Sully’s strives to keep it classy. With a clean-comedy policy and a two-monocle dress code, the club hosts a lineup of regular and traveling comedians who have honed their timing everywhere from Comedy Central to HBO to Last Comic Standing. Winner of the 2011 World Series of Comedy in Las Vegas, Ryan Dalton takes the mic on August 17 and 18, opining with in-your-face glee on the health risks of exercise and vegetables, and the best way to inform someone they are not a triceratops. Also taking the stage is Nick Cantone, who transforms his mustache into comedy gold by meditating on its effect on his dating life and the sophistication it embodies. While laughing along, audiences can munch on classic pub eats or sip signature cocktails such as the Silly Sully, a blend of Malibu rum, blue curacao, and pineapple juice.
Instead of limiting themselves to one type of cuisine, S & J Crab Ranch has included two of their favorites?Maryland seafood and southern barbecue. Local flavors pile up at the raw bar, where diners can order gulf shrimp by the pound or plates of clams and seasoned mussels; however, as the restaurant?s name implies, crabs are the signature item. They can be steamed and served whole, as jumbo lump crab cakes, or in a creamy soup spiked with a bit of sherry.
Of course, the seafood seeps into the southern-inspired meals as well. A selection of classic southern sandwiches includes fried catfish with creole mustard. Regional cuisine builds out the rest of the menu, giving diners options such as slow-cooked Texas brisket, Carolina-style pulled pork, and st. louis ribs rubbed with secret spices. Even the classic American dishes take cues from S & J?s penchant for the ocean?fresh crab meat bulks up the mac ?n? cheese, and pulled pork and barbecue sauce enhance a pile of nachos.
Though 200 domestic bottles, craft beers, and imports reside on the drink menu at Hop Heads Ale House, the bar’s draft selections are some of its most popular brews. With a rotating selection of kegs on 11 taps, servers encourage guests sample bright and foamy brews culled mostly from small-batch breweries. To accentuate the flavors of each pint, the kitchen crew at Hop Heads crafts pub specialties such as rib-eye-cheesesteak sandwiches and chicken wings smothered in one of eight sauces. Wraps come stuffed with the likes of seared ahi tuna or veggies, and fresh soups are tapped fresh from local soup trees. The bar also runs a daily happy hour from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day, in addition to nightly specials and live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Ribs, burgers, and beers sate appetites at Memphis Belle Saloon, but the saloon's crowded calendar and collection of games draw as many visitors as its kitchen does. As draft handles bow to fill glasses with Guinness and Sam Adams, groups gather for mixology classes or Monday-night poker tournaments. Dart leagues and skee ball leagues meet Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Trivia occupies four hours on Fridays, while teachers enjoy free access to a buffet and stacks of all-they-can-grade Scantrons. Thursdays host programs such as bourbon tastings and wine dinners the educate palates on fine flavors.
To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon's Chicago-based piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.