Fells Point – Our Favorite Part of Charm City
By Bob Tagert
With gas prices still high, we decided to take a road trip closer to home. About 55 miles north-east of Alexandria you can find Fells Point along the Patapsco River near Baltimore, Maryland. In 1726, English Quaker, William Fell bought land he named Fell’s Prospect. This eventually became Fells Point and it appears that you can spell it Fell’s or Fells. I’m going with use Fells.
My relationship with Fells Point began over 30 years ago when I crewed on the Patricia Divine, a two-masted schooner, in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. The race actually starts in Annapolis and ends along the waterfront at the Norfolk Mall in Norfolk, Virginia. The boats gather in the Patapsco River around Fells Point a day or two before the race to prep for the great race. This is how I first discovered Fells Point.
Looking ahead to a few days on the water racing we all took a little liberty and visited the town of small shops, restaurants and an array of really cool bars. We spent the majority of the night at the Cat’s Eye Pub, truly a sailor’s kind of place. Back then the area was undergoing a revitalization period and the results show today.
The main attraction is still the selection of watering holes and restaurants along Thames Street, the main drag. Like Old Town Alexandria, they have all adjusted to the additional outdoor dining space (result of the pandemic protocols) that takes up former parking spots. There are also a number of fine establishments a block or two off of Thames Street. One of these popular places is Bertha’s Mussels. Bertha’s was established in 1972 when the area was run down and trying to find its way…similar to the situation in Old Town Alexandria around that time.
Once we found a place to park in the center of town, we walked across the park to enjoy lunch at Bertha’s to get fueled up for our afternoon mini-pub crawl. After ordering my Mount Gay and ginger ale I opted for the Maryland Crab soup and a bacon cheeseburger. The soup was definitely homemade and the burger was perfect. Lani stayed true to the theme of the place and ordered Mussels Marinara and declared that they were delicious.
At one end of Thames street you will find places like Duda’s Tavern, Fells Point Tavern, The Horse You Came in On and Bayou Blues. In the next block you will find Kooper’s Tavern, Waterfront Hotel Bar, Thames Street Oyster House and the Cat’s Eye Pub. This is a legitimate Pub Crawl organizers dream street!
One of the reasons the Cat’s Eye Pub is still my favorite, is the people. From the customers to the staff and owner, the friendly vibe can’t be beat. On this particular day our bartender was Cory Pearson who was not only a great personality but he took the time to listen to me tell my stories. Cat’s Eye also offers music nightly and it is rated as one of the best places for tunes in Baltimore. Also, the rugged, worn out look of the pub gives it that “dive bar” grace. You can’t help but feel good here. On the other end of the street is an equally cool dive – The Horse You Came In On. Always a must stop if only to sit on the saddle style bar stools!
Besides the amazing bars and restaurants you can enjoy several eclectic stores and galleries. A new favorite of Lani’s is Zelda Zen – check it out when you are there. If you are nostalgic for Old Town shopping, Kilwins and Ten Thousand Villages have locations here. The Fells Point Maritime Museum is a must see for anyone interested in the amazing history of this small corner of the world.
There are a few hotels in town with the Sagamore Pendry as the most beautiful. The Pendry is located on the historic 1914 Recreatrion Pier or known to the locals as the “Rec Pier”. When I first went to Fells Point this property was in shambles. The only thing that remained was the facade and main building. The building was actually used as the police station in the hit TV show “Homicide: Life on the Street!” Today it is a work of art. The Trojan Horse-like sculpture in the breezeway that leads to the pool is amazing! We stopped in at the Pool Bar which is out back and is surrounded by the Patapsco River. It is incredible.
Before leaving our plan was to visit another old favorite, the Tavern at the Admiral Fell Inn, but is was under renovation and expected to open by the time you read this. We decided to go across the street to the Admirals Cup Restaurant & Bar. This was our first time here but won’t be the last. The bar takes up the center of the first room and is beautiful. Once again, our bartender, Angelo Paraskevaidis, was delightful and the customers were pleasant to talk with. Their dark rum selection was light but the one they did have, though new to me, was very good. Not only is the Admirals Cup noted for their dining but also for the quality of the music acts they book. Unlike Old Town Alexandria, there are an abundance of live music venues in Fells.
Like Old Town Alexandria, Fells Point could be considered Baltimore’s “Old Town” as it is located between Canton and the Inner Harbor. Although street parking is limited, at the end of the block behind Duda’s Tavern there are two parking garages for all day use.
Fells Point is a step back in time and has that seaport town feel. There are marinas on the river and many folks come by boat. When we had lunch there were four folks dining outside who had come by sailboat. Whether it is by water or land…take the time and take a road trip! This place won’t disappoint.