Bar Belle: Eat, Drink, and Be Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md.

We all love the urban life, otherwise GW and D.C. wouldn’t have appealed to us as a fantasy college league pick. Aside from the thrilling bright lights and bustling streets, the District can get pretty overwhelming and at times a taste of the suburbs can be a good dose of Novocain for the soul. Missing the state school antics of football, kegs, house parties and general campus mayhem, I left my D.C. cove and set out for the University of Maryland at College Park by Metro.

The Metro ride is simple enough and once you hit the station you can just catch the KISS bus to campus. Having explored university grounds this summer, I knew Maryland had a small but friendly bar selection where pretty much the entire student body gathers on the weekend. Terrapin locals will tell you that the College Park bar crawl usually begins at Cornerstone and continues onto either Bentley’s or Santa Fe Cafe depending on class standing. Let’s just say the freshmen and sophomores aren’t stuck in their dorms during the weekend.

Located on the Route 1 campus strip, Cornerstone Grill and Loft offers two floors for drinks and socializing that get packed pretty quickly almost any night of the week. I preferred to stay downstairs given the seventeen high-definition televisions sprawled throughout the bar. Despite hosting a crowd that most likely breaks any fire codes, Cornerstone’s atmosphere remains mostly light and friendly. The quintessential college tunes resound around the first floor and you can easily find yourself dancing along with the other surrounding kids. Either that or it is so crowded that the person moving next to you has involuntarily caused you to muster up some sort of dance move.

I found that the upstairs didn’t draw as large of a crowd – perhaps because the bar is smaller and the music not quite as loud – but if you are going with a group, this is probably the easiest place to hang out and catch up. The loft has two pool tables and plenty of seating, creating a much more chill vibe. If you are going to play like a Terp, I would suggest hitting up the first floor and mingling with all the state school kids.

After loading up on your Saturday night special $2.50 Yuengling drafts or $2.50 Ketel One vodka drinks, you will probably want to check out either Bentley’s or Santa Fe. Earning my 21-year-old status, I ventured over to Santa Fe Café where most of the upperclassmen hang out. This venue also gets jam-packed, but the layout parallels a restaurant much more than a bar so there is ample seating and standing room. The bar is a huge island that sits in the center of the café so it’s much less painful to get the bartenders attention and order rounds of specials like Saturday $2 Miller Lites and Friday $3 Grey Goose drinks. Although there was no band performing when I visited Terp territory, Santa Fe is known to showcase local acts in order to get customers feeling their best for the weekend.

Having met up with friends who attend University of Maryland, College Park, its easy to find yourself double fisting free drinks from friends who want you to experience the best of their nightlife. After toasting to my pseudo-Terpness and drinking the night away with friends, Santa Fe itself became like a mirage and I was the sucker stuck in the desert without water.

It was finally time to leave the state school version of myself and stumble back with my buddies to the Metro. State schools may have football and grass, but who needs that when you have the White House and D.C. Snacks?

Bar Belle Rating: three of four bells

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