Baltimore’s Top Bars To Watch Super Bowl XLVII

Hey there, Hon. Geddup off yer couch. It’s time for da Super Bowl! Them Ravens made a great playoff run and now it’s time to figure out where you’re going to watch the big game. Anyone can stay in their own boring living room, but you got to get out there with the real fans. Besides you can’t be chanting "Seven Nation Army" by yourself, can you? Here’s our list of the best bars in B-more to watch the final ride while you’re trying not to vomit from anxiety, overly crack your knuckles, blink too much, squeeze your fists, yell at the plasma screen, etc. Click on over to our latest Top List, appropriately titled Baltimore’s Top Bars to Watch the Super Bowl

[Related: BlackBook’s Guide to Baltimore]

Cold Waters Heat Up The Nation’s Oyster Bar Scene

Though the old saying, “Oysters should only be eaten in months that end in an ‘r’” was debunked by refrigeration and modern mariculture, the truth remains: oysters are the ideal fall food. “Oysters thrive in cold water,” says Adam Evans, the chef of Atlanta’s white–hot seafood restaurant The Optimist and the aptly named next–door oyster bar, The Oyster Bar at The Optimist. “So when the water starts to change, they get this rush of cold water, plump up, and get really nice.”

The Oyster Bar at The Optimist is just the latest of a slew of oyster bars opening across the country. In the trendy L.A. neighborhood of Silverlake, L&E Oyster Bar has been attracting crowds since it opened in January. They serve a menu of hot and cold seafood items, including a fantastic oyster po’boy and a grilled oyster platter alongside their always–changing raw oyster list, sourced from all over the country and Canada. “My partner and I love oysters,” explains co-owner Tyler Bell, “but we couldn’t find a great oyster bar like the kinds you find in New York, Boston, San Francisco, or Europe, so we opened our own.” The hankering for bivalves has been so strong, Bell recently doubled capacity by taking over the floor upstairs.

On the Eastern Seaboard, Serge Becker, owner of hipster havens La Esquina and Miss Lily’s, opened his Swiss spot Cafe Select in 2008, but it was just this summer that he converted the restaurant’s secluded back room (accessed through the kitchen) into Cervantes’ Oyster Shack and Bar. They serve schnitzel, Zurich veal, and Swiss bratwurst in the main dining room, but offer lobster salad, octopus salad, steamed mussels, ceviche, and raw oysters in the back. When deep winter hits, they’ll turn it into a fondue bar, but for now, it’s veal up front, oysters in the back.

In May, Evans and Atlanta chef–of–the–moment Ford Fry debuted The Optimist to crowds and rave reviews. The space features a large horseshoe bar, beachy decor, and a casual patio with a putt–putt course attached. A coastal region’s worth of oysters, lobster rolls, chowder, salads, and peel ’n’ eat shrimp fill the menu, and the cocktails, like the pink gin martini called The Truth As We Know It, are designed to pair well with oysters.

Though Baltimore is a seafood-centric town, first–time restaurateur Candace Beattie noticed there was a hole in the marketplace where raw bars were concerned. So after moving back home after a long stint in raw bar-heavy Boston, Beattie opened Thames Street Oyster House in the summer of 2011 in Baltimore’s Fell’s Point. She serves a mix of New England and Maryland standards.

But it isn’t just that oysters are conquering new territory. Even in the oyster heartland, new oyster shacks flourish. The talk of Boothbay Harbor, Maine this year is The World is Mine Oyster: a new restaurant with a rustic, camp-themed interior, a patio overlooking the bay, and a lengthy menu of Maine-raised oysters, served raw, steamed, baked, in shooters, and topped with everything from sour cream and caviar to serrano ham or blue cheese and bacon. In nearby Portland, three–month-old Eventide Oyster Co. offers 18 varieties of oysters from Maine and “from away” to its coterie of salty regulars.

Joe Carroll Floods Williamsburg With Lake Trout

Restaurateur Joe Carroll has done it again with his latest eatery, Lake Trout, which opened this weekend. At least this time, he moved away from his holy trinity on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and instead, set up shop down the way at 160 Havemeyer St. Still, that’s damn close.

