Friday, March 25, 2005

Farewell Mexico

I hit 350 bars for the year today and tomorrow I am going to be spending most of the day and packing for a very early, 5:30 A.M., departure to the airport. Probably have one last meal at a nice restaurant here tomorrow night, but no chasing after bars. They are begining to get hard to find.

348) The Sandbar

At long last the bar inside The Sandbar, on Olas Altos, has opened. I have been watching them construct it one corner of this second-floor place for several weeks now. The Sandbar itself has been around for a number of years but has just been sold and the new owners decided to put in the bar. The bar is a quarter-oval and the top is a green and red mosaic made of broken tiles in kind of a wavey pattern with the green on top. Embedded here and there are square orangish ceramic tiles with green lizards on them. The front edging of the bar is made of the same green tiles as the top of the wave. The front of the bar is bamboo. There is a palapa-like awning over the bar, just below the ceiling and hanging from it are three lights, two with orange glass shades and one with a blue glass shade. There is a black-light behind the bar but it wasn´t turned on. Behind the bar is also a nice dark-wood cabinet holding a supply of liquor. Above it was light-wood shelving with a built in rack for hanging glasses, and glasses were hung. The other shelving held more liquor bottles. There is a nice television behind the bar and some kind of a poker tournament was showing.

They still have a few kinks to work out at this place. For starters, the short end of the bar is right up against the narrow balcony that runs around this corner estabishment. That wouldn´t be so bad except that instead of permitting access to the bar they have a small table sitting on the balcony with a couple of chairs. As a result the half-dozen bar-chairs that they have are jammed so close together in the remaining area that seating is uncomfortable. The bar-chairs them selves are also uncomfortable having just a small round seat and a back that is at an uncomfortable angle. I hear they are going to replace them with larger, more comfortable chairs but I don´t know how they will fit them in.

Secondly, the bartender is not actually allowed to present you with your bill. He has to take the information to someone else who then gives it to you. This would not be a problem except that it took a good ten-minutes for this to occur. Now that means, after I have finished my drink, I have to wait ten minutes to get the bill.
Also, during this time there is nobody behind the bar as the bartender is, apparently, chasing down the guy to give us our bill. I also then had to wait for about another five minutes to get my change. Hopefully they will get this resolved soon or, I suspect, the bartender, who wasn´t too happy about the situation, will leave.

I had a rum and coke and headed across the river to the north side of town.

349) Hilo

Hilo, across from the Malecon, is one large bar. It is over-sized in just about every way imaginable, starting with the two-story tall statues that loom over the entrance and large front window which overlooks the malecon and bay. One is of a Mexican revolutionary and the other is of an even more scary looking Mexican woman. Inside are three slightly smaller statues. On either end of the bar are mounted Mexican revolutionaries (one is probably Zapata) and on the side wall is some kind of winged female figure who probably represents liberty or freedom or something.

There is a long bar with fairly wide marble edging all around and a plexiglass top over a bed of polished stones about 2 inches below it. I assume it is lit from below at night. The bar also serves as a dance-floor and there is a small wooden staircase leading to the top for easy access. While I was there, and I was the only customer, a bunch of young women came in just for a quick dance and to take each others pictures. The front of the bar is made of translucent reddish-orange tiles.

Behind the bar is a bank of drab brown coolers with a wood and marble shelf above them holding the liquor supply. The bartender needs to climb a small ladder, that can be wheeled up and down the length of the bar, to reach the bottles.

The walls are greenish, yellowish, and pink tiles except for the back wall which is covered with small, purple tiles. There are pictures of actors, actresses, and musicians on the walls, many of which are tinted to have that somewhat hallucinatory look of the 60´s. Kind of like Andy Warhol might have had a hand.

I had a gin and tonic and learned, after all this time that the name of the brand of Mexical gin that I favor translates to Black Bear.

350) Chez Sabor

Heading a bit further north and back about a half a block on Ortiz de Dominguez is this second and third story soul-food restaurant and bar. It has only been open for a short time and I hope it does well. A little more diversity in food types is always a good thing.

You enter by ascending a narrow, red-tile stairway. There also appears to be an elevator but nobody seemed to be able to get it to work. I only walked up one level and this is the smallest of them, at least in terms of seating for the customers. However, it is the one with the bar. The bar is relatively small and fairly narrow. Just room for about four barstools. Pretty much a plain white decor with white shelving behind to hold the bottles and glasses. Just a place to hold people waiting for tables I would guess. I was told that the upstairs area offers a beautiful view of the bay and is especially pretty at sunset. From what I could see from the second level I would guess it is true. They are lucky that even though they are about half a block from the malecon and the bay nobody has built anything taller in front of them.

