Jukebox Skipping

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dog House Saloon Waterloo, Nebraska -- REVIEW

Dog House Saloon
307 3rd St
Waterloo NE
(402) 779-3257

Earlier this summer I went tubing down the Elkhorn River, with Tubing and Adventures , and was told by the guy who runs the company that there was a great bar in Waterloo (but I couldn’t remember the name). I set out to find what looked like a “cool bar” in the half block stretch that makes up “downtown” Waterloo.

I see a place called the Dog House Saloon with a bunch of motorcycles out front, live music on the deck and a sign that says Pittsburgh Steelers on the outside. I think this was the place the tubing guy was talking about, but even if it’s not, who cares…it looks GREAT!

First Impressions: This place is honky-tonk heaven! As you walk in there is a cage for dancing on the right, a decent size bar in the middle and great people throughout the place. I sat down at the bar and was greeted by pretty much everyone sitting there. I love this place so far!

The Bar: Standard bar area. Good selection of just about anything you wanted. This is what we called growing up a “shot and a beer” place. They have signs for shots of the various “Bomb” variety, and there were plenty of people just drinking shots of whiskey too. So basically what I’m saying is don’t show up here and order a Cosmo….even if there is a disco ball in the middle of the place.

The Crowd: Friendly bikers, a Mom and her three kids, construction workers, women in their 20s…this really was a fun mix of people. To sum up the crowd, one of the owners (female mind you) told me that during football games this is the place to come if you want to “slam beers, watch football and yell at the TV!” I thought to myself for a moment and then realized…this is exactly what I like to do during football games! I’m coming back.

Service: Great service from everyone there. The bartender (who just turned 21), the waitress and even the owners (Dog and Jodi) made sure everyone had what they needed. Here is a very telling story about the service, apparently the waitress saw a few of the regulars parking their car (an older couple) and as they walked in and said hello, the waitress informed them that she saw them coming and already had a bucket of beer waiting for them at their favorite table. Now that’s service!

Price: Seemed to be about $2:50 a beer….I can live with that. There was a sign that offered $3:50 JagerBombs on certain nights…that’s a pretty good deal too. All-in-all the prices seemed to be about where I thought they should be considering the location.

Food: Your typical bar food. Everything that came out of the kitchen looked and smelled great. I was half-temped to ask the people next to me if I could sample their food. Hell, everyone was so nice at this place I figured they would have agreed to let me try some.

A/V: TVs throughout the place, a juke box and some kind of really cool-looking golf game that appeared to be Golden Tee on steroids.

Restrooms: Not great. Not unusable either. This place appears to be in an old building, so I wasn’t surprised that the restrooms were a tad bit dingy.

Bartender Chat: All the staff here are willing to talk to you about anything. But I will say this, the waitress uttered one of my favorite lines to hear at a bar of all times…(pointing at me she said) “his next drink is on me.” Music to my ears!

How Far Did My $20 Go: Twenty bucks, depending on how big of a lightweight you are, can get you on the way to a pretty nice buzz. Play your cards right, and chat with the staff, chances are you’ll get a freebie or two thrown-in as well….just don’t forget to tip well if you score a free one.

Final Impressions: Hmmm…am I willing to declare this one my favorite dive in Omaha-area to date? If not, it's pretty damn close. This place has everything you need including a great deck, great staff, fun owners, friendly people, reasonable drink prices…I could go on and on. At the very least it is a great place that, if I didn’t have prior commitments the night I was there, I could have easily stayed at from several more hours. I know this much, I plan to be a regular fixture here during football games this fall. I would higly encourage you to do the same.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ZOGs Omaha -- REVIEW

2640 Bob Boozer Drive
Omaha, NE 68130-2564
(402) 697-0179

I was undecided where to go, so I headed to an area where I knew there were a few fairly shady-looking dive bars to see which one would make a good place to stop. I drove past a place called ZOGs, which is located right next to a pre-school I might add, and thought “dive bar next to a pre-school? I’m in!”

First Impressions: Well, that’s a funky smell. The place was much larger than I thought it would be…and a lot cleaner too. There were a handful of (what I assume to be regulars) at the end of the bar having a heated discussion about the best numbers to play in Keno. I was actually a bit disappointed that the place was not a dump, I think I was in the mood to write something negative. Damn!

