Plaza Azteca – #66 on the Tour


The Bar Plaza Azteca:

The Address 539 Lincoln Street

The Day and the Time Friday at 10

The price Ten bucks. Oh, yes, ten bucks.The music was blaring so conversation was tough. I asked how much and said ten and I looked at her puzzled, because I saw the plastic cup of booze she gave me and then she brought up her two hands and shot out all her fingers. I was hoping this was a muscle spasm and not her telling how much it was. Ah well, it was no muscle spasm. Darn.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime I don’t know, it was so loud, she asked something, I said what, she asked it again and I still heard nothing, so I said yes and shook my head emphatically. I got a lime.

What was the type of gin. Well

What was the gin and tonic like For a ten dollar drink, this was pretty paltry. It was well gin in a 10 ounce plastic cup.The drink tasted of the ice. It was okay at best. But at this place I guess you are paying your admittance and not for the drink.

The Joint This is a big Mexican restaurant in the Lincoln Square area. It used to be a Bickford’s. Ah how I miss those greasy Bickford breakfast specials, but never mind. Now it is a fairly busy Mexican place, I have not eaten here, but my friends say its alright. When I went in, people were still dining. One large party, all Spanish speakers, had taken over one of the rooms and was having a raucous pre-Christmas dinner. I had to go through the entire restaurant before I got to the bar. The bar room was a good sized square of a room. I think they took out tables to allow for dancing. So it was pretty hollow in the middle. The DJ in the corner was blaring salsa and lights were flashing. About 20 people were there, still too early for the real fun to start. People were trickling in as I drank. Only one couple was dancing, and they looked good. A joy to watch two people who know how to move, actually do it. The man seemed to want to hold back and wait for more people to show, but the woman kept dragging out to dance and he was happy to oblige.

General Impressions As far as I could hear, I was the only English only speaker in the joint, That’s cool. Let the cultures of Worcester find a place to hang out and dance. They were happy to see who came through the door. They were excited to have the evening begin. They were all dressed up. One woman didn’t take off her coat, she de-armored, it was ritualistic how she took off her coat to show off her dancing rags. It was like she was in a slo-mo scene from an eighties movie. She was in five inch red wedge shoes and I thought she was going to teeter over and hit the ground, but this was not her first rodeo, or salsa dance and she was fine.  Everyone was at the bar or in the chairs and tables around the perimeter. All waiting for the critical mass of people and need when there was no choice but to hit the floor and dance. It was time for me to move on.

Amount of Time in the Joint 10 or 15 minutes. When the music is blaring, time becomes more flexible. So does anyone really know what time it is (as the Chicago singer so sagely asked)?

Will I come back Probably not. I have Mexican places I like and the bar on that night, for the dance party, was lovely to be aware of that we have such a thing but not for me. This is how people pick where they want to go and who they want to be with. This is a place for a group of Worcester folk to feel comfortable, dance, and look good. And besides, 10 bucks for 10 ounces of gin and tonic in a plastic chinet cup, a wee steep for me.


Vintage Grille and Gourmet Pizza – #65 on the Tour

The Bar: Vintage Grille and Gourmet Pizza

The Address 346 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and the TIme Sunday around five or so. Not sure,

The price Six bucks-ish. Like the last stop on the tour, I don’t know where I put the notes on this one. It was either six or six fifty. For being on Shrewsbury Street, this is practically free.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime  She just put it in. This is getting to be the new thing, the thing I always wanted. To get a gin and tonic by just saying those simple words and getting everything I would want, which would be gin, tonic, ice and a lime. Inalienable rights, dontcha know.

What was the type of gin It was well.

What was the gin and tonic like This was a harsh drink, nothing to write home about, but it was decent. The old adage, nice enough place, makes a nice enough drink.

The Joint This once was a pizza joint named Juniors which I had been too. But then before that it was a garage, for cars, ya know. This is the new iteration, and it feels better. They fixed up the walls to be less garage bay like and filled the place with old car and oil signage. Its the place American Pickers would decorate. There were people here on this off time. Five at the bar, a few couples at the table. All drinking and and eating. The bartender was friendly and the place was comfortable, though it did feel a tad bit too much like a set of a retro bar, and not the actual retro bar itself.

