East Coast cities are typically friendly environments for dive bars, the history of the region lending itself well to the kind of timeless, don’t-touch-anything-on-the-walls vibe that makes for a great place to grab a beer. Baltimore builds on that recipe with a set of dive bars that certainly feel like timeless East Coast institutions, but with some other elements like its more southern location and an appreciate for all things nautical.
And sometimes that confluence of factors produces something completely unique, as is the case with Baltimore dive bar Mt. Royal Tavern
, a dive bar that not only refuses to spell out ‘Mount’ in most instances of its name but also carries one of the great dive bar nicknames of all time, Dirt Church. The moniker comes from the wallpaper scene that lines the ceiling recreating the Sistine Chapel, a theme that extends into other parts of the space and is a must-see Baltimore dive bar attraction.
With a patchwork of neighborhoods surrounding an urban core, Baltimore is flush with dive bar options that blend seamlessly into the areas around them. South Baltimore’s Mums
is a good example, carved into a series of rowhomes like a shoebox slotted into a shelf. The black tile façade gives way to a snug space the perfect size for its neighborhood. Similarly, Butts and Betty’s
brings the same type of vibe in Upper Fells Point, the only indication a business even exists the small door and opaque glass blocks wedged into the corner of an otherwise nondescript building.
Unique dive bars are all about finding distinct combinations of local elements that blend into something that couldn’t exist anywhere else. Baltimore’s spin on the classic East Coast, neighborhood dive bar adds those elements, creating things as distinct as a dive bar recreating the Sistine Chapel, because why not?