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Notes From the 10th Level

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At the corner of 10th and Main streets, 10th Street Station is marked only by an ornate yet unobtrusive sign on the brick wall of the Idanha Building. The first time you visit, it's not immediately obvious what waits on the other side of the heavy wood door, even while descending the short flight of outdoor stairs to the lower level pub. The whole thing feels very clandestine. In fact, a first-timer might find themselves at the bottom of the stairs thinking they'll be required to provide a secret password or handshake to a bald bouncer in sunglasses in order to pass go. (Actually all one need provide is the proper identification proving legal drinking age.)

While not a first-timer myself, I do remember my first introduction to the 10th Street substratum and my subsequent wonder at never having discovered "station" was code for "bar." I also remember being slightly disappointed not to find an underground jazz club with a Billie Holiday look-a-like on stage.

Infamous for its thick smoky air and stiff-as-a-board drinks, 10th Street Station has been around long enough for its shiny red vinyl seats to be considered retro cool. The walls are covered in sports paraphernalia from helmets to pennants, license plates from various locales (including a couple hailing from Panama and Cuba), and random evidence of pop culture (like a sexy poster of Rod Stewart). I stopped in for happy hour on a particularly hot afternoon to find myself in the freezer of bars, ordering the old hot weather standby: an ice cold domestic beer. Between the subzero air con and the iced-over beer, I was cool inside and out in less time than it takes me to say "10th Street Station" three times fast.

10th Street Station, 104 N. 10th St., 344-2677

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