The first venue Carroll opened was beer lover paradise Spuyten Duyvil in 2005. It was popular, sure, but more for those in-the-know than the full notoriety it has today. That changed when two years later he set his hooks in the barbecue scene and created the well-liked Fette Sau across the street. I thought he had done enough culinary damage to the avenue with that, but then Carroll went ahead and re-opened St. Anselm last year, this time as a steakhouse (before it was a snack shop that quickly closed). When that opened I wondered, could this new restaurant be as successful as his other two? Yes, based on the rave reviews it garnered and the wait times that still run over an hour on any given night, Carroll’s achievement gleams.

At Lake Trout, Carroll sticks to the Americana cuisine theme found at his other establishments, but this time, it’s styled after a fish shack with Baltimore chic. Helming the menu is former Fette Sau executive chef Matt Lang, who had a hand in deciding the direction of the tiny, 16-seat restaurant. Like Carroll’s barbecue joint, they don’t have a large menu, and instead focus on simple dishes that they execute well; these include a pollock and cheese sandwich, jumbo lump crab cakes, salt-and-pepper shrimp, and the “lake trout,” which is actually whiting fillets with French fries and potato bread. With the sudden rise of the fish sandwich (regarding New York Magazine’s spread on the dish a couple weeks ago), I wouldn’t be surprised if Carroll has another winning eatery. He just seems to know the perfect timing to go fishing.

Reid Scott on His Villainous ‘Veep’ Role and Baltimore’s Foodie Paradise

“I’ve grown to love acting so much,” says Reid Scott, “because I get to flex completely different creative muscles in front of the camera than I do behind it.” Scott, who is best known for his role as Dr. Todd Mauer opposite Laura Linney on Showtime’s cancer comedy, The Big C, initially had dreams of life in the director’s chair. But the film school graduate will have to put those plans on hold after hitting the actor’s jackpot with a part on HBO’s new workplace comedy, Veep. In the sharp, fast-talking show, adapted by acclaimed British satirist Armando Iannucci from his own BBC series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrays the American Vice President as a frustrated and marginalized second-in-Commander in Chief. Scott is the smarmy Dan Egan, a “snake in the grass” who sells out his senator boss for a chance to join the VP’s staff. “Who doesn’t like to play a bad guy?” Scott asks. “You get to exorcise all of your own demons.”

Unlike a perfectly contained Aaron Sorkin script, Veep has a more naturalistic style. “It isn’t glossy like The West Wing; even though that’s fine acting and fine writing, it doesn’t seem real. I’m pretty sure things don’t happen that way.” During shooting, the cast, which includes Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale, was sequestered in Baltimore, “marinating” in their characters but still finding time to enjoy the city’s nocturnal comforts. “I had this preconceived notion that Baltimore was not going to have good food, and was completely surprised because every place we went had terrific food,” says Scott. “We always ended up at Salt, a little place with great beers. We’re all beer drinkers, and the food was awesome.

Photo by Damian Sandone

The Weekend Takeoff: Baltimore, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Miami

Baltimore: The Daydreams + Nightmares Aerial Theatre (nicknamed DNA) are putting on a giant big-tent show called “Spectacle Obscura” at the Maryland Institute College of Art, complete with flying trapezes, contortionists, and circus acts — but with a slightly naughty twist for the all-adult crowd. October 13-16.

San Diego: The FoodNerdz Oktoberfest Tasting Challenge is a blind beer tasting of local beers with souvenir tasting glass, appetizers, and scorecard included. Go with a group and do the VIP Restaurant Tour around the city to enhance your buzz. October 15.

Seattle: Gang Gang Dance made a splash at the Pitchfork Music Festival this past summer, where their epic trippy techno/house jams packed in a crowd that could have danced for hours. Catch them at Neumos, one of Seattle’s hottest music venues. October 14.

Chicago: Corn Productions’ October bonanza has a variety of horror-themed improv performances, but Death Toll: A Drinking Game Performance features our kind of audience participation — BYOB, and drink every time someone dies. October 14 and 15.

Miami: If you can’t get tickets to Adele’s Friday night performance at American Airlines Arena, dance it out on Biscayne Boulevard at the DWNTWN Miami Concert Series at a free concert with food trucks, drinks and music under the stars. October 14.

