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Culture

Nightlife

 

Published 9/17/2003

SEE ALSO
More from Metro Times staff

Metro Retro (10/6/2010)
Looking back on 30 years of MT coverage

Metro Retro (9/29/2010)
Looking back on 30 years of Metro Times

Metro Retro (9/22/2010)
Looking back on 30 years of Metro Times

Best sports bar

Rosie OíGradyís
175 W. Troy, Ferndale
248-591-9163

There are always a few tons of football geniuses waiting ó waiting for any mistake so they can interject in a drunken, Hawaiian-blue blur how they would have sent the running back to the flat. Or bench Joey Harrington for their highly recruited second cousin, who benches 380 pounds and can throw the ball 60 yards on the run. Rosieís is centrally located in beautiful downtown Ferndale; itís a great gathering place to meet far-flung friends and fans to catch the Wings, Lions, Pistons, Wolverines, Spartans, etc. There is a passel of well-placed TVs ó and a big screen ó along with plenty of seating. Thereís also a fine menu, with the deep-fried delicacies sports buffs require. Karaoke on Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

Best place to see Jaguars, Mercedes, SUVs and Hummers lined up

Floodís Bar & Grille
731 St. Antoine, Detroit
313-963-1090

We know this for a fact, because the Metro Timesí offices are located directly above the watering hole where the movers and shakers among Detroitís elite meet for cold drinks and hot music. Especially on Friday nights, the place is jammed as luxury vehicles fill the adjacent parking structure and clog the street out front.

 

Best tavern with a small-town feel

Kovacs Bar
6986 W. Jefferson, Detroit
313-842-9774

Around noon, blue-collar workers amble into Kovacs, a quiet establishment on the cityís southwest side. Some order the chili and chat with Delores Evans, a former autoworker who bought the place with her husband, Bob. After 5 p.m., locals drop in for a beer. The owners know most by name. If you stop in more than once, theyíll remember you too. Itís that kind of place.

 

Best upscale blues bar

George & Harryís
22048 Michigan Ave., Dearborn
313-359-2799

This club features top-notch national entertainment and the best local bands, then goes beyond burgers and wings with food far better that what youíd expect in a blues joint. It has great sound and excellent sight lines.

 

Best downscale blues bar

The Attic
11667 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck
313-365-4194

A recent ownership change may breathe new life into this venerable Hamtown institution ó perhaps by tuning the piano and replacing the burned-out light bulbs. Free pool, no cover Sunday-Thursday, open jam sessions, and a changing roster of local talent add to the charm. Watch for Uncle Jesse White on the occasional Saturday evening; Detroit blues ó hell, Detroit music ó is never more real than when heís barrelhousing through a set.

 

Best reuse of a former post office

Tenny Street Roadhouse
22361 W. Village Drive, Dearborn
313-278-3677

Once, this place dispensed letters and packages. Now it dispenses a Cajun/Creole menu and blues (plus the occasional rock act) in a cavernous but friendly setting.. The bar and the ďBLUESĒ sign out front once graced Detroitís Soup Kitchen Saloon, and itís good to see them put to proper use.

 

Best jazz club

Bakerís Keyboard Lounge
20510 Livernois, Detroit
313-345-6300

Itís hard to say exactly why this club has survived as arguably the oldest jazz spot on the planet. In fact, decades after it was a tour-stop for the biggest names in jazz, itís enjoying a renaissance. Here are some of the things Bakerís has going on: first-rate Detroit talent, generally no cover charge, a kickiní kitchen (weíre licking our lips and thinking about catfish as we write), a come-as-you-are ambience (elegant, but not stuffy), good sight lines, great acoustics Ö and for those so inclined, the two-seat booths along the wall are as good as public snuggling gets. All this, and more than 60 years of jazz history too.

 

Best little venue for big rock shows

Smallís
10339 Conant, Hamtramck
313-873-1117

On one side, the Art Deco-ish interior smacks of pre-dentures-era Robert Mitchum, a kind of polished, corner-bar noir favoring day-job shirkers and bedraggled fans of the Clash and Hank Williams. On the other, a fiercely loud mini-concert hall ó fitted with theater-sized lighting and a proper stage ó for earnest (and trendy) enthusiasts of the devilís racket. The uncomplicated local and national show bookings run the gamut of hipster nostalgia (Tommy Stinson) and seemly power pop (Pernice Brothers) to dubious gee-rage (Holly Golightly) and slam-dunk punk (Dead Heroes). Better still, Smallís breezy milieu is seldom smudged by polemical punks or sloshed, red-faced suburbanites with testicular axes to grind. Dimly lit? Check. Ace sound? Yup. Within-yer-means libations? Uh-huh.

 

Best live music downtown

Music Menu
511 Monroe, Detroit
313-964-MENU

Yes, we love the Menu, seven nights a week. Catch blues-rock on Monday courtesy Bret Lucas, spicy Latin jazz by Saoco on Tuesday, Thornettaís blues on Wednesday and funk from the Brothers Groove on Thursday. Other talented folks fill out the roster the rest of the time. A friendly, unpretentious joint with nary an ďOpa!Ē to be found. The food is excellent. Fabulous staff, great vibe, seamlessly integrated.

