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A bar not sucking is one of those things that doesn’t have a to-do list, or a cutout concept, or anything else that can be exported from one place to another. Sometimes it’s the simplest tip of the hat that makes a bar certifably great and stubbornly unique. Alfredo’s Cantina in Monterey, California is as unassuming as a bar can be in a small town swarming with graduate students and military personnel. The dimly lit inside is like a set out of Dazed & Confused; full of furniture that was bought by someone with an eye to what they thought the present would be in the past. Behind the sprawling wooden bar, hard liquor and Bud Heavies rule the day. Alberto’s comes together like a work of art, if that work of art tried to paint what “not caring” looked like.

As with most great dives, cash is the only way to finish an order. Alfredo’s makes a point of having an old timey cash register to drive the point home that, at least within its wall, time really is a flat circle. In terms of music, the jukebox is expertly curated with 80 percent Led Zeppelin records. Hope you love Robert Plant’s voice because aside from whoever you came with, that’s about the only other voice you’re going to hear.

And man do I love it.

If Alfredo’s Cantina was a person, I pray that that person is me when I’m old; adhering to a different time, to a different vibe, and to a few simple universal rules of decorum. So many nights during my time in Monterey ended at this place, and each time felt like I was coming home. Few bars match Alfredo’s. And I hope it stays that way until I find myself drunk on Pearl Street again.

Alfredo’s Cantina, 266 Pearl St, Monterey, CA 93940, is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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