They didn´t have any tonic so somebody ran out to get a bottle. I must be one of the only people in town that drinks gin and tonics because the guy came back with but a single small bottle, just large enough for one drink. I suppose if I had ordered a second one he would have had to run out again.

I had a gin and tonic and headed back to the south side of town for dinner.

Hoo Rah!! I hit my goal of 350 before leaving Mexico and now have only 650 left to go. I think I am taking next week off from my quest to get caught up on 6 weeks worth of unattended business back home. I have been informed that my cable service has been cut-off because my bill is over-due. Guess I wasn´t able to record the begining of the new season of Deadwood.

A few final comments about my stay in Mexico. First, I have to go back and change the names of a couple of bars.

The 2 for 1, and the bartender there assured me that this was indeed the name, has now had its grand opening and now appears to be Carl´s Jr. I am going to double check on this today, but that is what the new sign on top of the place says.

Chivas Guadalajara is actually Tonto Sport´s Bar. The big Chivas Guadalajara sign hanging behind the bar was in support of a soccer team with that name.

Second, my comments about the so-so hamburgers at Sweeny´s were based upon second-hand information. I have since eaten there three times and found the food to be exceptionally good and reasonably priced. I haven´t tried the hamburgers there though. I will revise my entry accordingly.

Third, just because a place has a sign that says, ¨Restaurant and Bar¨ does NOT necessarily mean it has a bar. It may just mean it serves liquor. Much time was spent walking down roads and up steps when when I spotted this sign and found no real bar. Needless to say I could not have a drink at such an establishment and count it.

Adios until I post again.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A ¨Holy¨ Ghost Town

This is Holy Week in Mexico and Puerto Vallarta is packed with people on holiday. There are tents on the beach and a merry-go-round with live ponies. Quite a festival. I decided to get out of town, but that proved to be a mistake. Everyone in the town I went to, Cruz de Huancaxtle, or La Cruz for short, must have come to Puerto Vallarta. Only one restaurant was open and it didn´t have a bar. The only bar that I found that was open was in the lobby to a small hotel.

345) Philo´s

A semi open-air place with a large palapa covering it. White stucco walls and a small stage set off in one corner covered by a smaller palapa. There was a drum-kit, microphones, and wiring so it looked like it would be cranking up later. Philo, the owner of the place, is from Mendocino, California where he operated a music studio and used to play with various people in the ¨Shuffle Band.¨ The name of the band comes from the fact that the various people would shuffle in and shuffle out.

The bar itself is a large blue cement thing with a pale-pink tile top. Along the top edge of the bar is painted some weird designs including red-spotted mushrooms that seem to be glowing, beach scenes, birds, various designs. It was quite colorful. The bar chairs are the same style that they had in Roma´s and Las Palomas. A wide pinkish cement foot-rest keeps you from being able to pull them comfortably up to the bar though.

Not much decor behind the bar; a metal rack for glasses, a glass front refrigerator holding beer, soda, and wine, a large Corona beer cooler, a smaller Snapple cooler that held more soda and wine, but no snapple, and ice chest and a water bottle on a stand. On one wall was a Banderas Bay American Legion flag, Post 14. There was a pool-table in a back room.

I had a Corona and caught the bus back to town.

346) Casa Vallarta

Back in town on Avenue Mexico was this bar tucked in back of what looks like a breakfast place. It has a nice bar though, but with a bartender that had to be walked through the process of making a rum and tonic. After twice trying to use mineral water I had to try to describe what a tonic bottle looked like. Then he was out of Bacardi rum and couldn´t quite grasp the fact that Appleton was also a rum and not, in fact, apple juice. Finally, out of exasperation, someone else cut and squeezed a lime into the glass because he couldn´t seem to grasp the concept. I assume he is new.

The bar white-brick with a nice marble-finish top to it. The bar-chairs are metal rod with rattan seats and backs. There is a nice large-screen Sony television, but it wasn´t turned on. There are three white-brick arches behind the bar and they have mirrors behind them. They have a shelf on the bottom of each of them made of the same material as the bar-top and they hold the glasses. Their are two more glass shelves above that one that hold the liquor except for the top shelf of the middle shelf that holds a statue of a reclining, or dead, Mayan or Aztec. The spaces between the arches are occupied by wine-racks. The walls are bright yellow and pink.

I had the long-in-the-making rum and tonic.

347) El Party

Down the street a bit, where Avenue Mexico turns into Paseo Diaz Ordaz, is this hole-in-the-wall that is more of a place to pop in and get a drink in a go-cup and then head on out. They do have a narrow blue-wood bar though and even though my beer was served in a styrofoam cup with a cover and a straw sticking out of it, I stuck to my guns and drank it in place.

