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The little cream stucco building shines out into the dark.

From across Dewey Street you can hear the crack! of pool balls, laughs, and somebody singing a ranchero song. A few cheers and claps, and then another one starts.

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It’s around 9:45 p.m. I’ve just gotten off the Orange Line trolley at 25th and Imperial. Got half an hour till my bus.

So I cross Dewey, fwop through the blue cloth Bud Light door flaps. Find myself in a bright, creamy-walled room with a pool table, giant Karaoke screen, and an L-shaped bar at the end with half a dozen stools.

I take one of them. See they have a little menu (in Spanish, of course) on a glow-writer. Coctel de Camaron (Shrimp cocktail) $5.99, tostadas de ceviche, $2.99, and tostilocos, $3.99.

Gal comes up, Samantha.

“Something to drink?”

I look around. See Dos Equis, others, but go for a bottle of Bud ($2.00) and, what thu heck, a tostada.

Samantha goes to the kitchen puts the order in, brings me my Bud, wrapped in the Mexican way around the neck with a serviette, and then picks up a mike and starts singing a kind of potpourri of songs around the popular Querida.

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Pretty nice voice.

Everybody claps at the end and calls out “Otra! Otra!” But she puts the mike down and goes back to the kitchen and gets my tostada.

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“It’s got chopped shrimp, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, onion, and the slice of avocado,” she says, when I ask what’s in the mix.

One thing it’s got is freshness and sparkle. I can see the ladies behind making more. I toss a bit of Tapaío on to heat it up and we’ve got a prickly symphony of tastes.

Soon, Samantha, Veronica the manager, Adrian, the owner’s son, and Tony, who’s just about to sing, and I are chatting as best we can over the music. Samantha says they have parties with live musicians on the weekends, and karaoke on Mondays and Wednesdays, but basically they’re a neighborhood bar, where you can feel the vibes of México Lindo. This is what I like, a kind of “Cheers” of the southwest.

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Now Tony's singing. Man! What a voice. Tony Pavarotti! Motivos.

Tony owns a tortilla factory. Knows just about every cafe in town. But this is where he comes to relax, and to exercise the voice.

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Tony

But he apologizes. I just had the flu, so the voice 's not half what it should be."

Adrian the owner has the mike now.

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Adrian

He’s thanking everyone for coming and saying the witching hour has come, and please come again.

I will. If only to hear Tony when he's full throttle.

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