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Dive Into Saint Paul’s Best Dive Bars

Dive Into Saint Paul’s Best Dive Bars

The capital city’s neighborhoods have fantastic no-fuss drinking spots

Written by: Joy Summers

Here’s where you’ll find dim lights, cheap drinks, and colorful neighborhood characters. In Saint Paul the term “dive bar,” is one of affection with blue-collar roots steeped in each neighborhood’s distinctive vibe. Listed alphabetically, these are the low-key bars that are a must-visit in the city.

Burger Dive

There’s an abundance of dives in this little pocket of the city, but start the day with this one that serves breakfast alongside the beer and booze. Burger Dive moved into this historic space and upgraded the menu with its namesake burgers, but the crispy fried chicken wings with giardiniera aioli are the secret star of the menu, alongside affordable drinks and a blessedly dark interior.


@burgerdivemn

Grand 7

This comfy bar has been serving West 7th for over 40 years. Since Grand 7 is not far from downtown, it can get a little rowdy before events, but that’s alright. Just grab a cheap beer and settle in for a good long drink.

Half Time Rec

Walking into the Half Time Rec, the bar dominates the room. As it should be. The weathered bar top bears the scars of years of drinks. Scrape back at a chair and order up an affordable beer or cocktail. There’s a full food menu that’s worth exploring, stacked with fried goodies to take the edge off a beer or few. For those who like a drinking activity, the basement bocce court is always a good time.

Joe & Stan's

A few years ago, Joe & Stan’s went through a renovation so it’s not quite as dive-y as it once was, but the neighborhood soul is strong. Just outside of downtown, Joe & Stan’s is a sports bar with a weekday happy hour worth knocking off work early.


@ralph_matthews

J.R. Mac's

A way to measure a good West 7th bar is by the presence of Heggie’s Pizza. And, while J.R. Mac's has a full menu with burgers and the like, there’s nothing like the late-night sharing of one of these thin-crust bar pizzas with a buddy.

Shamrocks

Watching the wait staff inside this hopping West 7th restaurant and bar on game days is a sight to behold. As the booths and chairs at Shamrocks fill up, they never stop dropping off drinks, taking orders, or serving up this restaurant’s famous burgers. Shamrocks is a popular sports bar with a welcome dive bar patina.


@alexmooseperez

Skarda's

Know that if you attempt to order some special microbrewed beer at Skarda's, the bartender is going to make fun of you. Keep that order simple and find a spot to take in a game on the big TVs or talk some smack with a good friend.


@norton356

Skinner’s

It’s best to enter this bar from the parking lot. The door, simply marked with an address, leads right into the heart of Skinner's, with 70s-era mirror backed and staffed by folks who know a regular’s drink order before they make it to an available seat. The kitchen turns out grade-A bar snacks including a legendary pizza and crispy chicken wings. Look for the beer of the month specials.

The Spot Bar

This joint is an icon in the city, The Spot is a small dive that’s got zero ambition to be anything other than a watering hole untouched by time. Look for the Hamm’s and Pig’s Eye signs on Randolph and don’t be surprised if heads turn to take in a newcomer. Settle in, order a beer or a shot, and soak in the vibe.

Turf Club

The Turf is one of the best venues to catch a local show and the subterranean clown lounge is a true legend to local drinkers. There’s music every night of the week, including some bigger traveling shows. Check the schedule and head down for local band nights, strong drinks, and Saint Paul swagger.

What’s your go-to dive spot in Saint Paul for a round or two with friends? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MYSAINTPAUL.

 

Joy Summers is an award-winning columnist and food writer whose work has appeared in Food Network Magazine, People, City Pages, Minnesota Monthly, Lavender, and Eater. She's been known to take to backcountry roads and plunge into new environments in search of elusive ingredients at their peak. As a passionate storyteller, she strives to connect people with the words that serve them best. She lives in Cathedral Hill with her husband and young children.



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