Jukebox Skipping

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Library Pub, Omaha -- REVIEW


Divey looking
5142 North 90th Street
Omaha, NE 68134
(402) 571-6262


Facebook fans of HitThatDive voted two weeks ago for a place in town that had to have the word “pub” in the name of the bar for the next review.  The votes were tallied and the clear-cut winner was the Library Pub.  In briefly looking at their website, the Pub describes itself as “the cozy neighborhood bar with Northwest Omaha's best selection of craft and imported beer as well as fine Scotch, Bourbon and other whiskies.”  I immediately thought, this will easily go one of two ways…it’s either going to be an Omaha hidden gem…OR…a bar inhabited with nothing but a bunch of snooty little fucks.  Both will make for a great review…so either way I win!

PROS:  The best stocked bar in Omaha.  Knowledgeable owner. Relaxed atmosphere
CONS: Bring more than your normal amount of drinking money. 

Look at all the booze
First Impressions:  For a place that boasts the best selection of scotch and bourbon it sure does have a good old dive look from the outside. And, living up its name of “Library” at first glance it does remind me of a dive bar version of what I assumed “The Study” to look like in the game of Clue.  I never even made it to an open bar stool before I was WARMLY welcomed by bartender Mark (who also turned out to be owner and resident liquor professor) .  More on him in a bit…there a section specifically for that you know.  

The Bar:  Nothing particularly overwhelming at first glance, a long bar with 15 or so seats, booths on the back wall, and tables with comfortable-looking desk chairs.  And yes, there is even a wall with plenty of books on it.  Now, take a look behind the bar and you will be amazed at just how many various bottles of scotch and whiskey they have in stock.  There are more than 150 different types of beer (32 of which are on tap), more than 150 really high-end spirits, 10 of the top 50 single malt scotches in the World…and…Bud Light.  Of note, there was a creepy doll hanging from the ceiling behind the bar. 
Not uppity

The Crowd:  For the most part the people here were late 20’s-early 30’s, ranged from single dudes drinking craft beer to a table of scotch sales people drinking really expensive booze, and a female regular drinking Busch Light from a bottle…and yet…I wasn’t picking up any sort of pretensions vibe from this group.   A place where cheap beer drinkers and single malt scotch drinkers can coexist?  I can live with that.  

Service:  Owner/bartender Mark may not be for everyone, and he seems perfectly fine with that.  He is clearly the king of his castle and seems to be genuinely interested in educating anyone at his bar about the various types of whiskey and scotch they might like…even if you’re never had either of them before in your life.  My recommendation: if you stop by here is to bring a pen and paper to write down all the facts about high-end liquor that Mark can throw at you over the course of a few hours.   A former attorney, Mark is the perfect example of the phrase “Find something that you love to do, and you will never work a day in your life”.  His enthusiasm for his bar and educating his customers is very apparent, and to me, very entertaining too. 
Not my speed

Prices:  These can vary WILDLY depending on what you order.  Prices go anywhere from $1.50 Bud Lights all day on Monday to scotch from a bottle that costs $480 at retail which will set you back nearly $50 for a two ounce pour.  Tuesdays are “Good Beer” day which gets you a $1 off all craft and import beer after 7:00 PM and Wednesdays is “Fine Spirit” day which gets you $1 off open to close.   Bring more than your usual amount of drinking money when you’re here, or just stick to Bud Light…which almost seems like a crime in this bar. 

Food:  Some of the best damn popcorn I have had in a while.  Currently, the Library Pub doesn’t have a kitchen but it sounds like they are in the process of expanding the room and I thought I overheard Mark say that the expansion will also include a kitchen.  Stay tuned for that.

