Magic Garden

217 NW 4th Ave., 224-8472, 11:45-2:30 am Monday-Saturday, 5:45 pm-2:30 am Sunday.

The Magic Garden stereo is playing the Presidents of the United States of America's "Naked and Famous," but no one is naked. Another song plays. There is still no one naked. It's just after 7 pm on a weekday night and no one inside this beloved Chinatown institution even seems to notice that there's no dancer on the famously pole-free stage. Instead, they line the stools at this tiny bar, which smells and looks like a club where L.A. punks of yore might've played. They're waiting for the no-nonsense bartender, Patty, to bring them a $3 PBR or hand their ticket for clam strips and jojos to the kitchen. Finally, a dancer with a very well-inked mermaid on her torso appears. She ends her first song without taking anything off. Then an old Ramones song comes on. She sings along, dropping both top and bottom with little fanfare. Suddenly, the rail is crowded and one guy plunks down a five. It's confirmed: Magic Garden is always a pleasant little hangout, but far more exciting when someone's naked. MARTIN CIZMAR.