The Watering Hole: Goldie's Shoreline Casino , 15030 Aurora Ave. N., 440-8754, SHORELINE
The Watering Hole: Goldie's Shoreline Casino, 15030 Aurora Ave. N., 440-8754, SHORELINE
The Atmosphere: Casino, to me, means thick, damp, musty air and old ladies with permed hair, eyes glazed over, hypnotized by the blinking lights, pulling on slot machine handles with yellow, cigarette-stained fingernails. So I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into Goldie's. It's clean, the air is fresh, and it's full of Asians playing cards, which seems classier than video gambling. Half the building is filled with bustling tables of games of chance. The other half is a lounge area. The bar divides the two. Mirrors line the walls and ceiling. The dim, red neon lighting provides comfy cover for a barfly. Even late on a Monday night, the place is abuzz.
I took a seat at the L-shaped bar, which looks to be about 70 feet long. It takes a hard left, right-angle turn at the far end where dozens of pull-tab games are displayed on the wall, clamoring for your attention. "Take a chance on me," they call out. Even though it's located on Aurora Avenue, Goldie's is pleasantly void of riff-raff, in spite of the unbelievably cheap prices. According to a manager, who goes by one name, CJ, it's always like that. In fact, Goldie's has a vibe like a neighborhood pub that's done it right. Obvious regulars enjoy a first-name basis with the staff, and it's all about spending time with friends. The only difference is the huddled masses of focused gamblers in the background, which is entertaining in itself.
The Barkeep: Victor Victorino is energetic and fun, fluttering about, chatting with customers and joking with fellow staff members. The name? "My mother loved me so much, she named me the same thing twice," he offered. He's been with Goldie's for three years, of which he says, "I like coming to work, you know? It's hard to say that. It's homey."
The Drink: Victorino recommends a Trashcan to aid and abet a long night of gambling. The frou-frou drink consists of two parts Long Island mix, a dash of sweet and sour, a splash of 7UP and a little Blue Curacao. A can of Red Bull is then plunged into the concoction at a 120 degree angle so as you drink, it continually resupplies the imbiber with gambling energy. There's no fresh-squeezed anything in this drink. It's pure sugar, caffeine and alcohol meant to keep you up and having fun.
The Verdict: Goldie's serves up cheap drinks with a side of playful energy. On the food menu lives that most disgusting of Filipino dishes, balut, the duck embryo left to develop in its shell until the adventurous diner cracks it open to snack on bones, beak and feathers. I asked Victorino if he'd ever tried it. "I can't even go down on my pregnant girlfriend," he replied. With $3 you-call-its from 3-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-12 a.m., a frugal Robert DeNiro may not have approved of this casino. I left very buzzed and with a fun evening behind me for the measly sum of $10. That makes Goldie's my new ace in the hole.