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A snapshot of students' favorite watering holes

A snapshot of students' favorite watering holes
Midday at PJ's Pub near the campus of John's Hopkins University (Reginald Thomas II/For City Paper)

PJ's Pub

PJ's Pub (3333 N. Charles St., [410] 243-8844) couldn't be anything but a college dive even if it wanted to. Attached to a Johns Hopkins-owned apartment building, the bar is literally home for some students. Which is either appalling or not surprising at all, depending on your threshold for drunkeness. There are beer pong tables in the back, vodka and malt liquor available for carryout in the front, and drunk Poindexters all over. In turn, the clientele is noticeably young; if you're planning on stopping by PJ's after 10 p.m. and you're actually of age, prepare to feel like the oldest patron in the room (aside from some student athlete's dad taking shots with sorority women). The drinks are cheap ($6 pitchers of Rolling Rock and $4 pitchers of Boh, for example), and the bartenders are efficient, though they often look like they've just come to realize their own mortality. The food is not quite as reasonably priced as the beer; a cheeseburger of questionable quality will put you out $9 and a meat lover's pizza goes for $21. Monday's 50-cent wings are pretty decent, and might be the only food special worth taking advantage of. But most people don't go for the food. PJ's always has a solid crowd on Tuesdays for their popular trivia night, one of the pub's redeeming qualities. Students affectionately refer to Thursday nights as "DJ PJ's," a ritual in which undergrads get sweaty gyrating to top 40 singles on shitty speakers, before blacking out and somehow showing up to Friday's Orgo lecture on time. All in all, PJ's is an outstanding example of the classic American college bar, and it doesn't show signs of changing any time soon. (Mia Capobianco)

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Turp's Sports Bar and Restaurant

Before happy hour hits, you wouldn't think Turp's Sports Bar and Restaurant (1317 N. Charles St., [410]-347-0349, turpsonline.com), near the University of Baltimore and MICA campuses, is considered a "college bar." The crowd is fairly diverse and the restaurant lacks the stained booths and stale-beer fragrance usually associated with undergraduate watering holes. Yet it offers the same low beer prices and unintimidating atmosphere. The draft selection, which includes typical American offerings and a couple of local beers like Brewer's Art's Resurrection ($5.50 for a pint), is sufficient. With its nearly excessive array of televisions and quintessential Baltimore sports bar décor, Turp's is one of the best bars in Midtown to catch Ravens and Orioles games (during which Boh tallboys are $2, by the way). The food isn't mind-blowing, but it suits our weary budgets, and indulges our bar food cravings. Amusingly, the restaurant offers a Maryland-themed dish in essentially every category—like the Ravens House Salad ($4.95) and the Baltimore wings (6 for $4.95). Plus, the specials are glorious; Tuesdays boast half-priced pizza (as little as $5.75 for an 18"), and you can get a decent burger and fries for $5 on Wednesdays. As it gets later in the week and later in the evenings, the bar grows considerably louder and younger as it becomes crowded with students. The environment hardly gets out-of-hand, but it definitely has the vibe of a college party. You can count on Turp's for classic Baltimore fare and leisure, sans bells and whistles, at a reasonable price. (Mia Capobianco)

Mount Royal Tavern

If you're of age and of limited means, you might appreciate the dive bar more than the average citizen. The Mount Royal Tavern (1204 W. Mount Royal Ave., [410] 669-6686) is a haunt that caters to all walks of life, including MICA students (the bar is sandwiched between two MICA buildings, after all), expecting, you know, very cheap, very strong drinks. You can get a pitcher of Boh for about eight bones, a tall rail drink for about five, and keep a look out for the Tavern's signature, delectable apple pie shots—and then consider whether you can afford to miss your 9 a.m. class the next morning. The bar has cheap drinks, yes, but also a massive replica of the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted overhead, along with a rotating selection of art pieces on the wall and a jukebox. Between the decor and the friendly patrons, who on my last visit consisted mostly of middle-aged men with beards and college girls with blue hair, I'm not surprised Esquire recently named it one of the best bars in the country. Recommended for a cheap, laidback night or an afternoon pick-me-up—it's open everyday from 10 a.m. until 2 a.m. (Meghan Jusczak)

Flat Tuesdays

As you enter the intimate Flat Tuesdays (1000 Hilltop Circle), on the second floor of UMBC's Commons, you'll notice the play on Fat Tuesday—the Mardi Gras theme is clearly reflected in its decor, with masks, saxophones, a trumpet, and a tuba prominently displayed on the walls (which are painted purple, green, and gold, of course). On a typical evening, you'll see the students who don't go to real bars, and maybe even a professor or two. Flat Tuesdays is definitely not a typical college bar, so if you're trying to turn up and get blackout drunk, this definitely isn't the place for you. They do have nightly themes, if you're into that kinda thing: karaoke and game night are on Tuesdays, and its popular trivia night is on Wednesdays. The hours are pretty strange, though, open from 4-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and only until 11 p.m. on Fridays (but only if enough people are there). So you'll have to time your drinking just right. And you need to either be a UMBC student yourself or the guest of one to get in. But if you're looking for a way to gently ease yourself into the world of college drinking (or if you're a just a fan of school-sponsored alcohol consumption) Flat Tuesdays is a solid option. (Jasir Qiydaar)

The Owl Bar

Friends of mine at Coppin State University say they'll travel a little farther than walking distance for a nice night out. One of the places they'll go is The Owl Bar (1 E. Chase St., [410] 347-0888, theowlbar.com), the upscale pub located in the back of the first floor of the historic Belvedere Hotel. The bar nods to its origins as a speakeasy; it's dimly lit, with old '30s high-class-meets-hunting-season décor (complete with stained glass, and heads of deer and a zebra on the wall). The bar is spacious, and you never feel like you're going to bump into someone. Its entrees do run upward of $20, but if you're there on a budget, you can't go wrong with appetizers like nachos, wings, fries, and deviled eggs priced between $7-$15, or their sandwiches and brick oven pizzas, which range from $10 to $22. The Owl Bar isn't anything like your average college town hangout spot, so it's kind of a refreshing change of scenery. If you go, you'll likely be surrounded by suits popping in for happy hour (which is every weekday from 4-7 p.m.), couples on a low key date, or folks curled up in a booth sipping a local brew, completely absorbed in their book. Despite its upscale glamour, the Owl Bar offers a chill and relaxing atmosphere for those looking to unwind affordably. (Deneia Washington)

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