Entertainment:  Mark keeps the vibes in his bar under control by smartly having his own Pandora station playing though the sound system in his place.  There also are 4 TVs, a dartboard and the usual golf game that no one is playing.  When asked why he doesn’t have a pool table, Mark quickly shot back that he is not about to arm his customers with weapons.  Good point!
What you see is what you get

Bartender Chat:  When asked what kind of scotch I like, I quickly replied that it’s not my thing.  Mark’s response is that everyone likes scotch…they just haven’t found the right one yet.  His enthusiasm for his bar, and his extensive knowledge of his inventory (more than $60,000 worth) is the best way to sum up my conversations with him 

Restrooms:  Not horrible.  Nothing to write home about either.  I suggest if you plan on doing some reading at the Library Pub to do so in their comfortable chairs and make your stop to their restrooms brief and to the point. 

How Far Did My $20 Go:  I was drinking Ska Brewing’s Euphoria Pale Ale (6.1% ABR) which was setting me back $4 a pop on Good Beer Tuesday.  Five of those for $20 and few samples of whiskey bought me a far better buzz than I would have anticipated before I sat down.

Final Impressions:  This is the graduate school of dive bars.  It’s low key with just the right amount of a dive feel and one of the more impressive collections of hooch anywhere in the area.  In one Yelp review, Mark was referred to as the “host” of the Library Pub…which is true.  But he’s also the professor, bartender, character and soul of the entire bar too.  If you like Mark’s approach to running a bar you will LOVE this place.  If you prefer to drink in a bit more solitude, buy a 40 and a paper bag…you will be much happier.  HIT THIS DIVE!

DIVE-O-METER
8

Creepy doll!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Isn't It Finally About Time for New Halloween Music?

ENOUGH of the Monster Mash.  This song should be included on every dive bar jukebox...well...in dives that still have real jukeboxes, and not those Internet-connected iPads that hang on the wall.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ponderosa Bar, Elk City -- REVIEW

Even the picture smells good
12203 North 225th Street  
Valley, NE 68064
(402) 779-3192

Thanks to a suggestion from HTD reader Michelle Miller, I found myself on the way to Elk City (even though their mailing address says Valley) for a few beers at Ponderosa Bar.  It's close to Omaha.  It's the middle of nowhere.  A text from part-time drinking buddy Speck said that Ponderosa Bar "...is as close to the middle of nowhere you can get in Omaha." Who needs a GPS when you can give directions to a bar just like this?  Take Dodge Street west then go north on 204th Street. Hang a left at the John Deere dealership and take the road until it ends. Make a right...Ponderosa Bar will be the ONLY bar on your right.  Please, somebody (anybody) use just those directions to see if you get there.  If you get lost, I owe you a beer...but you're also a bit dim because it really is just that easy to get here.

PROS:  Great bartender. Great regulars.  I was called "sweet thing" more than once.
CONS:  Price of non-happy hour beers.  Short guys will need a step-stool for the urinal.

Now that's a long bar
First Impressions:  My car is the only vehicle in the parking lot that isn't a heavy duty pickup or a Harley.  Gee, wonder just how much I'm going to stick out when I walk in? I didn't even get through the front door and something smelled amazing...kind of like really good fries at a bowling alley...but even better than that.  I, for once, didn't get the "who the hell are you" stares from the regulars and instead was greeted by the bartender who asked "What are you drinking honey?"  Why can't all female bartenders greet a new customer that way?  Sometimes I feel completely out-of-place when I first sit down at a new bar, but not here, it took exactly one minute to start talking sports with a few of regulars.

The Bar:  The "Pondo", at least that's what the regulars call it, is a pretty narrow building but it's nearly three times as long as it is wide.  The extra-long bar has enough room for 13 stools and there are tables and seating for easily another 50 (if not more) around the rest of the room.  Like Busch Light on tap?  Well then, you're shit out of luck if you don't, because that's the only draft beer they serve.  There were plenty of domestic bottles of beer in an ice tub behind the bar as well as your usual suspects of liquor for those so inclined.  There was a sign for a $3.50 Jim Beam special...so something tells me the Pondo has served-up it's fair share of shots and beers over the years.  I want to come back here when it's cold outside too because they have a wood-burning stove on one of the walls...and a huge pile of wood outside.  Can't be the smell of a wood burning stove!  Also of note, they are closed on Mondays.

