Monday, January 31, 2011

E'Z Place (Steelers Bar), Omaha -- REVIEW

E'Z Place. Hard to find.
15761 W Dodge Rd
Omaha, NE 68118
402-334-4477


Being from Pittsburgh, I am always on the lookout for new places to watch the Steelers play on Sunday. Other than the fantastic Doghouse Saloon in Waterloo, Nebraska, I have not found any place that I would consider an authentic "Black and Gold" bar. If you look at the Post-Gazette.com, they list a place in Omaha called E'Z Place as one of the few Steelers bars in the entire state of Nebraska. Even though the football season is all but done, except the Super Bowl of course, I figured that I should do a little "recon" for the 2011 season.

First Impressions: It's a bit of a strip mall maze to find this place. Best way to find it is to go to where the Taco John's used to be off of Dodge and keep your eyes open from there. I opened the front door and was amazed that in exactly one step, you are standing IN the bar. Good for the lazy drunks in the group. It was pretty empty, but not bad looking, and low and behold…there is a framed Rocky Bleier jersey(he yelled at me once, but that's a story for another time) hanging on the wall…this IS a Steelers bar!

Tidy little place
The Bar: It's a nice, clean-looking place. Almost too nice…it looks more like the bar in a Hilton airport hotel then it does a place to watch the Steelers play. They have four run-of-the-mill beers on tap and at my count, roughly 20 different types of bottled beer as well. The tidy bar seats about 12 people and there are 15 table in a restaurant area to the right side of the bar. And, true to their word, there is a good amount of Steelers things on the wall, including the mandatory "You're in Steelers Country" banner behind the jukebox. Nice!

The Crowd: It was 5:00ish on a Saturday, and there were no real sporting events on TV, so the crowd was pretty thin. There were three 20-something dudes at the bar, hat on backwards types, that sat fairly quietly and just basically "chilled". I was slightly buzzed from my trip to the Poop Deck earlier in the day so I just tried to emulate the others in the bar, so I too just basically sat there and checked out the Steelers stuff on the walls. I'm usually more lively than that, I swear.

Steelers stuff!
Service: One cute bartender on duty. Hard to tell how efficiently she can work because the very un-animated dudes seated at the bar were drinking slowly from a pitcher, and I was really the only person who seemed to throw a few beers down quickly. It was great for me because I basically had a 1:1 bartender to customer ratio going on. Hard to bitch about that.

Prices: I was only drinking domestic draft beer, and each pint set me back back $3. This is just me being cheap as usual, but $2.50 would be a much better price for the place and MAY get a few more people in here on non-Steelers days. But what do I know, I've never been here before. I did see a few signs for $6 Bud Light pitchers on certain nights, so maybe that's the way to go when you're here. IF you like Bud Light that is.

Food: I didn't eat, but I have to say, the onion rings looked and smelled fantastic! I did give the menu a look, and they seem to have a great selection of bar food including pizza, pasta, wings and burgers. I can only vouch for the onion rings that I saw, but take my word, if you order them you won't be disappointed.

Talk about "nursing"one.
Entertainment: There are TVs on pretty much every wall, so this does strike me as a great place to watch a game. They have a dartboard in the back of the restaurant area, a Golden Tee game tucked in a corner, and a jukebox on the wall directly behind the bar. I think I saw a sign for a Karaoke night at some point during the week, but I hate Karaoke, so I didn't read the rest of the sign.

Restrooms: The men's room was big and clean. There were two urinals and two stalls, but hopefully (if you really have an emergency) you get the one stall that has a door. The other one did not include any privacy, just like the doorless stalls in my high school. Maybe people sneak in here to smoke too with all the smoking laws these days?

Bartender Chat: I learned several things during my brief chat; the owner is a HUGE Steelers (and Iowa) fan and can usually be found in his bar on game days, they don't have a children's menu, and on Sundays the place is PACKED with Steelers fans. That either is a very good thing, or very bad thing depending on who you are. And, don't come here looking for other games if Pittsburgh is playing, even though they have 15 or so TV's all but one will be showing the Steelers.