 

Best strip club name

Booby Trap
141 W. Eight Mile Road, Detroit
313-366-9030

Itís hard to pass this establishment without tittering (pun intended). Funnier yet is imagining the inner monologue of the wise guy who came up with the name. Perhaps it went like this: ďNaked breasts. Tits. Men. Horny men. Men like naked tits. T-Time. Nah, too subtle. Tits R Us. Too pedophilic. Knockers. Fun bags. Cantaloupes. Rack. Rack íem. Not bad. Thatís a maybe. Hooters. Thatís taken. Boobies. Boobs and U. Boobs 4 U. Booby Brigade. Booby Trap. Perfect. Booby Trap.Ē

 

Best place to feather bowl

Cadieux Cafe
4300 Cadieux, Detroit
313-882-8560

If you have never attempted this bizarre Belgian game, give it a try. Or drop in on Tuesday or Thursday night this fall to watch league competitors fight for first place. Itís a blast. With a bucket of their delicious mussels and a cold beer, youíre set.

 

Best beer selection

Ye Olde Tap Room
14915 Charlevoix, Grosse Pointe
Park, 313-824-1030

Thereís nothing cute about Ye Olde Tap Room. Itís just a slightly smoky wooden bar with tables and chairs, ash trays and beer labels plastered on the walls. Itís old and classic, a pub for drinking. But itís got a great, huge beer selection, from Belgian ales to Japanese lagers. The music is sometimes loud and obnoxious, but always rock íní roll. Itís a great place to grab a basket of peanuts and chill with friends.

 

Best date bar

The Buddha Lounge
21633 W. Eight Mile Road, Detroit,
313-535-4664

As soon as you and your soon-to-be smooching partner walk in to this dimly lit lounge you will wonder why you never found the bars in old Chinese restaurants sexier. Because they are sexy, at least the seedy, magenta-drenched variety that one associates with 1970s Los Angeles. But the Buddha serves not a single egg roll ó this joint is just a bar: supremely cozy booths, a red-light glaze, strong cocktails, and a recessed side room that draws its aesthetic inspiration from the opium dens of pulp paperbacks. Not saucy enough? Itís located in a strip mall on Eight Mile. So if your date isnít working out, you can find another date who is working.

 

Best Irish bar

Gaelic League
2062 Michigan Ave., Detroit
313-964-7474

Without the Gaelic League it would be questionable exactly how Irish the Corktown neighborhood is these days. But the Gaelic League isnít just a fantastic and authentic Irish-American bar, it is a social and cultural center for the Irish diaspora in Detroit. Language and dance classes are offered for the young and old every week, just as they have been for years. Historians lecture on Irelandís politics and past. Community volunteer work is coordinated all in the same homey space as their annual St. Patís bonanza. A time-tested tavern and a staple of Detroit life.

 

Best bar for an ear-bleed

Lager House
1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit
313-961-4668

You can wonder if the Lager House needs any more affirmation that it is a mecca for Detroit-bred live music, but itís still true. The best up-and-coming Detroit bands play here regularly. Good independent touring acts are featured as well. There are dollar drinks on Monday nights and a lovely little back porch where your eardrums can find respite.

 

Best jukebox

The Bronx Bar
4476 Second Ave., Detroit
313-832-8464

Something strange happened last winter. The Bronx Bar, which has been on the corner of Second and Prentis for as long as anyone can remember, quietly went from being an underappreciated dive bar that kept odd hours to being a positively hip, dark-as-a-mine shaft watering hole that keeps wee-hours hours. Most important, though, are two jukeboxes that will endear themselves to hardened music freaks. Early í80s post-punk, classic hip hop, deep soul, indie-rock favorites, and a slew of Detroit bands make up a dumbfounding roster of lovable non-hits. You might spend more on the jukebox than on drinks.

 

Best brewpub

Motor City Brewing Co.
470 W. Canfield, Detroit
313-832-2700

Motor City Brewing Co. could have simply chosen to remain one of Michiganís finest microbreweries. But instead its owners decided to make a little room for a bar, build a lovely wood deck upstairs, and invite their neighbors inside. And the Wayne State area is all the better for it. This is not one of those brewpubs with six-story ceilings and emu burgers that litter Oakland County. This pub is small, stylish and simple in design (ski lodge themes are illegal in the Cass Corridor), and home to a whole spectrum of delicious beers made on the spot. The Ghetto Blaster is everyoneís favorite for good reason.

 

Best place for a cold one after work, downtown

Jacobyís
624 Brush, Detroit
313-962-7067

Jacobyís beers arenít cheap, but theyíve got great German imports that are hard to find elsewhere. The bar food is pretty darn good considering the haggard appearance of the kitchen workers; the chicken sandwiches and German sausages and potato pancakes are awesome, as are the salads and burgers. But the best thing about Jacobyís is the atmosphere. Opened in 1904, the classic wood, brass and mirrored bar sports tin ceilings and a friendly, neighborhood feel, with great bartenders. Metro Times ragged on the place last year for its raunchy bathroom odor, and the management responded quickly. The last time we dropped in, no odor could be detected. Itís an all-around great spot to wet your whistle. Sports can be seen on the TVs downstairs; bands play upstairs during the later hours.

