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Best Baltimore Nightlife

AOL PICK from our Editors

Baltimore’s nightlife scene is fun, innovative, atmospheric, full of the irrepressible energy of the intersection of the creative and working classes and—bam, the one drawback: it cuts off too early. Seriously, the fantastic quality of bars, clubs and concert venues here belies the ridiculously early hours imposed from on high. When the hour hand creeps towards 2AM, you think the night is just getting started, but here it just means last call. Oh well. At least the best Baltimore clubs and bars are awesome when they’re open. If you want fratty meat-market-style spots, hit the bars in Fells Point or Canton Square.

Ottobar

Neighborhood: Hampden & North Baltimore

If we’re catching a gig in Baltimore, we like to do so at Ottobar. It’s not a particularly storied venue; Ottobar has only been around since 1997, so it’s a relatively new spot. But it’s quickly built an enviable reputation as the best small(ish) space for live music in town, by dint of booking acts that range from the utterly indie to some powerful big names like KRS-One, Animal Collective and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It helps, of course, that the sightlines are excellent, the sound system is rocking and the beer is pretty cheap.

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Brewer's Art

Neighborhood: Mt Vernon

Apologies are in order: While we place Brewer’s Art under “nightlife,” you need to know right off the bat that this is a great place for a mid-range meal, as well. That said, we love it as one of the finest places in town for a good beer and conversation, and even a little eye candy feasting if you’re so inclined. The setting is a lavishly refurbished old B’more townhouse, and the brew…well, the title does not lie. There are several fine house brews, but we love the Ozzy for its deep character and (oh yeah) 7.25 percent alcohol content.

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Captain Larry's

Neighborhood: South Baltimore

Long one of America’s most important ports, Baltimore has a long and glorious tradition of welcoming sailors, smugglers, prostitutes, criminals and other interesting folks into her formstone embrace. Larry’s is as fine a maritime bar as any in this town. It is, in essence, execution and atmosphere, a pub for South Baltimore, as gritty, gruff, friendly and wonderful as the neighborhood in which it is contained. Make sure you have some of the fine crab dip to accompany a fine porter or stout.

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Annabel Lee

Neighborhood: Fells Point

Edgar Allen Poe is one of Baltimore’s more famous native sons (a famous local joke: A tourist says, “I’m looking for Edgar Allen Poe’s house.” The local replies, “That a po’house. That a po’ house. Man every house around a po’ house!”) The NFL’s Ravens are named for one of Poe’s poems (if you don’t know the name, we’ll remain silent on the topic forevermore), as is this bar. The Annabel Lee is just about as moody, if a bit less broody, than its namesake; a bar that drips coziness and gothiness in equal measure. Those qualities aren’t often in sync in bars, but they are here, at the sort of spot that knows how to be Baltimore-friendly and weird all at once.

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Club Charles

Neighborhood: Mt Vernon

There may be better jukeboxes in town than the one at the Charles, but honestly, when we can put together a set of My Bloody Valentine and James Brown that takes us through the better part of the night, we’re not into checking out other spots. What’s the point? Why leave the Charles? It’s got sexy dim red lighting and that interior—a sort of Mucha-meets-Miami-deco pastiche—and the crowd, which runs from white to black to gay to straight to tattooed to un-inked, all neighbors, all toasting to a good time.

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