100 best Baltimore-area bars 2011: Critic's picks
When it comes to bars, Baltimore has long had a dizzying abundance of options. Our list last year of the city's best 50 barely scratched the surface. So, this year, we've expanded the list to 100.
Like last year, there's a critic's top 10, but the bars are split into 10 categories, including best clubs to go dancing and best bar to meet eccentrics. Ten of the bars have also been picked by you.
To choose the winners, we looked at bars that held events regularly, that attract crowds, whose prices are fair, and that provide consistent service. If we picked a bar for one category, it meant it couldn't be picked for another -- except for the readers' and critic's picks.
On this year's list, there are old favorites, lots of new names and bars in the areas surrounding Baltimore. Inevitably, there will be rumbling about who was left out. Sure, rankings are controversial, but they're a starting point to Baltimore's sprawling nightlife scene.
Also see: Going out guide: 100 best bars
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Critic's picks: Club Charles( Colby Ware, Baltimore Sun / October 20, 2011 )
A bar that recalls an old film noir, Club Charles seems like the place where J. J. Hunsecker from "Sweet Smell of Success," would hold court. With its plush, red booths and low-wattage lighting, it's decidedly retro -- not just an imitation but a convocation of the sophisticated glamour of New York's jazz-era bars and restaurants, like Monkey Bar and the Russian Tea Room. Good-looking, nostalgic, and always busy with a smart crowd, the only thing missing here is an Edward Sorel mural of Baltimore's own demimonde. A word of advice: some people might tell you the best seat in the house are the red booths; the quiet, more accommodating tables near the back are far better.--Erik Maza
Venue address: 1724 N. Charles St.