City Cast

The Discreet Charms of the Ordinary Bar

Andrew Kiraly
Posted on October 27
Photo of an anonymous bar setting.

This bar could be anywhere — which is kind of the point. (Tetra Images/Getty)

🍺 Here’s a shout out to the PTs Pubs, to the Timbers, to the Putters and the Mulligans and the Bourbon Streets — the valley’s faceless chain bars that stretch from strip mall to shining strip mall at every edge of the valley.

Nothing ever happens in these places. It’s wonderful. You walk in, and you’re nobody. You disappear. You can hold your hand to your face and practically see it fading like you’re Marty McFly in a madcap timewarp. To step into one of the valley’s countless chain bars is to slip into a kind of nowhere realm amid the sleepy burble of video poker machines, the flat screens murmuring sports and mayhem, the faint clamor of a kitchen producing chicken fingers and burgers. It’s sweet anonymity.

Sure, I love gulping on a head-hammering craft IPA at The Silver Stamp as much as any downtowner, but also I have a strange, cyclic love for the valley’s chain bars. Culturally and socially, they’re nothing — maybe even actively nothing, vampiric whirlpools quietly draining life out of people and neighborhoods. I hear that. But where my strange love comes from is the fact that, well, sometimes it’s just nice to forego Vegas’ more sceney spots in favor of serene anonymity in a place where you can nurse a cold beer solo while slowly, introspectively carving away five dollars in a video poker machine, one cautious credit at a time. Sometimes, when you’re bedraggled and chapped from a little too much extroversion, you wanna go where nobody knows your name.

And — this trips me out — as generic and unreal and pointless as these bars seem, it always strikes me as prudent and perhaps even humbling to remember that they are, in fact, the real Las Vegas. They’re where working people go to drink, unwind, relax, zone out with an unfussy buzz — and perhaps to dip into a little hard-won anonymity of their own.

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