- Subway stop: Classon Ave
- Walk from subway: 4 minutes
- Neighborhood: Clinton Hill
- Location: 293 Grand Ave between Clifton Place and Greene Ave
Many Wednesdays have come and gone since my recent promise to have new Off the G posts every Wednesday, and yet, my procrastinating nature remains the same. So with the best of intentions, I’m attempting once more to start regular postings on Wednesdays, starting with one of the places I whiled away my time between my last regular post and this one, not posting, but enjoying my life in the form of food and beer. I’m talking of course about Mekelburg’s, a combination deli/grocery store/bar/trivia spot/purveyor of such delightful offerings as “slab bacon baked potato.” You had me at “deli” (I love a good sliced meat), but you had me even more at “slab bacon” (I REALLY love a good brick of meat). Located not far from Pratt, if you’re a non-art student it can sometimes feel like you’re a little out of place wandering around that neighborhood. Mekelburg’s, however, offers a safe haven. You can go to Clinton Hill and enjoy a nice sandwich and a beer before heading back to your overpriced apartments with a frozen Roberta’s pizza, looking out onto the street at all the college-aged art students walking by, a whole life’s worth of mistakes ahead of them. You pop your frozen pizza into the oven (they sell those at Mekelburg’s, if that wasn’t clear), and you stand in front of your freezer with the door open attempting to cool off while it cooks, trying to piece together what you did wrong with your life. Your pizza dings, but you’re not there to take it out of the oven, because you’ve returned to Mekelburg’s, this time enjoying a shandy in their backyard area, sitting in the hand chair that seemingly was plucked directly from the “Arrested Development” props department. Meanwhile, back at your apartment, your pizza is burning and catches fire. Your apartment is on fire, but who cares because you’re not there! Existential crisis avoided. Thanks Mekelburg’s!
In keeping with the theme of existential dread and attempting to power through it, Mekelburg’s is located in the basement garden level of a building, so you can feel good about leaving your house AND also feel good about wearing a shirt that’s stained with yesterday’s coffee. Because when you’re in a somewhat dimly lit multi-hyphenate establishment, no one really cares what you look like, everyone’s too busy trying to figure out if they’re there to drink at the bar or to buy a replacement CO2 cartridge for their Soda Stream (also something that’s sold at Mekelburg’s). Thankfully no one will judge you if you do both. And despite the rathskeller-type vibe one might expect from a place that’s below sidewalk level, it’s actually very lively. Not in a “drunk frat kids” kind of way, and not in a overly enthusiastic and bubbly way. In the kind of way where the bathroom is wallpapered with zebras and chalk boards as seen at the top of this post. Also in the “not afraid to blast Edith Piaf” kind of way, and god knows I love a bright wallpaper and “La Vie en Rose” combo package. It makes me feel like an extra in Amelie, which comes naturally to me having once been Amelie for Halloween and had to yield questions all night about who I was. “Cool girl from the 90’s costume. What’s with the gnome?” “I’m actually the titular Amelie from Amelie.” “Hey, I don’t know what you’re saying.”
One of the best parts about Mekelburg’s is it’s ability to welcome people no matter who they are, whether they’re Amelie themselves or just an Amelie imposter, or more commonly regular humans who don’t exist in a fantasy world. I’ve been there in the morning, watching people who are about to run off to work at some boring office like some boring adult with boring responsibilities and boring bills. I’ve been there in the middle of the day watching people work on their laptops, again probably doing something boring on those laptops to help them pay their boring bills. I’ve been there in the early evening and seen families there with their boring kids doing boring kid things. I’ve been there at night watching all of those boring people fucking cut loose man and drink one beer responsibly. Being an adult can be a drag, but at least you can legally drink and make your own decisions when out at a restaurant. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a kid out at a restaurant who willingly ordered Sambal Butter Roasted Oysters (they sell that at Mekelburg’s). Let’s get real, the clientele at Mekelburg’s are not boring, they’re adults who are in charge of their shit and know what good food and drinks taste like.
So now that we’re all fully on the same page and have accepted our fates as adults who are just trudging through life, slowly getting closer and closer to death, and we’re finding solace surrounded by our ilk in the lower level fine foods and craft beer emporium that is Mekelburg’s, let’s Sheryl Sandberg this bitch and “lean in” to the menu. The real bread and sambal butter. The true slab bacon and salt baked potatoes. With an always changing craft beer list on tap, you’ll be screaming, “Beer, a depressant?! I don’t think so, bub!” These are not your average Bud Lights or your Natty Bo’s or your Mountain Brew Beer Ices. This is the good stuff. And if beer isn’t your thing, they’ve got other drinks too. Bloody Mary’s more your speed? Don’t worry, they’ve got that and yes, I have tried to order one of their BM’s (Bloody Marys, not turdy) on Postmates before. It didn’t work out. Also, in case you forget, they have a whole store in the front that you have to walk past to get to their bar. You can always just grab something out of one of the cases in the front if you’d rather have a coconut water because you’re worried about your health. Why didn’t you think of that? For your health.
You may have been living your life prior to visiting Mekelburg’s thinking, “Fuck, I’m an adult. Where did my youth go? When did my dreams die?” But then you step inside and you’re greeted with what adulthood actually is. It’s good food and drinks. It’s people who know what they want in life because they’ve lived a little bit. It’s a wall full of Zapp’s potato chips (they sell those at Mekelburg’s). It’s a space that can be whatever you need in that moment. And it’s eating their delicious oysters then realizing later that night that you are indeed allergic to shellfish, but adulthood is about coming to terms with who you are and quite literally what your body can handle. That being said, I don’t care, I will continue to eat oysters. Because I’m not that mature. Yet.
Hey look at that, you came here to read about Mekelburg’s and instead you got a lesson in overcoming your internal existential dread. Goes to show you never truly know what you’re going to get here at Off the G [shrugs shoulders smugly]. So don’t forget to come back next week and as always-
-Off the G