Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bar #29 Lakewood Village Tavern

Have you ever complained about the news being full of unhappy stories. There's a reason for that. Entirely happy stories are boring. So, I'm warning you ahead of time. I have nothing to complain or be snarky about bar #29, Lakewood Village Tavern.

Lakewood Village Tavern takes up two store fronts. On this cold snowy night the bar was full and we took a table. Amanda the bartender was quick to check on our table offering me a free sample of a beer I hadn't tried. It was recommended by a random woman at the bar. I liked it and ordered a cheaply priced 22oz Shock Top Wheat I.P.A. It was a little dark and had a little spice to it. It also went down smooth and didn't get a funk taste near the end.

Amanda gave me some recommendations on food. I went with their jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzels. They were recently taken off the menu and forced back on within two weeks. Jalapeno cheese stuffed pretzels are one of my favorite things. I also go their buffalo chicken wrap. It was good.
The bar had some built in beer signs and wood paneling on the walls. They also had some dried tall grass on the walls, I assume in case some has need of emergency duck hunting. They have a second room with a bunch of TVs and a small stage that they use for karaoke and when a comedy group, the Village Idiot that comes on Wednesdays.
There are three bathrooms, one for ladies, women and men.

Game wise you are limited to the digital with Golden Tea and a mini casino hallway.

I liked everything I got at the Lakewood Village Tavern. Of course you may be able to find better food, more tap beer options or more things to do at other bars. As a combination of all their parts there are few bars that are as solid an option as Lakewood Village Tavern.
13437 Madison Ave.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bar #28 Bottoms Up (Deceased)

It was the best of bars it was the worst of bars. This week's blog is a story of happy people, charity and shenanigans. I helped sponsor the food for an LGBT event, giving me a chance to meet staff and this bar's community. Bar #28 is Bottoms Up.
Bottoms Up is one of our borderland bars. It faces Cleveland on 117th with windows full of drink and rainbow neon lights. They have parking in the back and have use of their neighbor's as well. Bottoms Up has two bars, a raised stage area, a VIP section and a stripper pole surrounded by mirrors.
We attempted to find tables in the basement. What we found instead was a second, unused, subterranean bar with a lot of floor space. There wasn't anything we could use for extra table space however. Luckily, someone else had a table in their car we could use.
We set up our tables offering an assortment of Costco sandwich rolls and sushi, both of which, were actually pretty good. Pizza was also provided. The people that came and donated their $10 along with all you can eat also received a free drink ticket donated by Bottoms Up along with the provided unlimited food.
While I was waiting for the event to start I decided to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, their big dispenser was out of tp. I went back out to let them know. Fifteen minutes and three people later a single roll of embroidered paper was found, the kind your grandmother would use. Afterwards, when I went to dry my hands there was only a single piece of paper towel left and it sadly fell to the floor. The women's bathroom wasn't any better. It had a Windex bottle stored in a hole prepared for it in the wall, one stall taped shut and it too only had one piece of paper towel that sadly fell to the ground.
The TVs around the bar weren't running this evening but instead had the graphics used in late 90s screen savers. The rest of Bottoms Up had a plethora of light effects going. These were good additions for people dancing and didn't make you feel like you were going to go blind or have a seizure.
Jonn learns whisky on the rocks
is just a shot with some ice.
The bartending staff was friendly when I arrived but were switched out with new bartenders early on. Their credit card machines weren't working in the beginning. They were able to get people to the bar to fix them that evening. We had used up our tickets before the credit card machines were fixed so my friends, Jonn and Lynn, came with me out into the arctic tundra of 117th to find an ATM. We found 5/3 Bank a couple buildings up from Bottoms Up. It's only ATM was in the drive-thru. After inserting the first of our three cards into the machine a car pulled up behind us. The guy that pulled up behind us went on to mock us with back in my day style old man sayings as we took out our money. Everything he said seemed to be very funny but the nervousness of making cars wait for us in the drive-thru while slowly succumbing to frost bite might have had something to do with it.

I converted our mini-adventure into Yuenglings. Creamcicles and other such mixed drinks were also had by the group. The none beers all came in plastic cups, which makes perfect sense in this venue. When you see how much liquid is actually in a normal whisky on the rocks you'll probably want to order a double.
The DJ from Pink Flash Productions, kept the music lively. She also works with autistic children doing swimming pool therapy during the daytime hours.

The night was a success. The LGBT Cleveland Delegates going to El Salvador made over $1300. My blog and I was introduced to the crowd. Everyone but one angry man standing out it the cold not wanting to donate money had a great time.

Bottoms Up is a bar that is greater than its parts. They welcome people of all sexualities and genders, celebrating our diversity.  It plans plenty of events to keep its patrons entertained, inlcuding drag shows, girl and guy nights, and is often packed wall to wall. Bottoms Up is for sale and that may if not excuse but at least explain why everything isn't always up to expectations. Bottoms Up isn't just a bar for its patrons to drink and dance at but a place that helps to fuse its community into a stronger, better one. Everyone that comes in usually has a good time and the drinks are rarely a let down. Bar #28, Bottoms Up, is the #1 gay bar in Lakewood and its patrons are making sure that it stays that way. Come check it out and have a night you won't want to forget.

