A three-meat breakfast burrito. Juice file photo.
Good breakfast, drinks at Michelle’s Lounge
Published on July 23rd, 2013 | by Stephanie Sanyour
There’s nothing better than to start the day off with a good breakfast … and a drink? I stopped by Michelle’s Lounge on the east side to get a taste of both. I learn from the bartender that the beginning of my day is the end of a shift for many morning patrons. The lounge is a usual stop for a crowd from the nearby Bridgestone-Firestone plant.
7 a.m.: Upon arrival, a crowd is already waiting by the bar, drink in hand. No dress code here. Jeans, sweats and hats are all welcome. I notice the bar seems slightly unusual. Glasses filled with beer, vodka and personal coffee mugs are all sitting on the table. It’s an array of drinks usually seen at different times of the day.
7:05 a.m.: The crowd doesn’t have to wait long. The waitress comes in only five minutes after the kitchen opens, bringing pancakes and burritos with her. She places them right next to some Bud Lights. I never imagined such combination could go well together.
7:12: a.m.: A lady comes in, shouting a round of “good morning” out to everyone, as a second round of beer is served to a man sitting by a table. He gets started on pitcher number two as the lady says she has to “make it quick” before she goes to work. As I tell her I’m writing a piece for Juice, she says “this is my top of the morning juice.” Liquid cocaine, made with Southern Comfort whiskey, amaretto and pineapple juice. She tells me that Michelle’s is her “home away from home.”
7:25 a.m.: I figure I couldn’t go wrong with a classic orange juice. Thankfully, no one seems to judge. Then the waitress stops to tell me she is already preparing a three-meat burrito for me.
7:30 a.m.: Music rolls in. Someone chose Volbeat to sound off the morning with “Still Counting.” At Michelle’s Lounge you are the DJ. With a buck, the jukebox gives you four credits and a chance to hear your favorite tunes.
7:32 a.m.: Food arrives. My three-meat burrito is scrumptious. A man sitting next to me tells me that his wife has been making them for more than 20 years, and serving them at Michelle’s for almost a year. He admits he may be biased, but others at the bar agree and tell me “you only get food like this if you go to a home-style eatery.” She revealed the ingredients, but I’m sure the chef does the magic.
7:40 a.m.: I decide to do what the regulars do. I ask the bartender for a Bloody Mary, the popular drink of choice for breakfast goers. While I wait for my drink, I do a visual check of what’s sitting at the bar. At this time, beers reign over mixed drinks with about five beers against one glass of vodka. The bartender tells me that from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. it’s happy hour and all beers and booze are 50 cents off, and the breakfast special is $4.75 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Cheap drinks, cheap food. Can’t go wrong there.
7:50 a.m.: A man enters the bar making a musical entrance, singing and dancing to “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” I quickly learn that he is also one of the regulars. Shortly after, a round of “Hello Joe!” is heard, welcoming another regular.
7:54 a.m.: I finally take a sip of my Bloody Mary. If this doesn’t cure a hangover I don’t know what will. The spices quickly spark a tingly sensation in my throat and my nose. No wonder it’s the drink of choice for a rapid revival.
8 a.m.: The evening bartender comes in, sharing a freak story about how her car caught fire by a cigarette butt bin outside of a restaurant. Of course, everyone goes outside to take a look at the car and get the scoop.
8:23 a.m.: The crowd clears out. As the bartender cleans the bar, she tells me that it picks up again around 10:30 a.m.
8:43 a.m.: I get invited to a game of arcade bowling, where the regulars witness my awful bowling skills. One player is one strike shy from getting a free drink on the house. In this game, five strikes in a row gets you a free drink of your choice.
9 a.m.: Bathroom check. The doors may be a bit too narrow for some, but the room is spotless.
9:03 a.m.: Time to pay the bill, and I realize the bar only takes cash. I’ll remember next time, and head out to start the rest of my day.
Find it: 3925 E. 14th St.
Hours: 7 a.m.- 2 a.m. Monday