No door??
How Far Did My $20 Go: Twenty bucks will buy you six pints of domestic beer. Eh…that's OK I guess. Well, that is actually a fine price by me during a game if that means I can watch the Steelers, and do not have to pay an outrageous sum to DirecTV for the NFL Sunday Ticket. But, during the week, I had hoped that the prices were just slightly better. Bitch, bitch, bitch…all I do is bitch.

Final Impressions: I have to go back during a football game to figure out what this place is really like. It's nice enough, I would go back for a pizza and beer, but I don't think I saw E'Z Place at it's finest…by no fault of their own. More like bad timing on my part. Make no mistake, this is a good little place that should be added to your list of places to check out. Here's my deal, I will be at E'Z Place for a game next year and do a new review. As it is, don't hesitate to stop by here if you're in the area.

DIVE-O-METER
6 (subject to change next NFL season)

Even West Omaha is Steelers Country.

Ez Place on Urbanspoon

E Z Place, Omaha (Steelers Bar!) -- PREVIEW

Those of us from Pittsburgh, that no longer live there, look long and hard to find a real Steelers bar where we can watch the Black and Gold with other people just as obnoxious as us.  After six years of searching, I finally found one in Omaha.  Review later today.  Here we go Steelers...here we go!



Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Poop Deck, Omaha -- REVIEW



Omaha's Poop Deck
6006 Grover Street
Omaha, NE 68106
(402) 553-3193

When I found out that there is a bar called the Poop Deck smack dab in the middle of Omaha, I got in my car and drove there as quickly as possible. From what I could tell from a few boring reviews on Yelp, this place doesn’t have any sort of nautical or pirate theme. Even better! Poop Deck…here I come.

First Impressions: It sure is an easy place to get to. It’s right off of Interstate 80, so if the place pans out, I’ll have to make sure to add this to my list of places to stop at for “one last beer”. It’s kind of a rundown-looking place on the outside, but even for a Saturday afternoon, the parking lot had quite a few cars in it. The inside looked to be a bit nicer than the outside…and there are no empty seats at the bar. Bummer.

Small bar, good service
The Bar: There are enough seats at the bar for about 10 people, give or take. It’s not the most orderly looking bar area but they did seem to have just about anything you would want to drink including four beers on tap (they are almost hidden below the bar so you have to look very closely). The beer cooler behind the bar has at least 20 or so ice cold beers ready to go as well. There are eight comfortable-looking tables scattered throughout, but much like someone’s cluttered basement, there seems to be just a lot of “stuff” all over the place.

The Crowd: The people at the bar clearly were regulars, but what a great group of people. It was a bit of an older crowd, with a few young couples there as well, but within a few minutes of sitting I realized that I didn’t feel out of place at all. This is the kind of crowd that when someone walks in, everyone says “hey” and gives you a wave. Out of nowhere a bell rang. Why? Some dude just bought THE BAR a round. For good measure, he later got everyone a shot too! This is a bar crowd the way it should be!

A bit cluttered.  Who cares?
Service: A younger former football-looking type bartender. He immediately gave me shit about wearing a Steelers shirt before I even ordered my first drink…in a funny way of course. How long did I have to wait for my next beer, usually on the average of 5-10 seconds. So far for those keeping score at home, we have a great crowd and great service…I am digging the Poop Deck more and more (editors note…I never get the chance to write the word POOP nearly enough in my usual reviews.)

Prices: A bottle of domestic beer will set you back $2.75...seems to be the standard-issue price these days. There was a sign for $1.25 can of Old Milwaukee and they do an occasional $6 pitcher special as well. Mixed drinks were in the $4-5 range, but they looked good and strong. For those early morning boozers reading this, the Poop Deck has an early morning happy hour that goes from 6-10 AM! On Thursdays, at those early morning hours, you get $2 well drinks…good luck with that!

Food: The usual bar snacks such as Slim Jims and chips. But, unlike many other places, they will fire you up a frozen pizza for five bucks. According to someone on our Facebook page, they will even make you a pizza in the early morning during happy hour.

