During this year's AFC championship game, patrons of Fells Point staple John Steven Ltd. were mesmerized by more than Joe Flacco's command of the offense.
"Customers couldn't stop talking about the smell from the shrimp and the Old Bay," manager Cortland Leggio said. "The smell in there is very unique."
A longtime spot for fresh seafood, John Steven Ltd. keeps its bartenders busy by not only serving drinks, but also steaming mussels, clams and shrimp behind the wooden bar. It's an old-school Baltimore touch not often seen anymore.
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On Sunday, Leggio expects the type of game-day atmosphere John Steven Ltd. normally attracts — "packed, but not overly packed." There are only three TVs in the bar, but they were repositioned recently to ensure every seat in the house is a good one, Leggio said.
If crowding into a sports bar that feels like an at-capacity elevator doesn't excite you, then John Steven Ltd.'s enthusiastic but manageable scene could work best. The seafood and drink specials don't hurt, either.
Drinks: With 20 taps (including eight local beers), there are plenty of options. On Sunday, pints of Peabody Heights Brewery's RavenBeer will cost $3. There also will be $3 Purple shots (using Pinnacle vodka) and $2 Natty Boh drafts. Finally, Ravens oyster shooters (made with RavenBeer, cocktail sauce and finished with an Old Bay rim) will cost $3.
Food: John Steven Ltd. is proud of its crab cakes, so on Sunday, they'll offer a discounted crab cake slider for $5. If you buy three, a Boh draft is free. Oysters also will be on special, costing $1 each.
Atmosphere: Usually thought of more as a restaurant than a bar, John Steven Ltd. makes for a nice Super Bowl option for those looking for a more mature but still excited crowd. There was a sighting of Baltimore-native celebrity Mike Rowe last weekend, so "Dirty Jobs" fanatics might have even more reason to go.
Parking: Metered on the street. There are also free spots on the street, if you're lucky.
If you go
John Steven Ltd., at 1800 Thames St., is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily. Call 410-327-5561 or go to johnstevenstavern.com.