Joe Squared - Station North

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Joe Squared - Station NorthJoe Squared - Station North
BA SCORE
3.94/5
Very Good
Joe Squared - Station NorthJoe Squared - Station North
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

33 W North Ave
Baltimore, Maryland, 21201-5807
United States

(410) 545-0444 | map
joesquared.com

Notes:
None provided.

PLACE STATS
Reviews:
5
Ratings:
6
pDev:
4.82%
 
View: Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 5 | Ratings: 6
Photo of mynie
4.03/5  rDev +2.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Friendly vibe in a weird part of down. Is it possible to describe urban geography as "ambivalent?" That's the thing about Baltimore. Unlike, say, Chicago, where they literally built a giant highway so as to physically separate the black and white populations, Baltimore's redlining practices were weakened greatly in the middle 1900's, and so there's no clear delineation between neighborhoods. Hence, when people--especially earnest liberals--first visit they often remark that certain neighborhoods appear dodgy or dangerous when really what they mean is those neighborhoods just have black people in them.

I'm sorry--a beer website is probably not the proper place for a treatise on race, but I find it impossible to separate my (and everyone else's) opinions of neighborhoods from the racial character of those neighborhoods. It's a sad state of consciousness that's wired into every American, and those who seek to deny it are as susceptible to it as everyone else.

So what I'm getting at is this neighborhood doesn't have the gleaming whiteness you would associate with a more touristy area like the inner harbor, but nor has it been completely abandoned by city leadership. There are some run-down storefronts and some graffiti, and also some of the best restaurants and storefronts in the whole city. But the... erm... "mixed" character of the neighborhood has has caused some acquaintances of mine--liberals, all--to either disregard or tokenize the area, and both of those approaches are pretty stupid.

I spend 1500 characters discussing the vibe of the neighborhood because it's impossible to describe Joe Squared without doing so. The place is unpretentious and straightforward; neither touristy nor unwelcoming, safe nor dangerous. It has very distinct feel and personality but you get the feeling that little conscious effort was spent in developing them. Which is nice, this day and age. Very, very nice.

The pizza is excellent.

There's a full bar.

Sadly, the beer selection is just okay. Maybe a half dozen taps heavily influenced by local brews, then a couple dozen bottled and canned options. Nothing super hypey or rare. The main thing is the pizza, and the vibe.

So while I highly recommend coming here--why I think it might be as good a place as any to see the best and realest side of this wonderful and imperfect city--I can't suggest it only the strength of the beer.

 2,402 characters

Photo of Klebe
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Pizza at this joint is ROCKIN! Good selection of craft beer also. Place is a little on the smaller side so go early, before the live music consumes even more of the limited seating.

 183 characters

Photo of Dogbrick
4/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

(Visited 01/2011): Joe Squared is located on the north side of Baltimore on North Ave right off I-83. Metered parking is available right in front of the establishment.

The interior includes a bar on the left side and booth seating on the right. There is cool artwork on the walls and a stage. Not sure if this qualifies under "atmosphere notes" but at one point their speaker system intercepted a trucker on CB radio talking about a Chinese prostitute.

Joe Squared has 5 beers on tap and around 60 in bottles. Draught options include Dogfish Head, Flying Dog and Chimay. As for bottles there are a few domestic micros from Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, Ommegang, Lagunitas and others. Many more imports from Belgium (Duvel, Brouwerij Van Steenberge), and the UK primarily but they carry a couple beers from a lot of other countries.

Service on a slow weekday afternoon was good. The bartender was friendly and knowledgeable about their beers.

We did not have any food on our visit but apparently this place is known for their pizza, so next time.

Overall this is a nice low key beer spot that I would recommend visiting in Baltimore.

 1,136 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Joe Squared is part of the "North Avenue Renaissance", where the proximity of several colleges and art schools (plus Penn Station, I guess) is helping revitalize a dicey neighborhood, creating the "Station North Arts and Entertainment District". This is still more of a city-imagined district than a realization, but is a neat idea.

Joe is pretty much alone in North Avenue, right next to an art-supply store. There are no other businesses of note in blocks around. The outside is unassuming, but inside is expansive and roomy, with a live-band area, a bar and a dining room.

