A Shot in the Dark: Desi Dive Bar

Yes, they’ll get you drunk on the cheap.

At first glance, Maharaja has about as much appeal as a Motel 6. The shabby Indian restaurant has terrible lighting, beat-up furniture, and bathrooms that rival a Honey Bucket for foulness. Regardless, the tiny bar tucked away in the back attracts a decent-sized crowd looking for an alternative to Capitol Hill's trendier spots. Late one Thursday night, an obese black man with dreads and a skinny white guy in flannel sit and argue loudly as they annihilate $2 wells. "Listen, I don't like hip-hop. I would never listen to this CD. So why the fuck would I wanna pay $8 for it?" Flannel asks. His unfazed peer cheerfully replies, "You gotta support local music." Flannel is incredulous. "For $8? No, thanks." He's stingy, but then again here he can use that $8 to get himself three drinks and a samosa—though admittedly nobody actually seems to eat the restaurant's food. Folks don't go to Maharaja for the tikka masala. They go to get fucked up. The two men stop speaking to one another and go back to drinking. They're joined shortly after by patrons trickling in from neighboring bars that have already announced last call. The bartenders here serve booze until the last legal second, providing some serious relief in a state whose liquor laws border on totalitarian. Maharaja ain't pretty, but it provides the amenities you need most. Just likea trusty budget hotel. 720 E. Pike St., 320-0334, www.seattlemaharaja.com. ERIKA HOBART

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