Raise the Bar: Northern Lights Lounge celebrates more than 10 years of business

Northern Lights Lounge

660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739; facebook.com/nll660

Situated in the heart of New Center District at Baltimore and Second is the Northern Lights Lounge. From the inviting atmosphere to the extensive drink list and tasty food, it's easy to see how this cozy little spot has just celebrated 10 years of business.

From the time you walk into Northern Lights, you feel like you're at home. The orange vinyl couches near the entrance, the dark panel walls, and soft mood lighting from the mod bottle lamps above give it the feel of someone's trendy vintage-inspired basement. It's retro but not tacky, classy without pretension. Even the bathrooms are cool to hang out inside. Formerly an auto-worker dive hangout, according to one patron, it's become the kind of hip, relaxing atmosphere that reflects the revitalization of the city in which it resides. The staff is just as chill as the surroundings, conversing with patrons beyond the usual "How are you doing?" Very personable and conversational, it's hard to tell regulars from first-timers, as each and every one is treated like an old friend. Northern Lights definitely seems like it has no difficulty keeping returning and passionate customers.

Northern Lights is for the most part pretty reasonably priced, with nothing being over $20, though they sport frequent specials on everything in the house at some point, so it's easy to sample the whole of their wares without completely breaking the bank. Its extensive drink list appears to focus on beer and wine predominately, offering a wide variety of both domestic and imported big name brands, with a few Michigan-made brews like Founder's, New Holland, Atwater, and Bell's. They also have a couple interestingly named specialty cocktails like the "Lawnmower Martini," "The Bang," and the "Juicy Booty," which is a deliciously fresh mixture of Stoli, orange and raspberry vodkas, pineapple juice, a splash of soda, and a Chambourd crown. So whether you're a out to enjoy a beer with friends after work or a classy wine aficionado out on the town, Northern Lights has everything to suit just about everyone's tastes.

The food menu is huge, and the kitchen serves dishes for every meal of the day. So the selection is really more like that of a restaurant offering much more than the usual bar appetizers. Stop in for a variety of omelets at brunch on Saturday and Sunday mornings, enjoy one of their many burgers and sandwiches for lunch paired with their awesome house made chips, then come back for dinner to have some broiled salmon or fried calamari. There's so much goodness to choose from you won't know where to start. They also offer some vegetarian options too, such as their house veggie burger which is made with falafel, red beans, and usual burger veggies, served with a side of tahini sauce. It more than satisfies the all-consuming craving for a good burger, while still sticking to your chosen diet. Oh and those house made chips? Here's hoping they bag them up and sell them everywhere.

With something going on every night of the week, Northern Lights does not disappoint when it comes to entertainment. The lineup features punk vs. new wave Mondays, Motown funk and blues on Tuesdays, live music on Wednesdays, funk and soul on Thursdays, electric Fridays, then more live music on the weekend. There's literally something for everyone here, so pick your favorite day or ideally come check it all out. — mt

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