Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rusty Nail Inn/Pub -- It Wasn't My Fault!

I know, I know...I promised an update of the Rusty Nail Inn/Pub by now...but I just spent the last few days in Arkansas (in a dry county) so it wasn't my fault that it's not up by now!  Tomorrow.  SWEAR TO GOD!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rusty Nail Inn/Pub -- I Ran Out of Time Today

Thanks to those that have asked about my "revisit" to the Rusty Nail.  I have received several notes that read kind of like this clip from Caddy Shack.  Fear not, I will definitely post it tomorrow...if I don't get super busy/lazy again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rusty Nail Inn/Pub (Round 2), Omaha -- Preview

The Rusty Nail Inn (now Pub) now has a sign that boasts  "New owner, cleaner, brighter, more friendly!" Of course, I only saw this sign hanging over the uirnal...but...does the "New and improved" Rusty Nail live up to its own claims?  Details on Monday...


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rusty Nail Inn, Omaha -- NOT Closed


A return trips awaits this weekend.
As it turns out the Urbanspoon.com page, the disconnected phone number and the locked doors are no indication that the Rusty Nail is closed...a drive-by at 6:00 pm tonight shows that it IS indeed still open. That settles it...a return to the Rusty Nail Inn will happen this weekend.  Stay tuned!

I got word that the Rusty Nail Inn, the worst-reviewed bar in the history of HitThatDive, recently had closed.  That bit of information seemed to be confirmed by UrbanSpoon.com and also by the fact the the phone number I have listed for them has been disconnected. 

Not wanting to pass along rumors, I hopped into my car and took a drive out to 144th and Pacific to verify (in person) that the bar where I once found it almost impossible to order a drink, did indeed meet its demise.  Now, there was no sign on the locked door, but the always present neon "Open" sign was not on and there was not a car to be found.  Let's assume that they are out of business. 

For those that don't remember this review, I once said the crowd in this dive was "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!"

In fairness, the new owner was trying to turn the joint around and even posted this message on the HitThatDive comments section just a few weeks ago:


This is the new owner, Bob C. The "baby spice" bartender's name is Tiffany, and she has worked her ass off to follow my new policies and procedures. The 30yr old strung out half tatted doucher's name is Ryan and he is one of the best bartenders in Omaha. These two bartenders needed some guiding and support from a owner, which they now have.I am very proud of the changes they have made and the bar reflects it. I (sic)challange anyone to come in to the New Rusty Nail Pub and see the improvements and not notice the difference. Business has picked up wonderfully and it is all because the old and new staff are working hard to give the best service in town and keep the bar clean. PS we closed the bar for 15 days for a top to bottom cleaning. New bathrooms too.
I had planned to go back, but an always crazy travel schedule (and the start of the NHL playoffs) has really put a damper on my drinking agenda the last two weeks.  In any case, bid adieu to the Rusty Nail Inn, I now need to find a new worst-bar in Omaha.  Any suggestions??


Rusty Nail Inn in happier times


Friday, April 15, 2011

Croatian Cultural Society, Bellevue, NE -- FISH FRY

Must be the right door
8711 South 36th Street
Bellevue, NE 68147-2222
(402) 733-1018


Yeah, I know, this technically isn't a "dive bar". But, they do have fried food (on Friday during lent) and cheap drinks. And, where else can you go (within my price range) and get to use the words “cultural” (or “society” for that matter?)? Since this isn’t a bar, I can’t really give it a DIVE-O-METER number…but this is a great place to come for a good old “hunky” good time.

First Impressions: The “Society” is as non-decrepit as you can get. It's an old building with the sign that says "Entrance" above one of the doors. I’m pretty sure there are no windows anywhere, but open the door at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon during Lent, and the smell of fried fish will let you know you are indeed in the right place.

Ready to bust your chops
The Bar: Well, the area where you can buy your drinks is at the back of the room. It is a bar, (I guess) but there are no stools to grab a seat…no big deal. The room is set up like one big indoor picnic, so just grab a seat anywhere. Looking for a beer? Boxed wine? Mixed drink perhaps…any (or all) of those will set you back $2. Bring your cash, and be ready to have the old guys behind the bar tease you about something.  Just for the record…all bartenders in their 70’s should be required to bust your balls at least once per drink order. And, these guys all meet their quota for that criteria.

The Crowd: Everything from young families with babies, to old (as we would say in Pittsburgh) “Studdabubbas” who will knock your ass over if you dare get in their way as they go to fill their try up with fish and macaroni and cheese. Nice people, friendly people, but make no doubt; they are here to eat some fried fish, so keep the small-talk to a minimum.

