where do the cool people drink in ypsi?

Our friends at the fledgling media empire known as Issue Media Group, who publish the weekly online magazine Concentrate, are in the process of rolling out an “Insiders’ Guide to Ypsilanti,” along the lines of those that they’ve previously created for Ferndale and Royal Oak. And, they’ve asked me to help them by pointing out a few things worth doing here in town. I’ve been sent a list of questions, and I can answer most of them, but I’m at a loss as to what to say about the Ypsi bar scene. Specifically, I don’t know what evenings are the best to visit particular places, and that seems to be something that they really want to know. I mean, I rotate through the Brewery, the Elbow Room, Haab’s, the Tap Room, Sidetrack and Aubree’s pretty regularly, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you if any of them were better on one day than another. As long as I can sit my ass down and have beer, I don’t care if there’s a cool singles scene, or whatever it is that they’re wanting to know about. So, that’s my question to you. Is one bar better than another on any given day of the week?

I know from the sign outside that Wednesday is amateur night at DejaVu, but that’s the only day-specific thing I can think of, other than trivia nights, and stuff like that. So, is there a really good night to hit Club Divine, for instance? I’ve never been inside the place. Or, how about Theo’s? Do people go there? Now that Cross Street Station and the Wooden Nickel are gone, where do EMU students go to drink, anyway? I feel really old and really lame.

I plan to say how good the Haab’s happy hour is, and mention a few nice things about the bars that I spend time in, but I don’t know that I believe that any place is any “cooler” than any other on a given day of the week. I suppose I might just be oblivious to it, but it’s not like we’re Los Angeles or something, where bars are constantly going in and out of fashion. And I don’t know that I’d like Ypsi as much if it were like that. Scenes, if you’ll pardon me saying so, kind of suck. But, then again, I’m old and married. Maybe I’d feel differently if I were young, stupid, and trying to attract some kind of mate.

[This post is dedicated to the Neocons who, now that they’re in their final days of power, are demanding that we reject the theory of the Unitary Executive under which they’ve ruled these past 8 years, and reinstate checks and balances on the Executive branch. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but it continues to amaze me just how shameless these people are. It’s like when Robert Bork, the father of tort reform, filed a slip-and-fall lawsuit after years of calling such cases frivolous. One can only hope that these men are forced to drag around their enormous balls in the afterlife like Jacob Marley has to drag his chains.]

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48 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Or, better yet, what’s the scariest night in the scariest bar in Ypsilanti?

  2. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 5, 2009 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    They drink at home, alone, while reading markmaynard.com. Duh.

  3. kjc
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    yeah…i’m going with the no scene thing. i know the tap room serves the same poison every night, though i believe it comes cheaper on wednesdays and saturdays.

    do tell about the happy hour at haab’s. would have never occurred to me.

  4. Kazoo
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    As a 30 yr old married man with no kids, this thread delivers. I normally go to Aubrees on Whittaker as it is close to home. Usually not bad on Thursdays

  5. Paw
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Sidetrack has a good special. Big beers from 4:00 to 6:00 Sunday through Thursday (I think) are like $2.50 or $2.99. I believe they do it after 10:00 PM too, but I do most of my drinking during daylight hours.

  6. frenchfries
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    As far as I know, only the Corner is smoke-free. Anyone from a major city like New York, Paris, SF, etc. will either be shocked by the anachronism of smoking indoors, or will find it a welcome relief. Those of us who fought hard to give up smoking, or who have pregnant partners, etc. have few options. We used to go to Sidetrack every Friday night, but don’t go there anymore now that my wife is expecting and it’s too cold to sit outside.

  7. jbirdy
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    For myself, a 30 something who is “taken”, I like Haabs on Friday night (which WAS the best kept secretly until middle of last year!). I spent many a night at the Tap Room over the years but I haven’t been going there the last few years because it is much too smoky for myself and most of my friends. The Corner is the best to hang out in a non-smoke bar. It is comfy & open. And there is always the fantastic beer garden in the summer (or for smokers in the winter).
    There is always the dive bar tour my friends and I used to do: Arthur’s, the Idle Hour, and continuing down Ecorse…

  8. N.
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Corner Brewery has all day happy hour on Mondays. Other days it’s 4-7pm. The Beer Garden in the summer is also awesome.

    I second the notion about Sidetrack’s great happy hour. I’m not sure of the specifics, but I do believe happy hour is any day after 10pm or 4-6pm. A huge beer of anything on tap for less than $3, all liquor is half off too.

