Five Points Tavern, which replaced Aloha Tokyo in Locust Point. (COLBY WARE, BALTIMORE SUN )
Locust Point was sleepy last Friday night, mostly.
Few cars zoomed down Fort Avenue. The sidewalks were empty. The brightest neon sign on the peninsula didn't come from a bar but from the Domino Sugars factory.
Music emanated from some bars, but the only noise came from three of us in our 20s walking down the pockmarked sidewalks, past a McDonald's, a strip mall, some warehouses, on a bar crawl in the neighborhood.
Locust Point's bar scene got two additions recently — Barracudas and 5 Points — that suggest an infusion of much-needed new blood. For some time, thanks to buzzy developments— McHenry Row, Silo Point — the neighborhood, one of the city's most historic, has been tapped, perhaps too casually, as the next Canton.
Those hopes come and go. The new bars won't do much to raise expectations. They aim to cater to the residents here, and succeed at doing just that.
Our bar crawl through Locust Point started at the neighborhood's edge: Sly Fox Pub, its entrance announced by another neon sign, its namesake fox in glowing orange-red.
The pub is spacious enough that it has room for a bar, a small dance floor, a few dozen high-top tables and a DJ booth, manned Friday by a guy in his early 40s sporting a buzz cut and an earring.
From his snazzy Acer computer, he played soon-to-be bar mitzvah classics — "DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love," LMFAO's "Shots" — and took requests from several women in their late 20s celebrating their friend Susie's birthday.
Though it's just your average young professional hangout, a good spot for a bachelorette party, The Fox is helped along by its sturdy menu.
It has 10 draft lines — including Heavy Seas and Flying Dog — and a long list of bottled beers, which includes the alcohol content but not the price. A glass of a Troegs Imperial Amber Ale cost $7.
It was the most crowded bar I went to all night.
As I was leaving, the DJ screamed over Prince's "Sexy M.F." that "it might be Susie's birthday but she's not stumbling yet."
5 Points Tavern is a long, undisturbed walk down Fort Avenue. Its owners — John Householder, Tom Pomroy and other partners — are also behind the long-running Captain Larry's, which gives this place some instant credibility in the neighborhood and also explains why it's so smoothly run.
The bar is decorated in an uncluttered manner, almost monastically so in comparison with Sly Fox. There are a few photographs of the area on the exposed brick walls, but not much else. Householder said they didn't much alter the decor left by the last tenant, karaoke bar Aloha Tokyo.
Neighbors will appreciate it as a quiet corner bar; that night it was patronized by a few guys and women in their 30s who seemed to have just gotten off work. It's not ostentatious, and it doesn't have a lot of gear — there is nothing on tap — it's just comfortable.
Prices for bottled beers are between $3 and $4.50; a Flying Dog Hefeweizen is $4.
The owners, who opened the bar in November, say there's not a lot of nightlife here; Pomroy calls it "an emerging market." But they see potential in swanky condos like Silo Point and, across from them, the mixed-use McHenry Row.
Barracudas Tavern might be betting on that new development too. The bar, which opened about the same time as 5 Points and is just a minute's walk away, is the Buckcherry to that bar's Creedence Clearwater Revival.
It's loudly decorated, with stuffed sea creatures hanging everywhere inside. (Unfortunately, there's also a big, bosomy novelty mermaid hanging above one of the entrances outside — not the kind of message you want to send out to potential female clients.)
The bar's narrow hall, which ends in a five-table dining area, was packed.
At about 10:30 p.m., a fight almost broke out between a couple of young men; I didn't overhear the reason but chances are it wasn't over the virtues of taxidermy. There were also no taps here, but prices were cheap: $4.50 for three Bohs; a 20-ounce glass of rum punch for $7.50.
The bartenders were casual and quick, but the restless crowd and the loud music — Usher, again — made me want to go back to the relative peace of 5 Points, or at least the better bars in the area, like J. Patrick's or Down the Hatch.
I just left disappointed. And like Susie, I was not stumbling.
If you go
• The Sly Fox Pub is at 823 E. Fort Ave. Call 410-637-3699 or go to slyfoxpub.com
• 5 Points Tavern is at 1120 E. Fort Ave. Call 410-752-0200.
• Barracudas Tavern is at 1230 E. Fort Ave. Call 410-685-2832 or go to cudabarracuda.com.
• More bars in Locust Point