The Bar: A long bar that can easily seat 25 people and a ton of tables and chairs throughout the place, so getting a comfortable area to sit here does not seem all that hard to do. They have three dart boards, a boxing machine, two pool tables and a pinball machine. The bar itself is very clean-looking with lots of options on beer and other liquor, including a machine that chills many shots including tequila (I’m going to pass on that one for now). Even Guinness on tap, that was a nice surprise.

The Crowd: Four people were there when I walked in and that number went to about 10 by the time I left. Let’s just call the first four that were in there “hard drinking regulars”. Nice enough people, I’d even call them friendly. The dress code was very clear, all ball caps must be on backwards! A few 30ish looking Joes came in and asked the bartender if this was the place with the cheap beer. The bartereder said that it was…wait until you hear this drink special when I get to that section!

Service: The bartender looked a bit like Ben Roethlisberger, shamed quarterback for the Steelers, just with a ton of tattoos. But, he was everything a bartender should be, quick with the drinks, funny, friendly yet with a bit of a don’t f*** with me persona. He must have graduated head of his class at the Dive Bar Institute.

Price: Three bucks for a draft of what looked like a 20 ounce beer…it was definitely bigger than just a pint. Now, to the killer promotion that the average Joes asked about. On Tuesday nights, you pay $5 for a wristband that gets you $1 pitchers from 8:00 pm until closing. They must never advertise this special because three people bought the writsband and the bartender remarked that was the most he had ever sold. Keep in mind the “special” is for Keystone only. You have been warned! Here was another interesting tidbit, they still will sell you a drink here on credit, then you just pay your tab at the end of the month.

Food: Your choice of Cheetos, Funyuns or potato chips.

A/V: Eight TV’s throughout the bar, the standard jukebox and looks like they have a DJ area. Only problem was that some dumbass put Lady Gaga in the jukebox. In a DIVE BAR? Dude, are you serious!

Restrooms: Nice! Clean. Big. No smell. Wow, I though for sure I was going to find something negative about this place in here.

Bartender Chat: Funny guy to talk to, and he even used the word “schnockered” in a sentence…bonus points for that! Other than that, he was just your typical shoot-the-shit kind of bartender that the word seems to be sorely lacking these days.

How Far Did my $20 Go: I did the math on this one…and LOOK OUT! For twenty bucks, if your were so inclined, you can get yourself 15 PITCHERS OF BEER. I am not suggesting that you actually do that, but it is good to know that if you really wanted to, you could.

Final Impressions: This place, more than any others so far, really surprised me. I felt comfortable from the moment I walked in which does not always happen at dives of this nature. And get this, there was a sign in the restroom that the bar is for sale (to well-qualified buyers). Who wants to form a partnership and buy this place with me? Great specials, clean place, great service, (OK being next to a pre-school is odd) but other than that…I really liked this place. There is not doubt in my mind that you should Hit This Dive.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jack's Place, Elkhorn Nebraska -- REVIEW

Jack’s Place
1818 Binfield St
Elkhorn, NE 68022


I drove past this place for years and never knew it was a bar. A few years ago I decided to drive to the front of the building to see what the hell “Jack’s Place” was. It’s in an industrial-looking area, so I always just assumed that it was a collision repair shop. I was surprised to see neon signs for Bud Light and other assorted swill beers in the windows and immediately thought my usual thought “I should go in there some time! Yadda, yadda, yadda…three years later I decide to make Jack’s Place my first stop on my five dives in five nights tour.

First Impressions: This is perhaps the last place you would expect to find a bar. Looks more like an area where you go to have your lawnmower serviced or a place where you can find an old hubcap dealer. I followed a huge diesel pickup truck down a side road (thinking to myself I bet he’s going to Jack’s) and sure enough I was right. The parking was packed (on a Monday night?), I got out of my car, walked in, and the bar was packed too! I’m diggin’ this place so far.

The Bar: There were, at my count, more than 50 people in the place and it’s much bigger than you would think. There is a bar room and a back room with a pool table and additional seating. I counted 25 seats at the bar and I bunch of additional seating at tables throughout the main area. Jack’s has the mandatory games a good dive needs including Golden Tee, Buck Hunter, two dart boards and a jukebox. And best of all, it had a very upbeat feel to the place, not a doom and gloom feel like the Rusty Nail review.

