Clavel & W.C. Harlan

1:11 PM

Today I'm sharing with you two of my favorite spots in Baltimore. Located in Remington, on the same street but different corners, are Clavel (a mezcaleria) and W.C. Harlan (a speakeasy-style bar) both owned by the beautiful and amazing Lane Harlan. It's usually rather ritual for me now that if I go to one, I got to go to the other. Being in walking distance helps. It recently was my mama's birthday and to celebrate my brother and I wanted to take her someplace (1) she had never been to before and (2) show her to 'cooler' side to Baltimore. My mom's perception of Baltimore is very similar to many who live outside of Baltimore. That it is crime ridden, decrepit, and dangerous. I suppose it didn't help that I was robbed once at knife point.... but hey that can happen in any major city!

Featuring Mexican-inspired cocktails and cuisine this is not your simple tacos and burritos kind of place. Lane takes extreme pride in what she serves by hand-making their tortillas daily using a 5th generation family recipe. Their meats are naturally raised, hormone, and antibiotic-free. The menu is short and sweet which is ideal for me as I can't stand menus that are several pages long. Lit with string lights, candles, and decorated with plenty of green desert plants you'll forget you're in Baltimore the minute you step inside.

I've had nearly everything on the menu and have yet to be disappointed. My favorites are the Ceviche Sinaloense - wild caught pacific shrimp cured in lime and chiles, diced with tomato, serrano, cucumber, and avocado on a fresh tostada (or you can opt for a large served with tortilla chips) - the Aguachile - raw butterflied shrimp cured in lime with spicy cilantro pesto and cucumber - and their tacos specifically the Carnitas con Salsa Verde, Carne de Res, Lengua and Al Gobernador (pork with salsa verde, seared sirlon tips with salsa chaman, beef tongue and shrimp in salsa anahein with queso and pico de gallo respectively). The portions are small but incredibly filling and most dishes are great for sharing. 

Additionally their Mezcalita is to die for which I highly recommend, but you can't go wrong with their house margarita ($2 off during Happy Hour Mon- Fri from 5-7pm). And if after eating all of the food I described above if you can fit in dessert go for the Tres Leches Cake. It's light and not too sweet. It can get hectic there and fills up quickly (a testament to how well loved it is), as they don't take reservations. I recommend getting there either early when they open or later in the evening (10pm or later) to avoid a long wait time. But trust me, it is worth the wait. 

If you're still feeling boozy after Clavel wander down two blocks to the other corner and pop into W.C. Harlan. Nondescript, the entrance is nothing more than a side door with the word Enter written in chalk. Though W.C. Harlan was Lane's first venture I actually hadn't been to it despite going to Clavel multiple times. A friend described it to me as simply: "The best place to take a first date." and "Always get the cocktail du jour." So naturally, I went alone with a book as my date, but I did get the cocktail du jour - it was fantastic. 

Dark, moody, and mysterious the bar is extremely dimly lit and narrow housed in a former row home. The atmosphere feels as if you have stepped back in time to the 1920s with vintage photos hung about exposed walls covered in pealing wallpaper, weepy flowers in glasses, knick-knacks from thrift stores sit on shelves and heavy red velvet curtains used to cover the windows from prying eyes. Light is mostly provided by candles and two chandeliers which can make reading the bar menu a challenge when it gets dark but this is a bar for taking risks anyway!

As my friend mentioned you can never go wrong with the cocktail du jour. Usually my go to every time I have been there, it's gotten to the point where I don't even read what's in it, but I've also had a few of their other specialty cocktails - the Pisco Sour and the Madonna Enthroned both are delicious. The drinks are incredibly well made with knowledgeable bartenders. These are drinks where they take their time making them and not hastily put together, so be patient! It's a virtue.

So perhaps next time you're stumped on where to go to one night consider checking out Clavel and W.C. Harlan! I promise you, you'll love it. My mama did! And she's a rather difficult lady to impress. You can read more about Lane in this article written up by Baltimore Magazine, or this article by The Baltimore Sun


Clavel: 225 W. 23rd Street, Baltimore, MD 21211
Mon - Sat 5pm to 1am
Sun 10am to 2:30pm
W.C. Harlan: 400 W. 23rd Street, Baltimore, MD 21211
Mon - Sat 5am to 1am
Sun Closed

Also follow Clavel on instagram here!

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