 

Best dive bar

Old Miami
3930 Cass, Detroit
313-831-3830

Located in the heart of the Cass Corridor, the Old Miami is an old hangout for Vietnam vets that regularly gets invaded by punk-rockers and regular punks of all shapes, sizes and colors. Itís got old sofas and a patio perfect for outside sitting on beautiful days. Itís seeping with history ó go there and you canít help but pick some up.

 

Best place for romance over pints

Town Pump Tavern
100 W. Montcalm, Detroit
313-961-1929

The Town Pump is hidden in a back alley behind Hockeytown Cafť and Second City. With its ivy-covered windows, wooden interior and small (fake) library with couches in the corner, the bar makes you feel like youíre in London. The cozy atmosphere is sometimes interrupted by a loud weekend crowd, but the noise can be forgiven for the atmosphere. The pub is even located beneath a hostel. How European.

 

Best bar with year-round Christmas decorations

The Comet Bar
128 Henry, Detroit
313-964-1508

Located in the belly of the Cass Corridor, the Comet Bar is about as kitschy as it gets. From lamť streamers to flashing Christmas lights to a hilarious collection of Santa Claus dolls, this seedy little watering hole is one of the few places where you can enjoy a beer, a shot and the (literal) warm-fuzziness of the Christmas spirit in the middle of July.

 

Best place to make a complete ass of yourself and not care

Royal Kubo
25234 Greenfield Road, Oak Park
248-968-7550

If youíre looking for overstimulation of both ear and tongue, the Royal Kubo Lounge can satisfy. Squeezed into a strip mall at Greenfield and I-696, this Filipino restaurant and nightspot caters to those who want a fine sampling of pork adobo, as well as a usually not-so-fine rendition of ďI Will Survive.Ē If you can summon the courage to get off your ass and sing (just put back a few strong ones), donít worry a bit about crooning off-key. The atmosphere is comfortable and quite supportive. The menu offers a wide variety of exotic samplings until 2 a.m.

 

Best piano bar

Pub 13
13 N. Washington, Ypsilanti
734-485-4120

Although dueling piano bars have become a bit trendy, this quaint little Ypsi spot has garnered a prime spot among the ranks. It gets a bit packed on the weekends, but an off-night is pure bliss, and if youíre lucky enough to get the place almost to yourself, the dueling piano maestros are at your beck and call. They know all the Journey and Billy Joel you could ever want, but a couple of them are well-schooled in the jazz classics too. Oh, and they serve top-notch martinis in glasses almost as big as your head, which probably wonít do much for your sing-along.

 

Best place to feel androgynous

Luna
1815 N. Main St., Royal Oak
248-589-3344

Every Thursday night, this small venue in Royal Oak gets funkified with Vicious Pink. New Wave, synth-pop, and vintage dance classics flood the dimly lit nightspot. Flash Gordon, Xanadu and other í80s flicks pulse to the music on the big screen. Take a spin in the silver turning booth or down the Vicious Pink poison of choice ó the Pop Rock shot (vodka with pink Pop Rocks at the bottom). If youíve ever wanted to dress like Robert Smith or act like Cyndi Lauper Ö Vicious Pink at Luna is your best retro escape.

 

Best bar to resurrect

The Kress Lounge
Detroit

We knew it was coming when the doors were closed a few years back, but the resultant dearth in cool midnight oases has become marked since the demise of the Kress Lounge. Now that dive bars are haute-couture, the unaffected beauty of a genuine old-timerís lounge like the Kress is hard to find.

 

Best new downtown scene

Instant Vintage at Fifth Avenue
2100 Woodward (inside Comerica Park), Detroit
313-471-2555

Thereís a mysterious charm to Sunday nights at Fifth Avenue downtown. It might be the duo residents, DJ HFusion and Brad Hales, and attendant collection of old soul, hip-hop and groove-intensive sounds. Maybe itís the monthly engagements by internationally renowned DJ Theo Parrish and top-shelf guests for a pocket-change price. Outfitted with enormous tropical fish tanks and offering views of the ballpark and the heart of the downtown skyline, maybe itís the environment itself. Whatever the formula, the evening just feels right. The relaxed vibe of the fashionably low-key locals and loft-dwellers could help redefine Detroitís downtown nightlife.

 

Best club night

Untitled at the Shelter
431 W. Congress, Detroit
313-961-MELT

Less than a year into bringing frothy sleaze back to the dance floor, the Saturday club dubbed Untitled has already been responsible for public spankings, vodka squirt-gun fights, a Miss Untitled pageant, three wonderfully unnecessary subgenres (sasspunk, jungleclash and dorkwave), flash-mob-style after-parties (BYO at the drive-in until 4 a.m., Jell-O wrestling, etc.) and plenty of assorted monkeyshines. Oh, and the musicís great too. Consider your liver pickled, Jack.

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