If a book could represent an evening in Mount Lookout, it’d be a Choose Your Own Adventure book. A store, IKEA. Clothing, cargo pants. As a neighborhood, it’s so damn versatile that it’s hard to place a starting point, but let’s start with dinner. In the mood for Thai? Sushi? Gyro? Pizza? Burger? Park your car in the middle lot and turn circles with your eyes closed. Don’t be worried about making the correct crave-satiating decision; more than one of these options will be available no matter what time you settle your tab.
The food offerings in Mount Lookout are excellent. I eat a lot of pizza, and my favorite in the city is Ramundo’s — perfectly spiced New York style pizza prepared by incredibly friendly staff. My nights spent imbibing in the neighborhood normally include at least one trip/slice. However, you won’t go wrong with whatever you choose. Get your local roast on at Lookout Joe after dinner to spare yourself the need for vodka energy drinks later. They’re kind enough to stay open ‘til 10 p.m. during the week and 11 p.m. on the weekends.
After the maw filling it’s time to make the bar decision. This one’s not as difficult to make as dinner — for the most part the bars are similar in ambiance. It’s a living room couch kind of familiarity that is shared among Mt. Lookout Tavern, Muz’s, the Stand and Million’s Cafe. As a female, it’d be a disservice not to mention the high number of dudes populating the stools, but neither sex should be discouraged or apprehensive. These bars are somewhat anomalous in their ability to keep the guys distracted enough to be good bar mates. The Mount Lookout second-shift workforce also deserves much credit.
I’ve always had a good experience with everyone there, from door staff to bartenders and on into the restrooms.
Nearby Hyde Park offers the same neighborhood bar experience at R.P. McMurphy’s and the Establishment on Wasson Avenue. It’s easy to become a regular at these two places. The crowd is diverse and welcoming, attracting patrons from (gasp) both sides of town and in between. As a beer drinker I also have to make note of R.P. McMurphy’s success in bringing in a few seasonal beers in bottle and on tap, and as an English graduate I have to note the Ken Kesey allusion.
I drink in this area because there is so much to offer, and I can wear a T-shirt and jeans without feeling out of place. From start to finish, from crowd to staff to fare, it has what I need for a good time. The neighborhood does use its space as efficiently as an IKEA kitchen, but the drive home along westbound Columbia Parkway is more eye-catching than I-71 South. Furthermore, let’s not forget that you’re still being local-loyal by supporting these operations.
What To Do:
• Live broadcasts of rugby and soccer at Hap’s Irish Pub, 3510 Erie Ave. (Hyde Park)
• Sunday open mic at Habit’s, 3036 Madison Road (Oakley)
• Live music/dancing at Millions and Mt. Lookout Tavern, 3209 Linwood Ave.
What To Drink:
• Very Cherry Martini at Arthur’s Cafe, 3516 Edwards Road
• Specialty martinis at The Redmoor, 3187 Linwood Ave.
• The SuperGuinness at The Stand, 3195 Linwood Ave.
What To Eat:
• Business lunch and gourmet dinner at Teller’s of Hyde Park, 2710 Erie Ave. (Hyde Park)
• Renowned burgers and microbrews at Zip’s Cafe, 1036 Delta Ave.
What To Find Nearby:
• DJs and drag shows at Adonis, 4601 Kellogg Ave. (East End)
• Tuesday night open mic at Allyn’s Cafe, 3538 Columbia Pkwy. (Columbia-Tusculum)
• Live music and sand volleyball courts at The Sandbar, 4625 Kellogg Ave. (East End)