It looks like a college-town joint, a cozy corner cafe with live bands, cool music and hipster-looking lily-white twentysomethings. Service was great in a sleepy afternoon at 2:30 pm on a Thursday, nice and friendly bartender.

The beer selection is small but irreproachable. Six taps, Dogfish 90, Chimay, Lagunitas Pils, Dale's Pale Ale, two euros. Sure you'll find something! :-)

They've got a selection of bottled beer, nothing fantastic except for Brewdog Tokio (an 18.2% stout). I paid $15, first time I've seen it.

Menu looks really good, lots of choices, didn't try pizza (which is what they're famous for) because they only have whole pies and I was looking for a slice. But their risotto section is amazing, with lots of imaginative ingredients (avocado, brie, venison, capicola). I got the venison-and-arugula risotto and was wowed.

Prices are wrong, unfortunately. $8 for a small bowl of risotto that was maybe three bites. Mixed drinks are $10, and beers are $6. What? Are we in NYC or SF??

I would go back, if I happen to be around. I really enjoyed the vibe and the food and the beer. Location and prices kinda suck, but I love Baltimore!

 1,741 characters

Photo of John_M
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

A couple of thoughts about this new to me restaurant before I review it. I dislike having to make negative comments about Baltimore, but in the context of reviewing Joe's, I feel as if I need to point a few things out.

There are areas of downtown Baltimore that are rife with crime and so, undeniably, there are some places where it just isn't a good idea to hang out, especially late at night. This is one of those area's. Even in the daytime the area looks kind of sad and run down, though there are also some beginning signs of gentrification and improvement as well. I really do hope the area can make a come back, but for now, it would be my strong recommendation that anyone visiting Joe's confine their visits to the day time hours or early evening.

Joe's is located right off of I-83, and is just a short drive East on North Ave. Upon walking in you'll notice a small wrap around bar to the left, which holds maybe 10 or so patrons. There is a fairly good size dining area in the back, as well as a few more tables and chairs around the bar area. There is also a fair size foyer area right by the front door, where I gather live bands perform on the weekends. Atmosphere here is difficult to describe. The walls are something of a pink color in the bar area, with some old wood and brick as well. The place has a very laid back, informal vibe, with the bar area a comfortable place to kick back with a beer.

The Sunday I was here it was a very warm day in Baltimore, which was a problem for the restaurant. I assume the place has central air, but it wasn't working this day and instead the owners had set up a large, mobile unit. It was going full blast, from what I could tell, but it still seemed to be insufficient to completely cool the restaurant. By the time I left, I was literally starting to drip.

As for the beer, I was impressed by what was on offer this day. There were 6 tap handles, but they had some interesting things like the 90 minute IPA, Chimay, Ohara's stout and the Krusovice imperial lager. They also had a cold box next to the bar, where it appeared as if they had an additional 25 or 30 micros and imports in bottle.

Service was fairly quick and friendly, which you would expect on a Sunday afternoon (the place was practically empty in the bar area). I thought it a bit odd that after having one glass of beer the bartender asked me if I wanted my check (instead of asking if he could get me anything else), but maybe he could tell one beer was all I wanted or needed.

Joe's is proud of the pizza they have here, and, um, it's OK. I got the 10 inch "flag" pizza, which is a 6 slice pizza made up of three different toppings. One thing they did have, that I liked, was freshly shredded parmesan to put on your pizza (as opposed to the powder version I see at most restaurant). Cost for my pizza was a reasonable (I thought) $14, while my pint was $4.50 for (an actual pint glass) my czech lager.

Would I go back to Joe's? I'm not really sure. It's just a mile or so down the street from Brewer's Art, which all things considered, has a decidedly superior selection of beer and food. Also, while the selection here wasn't bad at all, it's not as if you'll find anything at Joe's that you can't generally find at your better beer bars in the area (Max's, Mahaffey's, Grand Cru). However, I did like the laid back vibe here, and the pizza is decent. Something to consider.

 3,410 characters

Joe Squared - Station North in Baltimore, MD
Place rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 6 ratings