Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sly Mongoose, Lahaina, Hawaii (Maui) -- REVIEW

Hard to find. But worth it.
1036 Limahana Pl
Lahaina, HI 96761
(808) 661-8097

Just because you’re in a island paradise, does not mean you can’t find a dive bar while you’re at it too. Right? Well that was my thinking anyway. In my mind it would be some cool-looking rundown beach shack right on the water with surfers and Don Ho music playing all day long. A quick stroll through the touristy area of Lahaina quickly revealed that a place like that was not to be found. Damn. OK, time for “Plan B”. I quizzed a local from the snorkel shop and he told me about the Sly Mongoose. He said he didn’t think it was my kind of place, but, clearly he had no idea who he was talking to!

First Impressions: My GPS led me to a very industrial area complete with car repair shops, plumbers and long-term storage areas…this can’t be right. I drove around for a bit and could not find anything that looked like a bar. Then I looked up a bit of a side street and saw that only thing that looked like it wasn‘t a place to have something repaired. Two things jumped out at me immediately, the bar was packed and even in the middle of the day, the inside was dark. So far, so good.

Regulars playing cards.
The Bar: It’s a small little place but pretty much looks like you would expect a dive bar to look like whether you’re in Ohio or Hawaii. The bar has room for 11 stools and there are two tables and a handful of chairs. I did notice a sign that it’s the only bar in Lahaina that has air conditioning…not sure why that matters…but apparently it does. Like I said, this is a dark place but it is not as intimidating inside as it might appear from the outside. From my seat at a table in the back, I had a hard time not noticing how much the room smelled like a urinal puck.

They love the jukebox here.
The Crowd: A mix of locals and apparently a few people who bit on the “hard sale” for a timeshare and have nothing better to do during the day. I clearly was the only non-regular sitting there but that didn’t seem to bother anyone. Most people were over the age of 45 and some were well into their 70s. A group of people sat at the corner of the bar and played cards while everyone else seemed to be catching up with how everyone’s day was going. A quick look up and down the bar will tell you this is a mixed drink and shots kind of place and you’ll also get a very strong sense of “Ohana” that the regulars have for one another (I learned that word from Lilo and Stitch). A handful of bikers showed up right at 4:00, which ironically is when happy hour begins. Coincidence? I think not.

Service: I walked up to get a drink and quickly realized that there was no one behind the bar. Do I serve myself and risk one of the regulars yelling at me? Screw it, I’ll wait. A minute or so later a crusty (but great) female bartender walked in from hauling about 50 pounds of ice in from somewhere outside and immediately apologized for making me wait. She was not Hawaiian but did seem to be the bar owner and was quick as a cat with the refills. She was what I assume “Brandy” looked like in the Looking Glass song by the same name back in the 70’s. So I have to assume she’s heard the line “My love, my life and my lady is the sea” more than a few times in her day.

They save seats in this place.
Prices: Keep in mind that this is Maui and the price of just about everything sucks. The non happy hour price for a 12 ounce beer is $3.25, hell that’s still cheaper than kid-sized Pepsi at the hotel. Happy hour goes from 4-7 everyday and that will get you $2.50 beers, $2 shots of schnapps or a Starbucks Mind Eraser for $3.50. There are a few other specials listed on a board behind the bar, but I guarantee you that these are the best prices for at least a 20 mile radius of this part of Maui. Other than going to the ABC store and buying your own liquor, this is about as cheap as you will find while you’re here.

Food: All I saw were bags of chips behind the bar and two crock pots sitting out on a table. Make a run to Subway or Taco Bell before you get here, they’re in the same general area. Also, that will save you from paying the astronomical prices at a lot of the local restaurants and resorts.

Entertainment: There’s a jukebox and three TVs. But don’t come here to watch sports anyway, come here to be part of a group of people that have said F*** it to living on the mainland and packed up and moved to live in the tropics. I’m sure every person in the bar (except for the two native Hawaiians) had quite a story to tell about how they got to Maui and why they’re a regular at the Sly Mongoose. Had my stay in Hawaii been longer, I would have loved to find out why the one burly plumber I talked to moved from Texas to snake toilets in Maui? Actually, dumb question on my part…it’s Hawaii…that’s why!

