I'm a huge fan of the Black Cat. I sometimes feel like I'm cheating on Mount Pleasant when I go out in other neighborhoods, but there is no real equivalent to the Cat anywhere else in this city. Every other month or so there is a show I'll pay to see, but generally I hang in the Red Room. Food for Thought, the attached restaurant has so much vegan food, its a crime for people like me to stay away.
The Red Room is a place you can go to see friends or be anonymous. The last couple of years has seen the clientele broaden, for better or worse, but its still not a place for everyone. I still like the old fashioned cash-only policy and the utilitarian spaces of the Red Room are adequate and unpretentious. A definite departure from places like Love, Lima or Tattoo Bar. No $500 minimums here. Some trash it, but I give the Cat a thumbs up.