Game of pool anyone.
Entertainment: There are 12 TVs all around the bar, and they even carry the NFL Sunday Ticket…I’ll keep that in mind for next football season. Plenty of things to keep you busy if you don’t feel like sitting in your chair while you’re there including a pool table, dart board and a shuffle board table ($1 for 15 minutes). The now seemingly standard issue Internet jukebox hangs on a wall next to the restrooms, and for the smokers in the bunch, they have a covered smoking area so you don’t have to freeze your ass off to get your smoke on.

Restrooms: The door to the men’s room is always in the open position. Make sure to zip up before you start walking out the door, or someone will get a show. It wasn't the worst ever, but not sure that the Poop Deck is a place you want to take a….oh never mind…no need to go for a cheap laugh on this one.

Bartender Chat: I bought a round for the guy (and his date) that were buying drinks for everyone, so as the dude behind the bar was making a Jack and Coke, gin and tonic and cracking a beer…he went out of his way to point out which one was which…just to bust my balls. Always bonus points for a bartender that knows how to joke around with customers, even the new guy.

I've seen worse
How Far Did my $20 Go: Good question? Standard pricing will buy you seven domestic beers, but my twenty buck didn’t need to go that far because of the great couple that kept buying EVERYONE free drinks. Play your cards right here, and your $20 can take you a lot further than just the listed prices.

Final Impressions: This place is why I love dive bars. Sitting at a table with some new bar friends as I can hear the crack of pool balls just barely louder than Kid Rock on the jukebox…I could sit here all day (and night). The Poop Deck is a very friendly place where I never felt out of place and I will definitely stop by again. A few more listed specials may make it a bit better, but it's still a great place.  Hit This Dive!

Dive-O-Meter
8.5




Hit This Dive!

Poop Deck Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Poop Deck, Omaha -- PREVIEW

Really?  There's a place called The Poop Deck and it doesn't have a nautical theme?  Stop the car, open the wallet, I cannot pass this up.  I'll let you know how everything worked out in the morning. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

National Airport (DCA) Sam Adams Bar, Arlington, Virginia -- REVIEW

Sadly I am a "regular" here
National Airport
Thomas Ave & Abingdon
Arlington, VA 22202
Frequent Flyer Edition

Dive bar in an airport…I'm sure most of you didn't ever think such a thing could exist. But, for those of us that are forced to travel to Washington DC on occasion...and that have the pleasure of being booked on one of the cut-rate airlines in the country...(thus forcing us to use the crappy old terminal at DCA) you know that the entire terminal is a dive. So, by definition, the one and only bar behind security falls into dive bar status.

First Impressions: It looks like a lunch counter in an old-time G.C. Murphy's. Nothing really to note. It's impossible to miss, because you have to walk past it to get to the handful of gates in Terminal A, and it's directly across from the only shoe shine stand in the terminal. If you still can't find it…it's the only thing on your left as you walk through security. However, if you still can't find the place, you must already be too hammered to fly and should consider hitting the coffee place you passed just before security.

Not the most options ever...oh well.
The Bar: It seats about 11 people, keep in mind that 10 would be the better number of stools, but they always seem to have an extra one crammed in there making everyone at the bar uncomfortable...especially when it's packed. There are a few tables to the left of the bar to take a seat if you want, but I would highly encourage that you jockey for a seat at the bar…there's never lack of conversation there. There are about five beers on tap, including mostly Sam Adams products and Miller Lite that costs a bit less than the "Sam" beers. As for as booze behind the bar, the standard issue of overpriced vodka, bourbon, and whiskey.

The Crowd: This can vary wildly…it is an airport after all. But I have to say, after spending many hours at the joint over the years, I have always found this to be the most friendly group of tipsy travelers anywhere in the country. Maybe because we all know we're  in the crappy DCA terminal and we're getting ready to board some of the worst discount airlines that the country has to offer in terms of in-flight amenities. On many occasions I have had someone buy me a drink, and I (of course), always return the favor.