Snoop from ‘The Wire’ Arrested in Baltimore DEA Raid

In the opening scene of episode 1, season 4, of The Wire, Marlo Stanfield’s assassin Felicia “Snoop” Pearson pays a memorable and foreboding visit to a local Home Depot. After rattling off the issues she’s been having with her current nail gun (in that almost impossible to understand B’more dialect), a helpful salesman recommends a shiny new model fueled by gunpowder. Snoop thanks him, hands over a wad of hundred dollar bills, and exits the store giddily. That nail gun would be used to seal the doors of the “vacants,” where the bodies of Marlo’s victims would be dumped. Needless to say, Snoop’s character was terrifying.

Part of Snoop’s appeal on the show was derived from the realistic nature of her character. She was plucked from the streets of Baltimore and cast in the show (which explains that thick accent). And since The Wire wrapped filming, Snoop has totally remained in character. She was arrested this morning in Baltimore, along with 30 other people, during a DEA raid connected to a large scale heroin and marijuana operation, which is essentially a scene straight out of The Wire (minus the marijuana). This is her most notable brush with the law since a second degree murder conviction at 14-years-old, which landed her behind bars for over six years.

On the bright side, there have been no mention of nail guns, and if we’re predicting things according to The Wire script, she’ll be back on the streets in no time, and somewhere McNulty and Bunk will down a 1.75 liter bottle of Jameson.

‘Paused in Time’ with Baltimore’s Other Hip Hop

Baltimore has two hip hop scenes: there’s the Baltimore Club rap scene that’s gone to the furthest reaches of hipsterdom and now latches on to everything in it. Blaqstarr, Rye Rye, M.I.A., But Brick City has a second hip hop scene that Williamsburg has yet to adopt. Naturally, it’s more interesting, gritty, and authentic one — one that bred Tupac Shakur (and imported him out to L.A.), one that somehow can’t get it together despite tremendous talent. That scene had little to speak for it, until now. The documentary Paused in Time is — like the scene it covers — gritty, low budget, and isn’t trying hard enough to attract the interest of people who wouldn’t know better. That said, it’s worth a watch for a peak inside of a world made by fans, for fans.

You won’t see any names you recognize, nor will you see anything that even looks remotely mainstream-ready. What you will see is a tried-and-true scene that, despite having to pull away from the drain on larger ambitions, still sticks to its mission of making music and having a decent time. It’s not the kind of insider’s look you’re going to get anywhere else, and it’s one of the less explored corners of hip hop that, if you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll recognize as — if anything — honest.

Baltimore Itinerary: Rye Rye

Most people know Baltimore by way of HBO’s gritty drama The Wire: a rotting playground for corrupt politicians and bloodthirsty gangsters. But Rye Rye (born Ryeisha Berrain), a laid-back rapper with amphetamine rhymes from the city’s hardscrabble east side projects, has nothing but love for her hometown’s spirited club scene. And even though she’ll drop her debut LP this fall, on M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. label, the 18-year-old music sensation doesn’t intend to leave town any time soon. “I plan on staying with my family for a while,” she says, “while repping that B-more sound.”

Joe Squared Pizza & Bar 133 West North Avenue My friends who are into the hip-hop scene go here. At night, they play music and different guys just jump back and forth into a circle. But they’re having fun, not competing. It reminds me of So You Think You Can Dance?, with hardcore breakdancing. Oh, and the pizza’s good, too. Usually, you buy a pizza and leave, but here, you sit down and watch a hip-hop dance show.


Sonar 407 East Saratoga Street Whereas Paradox has all the loud ghetto kids, Sonar has more of a hipster scene. It’s a lot of kids sitting around, chilling and drinking, and there are never any fights here. I used to go when I was 17 because I knew a guy who promoted the parties. A lot of people from the underground stopped by to spin techno and electronica, and I’d just pop up randomly—I’d go when Diplo was in town, and everyone would be wilin’ out.


Paradox 1310 Russell Street This is where M.I.A. directed the video for my single “Bang.” There are a lot of dance-offs here, with everybody crowding around in big circles and watching. When I was younger and wasn’t supposed to get into clubs, I used my older sister’s ID. That’s when it was fun, because you knew you weren’t supposed to be there. Nowadays, the youngest kids in there are like 12 or 13.