Although there is a rack with various sized glasses above the bar, this is strictly for show because they are never used, everything is served in some kind of a plastic or styrofoam container that you can take with you. Strings of Christmas lights hang from the rack, but they are used. Blue and pink florescent lights garishly illuminate the place. The front of the bar looks like an advertisement for Corona with a beach scene featuring Corana beach umbrellas, limes wearing sunglasses, and a curvey blond wearing a thong bikini. My wife tried to tell me her (the woman curvey blond, not my wife) buttocks were artificially enhanced. This was based upon my wife´s careful appraisal of the uplift and other structural characteristics.

There were also a couple of small blue-wood protrusions along one wall where you could, in theory, set your drink down. I seriously doubt if anyone, other than me, ever actually drinks in this prison-cell sized establishment, unless maybe it was raining really hard. This is a good place to pop in and get a Derrame Cerebral, Orgasmo, or Kamikaze Azul to go.

I settled for a Corona and headed home to just barely catch sunset at the pool.

Not a bad day, 347 down for the year and 653 left to go. I plan on hitting my 350 for the year tomorrow and then taking a bit of a breather.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Daily Dozen

Well, not daily perhaps, but I did make a dozen bars today so my goal of 350 total before I leave Mexico looks like a no brainer (and no brains left). My wife stuck with me through the whole day, but did not drink with me throughout, so I give here credit for her support (literally, at the end).

333) Suzie Wong's

Shangri-la meets Mexico, that was a according to my wife. You enter by walking across a small cement and stone bridge with bamboo railings. The bridge crosses a small stream with a waterfall at one end. Large goldfish and small koi hang out in the stream and seem to enjoy themselves. If you stop on the bridge to look at them a couple of the koi come over and stick their heads out of the water looking for food. Upon crossing the bridge you are greeted by a smiling wooden Buddha.

The bar has a nice curved thick wooden top, nicely grained and with a glossy finish. The front is bamboo set in a grey concrete base that serves as your foot-rest. The bar-chairs are wood with plaited bamboo backs and round, pale-green cushions. Above the bar, and supported by two thick, black poles is an inverted dugout canoe that looks more like it came from Fiji than China. However, to compensate there is a large pink Chinese lantern with a dragon on it hanging from the middle of the boat. To the left of the bar hangs a framed picture poster for the movie "Suzie Wong."

Behind and to the right of the bar is a fairly large outdoor eating area topped by a bamboo roof that gave it an airy feeling. A number of white Chinese lanterns decorated with branches, blossoms, and birds hang from the ceiling. There are also overhead fans. The tables are round with glass tops There is a large indoor eating area as well but I didn't go in to explore it.

Surrounding the outer sides of the outdoor eating and bar area are numerous plants, palms, bamboo, and papyrus (identified by my wife who does volunteer work at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden). Also, against the far wall, is a large mask of what looks to be some kind of an islander with a shocked expression on his face. Maybe he came over in the boat above the bar and was surprised to find he was in Mexico and not a neigboring Fijian island.

I had a gin and tonic.

334) Laterraza Di Roma

The little bar area is across the sidewalk from their main restaurant and sticks out into the water on a deck-like structure made of pegged planks. The bar is quite small with a curved wooden top edged with ceramic tiles with an orange and green Aztec type of design. The front of the bar is wood-planking decorated with a small ship's-wheel and yellow-bulbed running lights. Above the bar is a green canvas awning supported by heavy wooden beams above a wooden rack for glasses which is, in turn, supported by two large green marble-like pillers. The back of the bar is wood planking with portholes and shelving for glasses and bottles of liquor.

The railing around the deck is wood with rope and a few orange life-preservers (not the edible kind; oh, wait, those are lifesavers) hanging from the sides. One area of the deck is set off from the other by what looks like ship's-railings. Numerous overhead fans with white globe lights hang from the ceiling which is wooden lattice and supporting a white awning with green fringes. An exceptionally nice view of the harbor and the boats.

I had a gin and tonic.

335) City Dump & Co.

Another place with a nautical feel to it, but this one more of a below deck feel. A lovely dark-wood semi-circular bar with brass rails running around it both top and bottom Above the bar and supported by thick wooden posts with brass fittings top and bottom are lattice work cabinets holding glasses. Hanging below them were metal racks holding more glasses. Lots of glasses.

In the center of the area behind the bar was a large, round fish tank nicely decked out with rocks, driftwood, seaweed, and the requisite sunken ship. The ship's name was the Taberna Marina and the was the name of this place before it was taken over by City Dump & Co. Kind of metaphoric. There were lots of colorful fish and one large turtle. The tank has an ornate wooden top and sits on a wooden base. A ledge runs around the base and the front half holds liquor bottles. There is also a nice wooden cupboard with a mirrored back and shelves lite by Christmas lights that held more liquor. There is track lighting above and a disco ball.