Do not get in their way
Service: Grab a try (after you buy your tickets from the front door) and let them sling your dinner right onto your plastic plate. As you move down the line you are asked several questions 1.) Baked or fried fish? Or both? 2.) What kind of potatoes do you want? (there are three types to choose from). 3). Do you want macaroni and cheese? Once you’re done eating, someone even comes by and takes your plate for you…no tip needed either!

Prices: Like I said earlier, all drinks are $2…works for me. Dinner will set you back $7 (I think) and other than that, the only thing you really need to spend money on are strip tickets (aka “pickles”) and the always great “Meat Wheel”…more on that in a bit.

Food: As close to homemade as you can get. It’s fried fish, either you like a good fish fry (in that case this place is for you)….or you don’t.

The Meat Wheel!
Entertainment: Around 5:00 pm they start walking around selling four chances on the Meat Wheel for a dollar. In the front of the room is a red wheel, no it’s not made of meat. Every five minutes or so they spin the wheel, if your number is the winner, you just won yourself five pounds of meat! There are easily 15 or so spins of the meat wheel, so there are plenty of chances to win. Just for the record, my six year old won TWICE when we were there. So, that was five pounds of pork loin, and five pounds of Polish sausage. That of course, is in addition to the five pounds of salami he won there two years ago. I’ll say this much about the Meat Wheel, if you think yelling “Bingo!” is fun, wait to you hit on the Meat Wheel and get to yell “Salami!!” in a crowded room.

Restrooms: Fine enough. What you would expect from a building with no windows that has a fish fry. More or less like the restroom you would find in an elementary school that was build in 1953.

Looks fine to me
Bartender Chat: Nothing out of the ordinary. These are just a bunch of cool old guys who volunteer their time to crack open some drinks. Like I said, be prepared, someone behind the bar will have an old guy wisecrack for you. No need to be offended, old guys behind bars like this have been busting balls for decades.

How Far Did My $20 Go: For less that twenty bucks, you can buy yourself a huge dinner (complete with dessert) and six beers...with a dollar left over for four chances on the meat wheel, that’s what I call a great deal.

Final Impressions: A Friday fish fry seems to be a dying art these days…especially in a cool old setting like this. Even if you’re not a huge fan of fish, why not give it a try? What’s the worst that can happen, you have a few cheap drinks and you walk out with 10 pounds of meat from the Meat Wheel. And ladies I ask you, where else you can go to have a drink or two and meet a guy who literally is walking around with a five pound salami?

HIT THIS FRY!


Friday night fish fry!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Croatian Cultural Society, Omaha -- PREVIEW

Nothing better than cheap beer, fried food, and my kid winning 10 pounds of meat on the vaunted "Meat Wheel".  Looking for a great fish fry next Friday?  Details tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

National Beer Day -- CHEERS!


What is "National Beer Day"?  Some of us consider EVERY day beer day, but, April 7th has historical significance to those of us that have been know to throw a few back on occasion. 

"You might remember the snail's pace at which time passed when you waited for your 21st birthday, but can you imagine being an adult and waiting more than a decade to buy beer legally? Enacted on Jan 17, 1920, the 18th Amendment "outlawed 'intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,' but made no reference to alcohol content," according to the Alcohol Policy Information System. It was the Volstead Act, which "set the legal alcohol limit at one-half of 1 percent."

On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the "resumption of the manufacture and sale of 3.2 percent beer and light wines in the states that had already repealed their dry laws." The act went into effect on April 7, 1933.

Similar to New Year's Eve or the night before Thanksgiving, happy hour celebrating National Beer Days starts on April 6, with New Beer's Eve. Consider it a mini reenactment of the crowd of thirsty people who lined the streets on the April 6, 1933, outside of Milwaukee breweries waiting to buy their legal beer. Frost those mugs at home or designate a diver and hit the town. Remember to toast FDR."
http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/14067/pam_gaulin.html

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Old Settler's, Omaha -- REVIEW

Looks like a dive
5250 South 21st Street
Omaha NE 68107-2839
(402) 733-1466

I had to meet up with a friend of mine to discuss something (can’t remember what it was) so he suggested that we meet at Old Settler’s Saloon. Or is it Old Settler’s Headquarters Bar like the sign says? Or is it the NEW Old Settler’s Bar like their drink special advertisement says? Anyway, let’s just call it Old Settler’s and be done with it.

