hamden called Art Grill. It’s a cafe with light dishes. I had the gypsy soup there last week, and it was perhaps the best soup I’ve ever had. What was in it? Cinnamon? Clove? Whatever it was, it was excellent. The third place are any of the greasy spoons located in the market at Fells Point. It’s gross, but it’s a guilty pleasure.

    And speaking of gross guilty pleasures, Baltimore also has the Lexington Market, an indoor farmer’s market. It seems to be mostly prepared food stalls, but there are good buys on meat and fish, and a number of excellent pastry stands.


  9. Kate (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 12:05 pm

    I second the votes for Tapas Teatro and James Joyce. The Baltimore Museum of Art is pretty cool, and the city’s Free Fall Baltimore initiative offers a ton of fun, free (obviously) cultural things to do around the city.

    Check out the Mount Vernon area: The Helmand is an amazing Afghan restaurant, and there’s Sascha’s, Sotto Sopra and Brass Elephant. My fave hideaway in Mount Vernon is O’Shea’s, the best Irish bar in the city.

    Charles Village: Home to Nifty Fifties (no, they don’t have chocolate milkshakes, their specialty is Indian cuisine), Donna’s (cute coffee bar), and Charles Village Pub, the ultimate in dive bars.

    Other Baltimore musts: Vacarro’s (Italian pastries…seriously, you have to go), Nacho Mama’s (an Elvis-themed Mexican restaurant),Paper Moon (quirky 24-hour diner near JHU campus), Power Plant Live (a classier Adams Morgan, if you will), The Hippodrome (great theater featuring Broadway musicals and other, more offbeat events) and Sonar (live music venue). And in the springtime, definitely go to an O’s game.


  10. webjedi (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

    Oh my god are you guys are upper crusties.

    Okay, bars… Porters, Thirsty Dog, James Joyce (owned by the same person as Four Courts), a Cap City, Brewers Art, Max’s on Broadway, (Baltimore’s Brickskeller), both Warf Rats, and a number of others… it’s drinking town for chrissakes, they have longshoremen!

    You can find all manner of eats there, from Little Italy to the Inner Harbor, lots of little eateries all over the place.

    You have Federal Hill, Canton, Fells Point.. pleny of enclaves.

    Unfortunately, it’s very easy to stride on the wrong side of a community boundary. But overall, it’s still more affordable that D.C. and a bit more charm for “Charm City”.


  11. Steve (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    Above comments all on the money. I would also recomend the Brewers Art on N Charles Street…Very good craft beers and tasty food in a cool old townhouse. The bar downstairs is a nice place to hang and sample their beers. My long time sentimental fave bar is the Club Charles acros from the Charles Theater(best place to catch independent films in town)


  12. millard (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

    Hey – stumbled on to this looking for something else and had to put my own 2 cents in. Man! There are so many cool places to go in Baltimore I can’t begin to hit them all, but, here’s a few of my top pics. I live in Mount Vernon so most of what I know is fairly near by (we’ve generally got a six block rule for going anywhere any further than that and we’d have to put it up for major debate).

    Bars: Brewers Art on Charles – you gotta go there for the home brews and the cool people and the place itself. Try the resurrection, although you won’t thank me in the morning. Jay’s on Read street – nice little piano/martini/wine bar – good to have a higher end place without the attitude. Try Red Maple if you want really cosmopolitan with the NYC/DC attitude. And Midtown Yacht Club – on Center near St. Paul – gotta go there for the peanut shells on the floor neighborhood bar type place. Mick O’Shea’s is good – good food too, but I’ve got to admit I like Maggie’s by the Hippodrome too as an alternate Irish pub place. Best thing about Baltimore is there are ton’s of neighborhood places that you’ll love – you just have to find them – and that’s part of the fun – check out every hole in the wall place, you never know what you’ll find when you get inside. BTW – did you know that Baltimore has the highest ratio of bars per capita in the country after New Orleans?

    Food: Samos – best Greek I’ve ever had – and not the high end fancy food, great gyros & pizza – actually everything’s great and coming from me that’s a high compliment – damn cheap and a byo liquor license – one of the few I’d say are worth the trip for me. Akbars – Indian, yum! And yeah, you can’t go wrong with the Helmand – go on a weekday when it isn’t packed. Dukem at Cathedral & Chase – same as the one in DC but less expensive – damn good food! Minato’s is a decent choice for sushi & other Asian fare. Oh yeah, City Café – another hip type place – usually excellent, if not 100% consistent – the good far outweighs the occasional less than perfect episodes. Finally the stables – always a fall back for – “where do you want to eat” American food? Also try Sascha’s on Charles – they’re great too for a more upscale meal. Jimmy’s and Sip ‘n Bite are great old fashioned diner places. Oh Yeah – Thai Raish (sp) on Charles – incredibly good pad thai and spring rolls for such a tiny little place

    Entertainment: Charles Theater for the artsy movies. Any of the local theatre companies are great – try Spotlighters – where else can you see a great live play for like ten bucks. Although they aren’t promoted as well as they should be, Baltimore is a major town for festivals. Pretty much every weekend during the summer there’s some ethnic festival Polish, African, Latino, Irish, Gay Pride, whatever – often around Patterson Park. Or a neighborhood festival – Fell’s Point Festival, Little Italy, Charles Village, Butcher’s Hill (where else can you see pigs running in the city!)

