Grass Roots Tavern

I somehow missed this joint all those years in my twenties trolling St. Marks Place with the rest of the youngins and other flotsam and jetsam. It was out of pure curiosity after years of walking by this slightly subterranean space that we entered its wackiness. If there was ever a bar that reminded me of what a gnarly, divey college bar should be, this was it. The place is just absolutely crammed with shit. Shit on the walls, shit behind the bar, shit hanging from the low, pressed tin ceiling. And all over everything hanging and pinned and tacked is a layer of grime, possibly from the days when smoking was de rigueur in the city and definitely from the funky miasma of sweat and booze stank that permeates every corner of the sprawling space, including the sad, smudged trophy case. There is something surreal about the whole underground, windowless thing already, but adding to it the 70s fraternity basement kitsch only heightens the disorienting timelessness and sense of place. If I were a younger man, which I am in mind only, I probably would find myself instantly nostalgic for this bar, despite it being my first–and possibly my last–time here. So for a night for those who don’t mind the time-warpy feel of being transported back to a nondescript time in his or her life that recalls carelessness and fearlessness against disease, this is the joint for you. [MF]

20 St Marks Pl.