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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
nogoodforme In The City: Our Fave Local Bars
THE COMMUNIST'S DAUGHTER
The first-coolest thing about The Communist's Daughter (1149 Dundas St. West, at Ossington Ave.) is the Polish Coca-Cola sign and "Nazare Snack Bar" facade leftover from the space's previous tenants. The actual bar name is written in chalk on a teeny sign that hangs in the window. The second-coolest thing about The Communist's Daughter is the fact that they have The White Album on their jukebox (among many other killer options), which means that, whenever I'm there, I get to pull my favourite bar move in the world: playing the most embarrassing songs from The White Album as my three-for-a-dollar choices- "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da," "Bungalow Bill," and "Honey Pie." The third-coolest thing about The Communist's Daughter is a tie between all the things that make it actually cool: the convenient locaysh; the chill, low-key vibe of its clientele; its nookish atmosphere; and the fact that it is eight hundred trillion times less annoying than all the neighbouring Ossington bars, which are rife with creepy creeps trying to prove that they are cool by being impossibly ill-mannered and overdoing it on the American Apparel. (LJ)
THE RED ROOM
The Red Room (444 Spadina Ave, at College St.) is one of those bars that everybody knows about, everybody goes to, offers nothing particularly spectacular but nothing particularly god-awful, and will probably exist for the next hundred years and never change. The Red Room has lots of comfy couches and a remarkably high-quality bar menu considering it is some of the cheapest food I've ever encountered. The Red Room is the perfect night-starter-outer, but I need to warn y'all that their french fries are actually hash browns, which kind of ruined my night the first time I ordered them. (LJ)
THE UNION STATION COMMUTER'S LOUNGE
There are few things I miss about my short-lived stint as a commuter: I lived with my parents in the suburbs, worked in the city, spent two hours a day sitting on a train, and wanted to shoot myself in the face from exhaustion/over-exposure to Normies by the time I finally got home. However, some of the most relaxing moments of my past year were spent on those glorious evenings when I had time to stop into the Union Station Commuter's Lounge (I am not going to bother writing down the address; if you really want to go there, it's at Union Station, and if you live in Toronto and don't know where Union Station is, you're weird) and drink a pre-commute white wine spritzer or two. The existence of the Commuter's Lounge made my train rides a hell of a lot more fun, and I have a real taste for hanging it out in weird places I'd never hang out in if it weren't for specific circumstances. The Commuter's Lounge crowd is generally split 50/50 between white-collar businessmen and homeless dudes sporting mullets and hockey jerseys. And sometimes me. (LJ)
FROGGY'S IN TOPANGA CANYON
I still feel the same way about Froggy's that I've always felt; I still want to go there every day at dusk and drink hemp ale from a pint glass on the back deck with 1970 Neil Young and 2007 Devendra Banhart and play gin rummy and eat fish tacos till the cows come home, or at least till the bar closes. For some reason this never actually happens to me, but Froggy's will maybe always be my favorite bar in the whole wide world. Let's go there soon, okay? (Liz)
(L: Froggy's back deck. R: Devendra in Topanga.)
It's a hole-in-the-wall kinda place across the street from Hotel California/the Pacific Ocean; I love it because it feels like Cape Cod, like some place fisherman dudes would flock to after a long and arduous but spiritually instructive day at sea. Plus, one of the bartenders reminds me so much of Alan Arkin, probably my 37th favorite human of all time. And once on a date there this guy bought me a big steak and a whole lotta red wine, which was really classic and maybe even suave. Also, they've got Christmas lights hanging up year-round, which is pretty much always a can't-go-wrong bar decor choice in my book. (Liz)
THE TOWNHOUSE IN VENICE
I liked it better when there was all the NASCAR memorabilia everywhere and they weren't trying so hard to be sleazy-classy, but whatevs: It's a bar right off of Venice Beach and the beers are HUGE and Angelica Huston lives across the street, and that's all good enough for me. Once upon a time I said something about how the Townhouse has got lots of cute boys with salty hair and, yes, that's definitely another selling point. Beach-rat hotness beats out any other brand of hotness by leaps and bounds. Why do I live in Echo Park? MOVE ME. (Liz)
(OMG guys, can I just tell you that I'm having SO MUCH FUN at the Townhouse right now???!!! And, the dude in the Cubs shirt? NOT an example of the salty-haired boys I speak of, by the way. But I hope that doesn't sound bitchy.)
THE DOWNSTAIRS LOUNGE AT BOWERY BALLROOM
I love the Bowery Ballroom (6 Delancey St. between Bowery and Chrystie) so much that I think it's one of my spiritual homes. I almost would rather go see a second-rate band play there than an okay band play at a truly shitty venue, such is my love for this concert venue. It's got great sound, good sightlines from nearly anywhere in the club, and a layout that actually is conducive to a good showgoing experience. It also has a lounge downstairs, complete with sexy alcoves and beautiful lighting, where you can hang out, wait for friends, people-watch, keep your eyes peeled for the band and generally be all louche and awesome. If they just opened up the lounge, I'd be there all the time, but it's for concertgoers only, boo hoo. Which is just as well, I suppose -- it keeps the volume of people reasonable and manageable, and you never get that annoying bar crush you get in Manhattan all the time.
TURKS AND FROGS
It's kind of a big deal when a New Yorker gives up their favorite places in the city, simply because everyone likes their secrets and everyone also has a horror of a place they love being overrun by douchebags and jerkfaces. Which is why it is with great trepidation that I tell people about Turks and Frogs (323 W. 11th St. between Greenwich and Washington), which is at that perfect bar equilibrium these days -- lively enough not to be boring, but not so crazy-crowded that it's unbearable. Turks and Frogs is a great little wine bar in the West Village, a great neighborhood now so overrun with i-bankers and normies that it generally makes me sad to be there anymore. Run by some very charming (and gorgeous) Turks and Frenchmen, it has a great wine list and some delicious appetizers, including a cheese plate that will knock your socks off. Dimly lit and mysterious, it's an intimate place, so it's not really great for when you're rolling six deep -- but if you're looking for a place to chill or somewhere you can seduce someone, Turks and Frogs will be on your side. It's just down the street from the Spotted Pig, which unfortunately is overrun with douchebags and jerkfaces -- but a Spotted Pig burger and then a nightcap at Turks and Frogs, that's pretty much a perfect West Village kind of night.
BEMELMANS BAR AT THE CARLYLE
I have such a soft spot in my heart for old-school New York, when the city was soigne and classy and elegant: it's kind of cheesy, I suppose, and probably not true, but I'm a sucker for a old room and a sense of history. So while it's a little tourist-y, I totally have to put in a mention of Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel (35 E 76th Street). It's not open late at all, so this is a place to begin your tour of eminent NYC watering holes, but it's so full of old-school charm that I can't resist. It's named, of course, after the famed Madeline illustrator, whose super-gorge mural lights up the room. And yes, it's pricey, but it's one of those beautiful places that are truly unique in New York -- and the old-timey cocktails are superbly rendered in a way to make you realize how artful and creative mixing up drinks really is. People like to go see Woody Allen's band play at the Cafe Carlyle across the way, but I think that's super-lame. Instead, go in the early evening before the "entertainment" starts, eat some of the light snacks and be charmed by the old-school waiters and the beautiful Art Deco-y room. It's definitely upscale, but in a real, classic, truly deserved and special kind of way.
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