Broadway Diner 6501 Eastern Avenue If we go out to Sonar or Paradox, most likely we’ll be leaving late, so a whole group of us will go here because it’s the only place still open. I usually order the Buffalo wings with some ranch dressing. It’s never really crowded, so we can laugh and make some noise. It’s all about the people you’re with.


The Sound Garden 1616 Thames Street I didn’t even know there was a record store in Baltimore until one of my friends took me down here and I saw all this stuff I was on, like the Mad Decent EP. A lot of hipsters go here just to hang out. If you’re looking for a record, it’s a cool spot to hit.

Industry Insiders: Aaron Lacrate, Livin’ on T-Shirts & Vinyl

You can usually find Aaron Lacrate lighting up the 1’s and 2’s while spinning records in New York City or bragging that Robert Downey Jr. and Robin Williams are sporting his custom-made shirts. As creator of the clothing company Milkcrate NYC, Lacrate has avant-garde couture junkies clamoring to get one of his signature designs. When he’s not dishing out his fashion to the selective circles afforded to browse the goods, the Baltimore-bred DJ is working on building his record label, B-More Gutter World Wide. The label just released the critically acclaimed B-More Club Crack, an album his crew created as a way to allocate the signature sound of Baltimore club music worldwide. Lacrate takes time to discuss his burgeoning empire and why naming his company Milkcrate B-More just didn’t make sense.

How would you describe yourself? I’m the creative director of Aaron Lacrate, Inc., the last great underground brand. We do most things first, best, and in an underground high-profile way that eventually impacts a cross section of music, street art and fashion — all while keeping the competition quite upset.

How did Milkcrate NYC come about? I’ve been designing t-shirts since I was young. It all started when I couldn’t find things I liked, so I started making them. Just taking a black sharpie, a record cover, and a Hanes under shirt, I’d trace the artwork and draw my own stuff making my own t-shirts. From there I made “DJ Cool Aaron” t-shirts and sold them when I would DJ gigs. I was the only 13-year-old DJ with my own merchandise.

So, from there you wanted to design clothes? It all happened very gradually. I was always a music and graffiti kid. Keith Haring was a huge inspiration with the way he merchandised his art. I started blending the lines between the two with early street fashion because I always loved graffiti, so clothing was another way to get up on peoples’ backs. To see someone wearing a Milkcrate logo or design was like tagging a train, per se, so I always enjoyed getting my designs out there. It’s how I communicate.

Do you have any celebs endorsing Milkcrate? Yes, the young hell raiser, Lily Allen. Many celebs have asked for personal designs: Jay Z, Mark Ronson, Dizzee Rascal, and The Cool Kids, among others.

Now, switching gears, how did you get started as a DJ? I grew up on Baltimore club music. I have all the records that B-more club was sampled from and the first records that were pressed up locally. I was a 10- or 11-year-old kid in the city, going to clubs when this music started. Not every kid gets to grow up around all of that. It was the best party music for a DJ, with total energy. It’s funny that the little kid hanging around came full circle and blew the sound up worldwide. That’s real-ish.

Who are some of your influences from the club music scene? First off, my good pal and mentor DJ Equalizer started B-more club music. He was the first person to produce, package and sell Baltimore music to the world. DJ Equalizer doesn’t speak to just anyone; he’s a true pioneer in my backyard. I grew up listening to DJ Equalizer, Frank Ski, Sean Henry, Sean Marshall, DJ Boobie, DJ Precise … man, the list goes on. There was so much talent when I was a kid.

What do you enjoy more, designing clothes or spinning records? It’s the same process for me. Designing a beat, or producing a collection of clothing. It all comes from the same place, but clothing is tangible and music isn’t. They affect the world quite differently, which is what I really enjoy.

Where’s your favorite place to DJ in New York? I liked the Beatrice Inn because I had my birthday party there, and people are always ready to party.

Hottest place to hang in NYC? Milkcrate NYC, of course.

Since you’re from Baltimore, why didn’t you name your clothing line Milkcrate B-More? NYC sounded so much better. Milkcrate NYC created B-more Gutter Music. It’s a bigger idea.