    Maybe mention the Michigan Beer Festival as well?

  9. Curt Waugh
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Sticks has cheap pool on Sunday. They also get crazy-buzy on Friday nights as the post-work crowd trickles in. (Hit it, Billy.) I like this place much better than that surly-ass Monkey Bar in Ann Arbor for playing pool. Sticks also allows food near the pool tables, a HUGE plus. If only Sticks allowed cigars, I’d be in heaven. But like every other bar in Ypsi (save Corner), it’s super duper smokey. Wear a washable coat.

  10. Dave
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Sticks, above Aubrees, has free pool during happy hour, till 7:00. I sometimes take my kids there and watch them play hour long pool games.

    Powell’s pub on Huron across from DPW is good. I’ve been there a few times.

    The Corner brewery is also good for kids with no smoke and lots of room, games, and TV for those of us without reception. Unfortunately the kids get kicked out at 9:00pm.

  11. Old Goat
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “Cool” is a relative term. By whose standards is someone cool or not? I’m plenty cool by my own judgment, and care little if anyone else agrees with me. I drink when I feel like it, regardless of where I am. So there!

  12. mandy
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    It’s already hard enough to get a seat at Haab’s. Do we really need to tell more people about it?

  13. West Cross is the Best Cross
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Powell’s also has Karaoke on Weekends. Saturday for sure, not sure about other days. Makes a nice stop off for those stumbling towards campus after the brewery closes.

  14. Posted January 6, 2009 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Feeling older and older by the minute, I sometimes find myself wondering into Pub 13 on random Friday or Saturday nights. There you’ll find your “college scene” and pretty good drink specials. Pub also has a really good large cheese pie for $5.00 everyday. Divine is pretty packed Saturday nights for those who enjoy a dance or 2.

    Thursday nights are the best at The Elbow Room, grow a pair, deal with the smoke, and enjoy MoFo Karaoke. It’s a lot of fun and not your typical karaoke night.

    The overall “scene” of Ypsi bars are fairly similar. You’re going to get cheap beer, good people, and for you meat eaters, every establishment in Ypsi has the “best burgers in town.”

  15. Huckett
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I thought the Sidetrack was non-smoking now. No?

  16. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Sidetrack is non-smoking until 10 p.m.

    Mark, I think the way I’d present Ypsi drinking is the number and variety of establishments on the same block. You can bar-hop, look in windows, check out what’s going on, and find the bar for your night in either down or depot town.

  17. Smeetfrog
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m not that cool but there is a hidden spot behind Cady’s that is quite nice in the summer. They have a little trellised back porch that is a hidden gem. Great service and they have at least a few tasty beers on tap. One drawback is the little fountain, the sound of running water makes me want to pee.

  18. Kurt A
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I hit the local bars a few nights a week and here are my tips.

    Cady’s, although not a ‘bar’ has a great bar area and a great “at the rail” happy hour and Cady’s is NON-SMOKING. Cady’s is perfect if you want to relax and have a beer especially in the back courtyard. You will likely be alone at the bar but the tenders are friendly and service is great. They also have TVs if you want to take in a game. If you are sitting at the bar, happy hour is all day every day. I believe the regular happy hour time is 4-6pm and 9 till close (all day on Monday). During happy hour a 25oz mug of beer is $4.25 and they have really good beers on tap and a bunch of beer in bottles. They also have a question of the day that if you get it correct you get a free drink up to $5.00 (provided you have already purchased one).

    Tap Room Patio during Happy hour in the summer — I don’t think there is another bar in the city that allows the regulars to bring their dogs to the patio. The tap room is a great drinkers bar with its own atmosphere. I think Ypsi has bars with atmospheres not scenes.

    Powell’s Pub — Rick Powell is the most enthusiastic bar owner I’ve witnessed around town. Rick and his wife are regulars at the bar and participate in the events they have including Karaoke, Trivia, and darts. After 6pm beer is $6.00 for a 60oz pitcher (Bud, Miller Lite, Labatt, etc.). Powell’s is a fun bar with a great staff. Powell’s is not a place for an anniversary dinner but for bar food its fantastic and inexpensive. They also have really good free popcorn. The only thing I can’t stand about Powell’s is that it seems like they pipe in cigarette smoke. It has more smoke than any bar I’ve ever been to.

