The Empty Pockets Saloon is a pretty good place to go if your pockets are indeed near-empty, because the food and drink prices at this Locust Point bar are miles removed from those of the nearby Inner Harbor.
A glance out the saloon's front window gives as firm a geographic fix on the neighborhood as you could ask for: Formstone-clad row houses stand across the street, and off to the east is the giant Domino Sugar sign looming like a leftover prop from Barry Levinson's filmography.
There has been a tavern here for more than 50 years, but the present incarnation dates only to 1990. Somebody sure reached into his pockets on the top-to-bottom renovation. While many neighborhood taverns get superficial makeovers every decade or so, this rehab was a thorough job. Complementing the sense of freshness here is the location next to the recently opened Southside Centre, which finally gives South Baltimore residents some of the retail options they previously had to seek out in the county.
Probably the most notable aspect of the redesign is a handsome glass brick-sided bar that tellingly makes a wide outward curve to accommodate all the kitchen equipment needed to keep so many pounds of shrimp steaming behind the bar. Empty Pockets does a lot of neighborhood business with deals like a 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday night special offering all the ribs and shrimp you can eat for $12.95.
The low drink prices are capped by a weekday happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. when all drinks are $1. And an eternal special is a frosted mug of that Aussie beer, Foster, for 95 cents.
So what's not to like in this place? Well, there is a mural of the Inner Harbor -- somehow painted onto a wall-mounted carpet -- that would make an art critic wince. Like black velvet paintings, I guess it's an acquired taste.
Empty Pockets Saloon
Where: 821 E. Fort Ave., Locust Point.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Menu: seafood, ribs, burgers, sandwiches, Polish sausage.
Credit cards: not accepted.
% Call: (410) 576-1500.