Dahlia’s: A Eulogy

A tribute to a collegiate landmark

Guilty Pleasures | Catie Kartje | February 23, 2016

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Early this weekend I learned something that made my heart very sad. Dahlia’s — an institution known and loved and puked upon by many an underage NYU undergrad — is no more. I haven’t been to Dahlia’s myself since I was handed that magical gateway to a semblance of real NYC nightlife (my fake ID) sometime during my freshman year.

I always planned to go back for one last overpriced Double Headed Monster Margarita, if only to reel in the nostalgia; alas, the opportunity has slipped away.

For those who are somehow unaware, Dahlia’s is a Mexican restaurant in the East Village that, at one glorious time, had no qualms about serving alcoholic beverages to minors, without asking them to produce any form of ID.

Needless to say, this attracted quite a number of eager, scantily-clad, sexually-charged teenagers, ranging from fresh NYU students to the local youth, producing an atmosphere that sophomore Phil Garip described as, “a daycare that serves alcohol” and another student called, “an incredible amount of horror in such a small, small space.”

The young crowd did not go unnoticed by the locals, including Yelp reviewer Valerie.. of Brooklyn, NY, whose dining experience at Dahlia’s was disturbed by “having children (literally no older than 14) getting drunk in all the surrounding booths.” No doubt Valerie’s decision to visit Dahlia’s was misinformed by its outside appearance, which gives little forewarning to the sweaty sanctum of ethical transgression that awaits just inside.

Unfortunately, another local group noticed the piles of wobbling youths spilling forth from the doors one weekend: the cops.

Although in my abounding maturity I can look back critically on all the time and money I wasted there, at one time I was not so immune to Dahlia’s charms. Just like anybody, I had a lot of great times there: the thrill of ordering my first alcoholic beverage in a public place without the waiter casting me even a single skeptical glance, dancing belligerently to Mexican hip hop and the same Shakira song over and over with the creepy staff an hour after closing, and helping my friends clean up orange vomit from between their bathroom tiles the next morning.

When asked to recall her fondest memory of Dahlia’s, sophomore Ana Digiovanni said, “Free tequila shots.” Then, thinking about it a little further, she added, “an unidentifiable scar on my leg.” Perhaps that scar will live on with her forever; or perhaps it will grow as she grows, fade as the memories of her introduction to alcohol fade because they are pretty insignificant, and she’ll probably have more fulfilling memories, like falling in love and watching her children grow up and maybe, like, skydiving.

The good news: the business now stands on the corner of 5th and 2nd Ave, and one can actually visit this relic of a forgotten era and order inedible overpriced Mexican food served by people that hate you and most likely talk shit about you in Spanish. Patron Peter L. of New York, NY said of his experience on Yelp: “This was the worst dining experience that I have had in NYC. I would never ever ever come here again.”

We were young and we were stupid and our love affair was cut short by the annoyingly unrelenting efforts of a criminal justice system that appears to care when minors consume alcohol, but only sometimes. It’s not all sad, though; you can still enjoy your favorite Double Headed Monster on a Friday night, if you have a decent fake ID.

It might be worth fighting back the tears for that lost time that your heart secretly pines for; this guy certainly seems to think so:


Image: “Alcohol whiskey” by kaicho20. Public Domain via Pixabay