Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Atlantic City, Part One

Just got back from a "guys' weekend" in Atlantic City. And I thought it'd be a good opportunity to talk about some of the bars that I have gone to countless times in that town. My parents own a house in the area, so whenever we're down there going to the beach etc., we always check out the bars in the casinos. I'm sure I'll write a sequel to this later on in the year, once we start going down again, and cover the places we didn't go to this weekend. Here we go!

Red Square (Tropicana)
Red Square is located in The Quarter, which is Tropicana's entertainment section that's made up to look like you're outside in Cuba. I'm not sure it really accomplishes that, but it does have some decent bars. This one is basically a Communist Russia theme bar. Their slogan is "Join the Party"; get it? It's like, a party 'cause you're drinking, but like it's The Party like the Communist Party... anyway, this place is not too bad. They have an ice room where you put on big fur coats and Russian hats and drink vodka. The bar has an ice strip running through it that you can chill your drinks on. Sometimes in the summer they have go-go dancers in booty shorts and furry hats. The main drawback to this place is it specializes in drinks that are really expensive. The norm is a $10 mixed drink. Therefore this place is cool to have a drink or two, but I wouldn't recommend doing serious drinking there unless you just hit the jackpot at the slots.

Cuba Libre (Tropicana)
More fun in The Quarter. Cuba Libre is a fun bar, they have salsa dancers on certain nights as entertainment. As you'd guess, everything here has a Cuban theme. I didn't have a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke), but I did have a few mojitos, which they do a decent job of. Not much to say about this place, usually they have hot bartenders and it's generally not as expensive as some of the other places. I'd say go there earlier rather than later, when they sometimes charge a cover to get in. There is apparently a balcony upstairs where you're able to smoke, though I have personally never seen it. An added bonus is that they do have pretty good food, though I'm a bar reviewer not a restaurant reviewer so I'll stop it at that.

Ri Ra (Tropicana)
Upstairs in The Quarter is Ri Ra, what I like to refer to as "The Fake Hoboken Bar." It's sort of like if someone went to a bunch of North Jersey bars with Irish names, took pictures, and then made the TGI Friday's sort of version. Don't get me wrong: the food (fancied-up pub food) is good, the atmosphere is good, they have bands at night on the weekends. It's a good bar, and definitely better than the typical casino bar. And it's not like I believe there's anything authentic about Red Square or Cuba Libre either. It's just funny to me, as I've actually been to the kind of bars (the NJ version of Irish pubs) that Ri Ra apes.

B Bar (Borgata)
Later we headed to the Borgata for a change of scenery. The B Bar is the only real casino floor bar in the Borgata, and to go along with their opulent ultra-modern aesthetic, they eschew the typical casino floor bar accoutrements (tables and chairs that could have been lifted from your local diner, old carpeting, lounge singers) in favor of low lights, modern couches and banquettes, and an overall club feel. They even have a black curtain surrounding the bar that helps you forget you're on a casino floor. They have TV screens playing random movies (I've seen Coyote Ugly multiple times, I think Showgirls once or twice). And at the bar are video poker machines for if you just can't bear to stop gambling even when you are relaxing with a drink.
I have honestly spent more time in this bar than I'd care to admit. There was a summer where a friend and I came down around ten times, and we always seemed to end up at B Bar. Part of it is that they never close. Ever. I've been there at 4 in the afternoon, I've been there at 7 in the morning. And both times had a pretty decent crowd inside. There are better bars in the Borgata, perhaps, but this place has a certain pretentious-but-not-really charm that keeps me coming back. Plus I can drink until I pass out, then wake up and possibly continue. :)

So that's it for this installment. Stay tuned for part 2, which will probably include Borgata's Gypsy Bar and Bobby Flay Steaks, among others. Vicky and I may even talk about how shitty the beach bars are; stay tuned!