General Impressions It was a nice place. Food and drinks. You get pizza. You get beer. You can even get a gin and tonic.But then I watched one of the platters of food arrive for a fella a the bar. He ordered a burger with onion rings. What he got was some kind of pop art. There was the bottom bun, there was the burger patty and then on top of that was a tower of onion rings that tapered off until it towered five inches above the paddy and then the top bun is placed on it. Its like a telescope burger. It’s like the burger had some teenaged impure thoughts and expanded up. Its an oniongasm. It was weird art that the guy didn’t know how to eat.

The staff told him to either take the onion rings off or scrunch it down, collapsing the creation. And I have to ask, despite the fact that it looks cool, wouldn’t have just been better if the onion rings were on the side? Is the shock of the first image worth the work you have to do to have it ready to be eaten? I don’t know, but I feel the same way about complicated drinks where you have to mix this and then take this first sip and then that second sip. I just want a drink to enjoy. A burger I know how to navigate. Perhaps I am a culinary luddite, but I am okay with that. To answer the question, the guy took off the onion rings and ate them separately. They looked good, but believe me, kind of daunting when it came from the kitchen.

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 Minutes, i spent a good chunk of that time just staring mesmerized at the telescope burger installation.

Will I come back Maybe. The food looked good. The place was friendly. The drinks were decent, but the thing is, I am now at 65 bars, that’s a lot of places to chose from. This place was good, but it just might not be mine.

Homestyle Cuisine II and Bar – Not a number on the tour because there was no bar…..

Bar (Sorta): Homestyle Cuisine II and Bar

Address: 33 Canterbury Street

How was the Gin and Tonic: There was no gin and tonic, there was no alcoholic beverages.

The Story: The other day I drove on Canterbury Street and saw the mural outside of this building, which is kind of cool and saw the name of the place and swore. Another bar to go to on the tour. But I had a little time yesterday, and I was curious about a place I never heard of before. From what I could tell, the cuisine was Jamaican, which is cool. So I went in, there were three guys at the bar watching The Family Feud, eating food from disposable bowls. The place was empty. It looked emptier than not having a lot of people. The walls were painted a warm orange, but everything felt old. And then I noticed the bar, there was no bottles of any kind. None what so ever. It was like an old joke that I just made up, “What if you open a bar and no liquor bottles show up?” The place felt bare. On the wall behind the bar was a handwritten page of foods available with prices. So it had an old school lunch counter vibe going, but where was the bar of the Homestyle Cuisine II and Bar? I walked around, wanting to see what’s up. A young woman came from the kitchen area and asked if she could help me. I must have looked so out of water here. I heard myself ask, “Do you have drinks here?” This was a dumb question. But I am filled with dumb questions, like why am I going to every bar in town and getting a gin and tonic? The woman was kind to me and my stupid question, “Drinks, sure. Over here.” She walked behind the bar and I followed on the other side. She went to the end of the bar area and pointed to a small glass front fridge that showed sodas and juices (or as we bar tourists like to call them, mixers) She stood watching me looked confused. Obviously this was what I had to chose from. I was not hungry, but I couldn’t just leave. So I bought a bottle of water and left. Boy was I a suave fellow.

The place, I am sure is good for true Carrebean food, I am for it, but what’s the deal with the bar on the title? That’s a bait and switch, but also it makes me wonder what we assume when we hear bar? Is bar just the type of furniture we rest upon or does it mean spirits? I am not sure. I have gone to places like Anoyke Krom that didn’t say it was a bar with liquor, but there they were. This place said it was a bar and I could get water or a soda. So what is a bar? Really, at this point, I do not know.

The picture on top shows a tiny corner of the mural on the side of mural on the side of the joint. Its cool, you should check it out if you are about.

Funky Murphy’s – #64 on the Tour

The Bar: Funky Muprhy’s

The Location: 305 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and Time: Sunday around five-ish

The Price I think it was around six bucks. I can’t find my notes and my memory is not clear past around six bucks or so. Give or take fifty cents.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime: No, they just put that bad boy in. We are on a definite streak with this, I like.

What was the type of gin: It was well.

What was the gin and tonic like: It was decent. I think it was a little harsh, but it was decent. I didn’t complain. I drank it all up, like every good little boy should.