Don't sit at the bar and drink Coke!
Service: Being a frequent traveler has a few perks; I always get on the plane first, I can request a non-bedbug room at "select" hotels, and bartenders at airport bars across the land know my drink order. But, in no airport bar do I ever get service like I do in DCA from the always smiling Napoleon. The dude speaks several languages and always remembers the last time I took a seat at his bar. More than a bartender, Napoleon is like catching it up with an old friend when you take a seat at his place. This may be an airport, but this guy treats regulars like you would expect to be treated at your local watering hole. Have a drink at this bar for the service alone, it's not like you have any other options behind security anyway.

Prices: Despite the great service, this is still an airport bar and you will get dinged the airport price for anything…with no happy hour prices...ever. Here's a tip I learned from another airport bartender, ALWAYS say yes if they ask if you want an extra shot for a dollar or two. Why? According to my source, it's the only bargain you get in an airport bar. Example, you're already paying $7 for a Bloody Mary with one shot, why not DOUBLE the amount of alcohol in your drink for only another buck or two. You already paid the premium on the first shot, the second one is the only bargain you will ever get at an airport bar.

Olives in a Bloody Mary?  No Thanks.
Food: There is some kind of nondescript deli on the opposite side of the hallway from where you're sitting. I've never ordered food from there, but thanks to some deal between the bar and the deli, you can order your food directly from Napoleon he will place your order than walk over and pick it up for you. Service, baby!

Entertainment: Not really the strong suit of this particular establishment. There is one TV that is on old school "rabbit ears" and only seems to be able to pick up the local NBC affiliate. Actually, I take that back...from your bar stool you have the perfect vantage point to people watch for hours. What better place to witness some of the best freaks the country has to offer than in an airport at the Nation's Capital.

Restrooms: No airport bar has their own restrooms, but luckily, the only restrooms behind security are directly next to the bar. They upgraded them (somewhat) a year or two ago. But they still are fairly dirty-looking and never smell pleasant, at all. Let Napoleon know where you're off to and he will place a cocktail napkin over your drink so no one messes with it, or more importantly, so people know that your seat is still being occupied.

Bartender Chat: You name it, Napoleon knows it. Politics, the weather, local sports, airport gossip, flight delays…pick a topic…he can talk about it. In several different languages I might add.

How Far Did My $20 Go:  Not far, but I don't expect it to go too far here.  For a tad bit more than $20, you can get a Bloody Mary and two beers.  Stick with just beer, and you can have a grand total of three. 

Final Impressions: I decided to review this place for one reason, and one reason only…Napoleon. He could go out of his way to give you the worst service ever…and you would still order a drink from this place because you have no other choices. But the dude goes out of his way to treat everybody in a friendly and polite manner…and always with a smile on his face. This bar is run like a neighborhood dive, even if it's in crappy Terminal A at National Airport...and that is not easy to do.

Dive-O-Meter
3 for the bar. 9 for the service.
Grand Total
6
The always fantastic Napoleon

Friday, January 21, 2011

DCA (Old Terminal) Sam Adams Bar -- PREVIEW

Is this actually a dive bar? No.  But, it is the only crappy place to get a drink in the OLD Terminal at Washington DC's National Airport.  Why is this place noteworthy? That's simple, one of my top three favorite bartenders ever...Napoleon.  And yes, he IS dynamite!  Review tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Recessions Lounge, Washington DC -- REVIEW

1823 L St NW # 1
Washington D.C., DC 20036
(202) 296-6686
Metro: Farragut West Station


I was determined to find cheap beer in the Downtown DC-area, and after doing an “extensive” search, I stumbled across the website for a place called Recessions Lounge. According to the owners of the place, “you get TOO much for your money at Recessions!” Is that so…well then…that almost sounds like a challenge to me. If nothing else, their website references the 28 ounce “King Kong” draft beer for $4 at happy hour, that sounds almost too good to be true. I’m off!


First Impressions: For those that know DC, it’s located one block off of “K” Street and just a few blocks from DuPont Circle. For those that don’t know DC, you’re more likely to find nerds in bow ties in this part of town then you are to find a dive bar. I walked in the front door and was immediately carded by one of the most intimidating doormen, ever. Is this dude a vampire?? Once in the door you have to go down a flight of stairs that lead you to a long hallway with what appears to be offices for a travel agency. So far this is NOT what I expected.

