courtesy of VERONICA REARDON With only a small neon sign, Bar Clavel is hard to spot from 23rd Street but is full of bustling life.
Extending south/southwest from Homewood Campus to Interstate 83 and the railroad tracks leaving Penn Station is the up-and-coming neighborhood known as Remington.
While it used to be the neglected half-sister of Hampden and Charles Village, it is now seeing more and more activity thanks in part to businesses such as Bar Clavel.
At the corner of W 23rd Street and Huntington Avenue, Bar Clavel is difficult to spot for passersby on foot and by car.
The area is lightly industrial, as are most of the surrounding blocks, full of low-lying buildings and parking lots. There aren’t many restaurants, and there are few houses in the immediate area.
The first time I went with some friends, we spent some time looking for it after our initial surprise that a restaurant like that could be in a place like this.
But when you see the sign on the quiet street and walk in through the heavy door, you’re welcomed by a warm, bustling environment full of people laughing, eating and drinking, with music playing and iconic twinkling lights hanging from above.
There are two large rooms: the first, when you walk in, is the one with the bar, and the second, a little father in, is the dining room.
Bar Clavel is Mexican-inspired and bills itself as a mezcaleria and taqueria, meaning they specialize in mescal and tequila cocktail drinks and tacos for bar food.
While the Mexican influence is dominant, it is not overwhelming — there are other Latin American flavors on the menu, both food and drink items, and many Latin music genres play in the background. The night we were there, we enjoyed their Cuban playlist.
Most of the cocktails have a base of mescal and tequila and range from refreshingly light fruity drinks to heavier options.
While there are some classic options like their Micheladas and Margaritas, the menu features some unique concoctions. Someone willing to be a little adventurous will have a great time considering the special cócteles offered, but I would recommend the Santa Sandia, a watermelon and citrus mescal drink.
The house draft beer is the Himno Viejo and is a must-have golden sour ale. It has flavor notes very distinct from most beers and might be best described as slightly citrus. It isn’t too thin or thick, and it’s tasty and reasonably priced, as are most items.
Be prepared to spend a little money, since cocktails are around $10-12 and the house beer is $6.50. Other standard Mexican beers are available for $3.
Be sure to try the relatively extensive food options as well. There is full-on bar food available in small portions as well as more full-sized entrees. This lets visitors choose between a restaurant experience or a night at the bar, and Bar Clavel easily satisfies both.
Something I haven’t done yet but would like to try, is to order from the Mezcales de la Casa; that is, to order a vial of mescal to share.
Frankly anyone who enjoys tequila, whether it be in shots or in cocktails, will love the drink menu. When going to Bar Clavel, go with friends and stay a while. Combine a meal and a few rounds.
It can serve as the beginning, middle or end of a night out, but be aware that it is not situated in a general bar or club area, so you’ll have to arrange transportation to and from.
If you wish to do a bar hop, this is a great option, but it isn’t the easiest to get to. Overall this is a must-do experience for living in Baltimore.