When Geoff Danek added a bar to his small Mexican eatery Holy Frijoles, it instantly drew a crowd. Clearly, Hampden had been ripe for a funky, très hip spot for drinks and some inexpensive chow. Now Danek's betting the neighborhood could use another such place—and judging by the crowds we've seen each time we've visited the newly opened Rocket to Venus (3360 Chestnut Avenue, 410-235-7887), he bet right. Like Frijoles, R2V (already the accepted textspeak nickname) is more a bar with food than a restaurant with a bar, and at night the place can get standing-room-only with young, black-clad partiers who look like they were bused here directly from Williamsburg. They go well with the place's retro-rocket décor, which includes oval portholes/windows and spacesuit-blue walls. But Rocket serves a page-long menu of creative bar fare. Danek once described it to us as "everything I like to eat," which may explain its free-roaming ethos (Szechuan noodles and chicken puttanesca, tofu sloppy joes and steak frites). As for the name, Danek says it came from an old article about a 1928 attempt by three Hampden men to launch a homemade rocket to, yes, Venus. That project never got off the ground—literally—but this one looks like it's on its way.
Rocket to Venus achieves orbit.
Issue date: March, 2007