Even if they were not apprised beforehand, guests at Illusions Bar and Theater would quickly realize that they were in no ordinary watering hole when they noticed the straightjacket suspended above the small stage behind the bar. Far from the state's only psych ward with a liquor license, the venue is the brainchild of former clown and showbiz veteran Ken Horsman.
Typical evenings see patrons sipping on fine spirits while gaping at a show by Ken’s son, escape artist Spencer Horsman, as he wriggles his way free from increasingly secure restraints and dangerous situations, all while tickling ribs with playful banter. Other magicians regularly stop by to show off their illusions, wowing audiences and deepening the depression of real wizards who can't get anyone to believe in their powers.
A belly dancer moves to the rhythms of an entrancing song as plumes of fruit-infused smoke drift from the lips of revelers lounging on ottomans and plush sofas. This scene is typical on a Friday night at Zeeba Lounge, dubbed "the city's swankiest spot for puffing flavored tobacco" by Baltimore Sun writer Sam Sessa. Patrons can blow smoke triangles with more than a dozen flavors of shisha, each releasing flavors such as mint, chocolate, or pomegranate. The hookah's water filters the fragrant smoke, removing tar for a pure taste. Zeeba Lounge pairs its smoky specialty with a menu of Mediterranean tapas such as curried meatballs or saffron-infused shrimp and a BYOB policy.
Since 1933, servers and entertainers at Blob's Park have led crowds in authentic bouts of stein hoisting and singing over platters of delicious German cuisine. A hefty beer list stocks gatherings with a frothy selection of delicious libations, with familiar, neighborly domestics, such as a Yuengling lager, or exotic German imports, such as the Augustiner Edelstoff. Authentic German entrees sneak up and bear hug taste buds with savory servings of Nurnberger weisswurst and sauerkraut or schweinschnitzel, a dish of breaded pork loin with cranberry and tomato salad. In addition to dishing out sudsy brews and appetizing meals, Blob's Park treats lederhosen-laden guests to musical acts such as the folksy accordion waltzes of Leon Umberger & The Rheinlanders or the energetic shows of The Hubcaps, which celebrate the sounds of roots rock as well as Aerosmith's little-known back catalog of polka hits. The restaurant's dinner tables and dance floors cherish a long history of Teutonic shindigs, having the honor of hosting America's first-ever Oktoberfest as well as being the site of Baron von Steuben's celebratory keg stand after the Revolutionary War. In keeping with the venue's legacy of merriment and delicious fare, families and friends gather at Blob's throughout the year for feastings, celebrations of Sonnenwendfeier, and gregarious Karnivals.
For the past five decades, Supano’s has been luring patrons inside with a satisfying blend of music and meat. Whether by Frank Sinatra impersonators, jazz musicians, or a karaoke singer who just stubbed her toe, live tunes supplement the sounds of knives slicing into 20-ounce new york strip steaks and forks sliding into chunks of meaty lasagna. Supano's look is just as classic as its menu. Nestled in an aged brick building with a cobblestone façade, the restaurant emits an old-world vibe complete with warm lighting and photos of famous singers.
Below Supano's Steakhouse is Supano Zone. The underground sports bar fits the mold of a dream man-cave, with LED TVs that show all college games and pro-sports events. A shuffleboard table, dartboards, and a pool table welcome co-ed competition, which onlookers can cheer on while slurping down beers. The bar has long been a cherished place for hosting celebrations: after Baltimore hosted the first Grand Prix, the pro drivers lounged at Supano's and even left behind some memorabilia that is still on display.
With the clink of glasses and fizz of champagne barely audible beneath the danceable beats of top-flight DJs, Mosaic Nightclub and Lounge sets an electrifying tempo for its chic clientele. Beers and cocktails emerge from the bar as bottles of top-shelf liquors alight upon tables reserved for VIPs such as former presidents and future presidents. An outdoor seating area allows groups to commune beneath the stars and cool down after frantic hokey-pokeying sessions.
The New Orleans–themed Bourbon Street welcomes Jersey's Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes for a rollicking all-ages show at The Ballroom, its 1,100-capacity venue. Closely associated with rock giants Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, Southside Jonny belts tunes such as "The Fever" and "I Don't Want to Go Home"—which he penned after entering a combination KFC/Taco Bell for the first time—in his rip-roaring live shows. The band pull tunes from a three-decade-strong catalog of harmonica-filled rock 'n' roll, including the 2010 studio effort Pills and Ammo. Though the lineup has changed over the years, Southside Johnny still commands the stage with his high-energy vocals, and the band's signature mix of melodic horns, Garden State earnestness, and scintillating basket-weaving remains unchanged.
A creative spirit thrives at Creme Restaurant & Lounge. As the chefs meticulously plate their eye-catching entrees, diners enjoy live performances from locally and nationally renowned musicians on the dining room stage. That combination of cozy ambiance and refined food creates a welcoming environment that encourages guests to linger for a while or attempt to move all their belongings in. The Baltimore Sun succinctly summarized the restaurant?s charm by noting, ?If you have had a bad day or simply need to reward yourself with some rich, artful comfort food, this is the place.?
The chefs take a more refined approach to contemporary American cuisine. Shrimp and spicy sausage arrive with a bed of creamy grits and salmon emerges from the kitchen with a bold teriyaki and bourbon glaze. Even the bartenders demonstrate a willingness to push the boundaries of the expected by infusing their own spirits and creating specialty cocktails with chipotle-infused vodka and hibiscus-infused gin.
With its dark wooden floorboards and sunflower-yellow walls, the restaurant?s dining room exudes a similarly cozy, yet stately spirit. Intimate tables flanked by simple black chairs fill the long, narrow space, although virtually every seat presents patrons with a clear view of the stage at the front of the room. Some small touches add extra whimsy, including a dangling chandelier, an ornately decorated fireplace, and a collection of framed eggs benedicts.