A Day in Hampden
Published: August 29, 2011
Hampden marries Baltimore’s blue-collar past to its young and trendy present. Originally worker housing for mills and factories along the Jones Falls, Hampden now caters to the more alternatively inclined Baltimorean, rather than the housewives of yore. That Bawlmer culture, however, still permeates many of its most beloved spots along the 36th Street main drag, more commonly known as “the Avenue.”
While the Avenue is not particularly long, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can see all of Hampden in a few hours. So you should probably start off with a few shots of caffeine in your system, either at Common Ground (819 W. 36th St.,  235-5533) with a delicious veg-spread bagel, or at Spro (851 W. 36th St.,  243-1262, sprocoffee.com), where choosing what kind of coffee to drink is akin to tasting and selecting wine. Next, find some “hon”-inspired threads at vintage stores such as 9th Life (833 W. 36th St.,  534-9999, 9th-life.com) or Dreamland (845 W. 36th St.,  467-1582); for more modern wear, Doubledutch Boutique (3616 Falls Road,  554-0055, doubledutchboutique.com) keeps it fashionable. Ma Petite Shoe (832 W. 36th St.,  235-3442, mapetiteshoe.com) is any woman’s downfall, with original, if expensive, footwear and gourmet chocolate. Once you’ve got the clothes down, move onto furniture: David’s (914 W. 36th St.,  467-8159, davidsusedfurniture.com) and Avenue Antiques (901 W. 36th St.,  467-0329, avenueantiques.com) both have huge selections and fair prices if you look hard enough. When you’re not looking for anything in particular, Junque (hampdenjunque.com, 1006 W. 36th St.,  889-6453) will show you how much you need a vintage Siamese cat sculpture for your mantelpiece.
You may pick up some new pastimes while cruising the Avenue. Lovelyarns (846 W. 36th St,  662- 9276, lovelyarns.com) supplies all of your knitting and crocheting needs, and hosts a “Stitch and Bitch” every Saturday to enable you and your worthless rants. For quality ink, stop by Have Fun Be Lucky Tattoo (820 W. 36th St.,  235- 5930, havefunbeluckytattoo.com). To get your sweat on, Hampden Bikram Yoga (911 W. 36th St., -243-2040, bikramyogahampden.com) has great student deals and class times to fit with any schedule. To get another sort of sweat on, Sugar (927 W. 36th St.,  467- 2632, sugartheshop.com) serves your sex-shop needs, including toys, accessories, and workshops as tame as “Kissing 101” and as out there as the “Ins and Outs of Harness Play.” Light up and chill out at Voodoo Glass Company (1013 W. 36th St.,  235- 2848), a new head shop.
Speaking of munchies, there is nearly unlimited food of all varieties somewhere along the Ave. Craving Mexican/New Mexican? Check out Holy Frijoles (908 W. 36th St.,  235-2326, holyfrijoles.net) for great happy hour specials, or the Golden West Café (1105 W. 36th St.,  889-8891, goldenwestcafe.com) for huevos rancheros to die for and sweet live acts (surf sonarbaltimore.com and weekly.citypaper.com for shows). Café Hon (1002 W. 36th St.,  243-1230, cafehon.com) gives you its take on Hon Culture, front and center, as well as yummy diner food. For those of age, Rocket to Venus (3360 Chestnut Ave.,  235-7887, rockettovenus.com) will transport you back to the ’80s with its epic jukebox. Classy types will enjoy the newish 13.5% wine bar (1117 W. 36th St.,  889-1064, 13.5winebar.com), while Frazier’s (919 W. 36th St.,  662-4914, fraziersontheavenue.com) remains more laid back.
Finally, Hampden has some great cultural spots. Start with Atomic Books (3620 Falls Road,  662-4444, atomicbooks.com), an independent book and comic store co-owned by occasional City Paper contributor Benn Ray. It recently added an in-house record store called Celebrated Summer ( 866-9988, celebratedsummerecords.blogspot.com), catering more toward the indie side of the spectrum. To find that rare Otis Redding 45 or weirdo disc, check out True Vine Record Shop ( 235-4500, 3544 Hickory Ave., thetruevinerecordshop.com), a small but well-stocked store with great prices and knowledgeable sellers. The closest movie theater is the Rotunda Cinematheque (711 W. 40th St.,  235-5554), but you may be too weary, or too drunk, after a day in Hampden to sit through a movie. Stumble home satisfied.
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