Whenever we do our popular “Best Bars” feature, we find that there are as many opinions out there as there are barflies. Some people like the timeless, quiet ambiance you might find at a place like the historic Owl Bar at The Belvedere, others lean toward the chic surroundings and well-heeled clientele at old standbys like Fleming’s Prime Steak House & Wine Bar, while the younger set often opts for something a little noisier, like the many watering holes in Fells Point or Federal Hill.
In this issue, senior editor Jess Blumberg offers a range of establishments to suit just about any taste, including some places with their own loyal following that you might never have heard of.
Personally, I find different bars suit different occasions and moods.
Consider my own favorites: The Horse You Came In On Saloon in Fells Point, for instance. (It didn’t make the magazine’s list, but it sure makes mine.) It fills the bill when I want an atmosphere that’s young and lively, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s just a few blocks from my digs in Little Italy.
Another of my walkable favorites, Fells Point’s waterfront Bond Street Social, which did make our list, registers several points higher on the sophisticated meter, though I admit it does have a bit of the high-end “meat-market” personality that Blumberg touches on.
But for a more serious rendezvous, I’ll also drive a few blocks north for the experience at The Prime Rib’s bar, an old standby from which we borrowed a veteran bartender to offer additional expertise to our story.
Other places I really enjoy with their own personalities that are not on the list? The Point in Fells, for one, a casual but upscale restaurant and lounge with great views of the harbor and great food, too.
And then there’s the third-generation Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Dundalk, which is the quintessential old-timey Bawlmer bar, a place with no pretentions and awesome crabs, to boot.
Your mission? Try them all, then you decide if we got the list right.