Plenty of room for Taco Tuesday
The Crowd:  They have both kinds of regulars...bikers AND farmers.  This seems to be a place to stop at if you're out for a long ride on your Harley, or if you're looking to take a break from ranching (did I use that term correctly?).  People of all ages were coming and going as I sat there including a biker grandma (who was pushing 70) all decked out in her black leather riding gear.  Those not in Harley gear all appeared to be walking billboards for John Deere...but...everyone in the bar was just about as nice as they could be.  I love regulars that talk to you like they've known you forever, even though I didn't even know the "town" of Elk City existed until three days ago.

Service: Get out of the city, and the suburbs for that matter, every once in a while for service like you can only seem to get in an out-of-the-way bar like this one.  Bartender Rikki (not a dude) served up drinks, waited tables and even did the cooking without ever making anyone wait...for anything. Ever.  By contrast, I quit going to my local Starbucks because even with 7 people behind the counter, it takes 10 minutes for them to pour over-priced coffee into a cup and hand it to me.  Not only that, bartender Rikki was friendly, funny and even brought in some homemade soup for one of the regulars (ham and bean if you're curious).  I'm sure that if Andy Griffith went to a bar in Mayberry, his favorite bartender would be a carbon copy of her.

Prices:  This one took me off guard just a bit.  I was not in the mood for Busch Light, so I ordered a domestic bottle which Rikki said will be $3. Not outrageous, considering I was paying $7 for warm Bud Light at the CenturyLink Center later that evening, but I was thinking it would be closer to $2.  Once the Husker game started, happy hour prices kicked in and brought the cost of my beer to $2.25...that's more like it.  The Pondo has happy hour Tuesday-Sunday at 4-6, which seems to get you .75 cents off of beer and close to a dollar off of mixed drinks. Mixed drinks at happy hour will set you back somewhere in the $3.50 range.  Note to self...Captain and Coke next time I'm here will be a bigger bang for the buck.

Beers ready to go
Food:  Enough of me whining about the beer prices...the food smells AMAZING.  Like a fool, I ate at Jimmy Johns right before I came here so I wasn’t hungry...BUT...the burgers and fries (cooked right behind the bar) looked and smelled incredible.  Saturday night is always prime rib night, and more than a few HTD readers swear by the Taco Tuesday here as well. If you like honest-to-goodness home cooked bar food...this place should be on your "must stop" list...that is if you have a list by that name in the first place.  Oh...they also have "warm nut" Wednesday (insert giggle here) and pickled eggs in a jar.  Someday I am going to run for the Unicameral and pass a law that requires ALL bars to serve pickled eggs. Once that law is enacted, I will immediately resign my position. Vote HitThatDive...PICKLED EGGS FOR EVERYONE!

Entertainment:  Three TV's, two of which were on.  One was a projector on a screen and the bulb needs replacing according to the warning at the bottom of the screen (just passing along a courtesy to the owners) and of course they have the omnipresent Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter. There's also a pool table thrown in the mix as well. In a pleasant surprise they DON'T have an awful Internet jukebox and instead still have an older model that plays only the music the bar wants to hear...thank GOD!

Bring a step-stool
Bartender Chat:  I was too busy talking to the regulars and Rikki for that matter, to write down any real notes on this one.  Let's just say this, when you have a bartender who immediately refers to you as "sweet thing" you're going to talk about just about everything under the sun.

Restrooms:  Old, small and yet clean.  However, in an odd twist, the one and only urinal is only useful for men above the height of 5'7" OR a short man who is unusually well-endowed.  If you don't fit either of those categories, just use the regular old toilet on the other side of the partition.

How Far Did My $20 Go?:  Non-happy hour gets you an adequate six beers. Make it a point to be here between 4-6 and you can slam down nearly nine for the same price.

Final Impressions:  There's a sign behind the bar that read "Treat others as you would like to be treated" and that sums up the Pondo perfectly.  If you're looking to get out of town, without actually getting out of the area...this place makes a great destination.  Its rural setting is how I expected all of Nebraska to look when I came here for the first time eight years ago...which made me like this place even a little bit more than I had expected.  Hop on your Harley, jump in your truck...hell...throw the kids in the old minivan and take a drive in the country and bring them here...it's well worth the trip.

