I guess one of the things I didn’t want to believe was that going to bars would be more fun before you were 21.
But I guess it’s true.
It’s a couple things: a sense of being an insider, in the know, you-know, I-know, you-don’t-know.
But it also gave you the thrill of shoplifting without that residual gunky guilty feeling that I get since apparently I still have a moral conscience.
That said, the places I drank are no longer as appealing to me, perhaps thwarting their business plan in serving me underage.
That said, Larry Lawrence was a good home to me when I chose to venture out into the heart of Hipster Williamsburg.
Well, it was a good home for me until my relapsed alcoholic friend threw a glass against a window there, tried to fight the cops and then bit me.
But that’s a story for another time.
Larry Lawrence had some cast-iron tables, a cast-iron bar, a huge outdoor area and an entrance marked only with the word “bar”.
I guess what was always so appealing about there is that was a decently cool bar that wouldn’t card us, which made us feel like kings.
Well, we felt like 21 year olds maybe, or at least at some point usually, given the proper accoutrements, we felt drunk.
When my aforementioned friend made that bar a place I was no-longer-welcome, we moved down the block to the South American bar Maracuja, which had fried cheese empanadas and a garden patio.
The people there were generally nicer, generally less hip. Larry Lawrence was the sort of place you’d go to impress someone you could go there; we’d just go to Maracuja cause it was somewhere nice to drink.
The bartender, Charlie, is particularly well remembered. A city worker for the water department, he goes on the job every week just to come home and bartend with his pretty, ambiguously-South-American wife who once yelled at a friend of mine, rightly, for smoking a joint in the back.
I remember having some good talks with Charlie about the city, what they pay, the bureaucracy of it and the politics. We talked Obama and Clinton and Bush and Bloomberg and occasionally he’d throw in a free drink along with the empanadas, which were very good.
I miss that place, but it’s hard to go out there when your friends no longer want their faces seen in Williamsburg.
On that block there were two places I would eat before and/or after a night of drinking.
Before hand there was Taco Chulo, an upscale-y burrito joint that catered to the new Williamsburg, the only one I’d really known and was notable for having burritos that included chipotle-hash-browned-potatoes instead of rice. I thought this was particularly delicious with the spicy-queso-chicken burrito I’m sure I was charged too much for, but the burrito was anathema to a night of good beer-drinking as it filled you up too much for any reasonable amount of liquor.
More frequented was the after-spot, located in between the two bars, the vegan fast-food joint Foodswings.
Now normally, I would stay away from most of what would be called fast-food and all of what we could be vegan, but Foodswings was one of the most disgustingly greasy gross-yummy “restaurants” I’d ever seen. Much like House of Vegetarian down on Mott in Chinatown, Foodswings had a normal menu, it’s just that everything was fake. Your Buffalo Chicken Sandwich had soy-blue cheese and fried tempeh patty. Your Mozzarella Sticks were some sort of cultivated-fake-mozzarella cheese that tasted almost exactly the same; like fried nothing.
The allure of Foodswings was that it was open late and when you were that drunk, you couldn’t tell the difference anyway.
Also, fries are vegan.
I guess that’s all I have to say about my chapter in Williamsburg.
But I’ll say a couple things about some of the places I’ve gone more recently:
69 Chinese Restaurant is open till 2am, like many of the places in Chinatown. Their hatred for their non-Chinese customers is as palpable as their food is greasy, filling and inexpensive. At this point I mostly find it endearing.
BINY Karaoke Bar was pretty decent as far as I was concerned for Karaoke. The lounge was relatively uncrowded on a holiday Wednesday and the drink minimum was fair with no additional charge. As long as you can stand the Chinese pop music (the worst shit I’ve ever heard, but occasionally funny) and the people at the other tables who appear to be playing Boggle, you can get in a good rendition or two of REM or the Bloodhound Gang.
Rush Hour is a lot like Foodswings except its in the hipster Lower East Side as opposed to Williamsburg. It’s Israeli, actually, but they’ve got burgers as well as tater tots and I think even a Corona if you’re trying to keep your buzz going. Back when my friend Jonny-Jon-Jon lived down there, we would go there and the Israelis would ask me where they could buy whatever drugs he was on.
Finally in Bushwick, Goodbye Blue Monday is a bar my friends and I took an epic quest to once and one of the trippier places to be when on hallucinogens. Filled with bric-a-brac furniture, 3-buck PBRs and disused Life Magazines, they also have live music whenever someone feels like getting up. It’s the sort of place that you find a black crossdresser shrieking from a piano a song entitled “White Pussy”, which while driving me to the backyard, caused my friend to comment that “Pitchfork would probably like this guy”.
“The guy in the wig singing atunally about white pussy?”
“Yeah,” he replied.
“They’d call it– haunting.”
LARRY LAWRENCE, MARACUJA, FOODSWINGS AND TACO CHULO-
Grand St bet. Roebling and Havemeyer. Brooklyn.
L to Bedford or LG to Lorimer.
Bayard St bet Mott and Elizabeth. Manhattan.
NQRW6JMZ to Canal.
Corner of Canal and Thompson Sts. Manhattan.
ACE to Canal.
Ludlow St. bet. Rivington and Stanton. Manhattan.
FV to Lower East Side/2nd Av. BD to Delancey.
GOODBYE BLUE MONDAY
Broadway bet. Dodworth and Lawton. Brooklyn.
JMZ to Myrtle. J to Kosciusko.