The Crowd: In my notes I underlined the phrase, “Everything from cute young chicks, to big bubbas in overalls!” This is a blue collar crowd, but a very diverse group of people as well. The crowd ranged from everything including groups of people that seem to be getting ready to head back to Lincoln for their senior year, to guys in their 60’s talking about how to repair an outboard motor. Plus, everyone seemed very relaxed.  This did not seem to be a group of people where a fight breaks out. Ever.

Service: There was one bartender behind the bar, she seemed a bit frazzled at first, but it was quickly apparent that she was able to keep all 50 people in the place happy as the moved around the place quickly replacing drinks as soon as they were empty. Nice work!

Price: I ordered a pint of draft beer and was told “that will be $3.50.” $3.50!! I was not expecting that. There were no signs on the walls for happy hour, or any other specials for that matter, except for one sign on the way out of the restroom that stated Old Milwaukee Light (in a can no less) was $2.75 all day long. I wouldn’t pay a $1.00 for one of those, so $2.75 hardly seemed like a bargain. If you do go, keep in mind that a pitcher is $7.50 and is CLEALY the way to go. See, I pay an outrageous price so you don’t have to!

Food: I didn’t eat, but they do have a pizza window from which some pretty kickass-looking pizzas were coming out from. There even were a few people stopping in just to pick up a pizza to go. Jack’s also had signs that they were open for lunch during the week. Note to self, I may have to go back and try the pizza. Soon.

A/V Four TV’s in good locations throughout the bar. Two or three more would not be a bad idea in my opinion because they advertise this as “the place to come watch the Huskers” and it might be hard to get a good view if this place is as packed as I think it probably gets for football games.

Restrooms: Very close to the bar (thumbs up for a short walk) and pretty clean. In fact, they kind of reminded me of the restrooms that you find in the lobby of a Hampton Inn…no frills and all business…I can live with that.

Bartender Chat: Not much to be had from a busy bartender that was waiting (efficiently I might add) on 50 people. I did overhear her telling a story to a few of the regulars about how her brother would get her braces stuck in the shag carpeting at their house when she was a kid…big brother’s can be real A Holes!

How Far Did My $20 Go: Not too far, 5 beers and a tip. You’re better off ordering two pitchers for $14 and still walking out with some change in your pocket. I have to deduct a point or so for this fact.

Final Impressions: I really liked this place. Here’s my final thought on the prices too; a long time ago my Dad took over managing a bar and the first thing he did was raise the price of beer. I asked him why in the world he would do that and his response was that “rising the prices will drive out the trouble makers (and bad tippers) and leave only the people who liked his place and wanted to have a good time.” Made sense then and still does today. And my guess is Jack’s Place is doing the same thing. By keeping prices just higher than people can find at other bars in the area, they are making sure this is a fun environment for people to stop by and enjoy a night out. HIT THIS DIVE!



Jack's Place on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Rusty Nail Inn, Omaha -- REVIEW

The Rusty Nail Inn
14210 Pierce Plaza
Omaha, NE 68144-1037
(402) 333-7370

The back story on why I picked this place goes like this, when I moved to Omaha six years ago I would drive past this the Rusty Nail all the time. It looked like a cool little dive, so I declared to my real estate guy (who was showing me houses), that I was going to make the Rusty Nail Inn my regular hangout! Flash forward until August, 2010 and I have still never set foot in the place. That was until yesterday. Safe to say it will be another six years before I would ever consider setting foot in there again.

First Impressions: For being in a setting connected to other buildings (including a barber shop) it has a nice dive feel on the outside. Walking through the front door you walk into the smell of something being deep fried…never a bad thing. It’s a bit dark and awfully quiet, even though there are a decent amount of people at the bar, and even more outside on the smoking veranda (you never get a chance to use that word enough).

The Bar: There are a lot of seats around the bar, but at least 5 of them are stuffed into corners and behind video poker-type games. There is a mix of cleaning supplies littering the area behind the bar (including a can of Febreze…flatulence problems perhaps?). The place does have a bit of a Western theme, which is what I had hoped, and seems to be cut in half by booths that separate the bar area from the Rusty Nail "inner sanctum" area (more on that in a bit).