It is a multi-leveled place with a pool-table on the level that is about shoulder-high from the bar level. On one white-plaster wall hang all kinds of nautical pictures and knick-knacks. There is nice wooden planking throughout and my wife said it reminded her of a below-deck English pub.

I had a rum and coke.

336) Victor's Place - Cafe Tacuba

A small wooden bar on a good-sized tiled deck. Kind of a younger college-break crowd drinking beers and shots of tequila. Probably because the beers here are only 10 pesos (about ninety-cents) and that is cheap for anywhere in Puerto Vallarta and especially cheap out here at the Marina where things tend to be a bit pricier than in town.

The bar only has 5 wrought iron bar-chairs with blue cushions. One of these is only semi-useable though because it sits in front of several stacks of glasses. The bartender becomes visibly upset if you sit in it and then, reluctantly moves the glasses. As soon as you leave the glasses go back and his domain is once again secured.

There was a small boy sitting at one of the tables feeding and then chasing the pigeons. This seemed to be vaguely amusing to everyone except his parents.

I had a Corona.

337) Champions

We wandered a bit behind the marina into an area of hotels and found a Champions in the Marriott complex. It was kind of an uber-Champions with at least 30 television sets all tuned to one or another type of sports programming. I vegged out for a bit watching women's nine-ball, my new addiction.

The bar is an imense marble-topped thing that had only seven wooden bar-chairs and no bar-rail. It looked like it could handle at least 50 people though. Most customers must sit at the thirty or so tables of various sizes and heights. There is also a small stadium type seating area where you can sit to watch special games. Behind the bar was glass shelving backed by mirrors that held an impressive liquor supply. There is a raised area in the back that has three nice, blue-felt covered pool tables.

The walls, as you might imagine, were just covered with sports memorabilia. Good stuff too, most of it signed; jerseys, bats, pictures. A basketball signed by Larry Bird, a football signed by Dan Marino, that kind of stuff. I was looking for a baseball signed by Kent Hrbek but couldn't find one.

I had a gin and tonic.

338) Mikado

Quite frankly, the fanciest Japanese restaurant and bar I have ever been in. You enter by way of a large bridge over a large pond set in a Japanese garden. The pond has the requisite koi, of course. The bridge leads to what looks like a large waterfall rushing down a wall of rock but then splits off in two directions. One leads into the Marriott hotel and, to the left, Mikado.

The decor is equisite and so are the lovely waitresses in traditional Japanese attire. Of course most of the waitresses are Mexican, but what the heck. I could probably go on for pages describing the light-blonde shelving with intricate origami animals and birds, both real and imaginary, the Japenese rock garden and pond, the plant arrangements, the Japenese gowns displayed on the walls. It was all top-of-the-line.

The bar was a fair-sized curved L shape with a thick reddish and black marble top set on curved blonde-wood with a dark-wood window pane pattern. The bar-chairs were dark-wood with red-leather cushions. The cabinets behind the bar had the same thick marble top as the bar. There were a profusion of glasses stacked on top. Above were two mirror-backed glass shelves holding the liquor. When it comes to bars and restaurants, at least in Puerto Vallarta, Marriott pulls out all the stops.

I had a chilled saki.

339) El Faro Bar

Up a staircase and then into an elevator that holds just the operator and two passengers to the top of a structure designed to look like a lighthouse. There is an octogon shaped bar in the middle made of very nice wood with a light and dark grain to it. The front is made of slats of the same type of wood. A large brass rail encircles the bar. Above the bar, supported by wooden columns at each angle of the bar, is a combination wooden rack for glasses and wooden cabinets with glass backs and wood paneled glass doors in the front for the liquor supply.

From up here the view is great looking out over the marina to where the cruise ship was berthed, all light up like a holiday, and then behind to the surrounding mountains. Sweeping around you see a vista of the resorts of reasonable height and the foilage and mountains behind. Then, as you continue your sweep you encounter the newer, higher resorts that now completely block your view of the setting sun. Then, as you sweep a bit further you encounter two steel-beamed structures being erected that are, I hear, going to be 30 stories tall. The tallest ever in Puerto Vallarta. Progress never stops. Even the bus fares went up half a peso this week to 4.5 pesos.

I had a gin and tonic.

340) Zsubi

A two year old modernistic bar and lounge right on the water (well, across the sidewalk from the water). A bit out of time and place. Kind of like you are sitting in a Manhattan bar and a bunch of boats somehow washed up in front. The bar is a large L shaped affair with large tan tiles the width of the bar on top, kind of a light tan marble texture. The edging and front is light blond wood, kind of Swedish modern or Ikea. There is a light metal bar rail. The front is a nice, deep carmel-colored marble and it looks to be real marble. The bar chairs have kind of a 1950's interpretation of modern look to them, curved metal bases with a tannis-orange formed-plastic seat and back. Behind the bar are mirrored backed glass shelves holding the liquor supply. The longer I sit here the more I feel like I am in a Jetson's cartoon. Of course the fact that this is my eighth bar of the day may be contributing to that. Coincidently, the same bartender I had while at City Dump & Co. was behind the bar here. Maybe I overtipped.