Fine enough looking restroom
Restrooms: Small with framed pictures of cars everywhere. The men’s room was clean and more well-lit than the rest of the Sly Mongoose. Oddly, it smelled less like a urinal puck then my seat in the bar did…just sayin’.

Bartender Chat: Not much, she was one hard working woman and between chatting with her regulars and running the entire place, didn’t have much to say. For the smokers in the group, she did tell me that those electronic cigarettes really work as she was puffing on one that was still plugged into the wall. On a another bar chat note…I, was proudly wearing my HitThatDive t-shirt and for at least the third time that day, someone read the back of the shirt and laughed. Why does the shirt only get a reaction from people in Maui I wonder?

How Far Did My $20 Go: At happy hour, and 20 bucks will buy you eight beers…and let me tell you…that is an amazing price for the area. Keep in mind that my first day there I ordered two beers from the hotel bar and paid more than $15...before tip! The Sly Mongoose is one of the few bargains for your drinking dollar in Maui.
Ohana

Final Impressions: If you’re like me and get claustrophobic in a “resort” and hate paying a fortune for everything, make it a point to stop here. My one note of caution, if you’re a first timer like me, don’t sit at the bar if there are tables open. More than most places I’ve been to, there seems to be a certain amount of seniority needed to sit with the regulars. Again, the people here were very friendly, but they all seemed to have one thing in common that no tourist has…and that is they moved to Hawaii to get a new perspective on life. And, that sense of Ohana seems to be why I felt a bit like I was eavesdropping (ever so slightly) on a family reunion. In any case, after you’re done going diving in Maui…make it a point to HIT THIS DIVE to celebrate the fact you’re in Hawaii. Mahalo.

DIVE-O-METER
7

The guy sitting at the corner had a major spill seconds later.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sly Mongoose --Lahaina, Hawaii (Maui) -- PREVIEW

Aloha!  I can only be held hostage in a "resort" for so long until I start to feel claustrophobic.  Thankfully, Trevor at the local snorkel shop gave me a tip on an out-of-the way dive on Maui.  Thanks dude...you helped HitThatDive, hit that dive, in more ways than one.  Details in a day or so, I'm a bit lazy this week.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Old Mill Lounge, Omaha -- REVIEW

A bunker or a level of Angry Birds?
10944 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE

(402) 493-1456 ‎

Because of a crazy travel schedule, I realized I hadn’t been in a bar in Omaha for a while. Fear not, I’ve been in plenty of other drinking establishments, just none in the state in which I pay my taxes. It was Valentine’s night and I needed an excuse to get out of the house and avoid cuddling while watching “Notting Hill” and eating Bon Bons. Quick, I need a bar to review…any bar! A 5.2 second Google search led me to a place called Old Mill Lounge. Never heard of it…what the hell…it beats a Hugh Grant movie even if it means I’m not getting “lucky” on Valentine’s Day.

First Impressions: The outside of the building is a cross between a World War II bunker and a level of Angry Birds that I have yet to beat on my iPad. There were exactly two cars parked in front and no windows. Nothing could have adequately warned me about what the place looked like on the inside. How do I put it? Ever wonder what a bar would look like if you took a 70s lounge and melded it with the Pirates of the Caribbean? Yeah…it’s kind of like that.

It sure SMELLS like a bar
The Bar: Average loungy looking place to fire back a drink or two. It smells EXACTLY like a bar my Dad managed when I was a kid (wonder if they sell that smell in a can?). If you could put that smell in a can, and sell it, the name would have to be called “Smoke and Sorrow”. There are four beers on tap, a Jager machine, and your usual bar fare…except Wild Turkey…they were out. The rest of the place has tons of tables and chairs, several high-top tables and two leather couches (unclear on why they are needed). But the thing you will notice most is that there are just things placed all over the ceiling and in odd little alcoves around the building. Most of the d├ęcor looks like it came from the same ACME company that Wyle E. Coyote would buy things from. Words can’t do it justice.

