Baltimore Bars: The Life Of The City
By Tawanna Browne Smith
Family Travel Expert
Bars are a big part of the Baltimore identity. The Irish pubs and other stop-offs for working class Baltimoreans helped shape the culture of the city's after-work life. Today, the city is home to a diverse collection of bars, more cosmopolitan and reflective of Baltimore's many cultures, classes, and interests of its drinking population. Irish bars, pubs, hotel bars, club bars and everything in between dot our list of 10 Best bars in Baltimore. Just like the wines, spirits, and liquors that fill their shelves, out of this group of bars, there's something for everyone.
Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Baltimore for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like The Brewer's Art to busy places like Mt. Washington Tavern that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Mt Vernon area? No fear - we share all the facts!
10 The Owl Bar
Located on the first floor of the Historic Belvedere in downtown Baltimore, the Owl Bar offers a distinct nightlife setting that will take you back in time. Offering a full menu and long bar, its decor of dark wood and leather seats channels images of bars from the 20s and 30s. Pictures of celebrity line the walls of the hallways leading into the doors of the bar. (410-347-0888)
9 Mick O'Shea's
When it comes to Irish culture, ambiance, food and drinks, it doesn't get any better than Baltimore's Mick O'Shea's Irish Pub. Settle down at the bar for a smooth Guinness Stout or Magner's Irish Cider. If you have an empty stomach, consider a generous platter of Tinney's Fish and Chips or Bangers and Mash, which features Irish sausage, served alongside mashed potatoes with Guinness brown gravy and whiskey mustard sauerkraut. Make sure to get to Mick O'Shea's Baltimore pub by 9:30 pm on the weekends when they feature different live music. (410-539-7504, 410-539-1008)
8 Max's on Broadway
An outstanding draft selection that includes both imported and domestic brews — that is Max's main attraction. The congenial atmosphere, enhanced by TVs, billiards and a dart room, adds to the appeal of this charming Fells Point storefront. Several choices of burgers, from the Black and Bleu to the Chili Cheese, and heaping plates of nachos help keep hunger at bay. (410-675-6297, 888-675-6297)
7 Grand Cru
Offering both a retail shop and wine bar, this casual-yet-stylish spot boasts up to 300 labels. Tantalizing bites include house-baked pretzels with shallot-tarragon drawn butter and a fresh olive assortment. Tartes flambées (thin pastry crust with savory toppings) come in several varieties such as gratinee (Dijon and gruyere) and chevre (goat cheese and leek). During the summer, Grand Cru co-hosts outdoor concerts on Friday nights. (410-464-1944)
6 The Gin Mill
This down-to-earth neighborhood joint draws a loyal following from the 25+ crowd. Patrons down pints of Guinness, watch sports or shoot pool while jukebox tunes play in the background. In addition to the spacious main room, the upstairs space features billiard tables and a second bar. Happy hour features great beer and cocktail specials. (410-327-6455)
5 DuClaw Brewing Company
This popular brew pub has established quite a presence in the Baltimore area. Signature brews carry names such as Venom Pale Ale, Bad Moon Porter, Ravenwood, Kangaroo Love, Misfit Red, and Bare Ass Blond Ale. Tempting grub like potstickers, mussels and ale, and soft pretzel sticks complement the beer, and if it's dinner you're after, the kitchen serves some terrific mains, including New York strip steak and chipotle lime tilapia. (410-799-1166)
4 Pratt Street Ale House
Located in a 19th century building downtown, this British-themed pub draws locals for a pint of ale and coverage of the latest sports. The menu offers hearty fare such fish and chips and shepherd's pie, as well as thick sandwiches. Try a wharf melt with crab, shrimp or tuna salad on French bread, baked with cheddar or muenster cheese. The daily beer tasting features three different Oliver beers, available until 7pm. (410-244-8900)
Offering everything hip in the world of dining, this open, multi-level cafe and bar features sushi, gelato, all-day breakfast, paninis, wraps and more. The chrome bar, surrounded with stools and additional high-top tables, is perfect for mingling over drinks ... an amazing variety of drinks. Fourteen specialty cocktails, wines available by the glass or bottle, domestic and imported brews and even a cool selection of sake. (410-468-0002)
2 Mt. Washington Tavern
This classic neighborhood restaurant houses a dining room and several bars. A raw bar and tempting steak, pasta and seafood dishes highlight the dinner menu; meanwhile, brunch features blueberry pancakes, breakfast frittata and a variety of omelets. If you've come for a drink, check out the entertaining main bar, or head to the delightful rooftop Sky Bar. (410-367-6903)
1 The Brewer's Art
This bar is for real beer-lovers — not the crazy college type who favors quantity over quality, but the real beer connoisseur who likes to savor the color, flavor, and froth of each glass. The Belgian homebrews created here are crisp and light, and make perfect accompaniments to the unique European cuisine served in the restaurant. But non-diners are welcome here, too. Relax in the casual basement room or meet and greet the hip crowd at the bar on the main floor. Kick back with a flavorful Resurrection Ale, and your good mood is sure to return. Full menu available downstairs; light fare upstairs. (410-547-6925)
About Tawanna Browne Smith
Tawanna has had a wanderlust spirit since she was 13. A dozen or so addresses later, she now resides in Maryland with her husband and two sons. Tawanna is the founder and creator of Mom's Guide To Travel, a family travel blog. She's also a contributor to the Travel Channel. If she's not traveling somewhere out of state, she's either shopping or searching for the best crabcake or the best cupcake in the Baltimore-Washington area.
Read more about Tawanna Browne Smith here.