I had a gin and tonic.

341) Las Palomas

I had intended to catch the bus back home but this one was on the way so I decided to stop in, knowing that I would not be making it back to the marina again this trip. Despite the similarity in names to another bar in the marina, Las Palomas Doradas, it is not the same one and is, in fact, almost at the opposite end.

This one looks kind of like you are sitting in a Mexican hacienda with a bunch of boats in your back yard. The bar has a worn wooden top with a rough wooden edging. The bar chairs are large, intricate wooden things similar to the ones in Roma but with brown vinyl instead of leather seats and trim. Above the bar is a wooden rack for glasses supported by three turned wooden posts, two of which were wrapped by Christmas lights, one set of which actually worked. A square yellow cement piller behind the bar had some decorative Mexican plates hanging on it and there was a large cooler with a block of ice in it for the beer, wine, and champagne. The rest of the stuff was kept out of sight. In the back were a few tables, a fooseball table, and a large-screen television. A pleasant enough place.

I had a gin and tonic.

342) Blue Note

Now, I really had intended to just take the bus home, in fact, having hit nine bars I already had my heading for the post "Be Nine Day At The Marina." However, fate intervened. This is Holy Week in Mexico and that means that most people have a one-week vacation. Puerto Vallarta is a favored vacation destination for people from all over Mexico and, especially, Guadalajara. The town is packed. The buses, with the newly raised fare, have decide to address this by not going all the way to the center of town, near where I live, but instead stop at the edge of town, well over a mile away. As they say, however, behind every cloud is a silver lining. My wife, however, does not say this.

Anyway, I passed by a place, on Morelos just off 31 de Octobre, that I often do during the day but it is closed then. This is a jazz club, upstairs, and a bar downstairs with a fooseball table up front and a pool table in the back. There were flashing disco lights and a bone jarringly load jukebox. A decent sized wooden bar with wooden bar-chairs and rattan seats. About half-a-dozen small tables with shorter versions of the bar-chairs. Kind of an Indian batik fabric covering the ceiling. A large statue of a frog holding up a sign saying "BIENVEIDOS" sat on one end of the bar. Pictures of Bob Marley and Che Guevara hung under a mountged deer-head. I hope I am not hallucinating.

I had a Pacifico

343) Sangria

As long as I was on a roll, somewhat literally by this time, I decided to try out another place that is usually closed when I stroll by. It is on Corona so I had to decide whether to have a Sangria or a Corona. A nice wooden bar at the back of a very narrow place. Eight wooden tables with wooden chairs and woven seats, same as the bar-stools, of which there were only three. Behind the bar is a wooden-framed mirror. The frame was wide and thick and there were liquor bottles on the top and bottom of the frame.

Kind of white stucco walls with a few interesting pictures and very nice lamps. The lamps were kind of wide curled wrought-iron pieces with a thin, almost a candle-holder projecting out which held not candles but an ice-cream cone shaped yellow and brown swirled shades. The bartender said she designed them and then had them made. She was very nice and I felt a bit badly because she thought there would be a bigger crowd because of Holy Week and we were the only people there until her sister came in with a few people and ordered beers. She also said they were trying to sell the restaurant because her husband had to go back to Italy on family business and they their lease would not allow them to sublet the place. She said if they couldn't sell it they would have to just close it and take the loss.

I decided on the Sangria.

344) Roxy

Almost home, across the river and the south side of town, at last. I couldn't pass this place up because it is one of my favorite rock clubs ever and I hadn't even been here this year. It has a kind of plain green linoleum topped bar that is rectangularly shaped except where it veers off at the end next to the stage. It is just a small stage but they always have decent groups that primarily do covers of late 60's, 70's, 80's, and early 90's rock. When the groups take a break the same type of music continues on the sound system. Posters and pictures of musicians from that era deck the walls, Eric Clapton (a favorite) Big Walter, Little Walter, Robert Johnson, an eclectic bunch. This is a dark place with a fairly busy dance floor, just the way a place like this should be. They had have two-for-one here so I got two beers in a bucket when I ordered. I just drank one and gave the other one away even though "The Village People" were singing "YMCA" on the sound system.

I had a Corona and called it a night.

Well kids, I wouldn't try this at home (for one thing they make the drinks stronger in New York) but I had a great day and now have hit 344 for the year and need only 656 more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Cleaning Out The Southside

Well, not really cleaning out the southside, but pretty much every bar that is open during the day. Even the ones I went to today pretty much didn´t open until at least 4:00 P.M. or so. Tomorrow I am hitting the Marina again and then a few late nights in town. Still shooting for 350 before I leave here (having already passed 325, my previous goal) but we shall see.