DIVE-O-METER
7.5

The ONLY bar in "town".

Ponderosa Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

T-Shirts -- LADIES FIRST

Who knew that people were looking for HitThatDive gear? Yeah...kind of shocked me too.  Well, now here's your chance to be the coolest-looking, over-served chick in every gin joint in town!  Ladies seem to be more picky than their drunken counterparts (Michelle Miller, I'm looking your way) SO...if you have a t-shirt size preference...speak up by Friday.  Or, get stuck with whatever the hell I end up ordering.

Price will be in the $17-20 range.  And guys, don't forget, HitThatDive ladies t-shirts make the perfect anniversary present if you haven't been all that thrilled with the old lady in the last few years in the first place!




Become Dive Bar "Certified"
I hope she indeed does have a head

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dave's Pub, Omaha -- REVIEW

Don't look for a sign, there isn't one.
8805 Maple Street  
Omaha, NE 68134
(402) 391-2589
  
There was a tie on this week’s Facebook poll about which Omaha “pub” I should check out for a review over the weekend.  So, I went with a write-in candidate nominated by Scott B. named "Dave’s Pud". Now, I don’t know about you, but where I grew up the words “pud” and “pub” were two very different things. Assuming that he did indeed mean PUB, I Googled Scott's’s nomination and immediately noticed they served “Big Ass Beers”. The term big ass beer made me think of two things…1) drinking on Beale Street in Memphis and 2) this scene from Tropic Thunder. OK Dave’s Pud…I mean PUB…let’s see what ya’ got.
 
PROS: Big ass beers. Friendly bartender.Comfortable like an old pair of jeans.
CONS: No sign on the outside. Really bad aim in the men’s room

Rustic mountain lodge?
First Impressions: I missed the only sign for Dave’s, which is on Maple, so I had to turn into the Sizzler parking lot. I’ll assume that the place at the end of shady strip mall is my destination and oh look…two good old boys are getting ready to fire-up a chain saw right in the front door. I walk past the dudes with the chain saw, check to ensure that I have all my limbs, and grab a seat at the rustic-looking (is that the right word?) bar. An odd start, but this is a straight-up dive. So far, so good.

The Bar: Want a Cosmo?  White wine perhaps? Then get the hell out, you’re in the wrong place. They do have 7 regular guy beers on tap, the usual suspects of bottled beer in a cooler and a sign that says they have Apple Pie and Blue Pixie Stick shots. Definitely not the biggest selection of liquor, but who cares, I’m here for a few big ass beers! The well-used looking bar has 15 seats and there’s an assortment of 12 or so tables scattered around the rest of the place. And even though I know I’m in Omaha, this bar reminds me of a dive I was at last year in the middle of nowhere Montana.  HA…so “rustic” WAS the right word!
Not the most choices ever.

The Crowd: This is a no frills blue-collar bar, so oddly enough, it was populated by a no frills blue-collar crowd. Mostly men, mostly older…except for the table of women that were polite enough to ask if they could interrupt the football game we were watching so they could play one song on the jukebox. The song was “Older Woman Know How to Please a Man”…hmmmm…seems a little early in the day for cougars on the prowl. Lots of talk about hunting, fishing, football and camping with the crowd here…which is fine…at least I’m well-versed in football. Of note, two pretty cute chicks walked in right as I was about to leave and started to drink Bud out of bottles. Does this happen oftenhere?  I can’t say. But it was worth making a note of nonetheless.

