222 Pearl St
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Above Buzzard Billy's, and far removed from the kitsch plastered walls below, the Starlight Lounge embraces the mellow, warm and fuzzy abstraction of mod. Accent from the sidewalk requires a climb up a wide staircase whose dark wainscot is the first hint that a different time lies ahead. Once through the wide door at the top of the stairs a comfortable yet stylish scene unfolds.
The bar, which is small compared to the acreage it serves, holds the left flank and is stocked with Midwestern bar staples. The cocktail menu boasts cliche specialty martinis and leaves a bit to be desired but PBR in the can is available as well as the harder to find Hamm's, satisfying even the most persnickety of thirsts. Across from the bar is a herd of tables and chairs huddled around a small stage that occupies the southeast corner of the lounge.
The night I was there, Jagged Ease was filling the air with smooth covers and a few sauntering originals.
Behind the commotion of the bar and stage area is where the Starlight earns its surname. The space stretches back from the bar on either side of the staircase with soft carpet, retro couches, classic furniture, inviting upholstered swivel chairs, vintage sconces and modern forms jutting from the ceiling making it look a little like a big Lego. Tall bar tables, bar stools and blinding HD are no where to be found. The starlight is a great place to sit back and relax, have a conversation with a group of friends or a date and enjoy a delicious Hamm's.