5. Tony Jaros'
The entire room is a bar. It's just not a large bar and a small room--it's an entire room barely able to accommodate the big ol' bar in the center. At this bar, untouched by the hand of time since it opened in the '60s, they serve your average run-of-the-mill crazy-strong cocktails that drinkers who get around have come to expect from Nordeast Minneapolis, but that's not what they're known for. Jaros' is about two drinks: the Greenie and the Pinky. These lighter-fluid-like concoctions are made from a secret mix, but as far as we can tell it's powdered Jell-O and vodka. Before you begin cringing, go with us on this--sugar, lime, almost flavorless and likely potato-based vodka in a clear plastic cup creates more lost memories than any other drink poured in all the land. No matter how old and dignified you are, you'll soon find yourself hooting at the top of your lungs, "Woo!
" Don't bother with cards, checks, or anything other than cold, hard cash inside Jaros'. Beyond the ridiculous drinks, Jaros' is a great space to sit back, have a couple and enjoy the hard-working crew that gathers for the fried pork tenderloin sandwiches. Because, if we haven't mentioned this already, the whole room is a bar
. (2500 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis; 612.789.9728)
4. Shaw's Bar & Grill
A little bit rock 'n' roll, a little bit down and dirty, Shaw's Bar and Grill has walls bedecked with rock posters from the masters, guitar demi-god Clapton and the Stones. Two nights a week it brings in live music with that roadhouse-blues-influenced rock 'n' roll. On off nights the bar is mixed with colorful, highly opinionated and friendly regulars and folks just coming in for the burger. The Shaw burger is advertised as a three-napkin affair, but that might be generous. A fantastic mess of cheese, onions, condiments, and meat, it's not first-date food. Knock it back with an ice cold pint of Nordeast and don't be afraid to participate in that nearby, ongoing debate that somehow includes talk of both scrapbooking and legal driving limits. (1528 University Ave NE, Minneapolis; 612. 781.4405, website)
3. Tapper's Pub
A great neighborhood bar serves the neighborhood's residents well. Tapper's is a perfect example of how well that works when the bar is in as diverse a neighborhood as this St. Paul pocket. The collection of souls on any given evening is likely to be of different ethnic origin and income brackets, all sharing a few pints or a couple of properly stiff cocktails. The mood is jovial and about as welcoming as St. Paul gets. Pull up a stool, play a little bar bingo, and take a quick breather from the outside world. Shelter, sustenance by way of Hegie's pizza, and soul-affirming beverages are always available inside this off-the-beaten path corner of the world. (879 Stryker Ave, St Paul; 651.457.6784)
2. Skinner's Pub & Eatery
St. Paul's West Seventh neighborhood is a
delightful smorgasbord of dive bar delights. A lot of bars have their bingo nights, pull tabs, and fried taco mornings, but Skinner's has a couple of attributes that stand out. It's a favorite for those in search of cheap, stiff drinks and a decent bite to eat. With a menu boasting some of the best square-cut pizza and fried chicken around, it's easy to drink your fill and not wake up drowning in regret the next day. The prices can't be beat: Top-shelf drinks max out at $4.50. Just don't go craving a martini, since there are no martini glasses (or maybe just one, but it's been sitting there like a barkeep's spinster sister for years). Grab a tallboy or a pint of the Beer of the Month Baby for only a couple of bucks and save your change for the jukebox. (919 Randolph Ave, St. Paul; 651.291.0146, website
1. Country Bar and Grill
Sometimes one wants to drink with the dead. Bellied up to the bar inside this Lyn/Lake institution, you'll find yourself surrounded by animal hides and ghosts of drunkyards past. The thick smell of hot grease permeates the bar, now that the smoking ban passed from news into normal. Order cheese curds and a brew, but don't come expecting to see the pretty people. Those youngsters just finding their well-accessorized way through Uptown won't be passing through these doors. This is for the gnarly, unkept crew, those who remember the early days of complaining about the unending gentrification of this funky 'hood. The jukebox is likely to spin some old Johnny or Waylon tunes, songs about men accustomed to strong drinks and hard women, as timelessly weary and cool as the Country Bar itself. (3006 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis; 612.824.7859)
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