Best of Detroit 2012
Spend the Night - Reader's Choice
Reader's choice for nightlife in Metro Detroit
Published: April 25, 2012
Sandbaggers Bar & Grill
25615 Van Dyke Ave., Center Line; 586-759-5900; sandbaggersbg.com
The Alibi Bar
7266 E. Nine Mile, Warren; 586-759-3930
We don't mind a bar with a slogan. Even if it's kind of generic, that's fine as long as it's genuine. Sandbaggers is self-proclaimed place for "Good times, good food, and great friends." All that's missing, they say, "is you!" You'll find NASCAR mirrors, electric darts and flirty women in their forties at this unpretentious east side shot-and-a-beer barroom. And the Alibi is an intimate room where the booze flows and barstool storytellers belly up with their tales of misadventure. From Wednesday through Sunday, karaoke careens from the depths of the diaphragm of many a seasoned drinker with songs as familiar as the folks that frequent this joint. At some point, everyone needs a good alibi.
Best Dive Bar,
The Tap Room
201 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti; 734-482-5320; taproomypsi.com
112 W. Liberty, Ann Arbor; 734-662-8757;alleybarannarbor.com
Around in various incarnations since 1941, the Tap Room has long been a staple drink spot in Ypsilanti. Today, with Michigan unbeatable beer and drink deals that can't be beat, open-mic nights, and some fine obligatory karaoke, this bar is dimly lit, offering just enough light to play a few games of pool or shuffleboard. All in all, it's an elbow-on-the-table, anything-goes kind of joint with above-average bar food and the kind of service that invites a return. For a dive, Allwy Bar sure does carry an arsenal of top-shelf bottles, including a number full of single malt scotches. There are some notable rarities as well, such as Russell's Reserve Rye, which you might want to try in a sazerac! But what the Alley really loves pushing is the Pickleback: a shot of whiskey (preferably Jameson, they say) chased with a shot of local pickle brine. Keep your eyes out for their annual Prohibition soiree this summer.
Best Honky-Tonk Bar
49345 Southbound I-94 Service Drive, Belleville;
If it weren't awesome enough that this authentic country-western barroom is right off the interstate, they also offer dirt cheap beer, live music and, yes, plenty of dance lessons. There's a classic car show coming right up and word is Diamondbackers like to play games, too. Some (ahem, Foreplay Thursdays) evidently end with sloshed patrons and seductive staff baring a whole lotta skin! Hotrods, hot bods and cowboy boots? Let's kick the tires and light the fires, Cochise!
Best Irish Pub
349 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-964-0007; oldshillelagh.com
So what if actual Irish folks actually steer clear of the Old Shillelagh? Located in the heart of Greektown (isn't that so Detroit?) this bar is Irish by name and by color, and gallons of Guinness (you can order 20-ounce mugs) and barrels of Bushmills whiskey can be found here. For the full-on Irish experience, Black Mist performs upstairs every Friday and Saturday night. But if it's a game day, the Old Shillelagh is as 'Merican as it gets.
Rockstarz Karaoke Bar & Grill
33729 Ford Rd., Garden City; 734-522-7744;
If "karaoke" literally shows up in the proper name of a bar and they don't win this category, something would be painfully wrong with this world. (Not like there already isn't, but you know what we mean.) Specializing in public humiliation and private parties (bachelorette, corporate, you name it), Rockstarz Karaoke Bar is fully equipped to enhance your karaoke experience. Period.
Sneaker's Pub & Grill
22628 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-545-8243
Ferndale, once unabashedly funky, is in the throes of transition, not unlike Royal Oak's evolution (or de-evolution depending on what side you take in the Gusoline vs. Blackfinn juxtaposition) a decade ago. Cleaner, fancier, slightly more pretentious establishments keep cropping up in Ferndale. Thank the lord there are still funky joints like Sneaker's, which maintains patronage from neighborhood regulars, hipsters and war vets in need of hip replacements. Folks from the music scene pop in to belt out a kitchy tune — but so do their mothers.
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