Food & Drink

15 Baltimore Bars That Are Worth an Overnight Stay

Published On 02/11/2015 Published On 02/11/2015
Bryn Dunbar
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Christian Horan
The Owl Bar
W.C. Harlan
Flickr/Tim Marshall
Laura Hayes/Thrillist
Max's Taphouse
Alewife
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1. Woodberry Kitchen 2010 Clipper Park Rd, Baltimore, MD 21211 (Baltimore)

At Woodberry Kitchen, farm-to-fork means cuisine that is curated, specifically, to Maryland's seasonal agricultural offerings. In the warmer months, the restaurant serves whole, baked Pink Lady apples, and flanks of black bass with salt clams, while the winter menu boasts wood-roasted lamb sausage with root vegetables, and marinated squash with wheatberries and cabbage. At any given time, Woodberry sources only the best of what local Chesapeake growers have to offer, basing their menu around the freshest ingredients available to them. The space itself is built of exposed red brick and heavy wooden communal tables, with chopped logs stacked against the walls. The bar is central, and the open kitchen offers an unobstructed view of the chefs, dancing around the wood-fired oven. The patio is decked with string lights, the cocktail program is whiskey-forward, and the food is incomparably fresh.

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2. The Fork & Wrench 2322 Boston St, Baltimore, MD 21224

This Canton restaurant suits a lot of needs -- whether it’s the dive-bar inspired drinks (including a pickleback popsicle!) crafted by Shana Leachman or the out-of-the-box cuisine by chef Cyrus Keefer.

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3. Birds of a Feather 1712 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21231 (Baltimore)

It feels like you’re stepping onto a ship when you cross the threshold of this Scotch bar that could very well serve as a museum of the single-malt spirit. Consult a laminated Excel spreadsheet of 130 Scotches, color-coded by region, to pick your pour. If regions don’t do it for you, look for red text symbolizing that you’d like to get spanked with peat. The nautically appointed bar looks like a visit to an eclectic uncle’s house, with its crackling fireplace and worn couches. Just don’t expect any mood-lighting in the cozy back room, nor a bartender who fawns over customers. Drinking is serious business here; so for the love of god (or Ron Burgundy), don’t request anything "on the rocks." Pro-tip: Lure owner Alicia Horn into telling you stories -- she’s been at this for decades.

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4. B & O American Brasserie 2 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

One of Baltimore’s cocktail authorities sets up shop at B&O American Brasserie inside The Hotel Monaco Baltimore (stay here, by the way). Brendan Dorr is the bar’s lead bartender and founder of the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild. Watching him shake and stir is kind of like watching an Olympic athlete compete in a sport you can only hope to understand. He’s makes school bus-yellow drinks from golden beet juice, whips up a handsome stout flip, and serves a memorable Mason jar filled with Line State punch for two. He’s even dreamed up cocktails to pair with dishes on the dinner menu. Don’t leave without trying a B&O Old Fashioned or the pit beef sliders.

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5. Bad Decisions 1928 Fleet St, Baltimore, MD 21231 (Baltimore)

Bad Decisions is known for two things: its collection of 900 kinds of liquor, and being a bastion of bacon. Settle in and see if you can snag time with the drink list. There’s only one, and it amounts to hand-scribbled recipes in a graph paper notebook. Order a Bald Cucumber, or just tell the bartender any drink you’ve ever enjoyed and he’ll make it. Then nosh on these bacon-wrapped pork wings -- smoked- and deep-fried pork shanks wrapped with the good stuff and covered in BBQ sauce. Don’t leave without taking pause to appreciate the Four Seasons-level of service at a four-star dive bar.

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6. The Brewer's Art 1106 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

The brewpub covers a two-story mansion, with a dining room on the ground-level and a more casual space below, where drinkers can sample Belgian-style beers and pub food.

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7. Rye Craft Cocktails 807 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231

The narrow bar, with purple velvet lounge chairs and Edison light bulbs, is where to go in Baltimore if you want a Manhattan made right.

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8. Maggie's Farm 4341 Harford Rd, Baltimore, MD 21214

The red-hued bistro features upscale, comfort-y starters like farmstead cheese plates and a fried green tomato & soft-shell crab dish, plus half-entrees and a “dirty hipster burger”.