    Haabs — its been said, it is fantastic

    That’s my thoughts

  19. kjc
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    wait, but what is it that’s fantastic at haab’s? besides having at least one person who’d rather no new people come there. seriously i won’t even go. just curious.

    we should have smoking vs nonsmoking guides and gay vs straight…

  20. Chaely
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Sidetracks/Frenchies has a really great happy hour on Thursday nights at 10pm (until 12 maybe?) and my favorite thing about that particular time is that the mood is very friendly since it’s mostly tables full of Thursday night regulars/locals. We always get into conversations with neighboring tables. Also, the waitstaff is really cool and if you show up toward the end of happy hour they’ll often remind you & suggest that you put in orders for multiple drinks before the clock strikes 12 and you have to pay full price. Plus their huge beers are like $2.50 so you can afford to get food, too. Oh! That reminds me – I love that their kitchen is open late.

  21. Old Goat
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Haabs has the best lunch deals in town. Where else can you get a complete broiled whitefish lunch for $7.95? Mmmmm! Melt in yo’ mouth.

  22. dp in exile
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    in a van… down by the river.

    elbow room, of course =-)

  23. the injector
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Haab’s has two dollar beers and two dollar well mixed drinks and two dollar house wines and two dollar fried mushrooms, pickles, shrimps, and fries and two meatball appetizers from 5-7 monday through friday. And if you stick around dinner rocks too.

  24. Posted January 6, 2009 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m with you OEC. It doesn’t get any better than right here, right now, in my basement on East Cross St. I’m in the Lazy Boy, cold beer in hand, sports on TV, belly full of vension. Like I’d died and gone to heaven, right here on a cold night in Ypsilanti.

  25. mark
    Posted January 6, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for your comments…. I’m still not sure what to tell them, though…. Do I really want to give away the secret that is Haab’s happy hour? Do we need more people taking $40 cab rides from Ann Arbor to sample our bars? And, do I really not have one single reader who patronizes Club Divine? Surely I’ve got one EMU student out there who likes to dance around to really shitty music.

  26. kjc
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    If it matters at all, I checked out the Ferndale guide and the best b-fast place in town, and certainly the coolest, is not mentioned at all. So if you give them inferior information, the Ypsi guide will be as good as the rest.

  27. Brackache
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    We wouldn’t want outsiders to have a comprehensive inside scoop anyway. That’s one of the perks of being an insider in the first place.

  28. kjc
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Exactly, Brackache. That’s why I didn’t give the name of the best b-fast place in Ferndale. What if all the Haab’s happy hour people showed up??

  29. Ditch Digger
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    If they want to know where to drink in Ypsi, they better buy a house or sign a lease like the rest of us.

  30. I'm watching, laughing.
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    What happended to that “Rat Hole” Tc’s Speakeasys?

  31. lookin' in ypsi
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    “We wouldn’t want outsiders to have a comprehensive inside scoop anyway. That’s one of the perks of being an insider in the first place.”

    Hey that’s a sure-fire way to guarantee community success and keep the places you like in business… keep info about the best places all to yourself. Because Ypsi is just flush with resources and bustling downtown business these days.

    I’d love to know where to go early in the week. Finding stuff to do on the weekends is easy. Finding other people Mon-Wed in Ypsi is tough. I have a sneaking suspicion some of those places would love a little more business during the week.

    I’d also love to know where I could get a decent breakfast in Ferndale. I go in for work sometimes and always end up at the same underwhelming places.

  32. dp in exile
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    I’m watching, laughing: TC’s was closed in October due to not paying their taxes.

  33. kjc
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    lookin’: Bart’s (Club Bart) on Woodward.

    Or you can go to Concentrate and read the straight girl guide to the gayest town in MI.

  34. I'm watching, laughing.
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Well, I guess, you could say, “that’s one “Rat Hole” cleaned up.

    Thanks for the info.

  35. Curt
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I think that everyone wants our local businesses to thrive. And we want people with money coming in from Ann Arbor. We just don’t want to become Ann Arbor. Slippery slope as they say.

  36. Brackache
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    lookin’: Just trying to play hard to get so nobody thinks Ypsi’s easy. Of course we’ll put out eventually, but you gotta work for it.

  37. Dirtgrain
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Is the Wooden Nickel really closed again? Is it just a bad location, or do they just have a string of bad managers? What will the drinkers do on St. Patrick’s Day?

