Dining review

New Tex-Mex flavor gives Woody's Cantina a kick

For The Baltimore Sun
Woody's has always been a great place to hang out. Now, it's even better with a new menu.

With so many places at eye level in Fells Point, it's easy to walk right past Woody's Cantina, which sits atop Fell's Point Creamery. And that would be a shame.

The longtime restaurant, which recently adjusted its name and menu, is a fun spot for a drink, a casual meal and an elevated view of the harbor.

The rebranded Woody's focuses on tacos and tequila with a Central American twist. Its former iteration, Woody's Rum Bar & Island Grill, took inspiration from the Caribbean. The once-seasonal restaurant now plans to be open year-round.

"The rum bar was always a hit in the summer," said Willy Dely, director of operations for Woody's and other holdings owned by Patrick and Katie Russell, including Kooper's Tavern and Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant in Fells Point. "When the temperatures went down, it was harder to keep customers."

To get to the dining area, patrons climb two flights of carpeted stairs to enter a room that features a four-seat bar adorned with a festive, rainbow-painted "Woody's" sign, high-top and individual tables, and banquette seating.

During the day, the area, which seats 45, is filled with natural light. In the evening, lights strung across the room create a party setting.

Once you have snagged a seat at this reprieve from the bustling street below, you won't want to leave.

Scene & Decor: The dining area has a beach vibe with open windows, whirling ceiling fans and views of the harbor — which are still impressive despite the construction going on nearby.

Appetizers: The Mexican nachos ($12) can be a meal or a plate to share. The mound of corn tortillas was generously topped with roasted corn, pico de gallo, jalapenos, black beans and queso blanco. You get a choice of chipotle chicken, carne asada (beef), marinated shrimp or chorizo to cap off the dish. We decided on shrimp and were pleased with the huge, delicious hunks dotting the dish. The lump crab and avocado salad ($14) was a delectable combo served in a scooped-out avocado shell. Dip into it with the accompanying crisp tortilla chips.

Entrees: Seven types of tacos with various fillings are offered. We really liked our choices. The marinated flank steak tacos ($8, two per serving) were laden with tender beef, a jack and cheddar cheese blend, pico de gallo, cilantro and onions. The fish tacos ($8, two per serving) were also very tasty, with fried, marinated mahi-mahi, cheese, spicy Baja slaw and pico de gallo — all drizzled with a tangy jalepeno ranch sauce.

Drinks: Signature cocktails include tall glasses of iced red and white sangria with fruit ($8) and several types of margaritas. Woody's also serves tequila flights, beer, white wine in cans and Mexican Coca-Cola.

Service: Our waitress was friendly and helpful, offering to make suggestions if we needed them.

Dessert: No desserts are available, but our server suggested we could get an ice cream at the shop below the restaurant and bring it to our table if we wanted to linger. Now that's good service.

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Woody's Cantina

Backstory: Woody's Rum Bar & Island Grill opened in 2004 and is one of Patrick and Katie Russell's restaurant operations in Fells Point and Baltimore County. In April, the restaurant reopened after a winter hiatus and was rechristened Woody's Cantina, with a Tex-Mex menu that includes tacos and tequila flights. "The goal is to be year-round," said Willy Dely, Woody's director of operations.

Signature dish: Marinated steak tacos

TVs: Five

Where: 821 S. Broadway, Fells Point

Contact: 410-563-6800, woodyscantinabaltimore.com

Open: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Credit cards: All major except Discover

Reservations: Not accepted

Bottom line: Woody's has always been a great place to hang out. Now, it's even better with a new food and drinks menu.

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