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9. Wit & Wisdom 200 International Dr, Baltimore, MD 21202 (Baltimore)

Don't be fooled by the location inside the Four Seasons, you can still wrap your paws around comfort food treats like the Bourbon Steak Burger, which comes with a foie gras slider, because you've earned it.

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10. The Owl Bar 1 East Chase St, Baltimore, MD 21202 (Baltimore)

Take all of your convictions about what constitutes a "hotel bar" and throw them out the window. A few steps into The Owl Bar, located inside the historic Belvedere, and you’ll find an eclectic bar decked with an owl insignia, where Journey is played and pizza & fried pickles are cranked out. They’ve been a reliable nightlife destination for drinks since opening in 1903. This includes Prohibition, when the owl’s blinking eyes signified a shipment of booze had made it and the feds were nowhere in sight. The bar's 18 draughts are interesting, and the cocktails are split between old-school and new-school (and top out at $12). Before bouncing, head up to the hotel’s 13th Floor for a drink with a view.

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11. W.C. Harlan 400 W 23rd St, Baltimore, MD 21211

Under low-lit chandeliers, bartenders in retro-flowery dresses pour well-made drinks like the stellar Old Fashioned with James E. Pepper 1776 Rye and a cinnamon cherry.

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12. Of Love and Regret 1028 S Conkling St, Baltimore, MD 21224 (Baltimore)

If you can stop carrying on about the hipsters, you’ll find a notable beer & cocktail gastropub near the Natty Boh Tower. It’s nicknamed OLAR, not to be confused with OMAR from The Wire. Beer-wise, you’re drinking Stillwater Artisanal drafts from owner Brian Strumke. He’s been labeled everything from a "gypsy brewer" to a "vagabond" because of his habit of utilizing others’ equipment instead of setting up a brewery of his own. It’s working, because the 18 Stillwater options (and counting!) are tasty. OLAR's cocktails promise to eschew fancy bitters and syrups in favor of booze thoughtfully layered on booze. We dig the barrel-aged options priced at $11 or less, and creative shot-and-beer combos like a can of Classique paired with a shot of Fernet-Branca.

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13. Annabel Lee Tavern 601 S Clinton St, Baltimore, MD 21224 (Baltimore)

This bar embraces Edgar Allen Poe to the extreme (but not a creepy extreme like The Following). For starters, there are about a dozen Poe-themed cocktails like "The Raven," which gets its purple color from cranberry juice and four kinds of berry vodka. Perhaps they should call it the "Poe-Island Iced Tea," since it’s served in a full pint glass. Or, opt for a draft of Tell Tale Heart IPA or The Raven Special Lager, both from local brewery Baltimore-Washington Beer Works. Bar manager Donnie Meyd says the goal was for the space to feel like a grandmother’s living room, and boy did they succeed. Pass the crochet needles, please. Oh, and an order of their legendary duck fat fries.

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14. Max’s Taphouse 737 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231 (Baltimore)

Max’s has been a bastion of beer for 28 years, bringing pints upon pints to thirsty Baltimoreans. If 102 different drafts (including five cask beers) doesn’t impress you, surely the 2,000 bottles will. If it wasn’t so expansive -- there are three separate bars with cool names like "Mobtown Lounge" and "Notre Passion" -- it might remind you of DC’s beloved ChurchKey. Soak up all that beer with epic pub food creations, like their famed tater tot bowl. General Manager Casey Hard says Max’s is also known for being the king of beer debuts, as one typically takes place once a week, keeping the bar on the cutting edge of brews.

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15. Alewife 21 N Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201 (Baltimore)

You’re coming to this old bank building that dates back to the 1800s for two things: the curated list of 40 craft beers on draft (plus bottles) and the Smoke Burger. Picture a stack of smoked Gouda, Gruyère, Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and chipotle aioli atop a patty of local beef on a brioche bun. Alewife’s motto is simple: "We don’t serve any sh*t." That’s Bar Manager Leila Ghandi’s philosophy, and she’s referring to not serving certain popular beverages you may see advertised during sporting events. Alewife's beer list is updated online, and favors breweries like Terrapin, Victory, Smuttynose, and Yards.