First Impressions: This is the type of bar that gives me just a twinge of anxiety to walk into alone for the first time because it’s nearly impossible to see inside from the street. Making it through the front door unharmed, I was amazed that it wasn’t as bad on the inside as I had imagined...and then I quickly notice a very cool hand-carved wooden bar area. Could be much worse so far I guess.

Cool woodwork
The Bar: A decent-sized bar area with plenty of places to grab a seat. Again, the first thing you will notice is the cool hand-carved area behind the bar, but other than that, it’s just a bar as you would imagine. The other thing that stood out to me was that it seemed to have one of the smallest selections of liquor I’ve seen in a while. Also, it’s kind of cluttered around the walls with an assortment of random stuff and boxes. I’m not the neatest person in the world, so that didn’t really bother me one way or the other.

The Crowd: A mix of tough guys and older dive-type all day drinkers. Not that I would ever have a need, but I’m sure someone in here knows someone that can help you with a dirty deed (done dirt cheap) if you’re really in a pinch. Everyone seemed relaxed enough as they were sipping on their drinks, but I would always suggest being on your best behavior in you’re here, unless of course you want to get your ass kicked, in that case, just look at someone at the bar the wrong way.

All day (and night) drinkers
Service: They have bartenders, they circle around to eventually bring you a beer once in a while…and then they just stop waiting on you. Well, that was my experience anyway. It wasn’t all that busy, maybe 10 people or so, and it became impossible to flag someone down for another round. For the first time in a long time, I just got up and left (long before I was ready to leave) and went to a different bar.

Prices: Happy hours are from 10am-12pm and then from 3pm-6pm…but I was never sure what the discount was. I was paying around $2.75 for a domestic bottle which seemed OK to me. They do have daily specials that usually seem to be $3 for drinks or shots with SoCo, Jack, Jim, and or Captain Morgan depending on the day...with some $6 pitchers thrown in for good measure.  As always, ask you bartender what the specials are that day…that is if she will wait on you first.

Food: All I could really see were M&M’s, bags of peanuts and a microwave. I guess if you’re hungry you can always bring a Hot Pocket and have them heat it up for you…but then again…that may take a while.

Don't trip over a box
Entertainment: For a bar this size, they have a good number of electronic dart boards (6 at my count), a pool table, and in a bit of a twist NO Golden Tee Live. They do, however, have boxing machine…this is more of MMA crowd than it is PGA crowd after all. The only sound in the bar was coming from an episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter. There are a lot of TV’s around the place, some that looked quite new, and others that look liked they have been in use for a few decades.

Restrooms: Wow…just awful…literally falling apart…all with thin walls. How thin are the walls?  So thin that one classy dame walked out of the women’s room to tell a dude walking out of the men’s room “You sounded like a donkey pissing. I could hear you while I was in the ladies can!”

Bartender Chat: Who guessed that there wasn’t any yet? The staff wasn’t overtly rude; they just seemed indifferent to most of the customers. Now I know, I’m not a regular, so I don’t expect to be shooting the shit the entire time I’m there. But, I was also a new customer, and just an ounce of service could have made me a REPEAT customer. Oh well…

Worst so far
How Far Did My $20 Go: Twenty bucks can get you a good buzz if you time it right. Better yet, if you’re lucky, you may there for S.O.P Pitcher night which buys you a huge ass pitcher of Bacardi, Smirnoff, and peach schnapps with a bunch of straws in it for $9 each. Two of those should get you good and hammered.

Final Impressions: Have to call it like I see it, the service was bad. Like, walk out the door bad…yet I’m not completely down on this place. Check out their Facebook page and you will see that they are really working hard to build up a following by having tons of drink specials and even giving away $50 bar tabs on occasion. Old Settler’s has all the making of a good dive, but it’s not quite there yet. I’m willing to give it another try to see if they become any better at wating on new customers.

DIVE-O-METER
4.5

Old Settler's has potential

Monday, April 4, 2011

Double Down Saloon, Las Vegas -- REVIEW

Actually this is the backdoor
4640 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89169
(702) 791-5775

A few years ago, I was bemoaning the fact that there are no great bars in Las Vegas. Oh sure, there are a ton of high-end clubs where you can buy a $300 bottle of PatrĂ³n just to impress everyone on the other side of the velvet rope you just walked past. But I wanted an actual BAR, that wasn’t too far from where I staying on the Strip. It was then that a co-worker said the Double Down Saloon was just what I was looking for…and let’s just say how right she was!