The Crowd: Two dudes when I got there. For all I know they were skipping out on their old ladies too. But something tells me it’s been a long while between Valentine’s dates for this crowd. As it turns out, they were nice enough people and even a few more showed up. All dudes, all over 50, and the word “valentine” never entered the conversation. Fine by me.

Almost looks like a ski lodge in this pic
Service: I’m amazed actually, between talking on her cell phone non-stop…and ducking out for a smoke every few minutes…my bartender of the evening was always “Jane” on-the-spot when my glass was almost empty. I will say on a negative note, as I was going to pay for my second round, the lady behind the bar ripped my "fiver" out of my hand faster than a Hobo grabbing for a ham sandwich and then plopped down my drink and did not respond to my rather meek “thank you”. Oh well…must have been time for another smoke.

Prices: I can’t be of much help on this one. Order a domestic draft and that will set you back $2.85. There were no signs for specials and, try as I might, I could not see how much the other drinkers were paying for their Jack and Cokes. They may have a happy hour (they may not) but one thing is sure if they do have one….they sure don’t advertise it.

Food: It does have bit of a pirate look to the place so the only food I saw were a few limes behind the bar that I assume were there to ward off scurvy. Other than that…do not plan on a eating here. Would you really want to anyway?

What the hell are these for?
Entertainment: Two 20 year old TVs. One is an old, old school rear projection 4:3 aspect ratio “big” screen that I’m sure weighs more than a Fiat. The other was a TV I last saw in a college freshman’s dorm room. Not a place to watch a game. They do have a pool table (with no working light over it), a dart board and an Internet jukebox that no one was using. The biggest attraction at this place seemed to be the 40 year old cigarette machine. Or, maybe it was “How I Met Your Mother” that we all watched on the crappy rear projection. Let’s call it a tie between the two.

Rest Rooms: Dingy, orange and a tad bit moldy. In fairness, they smelled better than the bar after one of the four dudes sitting there ripped a major fart and never owned up to it.

Bartender Chat: Between smoking, talking on the phone and ripping money out of my hand…there wasn’t much to say. On the other hand, the dudes at the bar were happy to talk about everything from the TV show “Soap” to doing impressions of the late Sam Kinnison. One guy in his 60’s showed up for less than 10 minutes, sucked down two drinks and left. As he left as quickly as he entered he said “that’s why I’m still married. Fair enough my good man, if only the bartender had something that amusing to say.

Bring Purell!
How Far DId My $20 Go:  Sticking with the price of domestic beer, that's the only thing I know the price of at this joint, you can have seven domestic pints.  That's not awful I suppose.

Final Impressions: Have I said anything nice about this place yet? I don’t think that I have, and yet somehow, the Old Mill Lounge is a place you need to come to if you like a hard-to-describe dive bar. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? Not so much. Let me just say this, you can do way worse than this place and where else can you  have a drink or two a bar where Captain Jack Sparrow and Larry from Three’s Company would hang out…you have to come here at least once in a while.

DIVE-O-METER
5

 
 


Happy Valentine's Day dude
Old Mill Lounge on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 14, 2011

Old Mill Lounge, Omaha -- PREVIEW

Ever wonder what a bar would look like if you cross a 1970s lounge with the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World?  Yeah, me either.  But I'll be damned if that's not exactly what this place looked like.  The only real question of the night...who farted!  Details tomorrow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grab a Brew...Don't Cost Nothin'

I think I can trace my love of drinking from "fish bowls" to this scene from Animal House.



Looking to drink from a fish bowl in Omaha...head on down to Addy's.  Grab a brew...only costs $2.50 at happy hour.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Addy's Sports Bar, Omaha -- REVIEW

Home of great wings in Omaha
13806 P St
Omaha, NE 68137
(402) 991-2663
 
There are several things I can never seem to say no to…cheap beer, great wings and Pittsburgh Steelers football. OK, maybe the list is a bit longer than that, but those three things are all in my top five. So, imagine my surprise when I learned I could get all of those things under one roof at a bar called Addy's in Millard. After being cooped up at home for a few days because of the winter storm du jour, I took my first opportunity to check the place out.