    A lot of times though, people in Baltimore don’t seem rely on entertainment venues as much as in other cities. I’d say you’re more likely to be invited over for a party or just hanging out than to “go out”. When pretty much everyone can actually afford to live in a decent sized place, why go out when you can have people over. (Yeah, the “hot spots are getting pricy, but there are plenty of great places that are still affordable.) Also, in a place as eclectic as this, it’s wild to find out that you’re having a conversation somewhere with say, a waiter, a professor, a multi-millionaire blue blood, a VP of something of other, a doctor, a musician, a sculptor and an unemployed bum. Baltimore really is a small town/little city – its almost impossible to say “where” to go because, well, so much of it really defies explanation. If you want “normal” go live in the Midwest. If you want the unexpected, live in Baltimore! — gee’s i didn’t mean to go on so long . ..


  13. millard (unregistered) on December 15th, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

    Hey – stumbled on to this looking for something else and had to put my own 2 cents in. Man! There are so many cool places to go in Baltimore I can’t begin to hit them all, but, here’s a few of my top pics. I live in Mount Vernon so most of what I know is fairly near by (we’ve generally got a six block rule for going anywhere any further than that and we’d have to put it up for major debate).

    Bars: Brewers Art on Charles – you gotta go there for the home brews and the cool people and the place itself. Try the resurrection, although you won’t thank me in the morning. Jay’s on Read street – nice little piano/martini/wine bar – good to have a higher end place without the attitude. Try Red Maple if you want really cosmopolitan with the NYC/DC attitude. And Midtown Yacht Club – on Center near St. Paul – gotta go there for the peanut shells on the floor neighborhood bar type place. Mick O’Shea’s is good – good food too, but I’ve got to admit I like Maggie’s by the Hippodrome too as an alternate Irish pub place. Best thing about Baltimore is there are ton’s of neighborhood places that you’ll love – you just have to find them – and that’s part of the fun – check out every hole in the wall place, you never know what you’ll find when you get inside. BTW – did you know that Baltimore has the highest ratio of bars per capita in the country after New Orleans?

    Food: Samos – best Greek I’ve ever had – and not the high end fancy food, great gyros & pizza – actually everything’s great and coming from me that’s a high compliment – damn cheap and a byo liquor license – one of the few I’d say are worth the trip for me. Akbars – Indian, yum! And yeah, you can’t go wrong with the Helmand – go on a weekday when it isn’t packed. Dukem at Cathedral & Chase – same as the one in DC but less expensive – damn good food! Minato’s is a decent choice for sushi & other Asian fare. Oh yeah, City Café – another hip type place – usually excellent, if not 100% consistent – the good far outweighs the occasional less than perfect episodes. Finally the stables – always a fall back for – “where do you want to eat” American food? Also try Sascha’s on Charles – they’re great too for a more upscale meal. Jimmy’s and Sip ‘n Bite are great old fashioned diner places. Oh Yeah – Thai Raish (sp) on Charles – incredibly good pad thai and spring rolls for such a tiny little place

    Entertainment: Charles Theater for the artsy movies. Any of the local theatre companies are great – try Spotlighters – where else can you see a great live play for like ten bucks. Although they aren’t promoted as well as they should be, Baltimore is a major town for festivals. Pretty much every weekend during the summer there’s some ethnic festival Polish, African, Latino, Irish, Gay Pride, whatever – often around Patterson Park. Or a neighborhood festival – Fell’s Point Festival, Little Italy, Charles Village, Butcher’s Hill (where else can you see pigs running in the city!)

    A lot of times though, people in Baltimore don’t seem rely on entertainment venues as much as in other cities. I’d say you’re more likely to be invited over for a party or just hanging out than to “go out”. When pretty much everyone can actually afford to live in a decent sized place, why go out when you can have people over. (Yeah, the “hot spots are getting pricy, but there are plenty of great places that are still affordable.) Also, in a place as eclectic as this, it’s wild to find out that you’re having a conversation somewhere with say, a waiter, a professor, a multi-millionaire blue blood, a VP of something of other, a doctor, a musician, a sculptor and an unemployed bum. Baltimore really is a small town/little city – its almost impossible to say “where” to go because, well, so much of it really defies explanation. If you want “normal” go live in the Midwest. If you want the unexpected, live in Baltimore! — gee’s i didn’t mean to go on so long . ..



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