The Joint: A Shrewsbury Street stand by. I have never been here, probably because I am not insanely enamored with chicken wings. Don’t get me wrong, I like chicken wings. I have eaten my share. But I am not a crazed wing head. It is a bar that skews young. The bar is long and there are a good amount of tables in the bar area. A band was setting up in a corner when I was there, but it was not crowding the place at all. There were rooms in back but they were taken up with a holiday party at the time. It was a good professional sports leaning bar with tvs showing the games going on. I should say that as soon as I walked in, I was assaulted with the smell of buffalo wing sauce. It was the perfume of the joint. I never thought I would want to be bathed in hot sauce before, but if I ever did, I know what my piquant aroma would be like. Almost every table had a large heaping plateful of wings. Some with different sauces, but the wings were ever present.

There were groups of guys at the bar. There were groups of women at the tables. There were even mixed groupings, this place takes all kinds.

General Impression: Its a good young folk place, where fancy popular drinks are mixed and beers are poured. There was a group of guys near me and one was pissed because he left for a few minutes and when he came back his drink had been cleared. His friends apologized and said they told the bartender that they can clear the drinks, because they were heading to a table. The guy kept on going talking about this lost well remembered drink. The guys went to a table and the guy mentioned to the waitress that his drink was cleared before he was done with it. The waitress smiled and nodded sagely and said, “Well that’s too bad.” And said no more. The guy got the hint and ordered another drink. I must say that I loved that waitress and her batten down the hatches attitude. She knows what she’s doing and the place is the better for it.

Amount of time in the joint: 15 minutes.

WIll I come back: I don’t think so. It’s a good place for a young person’s sports bar. But I don’t need a young person’s sports bar. I also want to smell more than buffalo wing sauce when I am at a joint. But for its type, its good and the people who want that kind of thing will want to go there, if they don’t already.

On the Pledge (sorta)

Hi. This is just to let those who read this that I am still here and still doing the tour of all the bars in Worcester, but I don’t know when I will start up with bars again. Just a few days or a week I think. I was run down and now I got the ruling probable Pneumonia. That’s what happens from drinking all those gin and tonics made from Gilbert’s gin. I knew it was going to lead to ruin.

In the meantime, in the next few days, when I am up for it, I will write up the last two bars I went to, Funky Murphy’s and the Vintage Grill. I think I will also have a sidecar discussion about the difference between artistic tendencies and the pouring of drinks or the servicing of food.

In the meantime, go out, have a drink, explore a joint you ain’t never been to. Check out the scenery, enjoy the local custom. Let me know how it went.


Blue Jeans Bistro – #63 on the Tour

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The Bar: Blue Jeans Bistro

The Address 266 Park Avenue

The Day and the TIme Sunday at seven, a Patriots game was on, though it was pretty obvious that they were going to lose. Just to put the right mood on a game night moment.

Musical Recommendation While Reading this Post: It has to be Jazzin for Blue Jeans by David Bowie. Find it on SPtify I’m sure.

The price: 5.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime No, he put it right in like he had been practicing all his professional life.

What was the type of gin. Well. It was Gilberts. Which is becoming my arch nemesis.

What was the gin and tonic like It was okay. After 63 gin and tonics on this tour, I am getting a little tired in the pallette area of Gilberts and Tonic, but it was a well put together drink. The right amount of tonic to gin. Ice and Lime. For the lowest common denominator drink (which is what I asked for) it was all good.

The Joint Wouldn’t it be awesome if Blue Jeans Bistro had a dress code of only formal clothes? I know, silly, but this is how my mind works sometimes. Butt I can see it “I was thrown out of Blue Jeans Bistro for not wearing slacks and a dress shirt.” Okay, I’m done

This is a nice new place to have on Park Avenue. This is next to Blue Jeans Pizza and underneath 266 Club. This used to be a variety of Asian places, I know it was Thai Cha-Da, but I couldn’t find all the info if the location had another name or iteration. So the Blue Jeans Pizza people took it over and now they have a pub restaurant next to the pizza joint (which is pretty decent). The place is classic pub bar decor of wood finish and railings and tables with big chairs. What surprised me and was kind of nice, was that the tables were spread out, they could have put more tables crunched in, but they went for space. I really like that. You don’t see that too often and it was nice to notice. Also, they had two areas where instead of dinner table and chairs there was a low coffee table and leather chairs for people to relax with pitchers of beer and have the apps or whatever. This was cool too. When I came in the place had about 10 or 15 in the dining area and another 10 or so at the bar. Which was alright for a game night.