329) Cuate´s Sports Bar

It looks like a bit of a hole-in-the-wall from outside but is is kind of a deep, narrow place that is bigger than it looks. It is on a busy street, Insurgentes, and I have walked by it about a dozen times and never seen it open before. A single balloon with ¨Good Luck¨ written on it floated forlornly behind the bar. Maybe this bar is just re-opening under new management. The very attractive young lady attired in a brown fringe mini-skirt, abbreviated and tight black top, and black spike-heeled boots (I barely gave her a second glance) sitting at the bar eating cucumber slices seemed to be the manager. She was the one who took my order for a beer and then passed it on to the woman standing behind the bar (and about a foot away from me). She also seemed to be in charge of the jukebox, which looked new. The pool-table looked new as well and there were three young guys playing. There wasn´t any light above the pool table and only a few white globe-lights mounted high on the walls around the place. Looked like it would be too dark to shoot pool at night.

The bar itself was a massive cement affair painted one of the uglier shades of brown that I have ever seen. The bar stools were plain wood and were most definitely not new. But then neither was the brown bar. Their was a fairly nice brown shelf with a mirror back behind the bar that held a rather limited selection of liquors and a few glasses.

The area with the jukebox and pool-table was set off by a yellow brick archway. The floor was nicely tiled with a light-brown marble pattern. The walls were a light-yellow wash with some pink designs; flowers, swirls, dots. There was one white wall with a bunch of names painted in yellow that were either meant to be decorative or just the undercoating for the yellow wash to come.

I had a Corona

330) Tono´s Taco Bar

This is an upstairs place on the same street, Serdan, and one block from Rizzo´s, the large supermarket-department store. It has two ancient pool-tables and an equally ancient fooseball table. With fooseball tables, kind of like pinball machines, ancient means classic. The pool-tables, on the other hand, were not classics. The bar was laminated formica with a wood-grain pattern. The front of the bar was painted a slightly less ugly shade of brown than the last place but pretty much hidden from view by the overhang. The foot rest was wood-topped cement. The metal bar-chairs had either a metal or a wood back to them and were topped by tan vinyl cushions. I got the one bar-stool that had a thicker cushion.

Somewhere in the back there was a parrot, or someone doing a very good imitation. I couldn´t find the parrot. There were a few guys at a back table playing dominoes.

The walls and ceiling were all a light-pink painted plaster with the paint peeling off the ceiling in the front. There were small, hollowed-out logs holding a variety of plants hanging from the line of cement pillers that ran the length of the room and from the side wall as well. There were plenty of overhead fans and plain industrial fluorescent-tube lighting.

I had a Pacifico

331) Roma

I headed across the bridge to the north side of town, but just barely. Right along the river on Encino is this interesting establishment. It has a lovely view of the river and from the balcony, and end chair at the bar, where I sat, you can also see one of the older automobile bridges across the river as well as the higher, new pedestrian bridge. I can´t remember what the name of this place used to be, but it is newly re-opened and the decor has changed a bit. It is so new in fact that my beer was only cool, not cold. I got it for free though because I was the first customer they had after just getting their liquor license. Timing is everything.

The bar has a nice yellowish-ivory marble-like tile top and facing on the overhang. The front is brick and the bar-rail is a narrow metal pipe. The bar-chairs are elaborate wooden constructed affairs with leather trim and cushioned seats. Behind the bar are glass shelves. The bottom one is supported by wooden supports and the top two are supported by glass bricks. They are surrounded by Christmas lights. Only two bottles were on the shelves and they were decorative Italian liquor bottles, the kind that look like military figures in fancy dress uniforms. Also behind the bar are clocks set to Cannes, Habanna, Venecia, Hollywood, and local times.

They show movies here, mostly art films, Fellini and the ilk. I did see a Felliniesque movie here last year that had Mel Gibson playing an FBI agent who had a third arm surgically removed from his back. He says in the movie that when he was a kid he could play the accordian and wipe his ass at the same time. Name of the movie was ¨Million Dollar Hotel.¨ For another film about someone who gets, and then loses a third arm see ¨The Dark Backward¨ with Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, and Wayne Newton.

The walls of Roma are painted with lovely murals of, surprise, Rome. The back rooms contain a most electic art collection. This place is most certainly worth a visit if you are ever in town.

I had a slightly warm, but free, Corona.