Service: Friendly, like really friendly. My bartender for the day was a tatted-up good old boy and even had a dip in as he efficiently worked the bar. How friendly was he?  After welcoming me and asking what I wanted to drink before I even sat down, he brought me my big ass beer and asked what football game I wanted to watch on the TV directly in front of me. I’ve been to my share of bars where I practically have to plead with them to put on certain games…hell…I even walked out of the Draft House last year trying to catch the first half of a Steelers game because they would not change the channel on one of their 20 TVs! 
Big ass beer!
Prices: A big ass 27-ounce beer is $4.00 a day…every day. The Apple Pie shots were $3.00 and there are assorted beer specials advertised all over the walls. But why would you not just stick with a big ass beer?? Oh I know, because some wimps in the crowd will say that draft beer gives them a headache! Worst excuse ever…
 
Food: I even made it a point to look for chips, and never saw any. They did have an empty crock-pot on a table and a gumball machine…that’s about all I saw. There is a door that connects Dave’s to the Homestyle CafĂ© that advertises “daily lunch specials” on their outdoor sign. But, from what I can tell, they are not open on a Saturday.
 
Entertainment: What are the odds that they have Big Buck Hunter in here? Answer 100%!  Along with shooting fake wild game you can play darts, Golden Tee, or rock-out to a few cougar-themed songs on the jukebox.

Target practice needed
Bartender Chat: Hell, we talked pretty much the entire time I was in there…mostly about football. Here was a very telling exchange about the type of bar that Dave’s is…at one point one of the regulars oddly enough named “Dave” walked out without his coat and a dude sitting next to me at the bar was going to run it out to him. Without missing a beat my bartender Tommy matter-of-factly says “That’s just Dave, Dave just sort of comes and goes all day. He’ll be back to get it later.”  Not sure they were looking for a tagline for the place, but “Dave’s Pub: feel free to come and go all day” would be a good one.

Restrooms: Don’t let the picture fool you, they appear to be clean enough but they were kind of stinky.  And for as much as they talk about hunting  in this bar, I’ll be damned if anyone has ever successfully shot and killed anything? Why…because the aim in the men’s room was horrendous.

How Far Did My $20 Go? How does the equivalent of  more than 11 bottles of beer (on the wall) work for you?  Yep…for 20 bucks you can get yourself 135 ounces of draft beer and one hell of a buzz.

Final Impressions: If you like a regular old dive that feels every bit as comfortable as that old pair of jeans that you should have thrown out years ago but you just can’t do it because no matter how warn they are…they still fit you perfectly. Then you will love this bar.  Should you Hit This Dive? Did you just read the review…of course you should!

DIVE-O-METER
 7

Look for this then trun at the Sizzler

Dave's Pub/Keno on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 12, 2012

Jerry's Bar, Omaha -- REVIEW


Hello, Jerry
6301 Military Avenue  
Omaha, NE 68104
(402) 553-3343

Thanks to everyone who voted on the HitThatDive Facebook page, the tallies were in, and Jerry's Bar won by a huge margin.  So, it was off the Benson to check out why so many readers thought Jerry's Bar, a place described on its own FB page as "neighborhood atmosphere w/ a modern twist-MOE'S (SIMPSON'S) meets the MARQUIS DE SADE/BLIND EYE (PRAGUE)!" would be a good place to review.Enough of the back story…let's get to it.

PROS:  Cool vintage clothing store vibe.  Owner Rob Rutar. Shot and beer special
CONS: Military Avenue confuses me.  Closes nighty at 12:00 a.m.

Great beer selections
First Impressions:  It's a strip mall sort of place, but I assume this was built before the term "strip mall" was even invented.  It appears to be just the right amount of "Krusty" on the outside and was a bit dingier at first glance than I thought it might be…not an issue…just an observation.  Walking though the door this place already reminds of a different bar…but which one?  Eclectic assortment of draft beers…good assortment of bottled beer…old-dive vibe…Rob Rutar behind the bar.  Oh shit…is this the Leavenworth Bar?  I quickly check the coaster on the bar in front of me to make sure that it does indeed say that it's Jerry's Bar.  I'm actually kind of digging the place so far, and as usual, I stand-out as the only non-regular in the joint.  Here's a tip, want to know if I'm in the bar you're in, I'm usually the only person you've never seen before.
 