General Impressions The bartender was good and he was pouring a lot of very large beer pitchers, larger than I have seen at the other bars on the tour. He kept things going. The food looked good in a “I got a buzz and I want some fried food and carbs” sort of way. The crowd at the bar was older, and more female than male. It felt like a very open available place. It was really a food and then drink place, but we will forgive it.

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes

Will I come back I think so, why not. This could be a place me and Epicurean Eric and I can go for a beer and fries. We have noticed that some of our favorite bars don’t have fries on the menu. This can handle the dilemma quite well. You hear that Eric? Wanna get some grub and a beer?

Sakura Tokyo – #62 on the Tour

The Bar: Sakura Tokyo

The Address 640 Park Avenue

The Day and the TIme  9 on Friday after Thanksgiving

The price 5.35

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime No. I just got it.

What was the type of gin Well

What was the gin and tonic like Kind of strong, kind of edgy. It was not a great gin and tonic. I talked to someone afterwards and he said that they don’t make those drinks, they make Mai Tais and Scorpions bowls. I get it, you don’t go to an Irish Bar for a Singapore Sling, but come on, a gin and tonic. We are not talking about a complicated mixological creation. And if you google a little you will find many bars in Tokyo that makes this particular high ball. No, I don’t think its cultural. I mean,I am in a cocktail lounge in Worcester Massachusetts listening to a cover band doing Tom Petty tunes, I don’t think its because of culture. I think I just got a fair to middling drink. It happens.

The Joint It is a very large restaurant. There are three huge sections. One for Hibachi. One for the Sushi Bar and the general japanese restaurant and then there is the cocktail lounge. This is the kind of cocktail lounge that I imagined when I think of the late 70s swinging life. It is big with a large stage where the band can stretch out. There are booths and tables and a dance floor and there is a good sized bar. Close to 200 folks can be here. Not that there were 200 people when I was there, more like 25. This ain’t a bad number, but the space drowned us all.

This is a place where good bands play covers. The band was decent, they had nice chops, but they started up on Tom Petty and I was shrugging my coat on and getting ready to get. I don’t have much against classic rock or those young fellas who play it in Asian Restaurant Cocktail Lounges, I just wasn’t feeling it. My loss I am sure.

General Impressions As I came in, the band had just finished sound check and were now back with their friends at a table. The band and their “entourage” were more than half of the people there. This was changing when they got up to do their first set. Folks were coming in and getting scorpion bowls. A few solitary men and women were peaking in, waiting to see if there were people to check out, to talk to, to a make a scene to. I don’t know how busy it gets, but I hope it takes care of the needs of all these divergent peoples and groups. That you can meet and hook up and you can also go and share a ridiculous looking drink with a couple friends. Its big enough for all kinds.

As the band played a couple of the women who came with them started dancing crazy to each other. Acting all mad and bohemian.

The bartender was good. The evening seemed thin so one of the waitresses went home, she talked about going home and getting out of there for 10 minutes before she actually did. The remaining cocktail waitress seemed to have her work cut out for her, even though the crowd was still light. She was moving, but i guess not fast enough for some people. One guy, who was hanging at the band’s table came over to the bar to get a drink. The bartender asked him if he was with the band’s table, and the guy said he was. The bartender told him that he had to order his drink at the table, that he couldn’t help him here. The guy tried for a little bit to get his drink at the bar but soon surrendered and went back to the table and the hope of the emergence of the cocktail waitress. I felt for that guy. That has happened to me too over the years. I never quite understood why I just couldn’t jump over the waitress-table customer relationship and get my drink at the bar? Tips, I know, but I still felt for the dude.

Amount of Time in the Joint 35 minutes. I was waiting for the band to start to get a good feel for the cocktail lounge experience. The band started and I now was experienced and ready to leave.

Will I come back For the restaurant, I like going and will continue. For the cocktail lounge, I don’t know. I don’t think so. Like the Kas Bar, I am happy we have a hyper huge cocktail lounge in town, I just don’t think I am the guy who wants to go to them. For those who want that Mai Tai and 70s rock cover tunes elan all tied up with the chance of getting lucky, go for it.