Saturday, March 10, 2012

[Metromode] Great Neighborhood Bars

The burger at East Side Tavern. 

What defines a "neighborhood bar"? Is it that sense of belonging? The desire to go to a place "where everybody knows your name"? Is it a bar unique to its time and place in history, or is it defined by its patrons and surroundings? Is it a bar you can easily stumble home from or a place that reflects the unique identity of the neighborhood itself?

A neighborhood bar is any and all of those things. It isn't the assembly line sports bar with 50 flat screen TVs and enough flashing lights to induce an epileptic seizure. Nor is it a glammed-up joint with "see-and-be-seen" people in black flashing duck faces for Facebook photos. A neighborhood bar tends to avoids trends, is perhaps a bit off the beaten path, swarming with locals, and above all else comfortable and welcoming. There is a certain level of dive bar je ne sais pas quoi appeal. These places can be over 100 years old or barely opened a year. What defines a neighborhood bar is not the number of people who have reviewed it on Yelp but the crowd of local regulars that keep it vibrant, making it their second living room.

Neighborhood bars in the truest sense proliferate throughout Detroit. These are the bars located in predominantly residential neighborhoods, bars that existed before there was such a thing as zoning, bars that are located in houses right next to the very same houses where its patrons live.

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