* Tarrymore Inn, 13356 Madison Avenue. Thrill to the emotive strains of Journey and belly up to the meticulously shabby bar, where our inquiry as to what's on tap yielded an inviting "nothing you'd want." Ice-cold draft means Genesee, and the "Please!!!!! do not touch the television" notice guarding the 15-inch console means YOU. "Fresh Smokies," per the hand-crafted sign over the bar, can be had for a buck. Test your skill at the Skeeball machine that greets you at the door. But don't bother Alice at the end of the bar.
* Trio's Bar, 13362 Madison Avenue. A swing of the door into the open arms of Trio's caused one pickled regular to belch, "What are PEOPLE doing here?" Get exotic with a Labatt's, and get away from the club's noxiously smoky horseshoe bar, where the regulars are addicted to situation comedies. More desolately hospitable is the adjacent dart room, with its commanding projection TV. Trio's does Skeeballing big too--it's easily the area's largest machine. Try to humor salty old Joe. He's cirrhosis in a red sweater, but he's largely harmless--threats of "get outta here before I drop ya" notwithstanding.
* Doolittle's, 13380 Madison Avenue. Come for the beer, stay for the hot-pink bathroom at Doolittle's, where Wednesday night is "Men's Night." Not many men have taken up the invitation, though rumors of weekend revelry abound. Take advantage of a diverse tap--including Harp, Bass, and Guinness--and fresh smokies, competitively priced at one George Washington apiece.
* Iggy's, 13405 Madison. Most of the club's space is devoted to sport for the athletically disinclined--three pool tables, air hockey, Foosball, Skeeball, and (yes!) one of those toy-crane thingies. Pressed-tin ceilings score old-school points, as do the dust-covered inflatable boxing gloves behind the bar. Iggy's weekend music lineup provides salvation, as well as volume that might blow you into the street.
* Manja, 13373 Madison Avenue. Manja puts the "hi" in hip, with its welcoming blue decor and newly added orange pit group. This young club scrapped food service last year, when the city of Lakewood claimed it was drawing too many people. A stellar jukebox--featuring everything from Johnny Cash to the Replacements to the Beasties--may yield to similar fire-code issues. But what's a night on the town without a little risk?
* Lakewood Village Tavern, 13437 Madison Avenue. Don't be fooled by the sticking door that guards the entry to the lively Village Tavern--they're probably open. And that's a good thing, because their promise of the "best prices in Lakewood" comes close to the mark. Tap choices include Bass and Caffrey's, and the club's signature pint glasses make a handsome statement--two or three fit quite comfortably in any midsize purse. Tacos are the safest bet on the menu, though on some nights there's no telling what the kitchen will send out, regardless of what you ordered.
* Victory's Tavern, 13603 Madison Avenue. Count on going hungry at this low-calorie twin sister of the Village Tavern. Complimentary popcorn (saltier than Joe over at Trio's) and the ubiquitous threat of "Fresh Smokies" aside, requests for a menu are warmly greeted with a finger pointing in the general direction of the Village Tavern kitchen. Otherwise, service is pleasant, and the air is only moderately hazy. The Victory's ATM makes it a linchpin in any extended bar run.
LAKEWOOD BY THE RIVER
Worried about running into those shady types who frequent Flats bars? Could your closet be mistaken for a rack at J. Crew? No need to wallow in feelings of self-loathing just because you don't want to hang with pretentious artist-wannabes in Tremont. Join the clean-cut, khaki-clad, twenty-something crowd on the white-bread end of Detroit Road.
* Around the Corner, 18616 Detroit Road. With overtones of a quaint (if pretentious) English pub, this popular nightspot is the most likely place to find overpriced drinks and an evening's hook-up. The folk and blues acts require minimal effort from the audience--usually the White Folks' Sway or a more energetic version of the Grateful Dead Shuffle will suffice. When the scent of Bath and Body Works lotion and expensive colognes overpowers the beer, it's time to move on.
* Harry Buffalo, 18605 Detroit Road. A Western-style saloon adorned with dead (and presumably stuffed) animals, sporting a lot of plaid around the bar. The barkeeps are friendly, and the selection of alcohol is overshadowed only by the menu, which inexplicably includes Mideastern fare. Grim pickup potential though, as the social cliques are seemingly impenetrable.
* West End Tavern, 18514 Detroit Road. The most impressive decor on the strip--high tin ceilings, cozy booths, hardwood floors, and framed M.C. Escher prints. The Rogaine/Viagra crowd will feel at home here, with news on the TVs and the music somewhere between mellow and inaudible. Women hoping to score boyfriends with brightly colored sweaters and funny pants will not be disappointed. Ample parking for SUVs on the surrounding side streets.
* Riverwood Cafe, 18500 Detroit Road. A quiet place populated by regulars during the week, then filled on weekends with cell-phone-toting, white-hat-wearing, overgrown frat boys. A great place to take that date you don't want to be spotted with at the trendier bars on the block.
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