Awesome: LGBT, Dancing, Events

1572 W 117th St.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Best Place to Buy Beer in Lakewood

The guantlet was thrown and the champions nominated to answer the question: where is the best place to buy (take-out) beer in Lakewood. There were the obvious favorites known for their large beer varieties. It turned out Ward 4 carries an extra enthusiasm for it's local beer providers nominating a third of all the businesses and one more just on the other side of the border. Each of the stores were friendly and proud of their nomination. Many of the businesses offered me tours or at least invited me to check out their beer selection.

The winner of our contest puts in the extra effort the be a temple of beer. They always carry at least 400 different craft beers. Their employees love beer and helping their patrons with whatever they are looking for. They jumped on the chance to sell growlers the first week they were allowed and now have 12 different taps. This business even brews its own beer. The winner of the best place to buy beer in Lakewood with 23% of the vote is Ross Craft Beer! They will now have a featured free ad on this website for the next three months. Ross is located at: 15524 Detroit Ave, Lakewood and their phone number is 216-226-3660.

Northcoast Wine and Beer took second place with 13% of the vote. Northcoast beer has more beer per square foot than any other business in Lakewood. I was given an extensive tour of his store. Our own beer blogger Johnny Vanderford nominated Northcoast Wine and Beer.

Our dark horse competitor was Beverage Square. They came into this competition with no Facebook page and only a single nomination. Their patrons quickly came to their social rescue calling for more votes on both Facbook and on this website. Their votes quickly caught up to a bid for second place. Beverage Square came in third place with 12% of the vote. They have a beer supply that will cover everyone's tastes and a better than expected wine supply. They are also a reminder that good customer service can keep local customers local. (Not that any of our nominated businesses have bad customer service.)

The 4th through 9th businesses are as follows:

4. Sam's Food and Beverage 11%

4. Moon's Food Store 11%

6. Rozi's Wine House 9%

6. Simone's Beverage 9%

8. Mini Mart Lakewood 8%

9. East End Market 4%

All the businesses that I visitted during this contest and previously are well run establishments. Each one has it's own reasons that keeps their customers coming back and reasons that you should check them out. Next time you are heading out to pick up a six pack try a different store than your used to. They might be what you've been looking for all along.


Due to the voting system we used, attempted cheating was rampant. I did have access to a spreadsheet of all votes including times and IP addresses. The results as posted are correct. We unfortunately weren't able to leave the graph up as it refused to not show the cheated votes. This caused some of the businesses to have hundreds of extra votes. In the future we will use different voting systems. Thank you for your patience and for reading!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bar #26 Taco Tanto's

What is a bar? I have described a bar in Lakewood as a place that I can walk in for free, sit down at the bar and order a beer from a tap that won't cost me as much as at Jacobs Field. However, that still leaves bars that border being disqualifiedp; for example: expensive bars, restaurants with bars in them, wine or martini bars and the one bar I allowed even though they don't have a tap. This week's bar is the most controversial of our current list of Every Bar in Lakewood. A bar, or not a bar, that is the question we ask #26 Taco Tantos.

Nothing gets me in the mood for Mexican food like snow. I approached the small black and white sign with a splash of pepper surrounded by a bleak, monochrome winter scene. As I turned to walk into Taco Tantos it was like walking into Munchkin Land. Bright colors and smiling people were everywhere, empty space was at a minimum. Ten of us came to the taco joint taking up almost a third of the space.

Taco Tantos has all your normal Mexican/American fare. I went with the tacos, as their name suggested. The ingredients seemed fresh. The sauces on the table are a required addition to get the most out of your Taco Tantos Tacos. I liked the red it was a nice mixture of smokey and hot. The tacos are also huge. The chips and guacamole were good.

Taco Tantos strays from your standard Mexican and American domestic beers by giving an interesting mix of craft beer options in draft, bottle and can form. I started with a watermelon beer in a can that amazingly was neither awful nor watermelon syrup poured in the beer post fermentation. I then moved onto my preferred Mexican Domestic choice, Negra Modelo, on tap, which was better than the can-o-melon.

The question is Taco Tantos a bar? The bar is open two hours longer than the kitchen. One person came in while we were there to only drink beer. They have a selection of beer worth drinking even if you aren't eating. The bartender says that Taco Tantos is a restaurant with a bar but she then asked the owner's second opinion. He basically gave his permission for it to be referenced as a bar.

Taco Tantos has good beer and food. It's also small and you order from a line not just at random spots at the bar. This allows for munchkins to find it roomy and aren't looked over when trying to order. It's a fun, colorful environment and someone will probably bring their kids while you are there. It is a restaurant with a bar by design. But can be used as a bar with food without complaint. You should come get some tacos and interesting beer at Taco Tantos. Is it Bar #26? Sure, why not.

Awesome: Food (Taco), Craft Beer, Customer Service

13321 Madison Ave.