The Crowd: A smorgasbord of boozy bar types. You name it, they had it. Half drunk 60 year old cougar? Got it. Middle aged bar flies? Got it. Tatted-up 30ish types smoking and dropping the F bomb? Of course! Not a bad crowd I suppose, but everyone sat fairly quietly (like the elementary school lunchroom) looking directly ahead and not doing much of anything. It suddenly occured to me…wonder how long I have to sit in a bar to give a proper review. It was then I came up with my new standard…minimum three drinks.

Service: Hello? Service?? Hey…look over here. I WANT A BEER. Please. Just one? It took nearly five minutes for the Baby Spice-looking bartender to be pulled away from doing absolutely nothing and take the required six steps to see if the person who walked into her bar a while ago just MAYBE wants something to drink. She took three more steps, poured me a draft beer, handed it to me and walked away. I gave her a hardy “Thank you!” Her response? “Yep.”

Price: Three bucks for a pint of domestic beer. Ummmm..OK. Any specials? No. Happy hour prices are a dollar off everything. That seems, well, adequate enough. No need to hurt yourself attracting new business I suppose? A couple next to me ordered a pitcher for $7. The pitchers are cheaper than buying three beers and you get more than three beers? Thanks for the heads up bar lady!

Food: They have a full menu, and something did smell pretty good. Maybe their strong suit is food. It sure isn’t running a bar, but alas, I will never know because I’m not going back.

A/V: A couple of smallish TV’s, one dimly lit projection TV, and a lonely jukebox in the middle of no where that no one was interested in playing. There was music coming from overhead speakers, but it was on so softly it did nothing to make the mood in the place any better. They did have signs for a DJ on Thursday nights, not sure how that could do anything to make this place better, but who knows?

Restrooms: Easily the best part of my trip to the Rusty Nail Inn. They weren’t great, but they didn’t have too much competition from the rest of the place. They are a neon blue, pretty large, and contained my favorite graffiti prose, “Here I sit all broken hearted…”

Bartender Chat: Clearly this was going nowhere. But I figured, why not give it a shot! I inserted my rather large mouth into the middle of a conversation about the difference between draft and bottled beer. “I like both” I said loudly down the bar. Baby Spice said “I don’t.” When I pressed her on why, her retort was rather blunt, “I just don’t”. Oh screw it, this is going no where…better chug this last one and get out of here.

How Far Did My $20 Go: Had I known about the pitcher price, I could have had two pitchers for $14! Instead I had three pints for $9 and got the hell out of there. Just enough money left to go to the Kum & Go and encounter the drunkest man in America!

Side Note: Like I said there is a place behind the bar area that has pool tables, some other sports games, and a rockin’ game of Texas Hold ‘Em being playing by roughly 8 dudes at a poker table…something seemed shady so I was not in the mood to take a picture and then get the shit kicked out of me.

Final Impressions: Bad service, weird vibe and no drink specials to speak of…why in the world someone would come in here more than once is beyond me? I couldn’t even make a left out of the place to go West on Pacific (the way I wanted to go)…so that just added to the “I’m never coming back here again frustration”. Do not hit this dive! This place can easily be summed up by the writing on it’s own restroom wall “Here I sit all broken hearted…”


1 (A new low!)
 (I made a return trip here in April 2011...Rusty Nail Round Two).

Rusty Nail Inn on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Rusty Nail Inn, Omaha -- PREVIEW

Oh boy, this is going to be ugly.  A dive bar SO BAD that I had to hit the local convenience store on my way home to achieve a semblance of a buzz I assumed I would have leaving the place.  How bad was my, night?  Funny you should ask...

As I tried to buy a lukewarm "sixer", some hammered/illiterate/wino (not me by the way), with his shirt on inside out, was attempting to buy a bottle of vodka with a check.  This transaction took nearly 10 minutes for him just to get the date correct.  Even though he was prompted 20 times by the cashier (and the growing line of seven annoyed people who kept yelling "AUGUST 11th!!!!") he could just not get it right.

And that was the HIGH POINT of this trip!  Stay tuned for a full review tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jefferson Hotel, Pennsylvania -- REVIEW

The Jefferson Hotel
1423 Greene & Franklin
Jefferson, PA 15344


The second of my two stops in Jefferson, PA was at a place called the Jefferson Hotel (pronounced by the locals as the HOE-tel) a place that brings an immediate reaction when you mention that you’re considering going there for a drink…and it’s never usually a positive one. Comments range from “it’s not like it used to be”, “lots of drugs being sold there anymore” to “you know a guy was beat to death there two years ago. Right?” Keep in mind that I don’t know many people in town, so most of what I hear generally comes from my in-laws.

