870 Park Ave., 227 W. Chase St., (410) 539-4850
Leon's has been open since the 1930s, run by the same owner for 50 years, and operating as a gay bar since 1960. A few years ago, the down-home main room took over its backdoor neighbor, the former New Age Dine and Dance (with an entrance beside Dougherty's on Chase Street), and turned it briefly into a dining room called Singers. It quickly became Leon's Leather Lounge, catering, as one would imagine, to the leather-and-hair bear set. With its campier sense of queer, the Leather Lounge is always welcoming and always fun, but we're still partial to the no-nonsense divey main bar and we love the two-for-one happy hour. And it's close to the Drinkery, Hippo, Grand Central, and Jay's on Read. Let's face it: Leon's is probably the reason all of those places set up shop in the neighborhood to begin with.