The Bar:  It really is a cross between an old-school dive, and retro vintage hip…I assume that the Homy Inn thinks it succeeds at this delicate balance...it does not.  A good assortment of 17 beers on tap, a well-stocked cooler of many other beers, and a tip jar behind the bar that dares to throw money into it with the words "Bet You Can't" written on the front.  There are 10 or so old tables with a matching old black stackable chairs and there are just enough cool vintage beer signs and clocks around the place to give it "hip" (I hate that word) vibe without looking like it's trying too hard to be too cool.  Maybe I'm just easy to amuse, but the vintage spinning PBR signs above the bar could mesmerize me for hours.  Hmmmm…Moe's meets a bar in Prague?  Yeah…I kind of see that already.

Looking spooky for Halloween
The Crowd:  A mix of courteous old guy drinkers to my right, mixed in with a group of younger drinkers to my left that someday aspire to be the cool old guys in a bar.  Cheers to Rob for running a bar where old guys, blue collar workers and people that shop in vintage clothing stores (and can actually pull that look off) can sit and drink in a relaxed vibe.  I failed to mention earlier that even though there were football games on TV, there was blues music on the entire time, which is ALWAYS a good thing to have on in the background.  I had to make a note of the one conversation going on beside me, the premise of the entire debate was, and I quote "Would you rather wrestle a sheep or a pig?"  For the record, I'm going to wrestle the sheep, but it was a close call. 
 
Service:  Two years ago at the Leavenworth Bar, I was kind of put-off because it seemed that Rob treated the regulars better than he treated me.  Almost two years later, and I still think the same thing but with a huge caveat.  Rob clearly wants to run a bar frequented  by regulars.  Plus the fact that he knows everyone in there by name shows why he is one of the best bar owners in town.  Rob has a bit of a "cooler than you" demeanor…because he probably is cooler than you.  Lord knows he's cooler than me!  Do not confuse that with arrogance, he just seems to know what he likes in a bar, treats his regulars like he values their business and approaches running a bar like bars were operated 30 years ago.  Basically, a professionally run establishment where regulars go to get drunk and talk to friends.  I get it now.  I missed the mark about Rob's style two years ago. 

Love these!
Prices:   I was paying $3.50 a pint for Shiner Oktoberfest (not my usual order at all, but Rob recommended it) and suddenly a sign that advertised Bud and Jager for $6.50 caught my eye. I didn't catch the prices of the mini-pitchers, but that really seemed to be order of choice for most of the bar.  My guess is that the prices here are comparable of what you would pay anywhere in Benson.  Do not expect $1 shot nights…but do show up for a Husker game…it seems they  hand out free shots after touchdowns on occasion.
 
Food:  The usual assortment of potato chips behind the bar.  But, from what I can tell during Husker games, they do have some sort of food for free including sloppy joes the day I was there and the occasional pig roast out in the beer garden

Entertainment:  There is a nice little dartboard room right behind the bar, a pinball machine and an old-time sit-down video game of some sort.  There are four TVs so watching a game  or two here as a possibility, but don't confuse Jerry's with a sports bar either. 

Bartender Chat:  Not much, which was actually fine with me.  Rob is always polite, chats with the regulars and did mention that he once lived in Prague running bars there for a number of years as well.  I didn't try one, but Rob asked one of the regulars if he wanted a Bloody Mary because he was getting all the stuff out to make one.  If you're a Bloody Mary drinker at all, they looked like some of the best in town. 
 
Not awful
Restroom:  Clean, old and small.  I'm guessing from the looks of this bathroom that this bar has been around since the 1950's or early 60's.  Why do I guess that?  Because the tile work on the floor reminded me of my elementary school that was built in the late 50's…and I'm guessing they haven't made a bathroom like this in at least several decades.

How Far Did My $20 Go:  Three Shiner Oktoberfest beers and THEN a shot of Jager and a 16 ounce Bud with some money leftover.  Can you find a cheaper bar in town, of course, but every now and then I don't mind paying a bit more for a few drinks if I'm in a bar that's run the right way. 

Final Impressions:  To fully appreciate Jerry's Bar, I'm sure that you have to make it a point to be a regular here.  But don't let that scare you off from stopping by if you like the idea of a place that can walk the fine line between being a dive and being a retro-cool place to hang out.  Cheers to Rob for clearly not heading the "advice" from my review of the Leavenworth Bar and running his business any damn way he pleases…he knows what he's doing as a bar owner far more than I know what I'm doing as a bar reviewer.  Hit This Dive!
 
