Artscape is great and all — the people watching, excessive amounts of fried food, drinking in the streets, live music, the art (be it weird, boring, performance, or otherwise), the surrounding -scapes — but there comes a time when your brain starts to turn to mush. After walking past the 74th homemade jewelry tent, you deserve a break with a bar stool or table and some air conditioning, food, and drink. Luckily, there are some pretty damn good bars and restaurants nearby to help out. (Also check out our guide to Artscape after parties)
Here are some of our favorite places to duck into when you've had enough of people handing out Maryland Lottery fliers:
Mount Royal Tavern (1204 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 669-6686): Pretty much the unofficial bar headquarters of Artscape, this infamously dive-y institution is the first place we think of when we need to beat the heat or just get out of the crowd. There always seems to be cheap (and cold) cans of Boh and equally cheap shots of Pikesville Rye, which help those three funnel cakes you just housed go down a bit easier. The bartenders don't put up with any shit (our favorite kind), so the tourists typically don't last long here. Be sure to hit an ATM first, as it's cash only. Added bonus: You'll get to see the Foodscape work on display.
Club Charles (1724 N. Charles St., (410) 727-8815): We always like to dip into this dark haven to play a couple tunes on the excellent jukebox, order some beers or cocktails, and chat up the always friendly and superbly dressed bartenders. Grab a seat in one of the red art-deco mini-booths and let one of the bar's underrated Manhattans heal you from the baby stroller that just rammed your ankles.
Turp's Sports Bar (1317 N. Charles St., (410) 347-0349): If you parked on the south side of the festival or took the Circulator up, this recently rentovated bar is the perfect spot to stop in for a pre-scape beer. You'll want to grab a 16 oz. O's Boh, sit outside on one of their patio tables, and ponder just what the fuck you're about to get yourself into. You'll especially want to stop by after 4 p.m. on Sunday, when you won’t be the only person sneaking in to see how the Orioles are doing against Oakland.
The Brewer’s Art (1106 N. Charles St., (410) 547-6925): Usually this bar is one of the only reasons people from other neighborhoods wander to Mount Vernon/Midtown. While that's unfortunate (there’s plenty more), we can't blame people for beelining it to this cornucopia of craft beer and delicious food. Artscape is as good an excuse as any to stop into the Victorian-appointed upstairs or stumble downstairs to visit Beazly and co. in the catacomb basement bar. Doors don't open until 4 p.m., just in time for a mid-fest Resurrection (excuse the pun).
Caribbean Paradise (1818 N. Charles St., (410) 332-8422): Most people don't know about this place, which is sad, but since Artscape is right outside their door, it's the perfect time for you to discover the truly authentic Caribbean grub. If you're looking to absorb some of that booze, it's hard to go wrong with the jerk chicken and fried plantains. But if you're willing to get adventurous, you should try the ox tail stew or goat curry. There will definitely be some "holy shit, taste this" moments.
Lost City Diner (1730 N. Charles St., (410) 547-5678): If all that grilled meat smoke hanging in the air has you yearning for a vegetarian or vegan option, Lost City Diner is the spot. With an extensive menu of diner grub, malts, sundaes, and breakfast all-the-damn-day (almost all of which is available vegan or vegetarian), Lost City will probably have something that'll keep you going. Or, if you’re indulging in those Artscape after parties, something that'll keep you from feeling shitty the next morning (they're open until 3 a.m. on weekends).
Ryleigh’s Oyster Bar (1225 Cathedral St.): Okay, so they're not even close to being open in their new location across the street from the Meyerhoff (where Mari Luna was), but that's not stopping Ryleigh's from giving people a taste of what to expect. If you're looking satisfy that oyster craving, pop on over for shucked bivalves and pit beef sandwiches. Did we mention orange crushes?
Shapiro's Café (7 W. Preston St., (443) 220-0050): If you're looking for a legitimate falafel or a brisket sandwich made in-house, this downstairs hidden gem has you covered. Mainly known to local lunch crowds and UB students, Shapiro's also has some pretty stellar corned beef and shawarma. Grab a table outside and bring napkins because that Tahini sauce has a mind of its own.
Liam Flynn’s Ale House (22 W. North Ave., (410) 244-8447): Smoked meats, plowman platters, Irish beers, and hand pumped cask ales make for good excuses to wander up to this North Avenue Irish bar. You'll find a loyal group of regulars, friendly bartenders, and maybe even some live Irish music (if not, their jukebox is bad ass). Their Facebook page says they'll have outdoor seating, and based on the weather forecast, you're going to want to take advantage of that.
Aloha Bar (1218 N. Charles St., (443) 759-8531): If you're feeling a bit inspired after Sharon Jones's set, head downstairs to this bar and you can choose from their huge catalog of songs to satiate your karaoke needs. We can't guarantee the quality of the microphone or even if the videos will relate to your song (windsurfing/eagles/beaches?), but that’s all part of the fun. Grab a Hite (Korea's version of Budweiser) and prepare to make a fool of yourself.
Joe Squared (133 W. North Ave., (410) 545-0444): If you can score a table at this always-busy Baltimore pizza institution, you'll be rewarded with deliciously charred pizzas and creamy risottos. Let us also remind you that it's summer, you're at a festival, and they have one of the most extensive rum selections in the city. Act accordingly. Also, Ratscape is right next door.
Two Boots (1203 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 625-2668): If you're looking for a pizza fix closer to Mount Royal Avenue, there's no better spot than Two Boots. Last year we enjoyed a slice of The Dude — a cajun hamburger pizza with Tasso ham and Andouille sausage — while watching people take off on the flying bike installation. Perfect for a quick rest and nosh between strolls.