Cherry TavernCherry Tavern is so dark and integrated into the fabric of the surrounding buildings that it feels more like an annex of the huge complex of projects across the street than the dive bar that it is. Perhaps because it’s cast in the shadow of one of the monstrosities that fronts 1st Ave and abuts E 6th, that the Cherry Tavern had a palpable feeling of underdog about it. It’s like the broken down shack sitting on the craggy hill overlooking the shining city of gold, a remnant of a time gone by, and an honest to goodness dive. Playing pool by the failing light of the murky jukebox and imbibing domestic pilsner by the schooner full (as if this joint would be classy enough to pitch in for anything beyond a crate of cut-rate pint glasses) is at once depressing and exhilarating all at the same time. The red vinyl-topped stools, wood paneling and vague stink of rotting somethingorother may seem like it would pair well with a sprinkling of shotgunned brains and a lilting note stained with quick tears, but instead they invite the free spirit within that shouts “now this is a place in which I wouldn’t mind puking!” My evening here didn’t end in any gory self-loathing (or even projectile retribution) but I can certainly say that I left with a newfound respect for my own tolerance for a good time. [MF]

441 E 6th St. (bet. 1st & Ave. A)