The Bar: Wow…that’s a bad smell. Think of a beer-soaked rug the Sunday after a Friday night “kegger” in college. It’s kind of like that. The bar itself can easily seat 30-40 people and there are tables all around (some with while linen tablecloths) that can seat another 70 give or take. From the looks of the ceiling, it appears like this place was once some kind of Moroccan-style restaurant. Odd. They have eight decent beers on tap, and a well-stocked bar. I can’t get past the fact that something just seems a bit shady in here…

The Crowd: Actual real, everyday people and not your typical DC douche bag crowd. The place was really hoppin’ for a Thursday night with everything from guys shooting pool drinking beer to a guy drinking brandy from a snifter (is that a word) while shooting pool. The night I was there the women clearly outnumbered the men in the joint, and get this, most of them were not bad looking. **Single horny dudes add this place to your list of where to strike out next.**

Service: Quick. I was in my seat for less than 30 seconds and I had a “King Kong” beer coming my way. And, for the entire time I was there, as fast as I could pound my over-sized drink, the people behind the bar had another one on the way. That is when they weren’t changing kegs because this place seems to blow through a ton of them on a nightly basis…they swapped out at least four in the time I was there. For the wine drinkers in the group, be warned, they will fill your glass all the way to the top. I guess that’s a warning of the good variety, right?

Price: Now we’re talking! Happy hour goes from 5-8 Monday through Friday and has $2 Miller Light bottles, $3 Rail Drinks, and the aforementioned $4 "King Kong" 28oz drafts. There are not many places in this part of town that could touch these prices.

Food: They had a limited menu but decent food. And, at happy hour, they offer $4 appetizers that include Onion Rings, Mini Crab Cakes, French Fries, Stuffed Potato Skins, Chicken Tenders, Mozzarella Sticks, Buffalo Wings, Fried Calamari, Nacho Platter, Chicken Quesadilla. I had the wings (as usual) and thought they weren’t half bad…especially for the price.

Entertainment: There are two pool tables that were busy all night. A HUGE Buck Hunter game stashed in a corner and some great music blasting out from some pretty big speakers. They have Karaoke every Friday Night from 9pm until 12 midnight (ugh) and enough TVs that you can come here and watch a game or two.

Restrooms: Those King Kong beers must have smacked me pretty hard, because for only the second time, I failed to get a picture of restrooms. And actually, I don’t really remember much about them other than I was in them once or twice. I don’t recall finding them disgusting, but I that’s about all I can say.

Bartender Chat: These are not the “chatty” bartender types, which is fine by me because I ended up sitting next to comedian Al Gussom (aka The Hossman) and laughing my ass off all night. At one point, The Hossman and I were trying to instruct some guys in their early 20’s on how to meet a few of the women at the bar. Our expert advise fell on deaf ears which made Al state that “we couldn’t even teach those dudes how to dodge tumbleweds”.

How Far Did My $20 Go: For a mere twenty bucks (in Downtown DC no less) you can get yourself 112 ounces of beer (seven pints) and an order of wings. I defy any bar in DC to beat those prices.

Final Impressions: Apparently you get used to the smell…because I ended up really liking this place. Of course the CHEAP happy hour prices helped, but this place draws in a good mix of people, is run by people who know what their customers want, and is located in a very convenient part of the city. Did I get “TOO much” for my money? In this part of the world, I would almost say that I did. Way to go Recessions Lounge! HIT THIS DIVE!

Dive-O-Meter
7.5

 
 
 
 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recessions Washington, DC -- PREVIEW

The good. I may have found some of the cheapest happy hour beer and food in Washington, DC.  The bad (as you will see from the picture below) you have to get past a 6' 8" bouncer who is a cross between one of the Lost Boys and a member of Fishbone to get in.  Was drinking cheap beer worth having to deal with what I assume the "Boogey Man" looks  like?  Check back tomorrow.