First Impressions: Now THIS is a sports bar. When did sports bars go from cool hangouts to gigantic bars with VIP sections and douche bags drinking white wine while checking their portfolio on their iPhone? It even reminded me of bars my parents would take me to in Pittsburgh when I was a kid. Yes. My parents took me to bars…long story.

No frills. Great bar.
The Bar: A rectangle-type bar where the boozers can sit on three of four sides. It seats about 20 people, but because of its shape, you can have a conversation with just about anyone sitting there. There are a decent amount of tables all around the room, which makes it look like a good place to eat OR watch the Steelers (and/or the Huskers...this is Nebraska after all). Behind the bar there are six beers on tap of the usual fare and a fully stocked bar…not like that should be a surprise to anyone. I would call this bar almost intimate… and I’m not sure I ever used that word before.

The Crowd: It was a COOOLD Wednesday night, but even with less than great weather, there were a mixture of old drinkers and younger dudes that one day aspire to be older drinkers. Know your facts if you want to talk sports with the regulars here. Even though I’m not a regular, those that are made me feel right at home as soon as I sat down. This is a mixed drink kind of crowd who are not afraid to bust the chops of the wait staff. Which seems to be fine with the wait staff, because they were eager to bust someone’s balls right back…in a good-natured way of course.

Reading the sports page no doubt
Service: I must have been there at the shift change, because I had two different people that waited on me from behind the bar. But, no matter who was working, the service was great. Quick with the refills and even checked to make sure the wings were good…more on those in a bit.

Prices: I was there during happy hour, and I have to say, I was digging the prices. A “fish bowl” of domestic beer was $2.50. A pint was only $2 and a pitcher was $6...a pitcher for six bucks…I’ve paid more than that for one beer in an “upscale” sports bar before. I never did catch how much the mixed drinks were, but I can only assume they are as reasonably priced as the beer was. Even if they’re not, order a $2.50 fish bowl for crying out loud!

Food: They have a full menu, but I never looked at it. I was there for one thing only, the promise of great wings. Addys did not disappoint. It starts with how they make them…one batch at a time. They take longer to make that way, but who cares? Kick back with another drink and talk sports…they are worth the wait. The wings are tossed in an authentic buffalo sauce and are WAY better than what you get at BW3. Are they the best wings in Omaha? You could easily make that argument.

Cheap happy hour beer
Entertainment: Standard pool table, Golden Tee Live, jukebox…it is a sports bar after all. I lost count, but there are at least 10 TVs around the place. Should you come here to watch sports? I sure would.

Restrooms: Clean. Small . Useable. Be warned, they are not where you would think, they are near one of the two doors into the bar, and not by the middle of the bar as I assume they would be. Just FYI…

Bartender Chat: Nothing out of the ordinary here, the bar staff seems happy to run a great bar and let the regulars take care of the bar babble. What topics did we cover at the bar? Pete Rose, the Husker recruiting class, Bo Jackson, Darin Erstad, baseball from the 1970’s and football from this season to name just a few.

Small but useable
How Far Did My $20 Go: For a grand total of $15.12, I had three fish bowls and an order of killer wings. I left a decent tip and still came in right at my twenty dollar budget…nice prices Addy's!

Final Impressions: Much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, this is a old school, throwback kind of sports bar. Addy's seems to attract an out-going blue collar crowd who are there to talk sports, have a few drinks and enjoy the fact that they’re in a bar with other people that have the same interests… that’s what sports bars were at one point in time. Throw in great wings and cheap happy hour prices and you can not go wrong here. I know I will be back soon, I’m already in the mood for some wings! HIT THIS DIVE!

DIVE-O-METER
8.5
 

Great regulars at Addy's

Addy's Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Addy's Sports Bar, Omaha -- PREVIEW

Thanks to a tip from Omaha bar connoisseur Dan Huse, I made a trip to Addy's today to 1) try the wings as Dan suggested and 2) well...drink a few beers I guess (that one is kind of a given however).  How was it?  Good question...full review in the AM.  And did I mention they have "fish bowls" for $2.50 at happy hour!