Drinking with your neighbor if your neighbor's patio was better.
The phrase “hidden gem” is an easy moniker to overuse when discussing dive bars, but Trixie’s Bar in Detroit’s Hamtramck district makes a strong case for its use thanks to a sprawling lawn and patio nestled behind an unassuming bit of fence and what looks to be an ancient building. Finding this type of discovery in an already dive bar-packed Hamtramck neighborhood is the northern cherry on the cake of exploring the area well-populated with affordable drinking options.
Named after their mother’s nickname, brothers Ian & Andrew Perrotta opened Trixie’s Bar in 2016, taking not only naming inspiration from their mother but also many of the decorations that can be found throughout the space. A stint living in Germany in the 1990s generated many of the European street signs that can be seen within Trixie’s Bar as well as the very concept of a biergarten-like atmosphere provided by the fenced-in yard that borders the bar.
Previously known as Turtle & Inky’s, the Perrotta brothers took over the space in late 2015 and executed a series of targeted renovations that added some polish to the structure without stripping it of its authenticity. New paint, lighting, coolers and other fixtures complement an exterior façade left largely untouched, a benefit given the old-school stonework that lines the building and the opaque glass blocks that flank the front door. The vague depiction of a massive beer mug mural can be seen along the sloping roof atop the building.
Inside, a dedicated stage serves as hub to a long list of rotating events that includes live music, karaoke night, open mic night and even a bring-your-own-vinyl night that encourages patrons to bring their favorite records to play for the assembled crowd. Not to be left out of a Polish Village-adjacent tradition, Trixie’s Bar has been known to celebrate Paczki Day, a unique spin on Fat Tuesday that revolves around a filled pastry known as a paczki. Bar crawling through Hamtramck on Paczki Day has become a signature neighborhood experience, Trixie’s Bar a participant through early morning sausage and sauerkraut among other events.
Labeled as a “house party with a liquor license” by its owners, the vibe comes through loud and clear thanks to an interior filled with street signs, string lights, cinder blocks and the elevated stage in the corner of the room surrounded by noise-dampening foam. Seating is a bit haphazard by design, its arrangement highly dependent on the nature of that evening’s event, making for a lived-in feeling to the drinking proceedings in a very good way.
The hidden gem within the hidden gem is the Trixie’s Bar patio that spills out of the side of the main structure into a long lawn that on one end includes a covered drinking area complete with outdoor pool tables and bench seating that rings the area. The sloped roof is punctuated by hanging vines slowly creeping across the structure, adding to the very biergarten-authentic vibe cultivated by Trixie’s Bar. Swinging benches extend into the grassy part of the lawn here, very much driving home that feeling of drinking in a neighbor’s backyard.