Peter's Pour House a hidden downtown gem

The Baltimore Sun

You don't see places like Peter's Pour House too often.

That's probably because you have to know where to look.

The Pour House is hidden in the heart of downtown, at Mercer and Grant streets. If you make a daily commute on nearby Light Street, you've probably passed it dozens of times without even knowing it's there.

Though it's only a few blocks away from Camden Yards, Peter's Pour House doesn't attract too many tourists or pregamers. It doesn't even try to -- the place is closed Saturdays and Sundays.

Instead, Peter's brings in the downtown business crowd -- lawyers, politicians and stockbrokers. Head there on a Friday and you're in for two sweet surprises: the 32-ounce Yuengling and Miller Lite drafts (a daily house special at all hours) and charity gambling in the street outside.

The gambling, which benefits Maryland Shock Trauma Center, has been going on there every Friday for some years now. It starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs until midnight or so Fridays through the end of this month.

A couple of friends and I got there about 7:30 on a recent Friday night. It was kind of weird to see an old-school pub (wood and brick everywhere) filled with suits and black pants. You'd expect that in a place like the Capital Grille, but not in a sidestreet pub.

I overheard a couple of conversations about stock deals and court cases gone awry. But that's one of the things I like about this city -- you have places like Peter's or the dirty Sidebar Tavern (a punk bar) that are post-work stops for power brokers.

We ordered a round of the 32-ounce Yuengling drafts, served in tall plastic cups. For only $4, you get the equivalent of three regular-sized draft beers. It's hard to beat a deal like that on a Friday night anywhere else around town. The food was just OK, but our waitress was sweet and quick.

One thing I thought was odd: Even if you sit at a table, you have to give them your credit card before ordering. Usually, if you're at a table, most bars let you order and then give you the bill at the end of the night.

When we went, there were blackjack, roulette and Texas Hold 'Em games set up in the street outside the bar. The buy-in was $5. I didn't play, but the tables were mostly full when I was there.

I was expecting more people, though. The upstairs dining area was dark and empty, and aside from the seats at the tables, so was the rest of the street. Maybe a number of the regulars got there early and left early. Either way, you don't get to gamble often at Baltimore bars, and I thought a larger crowd would turn out for it.

I hope Peter's Pour House doesn't go anywhere anytime soon. It has a killer drink special, a seemingly loyal crowd and a nice weekly charity event. Plus, stumbling upon places like this is always a pleasant surprise.

Peter's Pour House is at 111 Mercer St. The happy hour to benefit Maryland Shock Trauma Center starts at 5:30 p.m. and runs until about midnight Fridays through the end of the month. The pub is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Fridays. For more information, call 410-539-5818.

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