Robert and Nicole Stai have a passion for the outdoors. Combined, they have been avid adventurers more than 50 years–including several years of marriage. The Stai's opened The Gear ReSource Outfitters in order to equip others for adventures of their own. They keep their shop stocked with the industry's newest gear, as well as lightly used and consignment items brought in by customers or bears trying to clear room in their dens for flat-screen screen TVs. More than just a source for outdoor apparel, Robert and Nicole also help customers put their purchases to work with guided adventures, including canoeing and kayaking trips in the summer and snowshoe treks in the winter.
Located inside the Apple Place Bowl entertainment center, the casual Bogart's Place pub also offers entertainment of its own. The bar's cheery environs host weekly events ranging from Thursday-night team pub trivia to Double Ditty's, a live dueling piano show where the competitors must walk their pianos 10 paces before playing. To keep visitors fueled, the pub's menu spans from casual plates such as chicken wings and cheese curds to signature sandwiches such as the Look Out burger—a half-pound beef patty topped with ham and cheese. Bartenders pair these dishes with a range of beers and top-shelf liquors. And in warmer weather, the aromas of cooking and the sounds of revelry waft onto a newly-remodeled outdoor patio.
“Pit beef is Baltimore's version of barbecue: beef grilled crusty on the outside, rare and juicy inside and heaped high on a sandwich,” food writer Steven Raichlen explained in the New York Times. “Several things make it distinctive in the realm of American barbecue.” At The Valley Tap House, chefs create the unique delicacy by rubbing pork or beef with a special mix of spices, letting the flavors absorb for three days before grilling the slabs in a custom pit to achieve a charred outside and a tender interior. The meat is thinly sliced and served on kaiser rolls, as is traditional in the neighborhoods of East Baltimore. Additions such as peanut sauce, cilantro, or avocado apply exotic appeal like a lawyer using a fake Swedish accent to win over a jury.
Vegetarians can get in on the grilling action with black-bean-mushroom veggie burgers, made in-house and slathered with charred-jalapeño aioli. Toasting pint glasses make a jangling chorus as they spill rivulets of 30 draft brews, which have included Deschutes organic red ale. On weekends, servers carry out dishes of biscuits and chopped pit-beef hash with eggs, sirloin gravy, and toast.
Legend has it Deano and Eddie Panino worked for a family in the Bronx that may have been connected to the mob. Wanting to transition into a business where the only danger of sleeping with the fishes was falling asleep next to a tuna melt, the two opened a sandwich shop. Inspired by pizza and traditional Italian sandwiches, the brothers combined the two into their version of a panino—a sandwich made on flatbread that is baked and then rolled up. The fillings are endless, ranging from hot dogs and chili in the Chicago Overcoat to chicken, three cheeses, and dressing in the Caesar Cardini. Panino Brothers also serves burgers, pizza, wings, and steak.
But diners don't just congregate at the restaurant for the food; the welcoming atmosphere also draws them in. An electronics showroom worth of flat-screen TVs hang on the walls, and there are several Golden Tee machines. Guests can even push a few tables together to play poker. And happy-hour specials run for much of the day and late night, including 2 to 6 p.m. and 9 to close.
When new owners took over Farmington Lanes in 2007, they immediately began installing upgrades. Now, the QubicaAMF HPL Lanes keep track of bowlers' strikes and spares with an automatic scoring system, and bumpers can be raised and lowered instead of superglued on and painstakingly removed. When bowlers need a break, they hit the grill and peruse a menu of burgers, pizza, and even breakfast items, or stretch out their fingers by playing video games and darts. Meanwhile, HDTVs in the sports bar and scattered around the alley keep everyone apprised of the latest sports scores.