Tag Archives: neighborhood bar

Chop on the Spot: Griffith’s Tavern

Part of the appeal of any neighborhood bar is being in a spot where “everybody knows your name,” but as we discussed in a previous post, a little anonymity can go a long way sometimes. There are times when a man wants a little solitude; not too much, just an hour or so to sit in the dark, not be bothered, have a drink and be alone with his thoughts.

It’s at times like these- these blessed, quiet hours, that you might find the Chop in Griffith’s Tavern with a cold draft and our phone turned off, hiding in plain sight. Griffith’s is truly the best of both worlds- the place where the bartender will learn your name and your drink, but where you’re guaranteed not to run into anyone you’d rather not run into.

Griffith's Tavern... the bar that time forgot.

In a way, hiding in plain sight is what Griffith’s does best. It sits there right on Hickory, just a block up from the Avenue smack in the dead-center of Hampden proper. It’s still pretty easy to miss though, being as non-descript as a bar can be. There’s comparatively little traffic passing that corner, and even some of the Hampden locals who pass the place on foot mistake it for being either a private club of some sort, or being closed down entirely. The small sign with business hours posted is the only clue that it’s actually a functional bar. Being attached to the back of a rowhouse, with solid steel doors and tiny, barred windows the place is willingly uninviting from the exterior.

On the interior, it’s nothing less than the bar that time forgot. Stepping inside the door is literally like stepping back in time. Wood paneling is the predominant theme, accented by a nicotine-stained drop ceiling, an ancient, never-refinished wooden bar, and a Bud Light clock over the video poker machine which looks to date from about 1985. One flatscreen TV jammed up in the corner is the only nod to modernity.

The flashback continues behind the bar, where you’ll see a few things that are tough to find in some bars these days; glass-door coolers with cans of Busch, pints and half pints of liquor for carry-out, snack food and a “medicine cabinet” stocked with singles of Tylenol, Advil, and Bayer, which come in handy in the kind of bar that opens at 9 am and has no food menu. There’s even an old coffee pot behind the bar.

Of course, the regulars at Griffith’s don’t notice anything being out of date, because that’s just the way things have always been. Griffith’s caters to Hampden’s last genuine Hons. We’re not talking about the neck-tattooed, Newport-breath, recovery program ‘Hons’ you find in Zissimo’s or Dmitri’s either. Griffith’s is like the beauty parlor; the place your mom and your aunt get together to gossip about the neighbor’s kids. A $2.50 draft is cheaper than a perm. Much like a salon or a barbershop, the conversation here is general. Anyone can take the floor and put in their two cents at any time, and not be thought rude for doing so. Or you can just sit back and listen. You don’t even have to listen that long before you hear a few good digs at the expense of a certain Hampden restaurateur.

Griffith’s may not be the best choice for Saturday night. It’s not the bar you pick to meet a friend for dinner. If you’re looking to flirt or meet someone, you’re definitely in the wrong place. But if what you seek is a cold beer and a peaceful hour, enjoyably spent then there may be no better bar in Baltimore.

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Chop on the Spot: Charles Village Pub

The Charles Village Pub has always had an outstanding business model: put a bar where a bar needs to be. Be a bar. Have beer and liquor, some background music, a few TV’s, and let the people come.

All the basics are there, right on Saint Paul Street, and no frills at all. It’s a solid business plan that’s seen them through a lot, and starting today and running through Saturday, they’ll be celebrating their 30 year anniversary.

CVP hasn't changed much in 30 years. Why would it?

We’ve never really gone out of our way to rave about the CVP. At the same time, we could hardly imagine Charles Village without it. For a neighborhood comprised almost entirely of savvy, socially conscious urbanites and with a critical mass of college students, there is a dearth of bars and taverns in Charles Village. The taps at CVP though run as reliably as old faithful.

Perhaps the Pub’s chief virtue is that it serves as a true neighborhood bar, able to function as all things to all people. Is it a sports bar? a college bar? a casual dining restaurant? a happy hour spot? a place to hide from the sun for an eye opener? Yes. It’s all of these things.

Personally, we love the Charles Village Pub for its happy hour (2-4-1 rail and wine and discounts on beer, as well as half price bar food) and its prime location for people-watching, especially if you’re snagging a table on the sidewalk or in the window. We love them for keeping regular hours on Sundays, football or no. And then there’s the cheese fries.

The menu is hardly gourmet fare, but that matters not, because we don’t even need to look at the menu. There may be no finer combination in the epicurean universe than crispy fried foodservice fries and processed cheese sauce. Not only will the CVP serve you up a giant basket of perfectly made cheese fries any time of day, they’ll give you a six ounce cup of ranch dressing gratis to dump all over them and not pass any judgments when you do.

The pub will be celebrating their pearl anniversary all week long; presumably with specials, although when we inquired about what those specials might be recently, no one we spoke with on staff seemed to know. So we guess you’ll have to find out how they’re celebrating this week for yourself. We certainly intend to.

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