First Impressions: The Double Down is not too far from the Hard Rock Hotel, but it seems like you’re in a completely different city. It’s tucked away in a dingy little strip mall and a bit hard to find at first. But, right as you walk though the front door, one thing becomes very clear…the “Saloon” is actually a killer in-your-face punk club. It is truly the “Anti” Vegas place to be.

The whole place looks like this
The Bar: The Double Down is just a decent-sized room with a stage in one corner and a bar just as you walk in on your right. A sign overhead as you walk in let’s you know that you’re in the “Happiest place on Earth”. You will quickly notice a few other signs…one is for their signature shot called “Ass Juice”, another sign let’s you know if you puke…YOU clean it up. And another sign let’s you know that if you think you’re going to vomit, you can buy “puke insurance” for $20 and they will clean it up for you. A quote from the Double Down, “Vivid chaotic and psychedelic murals covering every inch of walls and ceiling provide the backdrop, while disturbing videos come at you from all directions.” I could not have said it better.

The Crowd: As they will tell you at the Double Down, always expect the unexpected…punks, women, crusty old war veterans, bums and everyday people trying to get away from the touristy places in Vegas. Hell, I’ve walked in here before and witnessed pint-sized porn stars spanking each other. Chances are you will never quite fit in to this crowd; on the other hand, you will never stand out either. Unless you’re 7’6” in a pink gorilla costume, there is always someone at the bar that is far more of a character than you are. My point, never worry about looking out-of-place here…everyone in the Double Down looks out of place…so one really ever stands out.

Too dark to get great pics
Service: Show up ready to drink, or the bartender will shame you into it anyway. Drinking too slowly? He’ll let you know. Refuse to drink a shot that’s placed in front of you…be prepared to have your manhood questioned (ladies that goes for you too). Let’s just say if CBS was casting for a modern-day punk version of Archie Bunker…I think I found the perfect candidate. If you hadn’t guessed yet, you’re glass is NEVER empty!

Prices: Considering that this is Las Vegas, drinks are reasonable enough. Expect to pay $3-3.50 for a beer and $5-6 for a shot. To put the prices here into perspective, take a quick walk to the Hard Rock Hotel, and you will easily pay at least twice as much for everything…if not more.

Food: Only thing I saw was a sign for Ass Juice with a Twinkie for $6. Needless to say I passed.

Ass Juice
Entertainment: When there’s not a band (keep in mind live music is always free) they have one of the greatest punk jukeboxes ever. You name it they have it, Ramones, Stooges, Dead Kennedys, NOFX, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, and even Louis Prima…plus a ton more. Thankfully it’s not an Internet jukebox, so there is never anything other than the CDs the bar decides to put in the jukebox. There are a few TV’s but view with caution…they show footage of everything from the Ramones to Asian fetish footage…and that’s the tame stuff. At some point I looked away as there was a clip of someone having their skull drilled with (you guessed it) a drill. The Double Down sums it up like this, “Videos so insane they once made Timothy Leary turn blue (shortly before he actually turned blue).”

Restrooms: You have to see them to believe them. Graffiti art everywhere, including the urinal. If there are cooler-looking restrooms anywhere in the country, I would love to see them.

Wow
Bartender Chat: When he wasn’t encouraging everyone to drink more, he was throwing out jokes faster than I could laugh. Just a sample of one of the jokes I can remember (they were coming that fast) “Q: How much cocaine does it take to kill Charlie Sheen? A: Two and a half men’s worth.

How Far Did My $20 Go: This might be one of the few bars near the Strip in Vegas where twenty bucks can buy you more than two drinks. Depending on what you want to drink, you can have nearly six beers or a few shots of Ass Juice. And there’s never a cover charge.

Final Thoughts: This bar never closes and lives by the motto “Shut up and Drink”. At any given point the Double Down can be filled with touring bands and Hollywood types kicking back away from the tourists. Is this a bar for everyone? I would doubt that, but if you’re like me and get bored with the same ‘ole/same ‘ole…you owe yourself a trip to the Double Down next time you’re in Vegas. You’ll either thank me profusely or never take my advice again. Just remember…always expect the unexpected.

DIVE-O-METER
9

None needed on this night

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Leavenworth Street "Spring Stumble" -- TODAY

If you're in the area today (Omaha that is) feel free to join a group of dive bar goers as we stumble into some of the best, (or is it worst?) bars that Midtown Omaha has to offer.  The fun begins at Bud Olson's Bar, 3207 Leavenworth Street, at 1:00.