Last night was the first ever Tour de Ponce. The brainchild of Miguel, it’s a pubcrawl that features some of the finest and most eccentric establishments along Ponce de Leon Ave. in Atlanta. The tour was centered around the agglomeration of bars at the intersection of Ponce with Ponce Place and it began with food and beer at Cameli’s Pizza. This is a place I have been a few times and have only once been disappointed. That one time was my own fault. See, the slices are HUGE and you can customize them but given their size, each extra item adds about a two dollars to each slice. I ordered two with about 3 items and was shocked at my bill, but the pizza was good.
Back to the point, the tour. We continued next door to the Model T. Both of these bars reside on the ground level of a large building that was formally a Ford Factory, also it’s a popular haunt for local transvestites so the name fits. Our group, which fluctuated around people, stuck out like a sore thumb. You could almost hear the record scratch when we walked in. We were greeted by a woman dressed completely in black, including a witch-like hat, who stated simply that AA didn’t work. After a game of pool we moved on.
Next we walked through the parking lot (almost getting backed over by a car) and across the street to Friends on Ponce. This place sits above a set of small retail spaces including an internet cafe. The bar is decorated with random knick-knacks from all over the place. One that I remember was the old brushed metal sign for the Armory, a former Atlanta all-male cabaret club. Perhaps the coolest thing about this place is the patio that overlooks Ponce. I heard a lot of comments about how cheap the draft beer was ($1.75) and how gay the place was. I just noticed that there were several flamingos around the place including the one in the photo with the disco nuts.
After Friends we walked over to the Bookhouse Pub. This is a relatively recent addition to the Ponce corridor and features a number of craft beers and fine woodwork. The place was much less crowded than the last time I was there and pretty enjoyable. You could walk around from conversation to conversation and they were playing The Darjeeling Limited. This most conversations revolved around Bill Murray in Rushmore and Natalie Portman nude scenes.
Miguel took off early and got all of us into MJQ for free (I think). This was my first time in the labeled dance joint. It’s very cool to know that you are literally underground when you’re there. The entrance takes you down a path that makes it clear that you’re descending below the parking lot. The dance floor was a bit slow but I could see how of would be very fun in about 2 hours. The music sounded good and the artwork along the walls was equally entertaining. Kissatlanta.com was parked outside in a pimped ice cream truck.
Next was the Local where I ran into a friend outside and talked to him until we left. I have been here on weeknights an it’s always pretty crowded and very smoky. Saturday night is very similar. It’s appropriately named because it is nothing special but feels comfortable for people who live around there.
We crossed Ponce again and tried to hit the Clermont Lounge. This is the storied establishment in the back of a ‘hotel’ that has most recently gained press because the hotel has gone up for sale. The lounge, however, is not for sale and the line on Saturday showed why. This place is a hit, a local favorite with true unique flavor. Unfortunately we did not wait in line to get in but we did get to witness an outburst by the bouncer when someone disregarded the yellow sign and tried to take some photos.
Disheartened but not dis-going-to-bed (we all felt like Lance Armstrong at a time trial after a rest day), we trotted down to El Bar, Atlantan for The Bar in the basement behind El Azteca Mexican Restaurant. This place is a small, loud, crowded, windowless room of a club (so basically it’s a club) with great hip hop DJs on the regular. I have ended up here several times and usually find my way into some dancing. Drinks are in plastic cups and beers are simple. One thing that would make it even better would be free chips and salsa.
From El Bar, we disbanded. Kris was back to Clermont to find Nicole whom he had left there in line with some other friends. Chernock and Kate had already left us. Matt, Priya, Leslie, Lauren, and I were committed to the Majestic Diner down the street. Miguel, Rebbecca and Dave had a hankerin’ for a burger and cabbed it to the Vortex. “WTF, mate!?,” said Priya. I thought this was the Tour de Ponce. Not to be persuaded otherwise we continued to Majestic where we once again ran into Chernock and Kate. We ate our early morning mediocre breakfasts declaring the first ever Tour de Ponce a success, and then proceeded to culminate the tour with a jaunt home (on North Ave).