332) Los Amigos

A second story bar that announces via a sign on the stairwell that it is a ¨Friendly Gay Bar.¨ It seemed to be as I chatted pleasantly with the bartender, Charlie, and the owner, Arturio (Charlie has been Arturio´s boyfriend for three years now). The bar is a huge thing that has seating for at least 50. It is shapped like two rectangles, a large one with a smaller one abutting it to the rear. Just plain wooden stools covered with patterned cloth, but lots of them. A large glass/plexiglass shelf hangs above the long rectangular section of the bar with an impressive collection of liquors. The bar top is chocolate-brown tile and the edging is wood. The facing is a dark-brown paneling.

There is a very nice, two-level outside deck with a nice view of the surrounding buildings and trees and a not so nice view of the construction site immediately adjacent. White Mexican-style cowboy hats hang from the ceiling as do numerous rainbow buntings and red, white, and green plastic pennents. Stuck in the iron grill seperating the deck from the main area were several rainbow-colored umbrellas. There were a bunch of Mexican pictures on the wall behind me, chickens, sombrerros, and pottery. Across from me were a few pictures of Zapata and his band of followers. A gladiator movie was playing on the television.

I had a Corona, served with Cheese Doodles and called it a day.

Only four today. I had planned on going out again later in the evening but didn´t get around to it so now I have some catching up to do. Still, 332 down and only 668 left.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Mundane Monday

A lot of places were closed today for some reason. I am begining to run out of bars on the south side of town, at least ones that are open in the afternoon. Tomorrow I will be making a night-time sweep to see what I can pick up.

327) Dragon Rojo

This place, on Insurgentes, has a somewhat Asian ambience, as you might gather from its name. A fairly good-sized bar with a dark-wood top resting on what looks to be cement covered with some kind of varnished cloth. Kind of like burlap but lighter and finer. The bar rail was bamboo as were the bar-chairs which had woven backs and light-tan cushions. There were two large light-pink Chinese lanterns hanging above the bar from decorative wooden cabinets with glass holders on the bottom. A couple more of the same lanterns hung from a large cement beam over the fairly spacious dining area. Behind the bar was a dark-brown cement credenza with louvered dark-wood doors. Above that was a dark-wood, mirror-backed shelf that held the liquor supply.

Several Asian-style prints, mostly of tree branches, blossoms, and birds (all on the same print) decorated the pale yellow walls. There was a small outside eating area extended in front of the place. Wind chimes hung in the three large arched doorways.

Directly behind the bar and facing the customer was a large bar-sink rimmed in bright-red ceramic tile. I got to enjoy my beer listening to the Mexican woman washing the dishes singing softly to herself.

I had a Pacifico.

328) La Fonda

Up Badillo, past Steve's (a key reference point for me) is La Fonda. It has an L shaped bar with a nice wood top that had a light and dark grain to it and was nicely finished. The front of the bar is white plaster, kind of an extension of the wall itself. Above the bar is a curved wooden rack for the glasses. The kitchen is also behind the bar. The bar stools were light wood, kind of minimal, with a small seat. Not the most comfortable.

The inside eating area had a battleship-gray floor. The ceiling was painted to look like a cloudy sky with sillouettes of birds, the kind that look like pterodactyls and ply the skys above the bay here. There were a few paintings by a local artist on the walls that were for sale (the paintings, not the walls). There was also a nice little outdoor eating area in the back that was accessible through a sliding glass door.

I had a gin and tonic and called it a day.

Two today to bring me up to 328 for the year and 672 left to go.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Balmy Palmy Sunday

A very nice day but I wasn´t sure what I would find open because it is Palm Sunday. There were a few places closed, but not too many. I think Monday might be some kind of a holiday as well, but I am not too sure.

322) Las Brazzas Grill

From the south-side of town you take the little swinging bridge to the far end of the Isle Cuale and you end up at this small, very unpretentious place. It is the only place on the island that isn´t super fancy and very expensive. Just a small cement building. The bar is a small L shaped affair with a rough brown and gravel top and a narrow dark blue overhang. There are 3 glass blocks with a kind of swirling and bubble design embedded in the top of the bar. The wall behind the bar is made of large bricks. The side walls are kind of a mustard yellow and deep orange. Just room for 3 wooden chairs with a curved sun design on the backs and woven seats. The floor is white ceramic tile. A huge black iron bouy or something with a small Christmas tree on top dominates one side of the room. There are just two blue wooden tables, each with three painted wooden chairs in the inside area. The roof is orange tile and a single overhead fan and three beehive lights hang from the ceiling.

Outside along one wall is a narrow area that is covered by a blue vinyl canopy. There are about four wooden tables out there with four chairs each. Kind of a nice spot to stop on the way home from shopping or whatever on the north-side of town.

I had a Pacifico.

