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The Comet Cincinnati

The Comet

 Perhaps the one thing you should know before venturing into the hip land of The Comet in Northside is how to order one of the best burritos in town.

Find a randomly tossed menu, select your Mexican food of choice, and give your order to the spikey-haired bartender behind the counter. When he gives you your order slip, do not stand there staring blankly, or it will be all too obvious to the eclectic clientele that you are not a regular. Take the order slip into the blood red lounge room, walk to the back, and hand it to the friendly cook through a window in the back wall.

There. Now you can slip into the establishment incognito, wearing your horn-rimmed glasses and black jacket.

A local hangout for the artsy musical crowd, The Comet is well known not only for its giant burritos, but also its well-stocked jukebox and Sunday night bluegrass. Housed along a strip of nondescript buildings on Hamilton Avenue, The Comet attracts an edgy group of patrons, smoking at blacktop tables, playing a game of pool on red felt and listening to the tunes spewing from the jukebox speakers. In one visit you can hear a jazzy melody followed by a bass-banging garage band explosion and the deep rumble of blues.

From Ass Ponys to the Beatles, Concrete Blonde to the Ramones, the music is good enough reason for a visit.

Sundays usually feature bluegrass, a rootsy entertainment treat in the lounge. A monthly band lineup features musical groups such as Len’s Lounge, self-described as laconic Midwestern country folk rock, and the The Swingin’ Neckbreakers, a garage rock band. All seem to fit into The Comet’s eclectic venue of sounds.

The front of the establishment is checkered with a black and white tiled floor, giving it a 50s diner feel. Of course, most diners do not have a ceiling-high glass case refrigerator stocked with brewed beverages or a full-service bar with Harp and Guinness on tap. A random string of Christmas lights are strewn on one wall for decor, while another features a spattering of art fabric pieces for sale. The neon lounge sign leads patrons into a room where two pool tables take center stage.

Best described as a whole, rather than by its parts, The Comet is a hangout in the highest regard. The furniture is a bit scuffed, the lights rather dim, but the atmosphere is cool, relaxed and edged with great music.