Unfortunately, when I hear comments like that I immediately think of Road House and the Double Deuce…so I’m going! Remembering the immortal words of Dalton, “Pain don’t hurt” I grabbed my twenty bucks, a cell phone pre-dialed to 911, and my wife who was a local (better safe than sorry).

First Impressions: Damn Pennsylvania smoking laws! I forgot just how smoky a bar can get on a Saturday night (note to self, leave these clothes outside tonight). This seems to be THE place to be on a Saturday night and generally seems safe enough at the moment. But, knowing the place’s reputation, you can sense just a hint of danger in the air. That is if you can handle the smoke long enough.

The Bar: It is a big, oddly shaped bar that looks like they added an addition onto it at some point since I was last in here nearly 10 years ago. Most of the seats were taken, but we were able to find two spots near the “To-Go” beer section. If you’re not from Pennsylvania, let’s just say it is HARD to buy beer in this state. You can only buy it from a beer distributor or from certain bars. Not in grocery stores or convenience stores (no wonder why I moved). But I digress…

The Crowd: A mix of regulars between the ages of 25-45 and is a combination of middle-aged beer-drinking good old boys sprinkled with the assorted bad-ass that I would not look at for more than a second (for fear of getting my ass kicked). There were a few more women in the place than I would have guessed…most of them “dressed to impress” as well. Huh? There quickly was (almost) a fight brewing  as some really drunk dude was hitting on the wife of THE bad ass in the place. Several people talked sense into said drunk dude, and he went over and hit on a few grandmotherly looking women. Wise move my friend.

Service: We got the expected “Who the hell are you two” look at first from the bartender. But she quickly took our drink orders and was great for the rest of the evening at “keeping them coming” the minute we got to the end of a drink…just as it should be.

Price: Kind of what I expected, two bucks a beer. That seemed to be the price pretty much for any and all domestic bottles (although I have a hunch they charge more for Yuengling) . I was a bit buzzed when I got there, so I didn’t dare order a shot...my guess is those were in the $3-4 range.

Food: I didn’t see any being served when we were there, but, there was a sign for “Friday night steak night,” which, sounded pretty good. Too bad it was Saturday.

A/V: This is a jukebox kind of place…and I love dives where, if you’re not feeding money into the thing, there is NO music. There are a few TVs, so I have to assume this is the best place in town to watch the Steelers or the Penguins during the season.

Restroom: Finally, a trough urinal! Part of me thinks, a place really isn’t a true dive without one. For women who have no idea what this is, it’s urinal that accommodates anywhere from 3-5 men (depending on how wide they are) to all take a whiz at the same time. Charming, I know. Thankfully, I had the thing all to myself during my one and only trip. Trough aside, the restroom was ok, nothing too horrible, but no where to spend any more time than you have to.

Bartender Chat: Our bartender quickly pointed out that the 12 ounce bottles were the same price as the 16 ounce aluminum bottles “Why not pay the same and get more?” she reasoned. Thanks for the tip! Now, four ounces may not seem like a big deal, but if you do the math that’s the same as getting a twelve-ounce beer for free every 3 drinks…score!

How Far Did My $20 Go: Well on this evening there were two of us drinking from the usual twenty bucks. Even so, that’s enough for five beers each (of course my wife is a bit of a lightweight) so that’s more like seven for me….but who’s counting?

Final Impressions: I liked it, but even as a regular I would always be a bit on edge at this place. The staff were all women, so I wondered what happens when a fight does break out at some point? Like I said, a man was fatally killed outside here not that long ago by a few of the customers, so a big burly bouncer dude may be a good person to have on-hand during the weekends. Other than that, my wife (not really the world’s foremost connoisseur of dive bars) said she had a great time can can’t wait to go back next time we’re in town. Hey, any dive that my wife wants to go back to is A-OKAY in my book. My one caveat, this is ONLY for experienced dive-goers, I am going to say HIT THIS DIVE but do so with caution.