323) La Tia

A fairly large curved bar at the back of a decent sized restaurant located on Cardenza across from the small park that appears to be headed for destruction to make more room for parking. The bar has a thick cement top covered with large yellow ceramic tiles except for the front edge which has a single row of dark-green tiles. The front of the bar as well as the fairly massive structure behind it is somewhat difficult to describe. Rough dark concrete embedded with orange bricks, stones, edges of bricks, and narrow straight and curved ceramic pieces the same orange color as the bricks. These were arranged to give it the flavor of some kind of Aztec design. The ledge at the bottom of the bar was dark concrete embedded with dark stones and small pieces of brick. The big bad wolf is certainly not going to be able to blow this bar down.

The structure behind the bar had three tiers of shelves holding a decent selection liquor. Above the bar was a large copper pipe affair that held a large number of margarita and wine glasses. It had decorative copper agave plants at each end and in the middle the copper was formed to say ´Azul Tequila.´ ´Azul´is spanish for blue and all of the best tequila is made from 100% blue agave.

The area behind the bar had a three-story high atrium topped by a skylight. Hanging from lower beams were an elaborate model of a multi-masted sailing vessel and a large mobile made out of driftwood and seashells.

I had a Pacifico and headed back home to pick up my wife and head out to the north-side of town.

324) de Santos

On Moreles street, one block behind the malecon after the malecon kind of angles off a block is this fairly modernistic looking place. It has a long white marble topped bar with a smooth plaster front and a heavy pipe bar rail. The barstools were of a modern design and made out chromed tubing with brushed aluminum seats. There were a lot of lights hanging over the bar with cylinderic parchment shades. The overhead lights in the rest of the place had large cone-shaped shades made of the same material. The floor is tan marble-like tile. Behind the bar are rather plain looking wooden shelves holding the liquor supply and a large espresso machine.

To the right of the bar and separated by large sliding glass doors is an outside eating area with four white linen tableclothed tables and bright metal chairs similar in syle to the barstools. Behind the eating area was the kitchen that had a large open window so you could watch your food being prepared.

The inside area had about sixteen wooden tables with white linen tablecloths and wooden chairs. The eight tables against the back wall sat up against a long white settee above which hung a large mirror. Two stone and brick arches divided the interior into three sections. They are obviously trying to be a fancy, upscale place but not succeeding very well. Only one other couple in the place when we got there. There prices a quite high too, some of their specialty martinis going for $14.00 (that is U.S. dollars, not pesos).

My wife ordered a chocolate martini and it was $9.00 and one of the worst I have ever seen. Gin in a glass with Hershey´s chocolate syrup squirted into it that just kind of settled to the bottom in a lump. When I finally found someone who spoke English well enough to explain this wasn´t the way they were normally made they gave my wife a frozen margarita instead. To make amends they really loaded it up with tequila so she was pretty much tipsy the rest of the night, even though she didn´t have anything more to drink.

I had a gin and tonic and it was decent enough.

325) Blue Shrimp

Right next door is Blue Shrimp and it was as packed as the de Santo´s was empty. Just a small bar with only one stool but the hostess arranged to have another one brought out so my wife could have a seat too. The bar-top is smoothed cement with a finish to make it look like tan marble. The front of the bar is white cement with brown stripes. The whole bar is rectangular in shape but just the one short side is for ¨special¨ customers. Brightly colored margarita glasses hang above the bar. The shelving above the hanging glasses have sliding glass doors and hold the liquor.

The restaurant is decorated to give the feel of being underwater. Coral hangs from the ceiling and walls with brightly colored wooden fishes flitting about. A diver´s helmet sits on a cupboard in the back. A large, bright-red lobster-claw flower and a large wooden lobster sit in the window. The new-age music that was playing when we came in added to the dreamy, underwater atmosphere but that changed when a wandering mariachi band stopped in to seranade the customers.

I had a gin and tonic.

326) Los Xitomates

Headed out and we walked past de Santos which looked like it managed to add one more couple to their ¨crowd.¨ Nice looking place, but they need to do something. We walked about three blocks down Morales to Los Xitomates and it too was packed.

The bar is a nice L shaped, dark-wood with a lacquer finish. The front is white cement with decorative tiles embedded. Only three wooden bar-chairs with rattan seats at the short end of the bar. Hanging over the bar are lights with cylindrical shades that look to be made of copper and have cutout Aztec style patterns. On the walls are mounted lights with half-cylinder shades of the same style.

From the ceiling above the eating area behind the bar hang groupings of three lights with cone-shaped shades of the same metal as the other lights, but with no cut-outs. The ceiling is quite high with dark wooden beams. The front eating area has a lower ceiling but their is a stairway leading up to a small seating area above it. The wooden staircase is covered with muslin, presumably to keep the people sitting below it from looking up the skirts of the women as they ascend and descend.

I had a gin and tonic served with a glass stir-stick with a little red tomato perched on top.

Not a bad day, 5 bars to bring my total to 326 leaving me only 674 to go.