Half Time Rec
1013 Front Av., St. Paul • 651-488-8245 • www.halftimerec.com
One of St. Paul’s most lovable dives got a huge upgrade when Paddy Shack took over the kitchen. Ex-Butcher & the Boar chef Jack Riebel does Irish and bar fare proper, with succulent fish and chips and rib-sticking mac and cheese. Otherwise it’s the same hole in the wall where softball teams hammer pitchers of beer and play basement bocce ball, soundtracked by karaoke or cover bands.
507 Washington Av. N., Mpls. • 612-339-6211 • www.cuzzys.com
We could easily kill an afternoon sucking down Grain Belts and reading the scribbled-on dollar bills covering the walls and ceiling (cheers to you, “Reddog the meth hog”). This tiny booze shed with a sloped floor has stood fast as its North Loop ’hood has gentrified. There are no $30 entrees or house-made bitters here, and it probably wasn’t listed in your luxury apartment building’s pamphlet. But the beer’s cold and it’s got more character than any bar in the neighborhood.
Grumpy’s Northeast regulars know about “firkin Friday” happy hour when a rotating cask is tapped and the owner of the kitchen-less bar brings in free food for all. Get there early before it’s gone. (2200 NE. 4th St., Mpls.)
The divey institution that’s spawned a million Minneapolis tales is your go-to when you’re ready to tie one on among characters as organic to the space as the wall paneling. (2600 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-874-7226.) (Mecca Bos)
This 30-year-old Irish dive feels like the kind of place where you could catch an off-the-wagon Colin Farrell getting loaded on a Tuesday and punching a guy in the mouth (that’s a weird compliment). It’s actually a fairly friendly joint. (2162 W. University Av., St. Paul • 651-646-5551 www.thedublinerpub.com.)
Unless you’ve been a regular here for, say, 50 years, you might get an odd look when you stroll through the door. Which is not to say the place isn’t friendly, it just hasn’t changed much since it put its dubiously named Dago sandwich on the menu, and on the facade. (1319 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-378-2118 • www.dustysbaranddagos.com.) (M.B.)
Combine the complete inability to judge daylight (no windows) with Lyle’s constant barrage of specials, and the result is a recipe for oblivious time-wasting. When they aren’t serving their “world famous” two-for-one happy hour, there is likely either a craft special, cheap Jameson, mystery bottles or some such enticement. But then again, this is a place with “liquor” in its name — they don’t mess around. (2021 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-870-8183 • www.lylesliquor.com.) (S.D.)
A let’s-get-drunk, not let’s-get-drinks, type of bar. There’s almost always something in the $2-$3 range, be it a 12-ounce pour of Miller Lite or a $1.50 shot of root beer schnapps — yup, Mortimer’s goes there. Empty bottles litter PTA meeting-worthy tables like fallen soldiers on the battlefield incapable of being cleared fast enough. The floor is probably more spill than wood by now, though it’s strong enough to support foosball, big-screens, air hockey, darts and an array of other arcade games. (2035 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-871-5591.) (S.D.)
Polynesian cocktails, regret-inducing Chinese fried rice, a hip-hop-heavy jukebox and a crusty cast of characters. Every city deserves a dive bar this perfect — situated in a hip and gentrified neighborhood, yet staunchly, stubbornly, derelict. Attracting amateurs, veterans and all those in between, on the dubious road to the Wondrous Punch. (2116 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-874-8877 • www.reddragonmpls.com.) (M.B.)
Shaw’s Bar & Grill
Don’t ask for the “tap list.” Order a bottle of Bud, maybe some ribs, shut the hell up and listen to the blues band. OK, it’s actually a very friendly place (the bikers won’t bite). Just don’t expect any frills, pansy. (1528 University Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-781-4405.)
Tony Jaros’ River Garden
The classic dive bar is a party-bus fixture, partly due to its signature “Greenies.” For all we know they could just be grain alcohol and food coloring, but these stiff little cocktails served in plastic cups make bachelorette parties freak. (2500 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-789-9728.