(Degree of Difficulty HIGH…only for experienced dive-goers.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dive Bathroom Video Sent in from a Hit That Dive Fan!

Thanks to Jon Wadsworth, literally a "Johnny on the spot" (in the john I might add) for sending me video of one of the biggest dive restrooms ever caught on camera (OK that may be stretching it a bit).  In any case, behold this beach dive bar restroom in all its glory.

Keep those cameras and cell phones handy when you're out and about, if you come across a dive you think needs some recognition on this site, you can always e-mail it to me at hitthatdive@gmail.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Arena Sports Bar and Grill, Omaha -- REVIEW

Arena Sports Bar and Grill
3809 North 90th Street
Omaha, NE 68134-4130
(402) 571-2310

I had not even intended to write a review of this place, but I took so many damn notes all night I figured I should put them to good use. I would have never even gone to this place had I not won free tickets to see a Guns and Roses “tribute” act from Josefina Loza via Twitter. This is a rant for another time, but I do not understand the whole tribute band trend…and I have a brother who is in a Rod Stewart tribute act!

First Impressions: Am I at the right place? I double checked to make sure I wasn’t at Applebee’s. The large inflatable Miller Lite bottle was my indication that my GPS did not fail me and I was, indeed, at the right place. I walked in and was treated very nicely by whom I assume was the manager. My name was “on the list” so I didn’t have to pay the $8 cover. (People pay 8 bucks for a GNR cover…pardon…TRIBUTE band???)

The Bar: This is a BIG place with several areas including two pool tables, dart board area, tons of seating at the bar and at two different areas that have tables. Everything was on wheels, and much like the Wet Lounge review, all the furniture in the place looks straight out of 1982. The bar is on two different levels (like Applebee’s) so the part where I sat at was more like sitting at the kiddie table on Thanksgiving. They did have 10 good TVs for sports and seemingly every kind of beer you could want, including Omaha’s own Lucky Bucket, and enough vodka that the Jager bombs were sure to be flowing.

The Crowd: The place was dominated by aging former frat boys who looked to be caught somewhere between their days of roid rages to their now current Red Bull-induced adrenalin rushes. There was enough Axe body spray in the air to choke a horse (or at least me) along with plenty of ball caps on backwards and guys with their sunglasses on their heads…even though it was 10 PM! The women in the place, and there were plenty, were out on the prowl. So many drunk women in heels (most of which I assume can’t walk in them properly when sober) that I was convinced someone was going down that night (No pun intended!) That was a long way to go to say this is a meat market!

Service: Not awful. This must be where wannabe Hooters girls go if they don’t quite make the cut. Many lovely young women to bring you your drink…that is of course when they weren’t taking pictures of the tribute band. The one bartender seemed to know the word to every Nickleback song (great), the guy behind the bar looked like the former wrestler The Brooklyn Brawler, and there was a hippie-looking waitress (not sure if that’s her normal look or just for GNR tribute bands?)

Price: I only went with the advertised special of the night $3 Miller Lite bottles. If that was the GOOD price, I’m assuming beers are in the $4-7 range, and mixed drinks are a bit higher.

Food: They have a full bar menu, and although I didn’t order anything, the food that did go past me smelled deep fried and yummy.

A/V: Like I said 10 TVs and I have no doubt this is a good place to watch a game. The sound for the band was quite good as well. Not too loud, and very well-mixed. This is an odd venue for a “concert” but they pulled it off fairly well.

Restrooms: Packed, but nice. They are a long walk from the bar, but nothing to really complain about. A little too much urinal chatter for my taste, but other than that, clean and useable.

Bartender Chat: Hard to chat with a band playing, but I did overhear one of the bar staff (who reminded me Boo Radley) that he was “up early and PSYCHED for this show!” In his defense, the band “Guns 4 Roses” was actually pretty darn good. I was quite shocked at how much they sounded (and sort of) looked like the real GNR in its heyday.

How Far Did My $20 Go: If you stick to the advertised special, like I did, that gets you 5 beers and a tip. Below average considering you paid 8 bucks to walk though the front door.

Final Impressions: This is not my kind of place. In fact, these are the places I avoid at all costs and seek out a dive at any and all times. Keep in mind, if a sports bar/meat market/concert venue filled with 30 year old lunkheads is your thing (and I know people who love places like that) you will love it here. I will say this, it is run efficiently and it’s a fine enough looking place. I cannot endorse it on Hit That Dive, but if somebody wants to write Hit That Meat Market, make this one of your first stops.