    I like the Corner Brewery best, as it is open and not too noisy. I don’t really mingle, so I have no clue on that count.

    Is the Roundtree (or whatever that bar was called in the strip mall at Hewitt and Michigan Ave.) still open? I didn’t really like it, but I went to karaoke there a few times and had fun.

    I’ve always been afraid to go into Powell’s–the look of it from the outside always makes me wary (not necessarily a rational reaction). But I’ll have to check it out some time.

  38. Posted January 7, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t even know the Wooden Knickle opened back up again! I thought it’s been closed a couple years. Played our first basic-present-incarnation-lineup show there.

  39. Kazoo
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I wish there was a way we could bring Frasers over from A2. Its got Ypsi written all over it. I love that bar. Its actually for sale. Anyone have a really big truck?

  40. Posted January 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    did I really spell Nickel “Knickle?” Holy crap.

  41. Mark H.
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    i may be wrong but i think the Wooden Nickel is closed and its parking lot is now leased to the owners of the Peninsular Apartments complex, which was built with absurdly little parking for its size.

  42. Ol' E Cross
    Posted January 7, 2009 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Mark H. You’re right. Wooden Nickel is a Pen Place parking lot. Which makes it one of the coolest places to drink in Ypsi.

  43. Yooper@MLaw
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Hello Mark,

    First, let me say that your blog is pretty sweet. I’ve lived in Ypsi (Township) for almost three years and have yet to walk around downtown Ypsi. After watching the video profiling the local cafes, I think we (me and the fam) will be heading downtown for breakfast or brunch tomorrow. That being said, you might wonder why I’m posting such a comment in response to a post that is wholly unrelated to breakfast or coffee. Here is the answer (or, rather, the question): Who in the Bush administration was/is a “Neocon”?

    Although the term is often used to describe Republicans (usually in a derogatory manner), it seems to describe Democrats just as well (that is, not at all). The reason? The “Neocon” movement “died,” for all intents and purposes, several decades ago and, in any event, probably would not have endorsed the more “traditional” conservatives to whom I think you refer in your post.

    Finally, sorry for sounding petty; others’ use of the term is somewhat of a pet peeve. I’m really looking forward to heading downtown tomorrow with the kids. Keep up the good work. Take care.

  44. Robert
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Yooper@MLaw, I use the term neo-con pretty loosely to describe any person who identifies themself as a conservative but in action doesn’t genuinely promote many of the important traditional tenants of conservatism. That would apply to just about everybody in the Bush Administration, especially after the first few years when they started firing or forcing out everybody who was trying to stick to any principles. Any “new” form of conservatism would accurately be labeled neo-conservatism though, wouldn’t it?

    It is my understanding that originally, neo-conservative was a label placed on former liberals who switched to aspousing more conservative ideas. In a sense I have always seen LBJ as a sort of prototype to what later became the neo-con.

    The term neo-con is in itself something of an oxymoron much in the way the neo-cons themselves are essentially contradictions. So, of course as a label it’s an insult, because it can be seen as identifying a person as something of a hypocrite by nature.

    I agree with what I’ve seen some suggest; that a neo-con is essentially a hybrid of the most base aspects of both liberals and conservatives. I think it can also be said that neo-cons operate under very liberal standards of what is supposedly conservatism.

    To be fair, it would probably be pretty accurate to label most self-proclaimed liberals today as neo-libs, because much of what was historically the foundation of liberal political philosophy has been disgarded by most of them.

    It would be interesting to hear everyone else’s ideas on all this though.

  45. Brackache
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Uh oh, I agree with Robert’s assessment.

    Here’s Rep. Paul’s speech in 2003 entitled “NeoConned” about how shitty NeoCons are. It’s a cspan speech, so it’s full of car chases, shootouts, and firey sex scenes.

    I drank at Aubree’s last night for the Friday Sailin’ with the Captain night ($3 Captain Morgan drinks).

  46. mark
    Posted January 24, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    It’s my understanding that when we discuss neocons in the context of the Bush administration, we’re talking about individuals who studied at the University of Chicago under Leo Strauss, like Paul Wolfowitz.

  47. Malice
    Posted October 12, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    The Elbow Room is in the news today.

    http://www.annarbor.com/news/man-arrested-after-brandishing-bb-gun-outside-of-ypsilanti-bar/

  48. WCD
    Posted June 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    In the Smarty Katzz basement.

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