Summer's coming, so hit the decks

On Nightlife

April 27, 2006|By SAM SESSA

Ladies and gentlemen, ice your glasses: Outdoor bar deck season is upon us. Which means ...

Cold drinks!

Hot lights!

(Our sweet, romantic, Mobtown nights.)

To best celebrate the warm spring weather - which will soon turn into summer stickiness - you must flee the cramped, dark corner bars for sunny, spacious deck swilling. The nearer the water, the better.

These three bars have prime wooden patios right near the harbor:

Little Havana (1325 Key Highway, 410-837-9903) has the youngest crowd and can get slammed - even on weeknights. Come early if you want a table outside and a decent parking space because the narrow lot is tricky to maneuver.

Since the place is by boat docks, the view isn't spectacular, but the wannabe Cuban decor and indoor shuffleboard table make up for it. When it's packed, Little Havana pops.

With the best view and most space of the three, The Bay Cafe (2809 Boston St., 410-522-3377) has almost as much room inside the restaurant as outside. Boats dock by the water, but you can still see across the harbor here.

There's a huge wooden pavilion, a wooden deck and plenty of dirty sand, though it's probably not a good idea to take your shoes off. Watch out for the black metal torches sticking up through the ground - if you're not looking, they could blindside you.

The Bay Cafe's patrons are maybe a year or two older than Little Havana's but can still rage. Your ears almost ring after a night here.

It's easy to stroll past the entrance to Woody's Love Shack and Rum Bar (821 S. Broadway, 410-560-6600). The cute island bar and restaurant's main doorway is on South Broadway next to Maggie Moo's Ice Cream and Treatery and has only a small sign above it.

You walk up two flights of stairs to get there, above Maggie Moo's and the second floor of Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant. Half of Woody's overlooks the harbor, and the other half is walled in and painted with island murals.

The teeny bar shelves about 40 rums, and you can order Caribbean-influenced food. Since the place holds only about 60 people, there's never much of a wait for drinks.

The roof overhead is a blessing and a drawback: It's harder to sun yourself but keeps you safe from sudden showers and pigeon droppings. Plastic flaps can be rolled down if it gets too chilly.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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