Arena Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Musette Bar, Omaha (Benson) -- REVIEW

Musette Bar
6020 Maple Street
Omaha, NE 68104-4104
(402) 554-5830

Thanks to a great suggestion from Josefina Loza, the Omaha World Herald’s reporter on all things fun (and generally legal), I made my way to Benson (a funky area of Omaha) to a place called Musette Bar. I have never heard of this place, so I decided to not read up on it all and just walk in the door to see what happens. Generally I try to read something about the place before I get there just to be prepared, but this time I thought it would be fun to do a totally blind review.

First Impressions: I parked across the street to size the place up, it didn’t look like much of anything, but it did have a nice older dive look to it. The outside was painted old swimming pool blue with red awnings and what looked to be a hand painted sign stated that I was in the right place. Had I done some reading about the place before I got there I would not have been as shocked to discover when I walked in the door that the place is basically a pool hall! I didn’t see that one coming from the outside.

The Bar: The place is A LOT larger on the inside than you would guess from the outside. There are 7 pool tables with the right amount of room around each one so you’re not getting in the way of a game being shot next to you. Toward the back are three of the longest shuffleboard tables I have ever seen…each one looks like an airport runway. The physical bar has three sides and also is pretty big, but not what I would call a comfortable place to sit for a long time. This place reminds me of something…but what is it? Oh I know! The scene from the Beat It video shot in a pool hall!

Eight beers on tap, including the prerequisite PBR and a pretty well-stocked cooler. Looking for a shot and a beer joint? You’re in the right place.

The Crowd: It was pool league night, so there were a decent amount of people either shooting pool, or getting ready to shoot pool. I’m guessing nearly 90% of the crowd were male and most either had at least one if not all of the following: a wife beater, denim shorts, multiple tats and/or a mustache. Everyone seemed nice enough, but this clearly is a place where the regulars know each other very well.

Service: The bartender (and league pool player) was a cross between Francis “Psycho” Sawyer from the movie Stripes and the old Adam Sandler character “Stickpin Quinn”. When I first sat down he didn’t really seem to notice (or care) so I figured I would just wait to see how long it took him to take my order. He eventually asked “do you want something?” I gave him $20 bill and he returned with my beer and threw my change back at me…literally. In fairness, for all he knew I was with the state looking to bust the place, so I would have been leery of me too. As the night went on, he never missed a beat asking if I needed another beer, while shooting pool. Good multitasking in my book.

Price: I paid $3 a bottle for beer and I did not see any signs for specials, nor was I going to ask at this place. I thought it was a bit pricey for the what the place is, but, no one else seemed to care so neither did I.

Food: Chips, pretzels and I did see a sign that said a large “bag of nuts” was $1. The small bag was .60 cents. That’s it.

A/V: Two TVs in the place. One was on (playing Dog the Bounty Hunter) and the other was in the back of the place. Not a bar to watch sports. But, like any good dive they do have the circa 1986 arcade game Rampage (I don’t even remember how to play that one any more) What was good though was the audio in the jukebox. It is one of those Internet jukeboxes so it can play just about anything…I was happy that the regulars were paying their hard-earned money for Stevie Ray Vaughn and many similar songs. It was when SRV came blasting out of the speakers that I saw how you could hang out here with a group of friends and get shitfaced.

Restrooms: Labeled “His” and “Hers” they were surprisingly nice. Big and roomy, not too smelly and much cleaner than I could have anticipated.

Bartender Chat: Not a lot to chat about with a bartender who also is shooting in a pool league. But at one point one the few women that were in there asked if the kitchen was open. He responded by telling her “It would be, if we had one” then looked at me and rolled his eyes. That did make me laugh and I thought of letting her know that a large bag of nuts was only a dollar, but figured I should keep my yap shut.

How Far Did My $20 Go: Not too far. Depending on how big of a tip you’re going to leave, 20 bucks gets you 5-6 bottled beers. Not outrageous, but not what I would call cheap by dive prices.

