Neighborhood bars located along commercial strips can sometimes be hard for a roaming nightlifer to spot, mixing in as they do with the signage for so many other shops. But Peppers Cafe announces its presence on Belair Road with a bright orange neon arrow that even the visually impaired would notice.
The noise level inside can be bright, too, when enough back-slapping neighborhood regulars gather in this cafe serving the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Mayfield. Maybe the surest sign that most patrons come from nearby is the sports paraphernalia on the walls. In a theme bar this stuff would be so much wall dressing ordered by catalog, but here it's simply a reminder that this bar sponsors local softball and soccer teams.
"This isn't a trendy-type place where everybody is the same age," explains owner Don Marino. "It's more like a neighborhood bar where people of all ages from around here come in."
If you're a bar tourist who isn't on a first-name basis -- or for that matter a last-name basis -- with anyone in the joint, there are pub offerings to fill your gut agreeably and entertainment lures to encourage mixing.
To break the ice musically, there is a DJ on duty Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. On a recent night, he had plenty of fun spinning records and even more fun judging a beer-chugging contest. Yeah, the competing teams were a tad rowdy, but we're not talking a sherry-sipping competition, now are we?
Other specials include a Wednesday ladies night with a $5 tab covering their drinks; guitarist Chuck DeFontes playing classic rock Thursdays from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., with the Baltimore bar tradition of "no cover charge" in effect; Sunday afternoon football-induced prices of domestic beer for $1.25, draft beer for 65 cents, and a half-pound of shrimp for $1.99; and a free buffet for Monday night football.
The Christmas lights strung around the barroom are a reminder that there is a buffet-filled and DJ-hosted Christmas party here Dec. 22 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. As for New Year's Eve, they'll simply throw open the doors and trust the neighbors will come.
Where: 3539 Belair Road.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Menu: sandwiches, steak, seafood, ribs, soups, salads, burgers.
Credit cards: AE, MC, V.
Call: (410) 488-8815.