clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Week in Yelp: The Weird World of Bar Bathrooms

New, 3 comments

From the people who brought you The Week in Craig, one of the all time great uses of the internet, comes The Week in Yelp, wherein Amy Blair takes aim at the ridiculousness that is the world of Yelp. Her intrepid Yelp-surfing, and words, follow:

2008_01_yelp.jpgSo, I'm probably totally revealing myself as an Old by posing this question, but does anyone else remember how back in the day practically no bar bathrooms in New York had the luxury of?toilet seats? And a lot of times, if they actually had toilet seats they would actually be chained to the tank. Anyone else remember this? Anyone? Now obviously I'm not talking about expensive clubs or fancy lounges. But in the crappy Lower East Side joints where I wasted my youth (s-s-s-sigh) a toilet seat was a rare commodity. I asked several bartenders and bouncers why and always received the same answer; when drunk people get into fights, they grab the toilet seat and use it as a weapon. Now, I don't know about you, but over the years I have personally witnessed a drunken bar fight or two break out, and not once have I seen someone rush into the bathroom and smack their opponent upside the head with a toilet seat. But man I wish I had.

It seems that over time the bar owners have generally returned the toilet seats back to their rightful positions in the bathrooms, taking their chances with the potty weaponry. (Although who knows why; the lack of seats always struck me as being so much more sanitary in some crazy, Neanderthal way). All I know is that bar bathrooms are the grossest places on earth, and for the past ten years I've had it in the back of my head that if any drunk asshole messes with me, I so know my weapon of choice. Would you fight some psycho bitch waving around a toilet seat on the Lower East Side? Didn't think so. File that one away under How To Win A Bar Brawl, and thank me later when you don't get your ass kicked.

Now onto the johns!

Question: How exactly does it come to pass that a bar is using towels in place of doors on their bathroom stalls? Did they take down the doors and purposefully replace them with towels? And if so, for what purpose? Or were the doors kicked in at some point, and they couldn’t afford to replace them? So many questions! Keep reading for the wacky adventures of Taxi Time, Fancy Lady Time and Crazy Cell Phone Time?and no, I don’t really understand it either. Such is Yelp!

This adventure starts with a older DRUNK Mexican man standing on the curb. We roll up to park near him - it is an empty space - and what does he start doing? "Taxi Taxi Blah!" while pulling on the car door handle. El Chubasco - gotta go!

That was in the after noon mind you and enough to make us regroup. We have passed this place for years (also known as the SIDE POCKET) never thinking that we should give it a try. A week later we got it together and rolled in. This time we parked a block down just in case "Taxi Time" was waiting for us...

Here is what you get with this hot spot - some bathroom towels that act as doors.
Why is it that most beer only places (which this is) rock that style? Is it some sort of code? I always take them as a warning - and that pretty much sums it up. It is nasty in there. I know you think - "oh great a new dive I didn't know about". No. This is the dive you want to keep avoiding unless you are looking for some advanced level style action. In which case, go crazy. This is the place.

Thomas and I roll up to the bar. We order up a few beers and watch the fire works. 2 guys playing pool. Fancy Lady Time with her drunk customer and Crazy man on his cell phone.

Let me explain Fancy Lady Time before we get in to Crazy Cell Phone Time. If you have ever been in a beer only place asking yourself how the establishment stays in business - chances are this is why:
Man buys a beer and is looking for some companionship. You know, someone he can talk to while at the bar. Someone that will keep him company while he drinks his worries away. Now this friend isn't free - this is a service. So he'll order her a drink. That beer he orders for her is not the $2.50 he paid for his - but closer to $10. In this particular example that $10 beer wasn't getting him much to look at...

So we have some of that going on when Crazy Cell Phone Time starts - we didn't hear the phone ring but sure enough this guy starts going nuts. Yelling! Hands in the air! Banging on the bar! All of this in English. Had to be for our benefit as everyone in there was speaking Spanish when we rolled in... Good stuff right there... We didn't stay much longer - I do wish I would have checked out the bathroom but truth is I was afraid.

Now that’s some advanced level style action, fo’ sho.

Anyway, I was at Yankee Stadium once a few years ago and there was a long rain delay throughout which they continued to serve beer. At some point I went to use the restroom, and an extremely intoxicated girl went into the stall next to me. I’m not entirely sure how the physics of this worked, but she was so hammered that she missed the bowl completely, and managed to piss all over the floor, some of which ran from her stall into mine and totally got onto my flip-flopped foot before I realized what was happening. This is all to say that I’ve experienced some nasty, nasty shit in public bathrooms over the years. But even I’ve never found a dead rat in the overflowing trash can. Good god.

I guess I feel neutral about The Lex. I've only been here once a million years ago with a couple of my sistas from college. We never actually stayed long enough to have a drink. We really just needed to use the bathroom, which I am still traumatized from using ten years later. There was a dead rat in the overflowing trash can. It grossed the jeebus out of me. The Lex is too hardcore for a femme bot like me.
What’s grosser than a dead rat in the bathroom? How about washing your dishes in a sink stopped up with beans and pee water?
WARNING: Do not eat here. Incredibly unsanitary. The mere thought of this place makes me queasy...
I used to work next door to La Canasta. We shared a teensy bathroom. This bathroom doubled as their washroom. Yes. They washed all their dishes in the bathroom sink. The same one everyone washed their pee hands in. And since the sink would get stopped up with beans, the gross pee water builds up and just sits in there with the dishes that they're cooking your food with.
Not to mention that their food blows chunks. I repeat - do not eat here.
Beans and pee water! Holy hell.

And last but not least, a shout out to the grossest bar bathroom I have personally ever witnessed?give it up for Mars Bar?

There is a hole in the bathroom wall and there are people who will watch you pee.
Nice!

—Amy Blair

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Los Angeles newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world