Final Impressions: This is the kind of place you come to with a group of people to hang out with for an evening... it has everything you need to feel right at home if you like to shoot pool in a dive atmosphere. I may need to come back to Musette with a group of people to see if I change my final impression of the place(which I though would be higher becasue I love to shoot pool). If nothing else it is a good place, worthy of checking out if you’re in the mood for some pool…and large bags of nuts for a buck.  (Come on, tell me SOMEONE knows the beer nuts and deer nuts joke??????)



Musette Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Lighthouse Bar & Grille Omaha -- REVIEW

The Lighthouse Bar and Grille
15676 W Maple Road
Omaha, NE 68116
(402) 498-3824

West Omaha’s Lighthouse Bar and Grille claims to be “Omaha’s only five star dive bar!”, with a statement that bold, how could I not give it a try? Somehow the idea of dive bar and a five star rating is kind of confusing, but I think I knew what they were trying to imply. Rather than sit at home and contemplate a questionable marketing phrase, I hopped in the car and headed their way.

My trip to the Lighthouse was twofold; part business meeting and part bar review. I met old friend Nate from Vossome who will be coming up with the Hit That Dive logo and other various things needed to look more professional. But we figured if we are meeting to talk about dive bars, we should actually meet IN a dive bar!

First Impressions: Another Omaha strip mall dive? Great. How do I get to the place? It is easy to see from Maple Street heading east, but how do you turn into the parking lot? After a series of left turns (that did not seem like the right way to go) I snaked my way to the back corner of the strip mall. The place was much larger than I anticipated and was pretty much dead for happy hour.

The Bar: A big bar area. Lots of tables and chairs around the place and a sort of sports bar feel, but not quite a “sports bar.” My guess is when this place opened, they were going for some kind of sports theme and got tired of hanging things on the wall and then just declared “a sports bar is too much work, let’s go for a college dive look”, and they called it a day. That is just mere speculation on my part of course. In any case, the place looks fine, just in need of a little work here and there.

The Crowd: In my two hours there, I’m guessing there were a total of 10 people that walked in and out. A few regular-looking schmoes were sprinkled throughout the bar, a younger (21ish) couple walked in at some point and there was even a guy in a suit for a bit. Clearly, this is a come as you are “dive”.

Service: Great! There was only one bartender on duty, but she zipped around the entire place (tables included) making sure everyone was happy. She was pleasant and friendly, but clearly all business.

Price: This is the main reason to come to the Lighthouse during happy hour, 35 ounce drafts for $3! Yep…three bucks! Not only that, but there is a sign for $3 Long Island Iced Tea all day every day. And if that’s not good enough for you, happy hour wings are 10 for $5. They also have $2 domestic pints, bottles and well drinks.

Food: With $5 wings, how could I say no? They took forever to come out from the kitchen, but I wasn’t in a big hurry so I didn’t care all that much. The wings were good and nice and crispy (as they should be). The sauce was a bit odd. I ordered them with the “hot” sauce which seemed to me to be regular buffalo wing sauce with a whole bunch of black pepper added to make them hot. Not horrible, but not as good as they could have been either. In any case, a good deal for what I paid for them...so I'll stop bitching.

A/V: Great place to watch a game. There are 8 TVs throughout the place and set at good viewing angles. There was only baseball being shown when I was there, but I will keep this place in mind to watch a football game or two this fall (as long as they have happy hour on the weekends too)

Restrooms: What a pleasant surprise! The mens room was large and clean. It was kind of hard to find because the mens and ladies rooms are not next to each other. Not a huge deal mind you, and for restrooms this clean, I can live with having to take a few extra steps to find it.

Bartender Chat: Nothing more than very minor small talk. But again, let me just say this, all bartenders should be this efficient and attentive when it comes to doing their job. I could not have been happier.

How Far Did My $20 Go: For LESS than $20, Nate and I consumed more than 150 ounces of beer (my last one was a bit on the warm side) and I ate 10 wings…all for $19.57! That is going to be a hard price to beat anywhere!!

Final Impressions: Is the Lighthouse Bar and Grille a five star dive? No (of course I still don’t know what that means?) You can’t just open a bar in a strip mall and declare it a “dive”…it doesn’t work that way. But, is it a good bar, with a great staff, and ridiculously cheap prices? Oh yes it is. And for those reasons alone, I would recommend stopping by here for a happy hour if you’re out and about in West Omaha. I know I’ll be back.



Lighthouse Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon