Raise the Bar: Berkley Front is an American beer garden

Berkley Front 3087 12 Mile Road, Berkley; 248-547-3331 Open: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily

Amid the compact charm of the Berkley’s downtown district is the Berkley Front. This two-story American beer garden and concert lounge is the place to sample the local flavor to satisfy both your palate and your ears, while relaxing with friends in the familiar and inviting atmosphere.

The warmly lit main floor has an eclectic, nostalgic feel, giving it the look of a late ’50s-style neighborhood watering hole. Various sorts of beer-a-phernalia flair adorn the mustard gold walls, and the entry area is complete with a pool table and an old rolodex jukebox filled with an assortment of classic and contemporary sounds. Given the mixture of older regulars and young hipsters that patronize the Front, you’re bound to experience an interesting playlist just as eclectic as the environment. The upstairs is home to a darker, more hip lounge area, which is the place to be for live and local musical acts every weekend, ranging from alternative to hip-hop. The Front has most recently hosted performances from power-pop duo Mod Orange, and punk rock foursome Break Anchor.

For 20 years, the Front has utilized its giant handwritten “beer board” situated as the centerfold of its extensively stocked bar rather than handing out printed drink lists, so if you want a cold one you’re going to have to mosey up to the bar to see what they have to offer. Though the shy needn’t fear, you will never once feel out of place here. The friendly staff will treat you like you’ve been going there for years, even if it’s your first time in the area, and the patrons will strike up a conversation with you like you’re an old friend strolling in to join them for a beer. There’s little to no pretension, making the Front a super hangout for all kinds of people.

The menu is chock full of affordable items, with a drink and sandwich for one being not even $20. But that doesn’t mean that what the Front has to offer is any less fantastic than your overpriced designer cocktails and gourmet entrees from the swankiest downtown joint.

The focus of the Front is beer, hence the bar’s subtitle and numerous visual reminders populating the interior. They stock a couple of local craft brews from Atwater and Motor City Brewery, to name a few, but also a wide array of domestic and imported big-name brands, both bottled and on tap. Something to note also is their small but present selection of gluten-free beer options. They have assorted liquors and wines for those who want them, but let’s be honest, if you didn’t come to the Front for a beer, then why did you come at all?

Most of the food menu features a selection of the usual American bar food, such as burgers and wings, but the presentation is rather unique, and the portions quite the bang for your buck. Such as their triple-decker turkey club served with a mound of french fries piled on top. However they also offer a few Mexican-inspired dishes, such as burritos, quesadillas, and salsa and guacamole dips served with chips. If you’re not into any of that, you can choose from one of four generously sized salads, or try the soup of the day.

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