A few weeks back, Bar Tab poet laureate Lyle Rosdahl reviewed the unusually named bar Early Bird Special No. 1. With an abundance of oddly named bars around town, Bar Tab decided to pursue the issue further and see what we would find — if not some form of lost treasure then perhaps a better understanding of our vast and eccentric city. What follows is Volume 2 and 3 of an ongoing, irregular series we’re now calling DROWN (Dive bars with Really Odd and Weird Names). We admit it sounds like the name of a horrible heavy metal band, but given the places we’re going to, we’re rolling with it.
DROWN, Vol. 2
The Bar Tab crew set out for the Northwest side and stopped first at the corner of Babcock and Hillcrest at the I Don’t Know Yet Lounge. I Don’t Know Yet could be the punchline to a variety of setups (yes, pun intended): Where’re you going tonight? What are you drinking? You’re not getting behind the wheel, are you?
Idiotically, when we went inside we never asked anyone to tell us the origin of the name. One member was pissed that he couldn’t get his standard — a Jameson and ginger ale — and we were too busy surveying the scene while waiting for service. There were lots of flat screens showing an NBA game. The jukebox had a decent sound system and it wasn’t overpowering. Smoking is allowed, but the air is nothing like the fog one will find at the hipster bars, which we shall not name.
IDKYL is a big space with a good number of seats at the rectangular bar. A large wall of photos showcases patrons living and deceased — a “wall of fame or shame,” the bartender said — but nothing else about the bar really stood out. The drinks were cheap, but seemed weak. The patrons were all good citizens, though perhaps a bit too secretarial to be recommended for the DROWN hall of fame.
DROWN, Vol. 3
Luckily, there was another candidate in the area: What’s It To Ya Lounge at Evers, a block south of Wurzbach. This segment of Evers is one of the more intriguing blocks in the city, combining an international array of ethnic food stores, hookah lounges, a Thai restaurant, a Middle-Eastern restaurant, taco trucks galore, and a head shop. When we spotted a food truck outside the bar, we momentarily thought it might be an Indian curry truck, but no, tacos only.
One step inside the WITYL, and I could tell it has huge potential. It’s small and cozy, and a half-circle bar dominates the space. It pretty much demands one sit at the bar. Successful architects could learn a thing or two about “gutter” Feng shui from WITYL.
The color red dominates the décor, and worn fabric gives it a sense of faded glory. Even better, there is an utterly magnificent oil painting of a half-nude woman proudly displayed on the center wall. Somehow this portrait contained the essence of WITYL, suggesting a conflicting mix of class and vulgarity.
The bartender had a good grasp of mixology, though she, too, was unable to make a Jameson and ginger ale for our BT crewmember. I couldn’t get a Manhattan and settled for an embarrassing shot-drink called a Washington Apple. To be fair, it was poured extremely well.
The music selection from the jukebox is like something one would hear in the kitchen of a marijuana-infused pizza shop — heavy doses of Rage Against the Machine and 311. The customers were mainly young and tattooed. All of this combined makes us think WITYL must be considered one of the best dive bars in the city. It is near perfect. It’s in an area of town that no one really talks about, and though it’s lost in the middle of ambiguous suburban sprawl, WITYL feels like home. •