Best New Downtown Club (2000)
Dorothy Parker would drink here. The old Isis Theater has been restored to its swinging, speakeasy style. There's a 25-foot-long cherry-wood bar with a rolling library ladder to get to the good stuff. You can buy a $4 bottle of Bud Light and order caviar at the bar. Down the slippery slate stairs, there's a cigar bar and a wall lined with mirrors -- maybe to make the room look bigger, or maybe because the people who come here really like looking at themselves. The room is filled with black leather jackets, pony-skin shoes and vixens carrying zebra-print purses. Playboy ranked it one of the 25 best bars in America; the napkins say it's "upscale, downtown." (The Mercury Lounge in New York City [more of a dive than a divine blues bar] is located on Houston Street. Coincidence?) Dozens of diamond-patterned chairs are paired with small circular tables lit with silver-beaded lamps. (Diamond patterns are on the wall too; don't ask us why.) Two spinning disco balls hang from the ceiling. On the small corner stage, a black woman in a red-sequined cap leads the jazz band. The dance floor in front of her has a few couples swaying slowly; then the band takes a break and Top 40 tunes come on. Suddenly the tiny dance floor is jammed with people who have to dance.