Wharf Rat Bar
Where: 801 S. Ann St.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday to Saturday.
Menu: Seafood, sandwiches, pizza, Irish stew, chili, jambalaya.
Credit cards: MC, V.
If you asked Fells Point visitors, you'd probably find that everyone's heard of John Steven Ltd., a nightspot that has been written up in national magazines, but only some know about the Wharf Rat Bar, just a block away.
"We're off the beaten path just enough that we don't pull the tourists that John Steven and Bertha's do," explains Wharf Rat bartender Stuart Schadt. "We like it that way, because we're a neighborhood place and we're crowded enough as it is."
Walking the plank floors at the Wharf Rat, you'll realize that this place needn't defer to John Steven when it comes to Fells Point funky. If anything, the Wharf Rat is loaded with enough oars, lanterns, paintings of ships and other nautical paraphernalia to outfit a vessel. The bar advertises "seamen welcome," but the youngish customers here are more the weekend sailor sort.
The bar is also stuffed with the kind of fin de siecle bric-a-brac -- nude female statuettes, for instance -- that once caught your great-grandfather's eye and still serve as conversation starters.
Letting the good times flow at the Wharf Rat begins with sampling the draught beer selection that must rank as tops, or nearly so, in the entire city. There are 26 -- count 'em, drink 'em -- beers on tap here. Among them are Killian's Red, Guinness, Newcastle Brown Ale, Samuel Adams, Anchor Steam, Hacker-Pschorr, Dortmunder Union, Harp and two boutique-brewed entries made especially for the Wharf Rat -- Oliver's Ale and Oliver's Lite. There is a bar deal enabling you to sample three different draughts for $2.50 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and all day Saturday until 7 p.m.
The Wharf Rat has a hearty pub menu including seafood, sandwiches, Irish stew, chili, and shrimp and sausage jambalaya. It's served until 12:30 a.m., but most of the late night visitors opt for the more basic pizza or nachos.
Also, when the main barroom gets packed, it's nice to know that you can retreat to either a back bar or a second back room given over to a pool table. And now's the season to appreciate the hearth near the back bar.