DIVE-O-METER
 
7.5 (if you're a new customer)
8.5 (if you're a regular)
Hit This Dive!

Jerry's Bar on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Andy's Place, South Omaha -- REVIEW


Welcome to Andy's Bar/Place.
(402) 733-1985

Thanks to a hot tip from dive bar connoisseur Howard Evans, I made my way down to the corner of 37th and F Streets to check out a bar called Andy's Place.  Where, according to Howard, they say "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning."   How in the world can you argue with that logic?  Howard tipped me off that they open at 9 a.m. and that the bar still has "plenty of grit and grizzle" even though they are remodeling the restrooms.  Since he also let me know that this was a "must stop" on my hit list...I'm intrigued enough (and thirsty) let's roll! 

PROS:  Fantastic neighborhood bar.  Great regulars.  Shot and a beer was $4.85!
CONS: Never could tell which person was Howard Evans. Restrooms were arguably too nice.

Busch or Busch Light...your choice.
First Impressions:  Turning off of 42nd Street onto F Street puts you immediately into a residential area...for five blocks there are nothing but houses until you see the first non-house in the area...Andy's Place.  So far so good.  The old red brick building and no-frills sign over the door makes me think immediately that I'm going to like this dive.  After walking though the front door and getting the usual "who the hell are you?" looks from the regulars, I took a seat and was amazed by how neat and orderly everything looked behind the bar. Note to self, this lady must run a tight ship, be on my best behavior. 
But, make no mistake, so far this looks exactly how a neighborhood bar should look.  First impression?  Big thumbs up!

The Bar:  Just a regular old bar, with regular old school bar stools.  Two beers on the tap, Busch and Busch Light, and a well-stocked (and orderly as hell) liquor selection all in front of a mirror behind the bar that says "Andy's Place".  I always assume having the name prominently behind the bar is a good public service move just in case you get a call from your spouse asking where you are and you're already too many drinks into your day.  There are tables set up sort of German beer hall-style, posters and sports stuff all over the walls (this clearly is a Husker/St. Louis Cardinals crowd) and by far the best collection of snacks at any bar in the area.  And, much like the rest of the bar, that is the most organized collection of snacks I have ever seen.  

GBR!
The Crowd:  What sets South Omaha bars apart from any others in the area are the great people.  In what other part of Omaha do you see people that wear "Proud to be from South O" and "S.O.B" shirts on at least a third of the drinkers?  For the most part, this was an older crowd of regulars that seemed to know everyone in the place by name.  As a rule of thumb, walk into any well-run bar in South Omaha and you will never be made to feel like an outsider by the regulars.  Want to fit in with the regulars at Andy's?  Here's a quick tip...order your beer in buckets...that seemed to be the drink order of choice here from what I can tell. Once you get your bucket, just sit at the bar and enjoy the company and conversation of all the new friends you're about to make.

Service:  An older bar lady that never makes you wait for service.  She was all business and made sure everyone was always with a full glass, or bucket.  Younger bartenders, want to know how to properly work a bar?  Have a seat at Andy's one Saturday afternoon and take notes.  Also, please include in your notes, "not once will your bartender ignore you while she is on her phone commenting on some inane picture on Instagram".  This place has old school service the way it was meant to be.  

Even the smokes are orderly.
Price:  All I can tell you is what I was paying...a domestic draft beer was setting me back $2.25.  But, when I ordered a shot AND a beer I was charged the whopping total of $4.85.  Let's see, let me do the math...carry the one...ummmm...that's $2.60 a shot!  Shot drinkers...add this to your list of places to stop by every now and then.  

Food:  Like I said earlier, one of the best collection of snacks I've seen in a very long time behind a bar. Also, there were a few crock pots that smelled pretty good...my guess is they have some sort of chili or meatballs during Husker games.  

Entertainment:  One oddly placed pinball machine, darts, pool table and one of those fishy looking pickle machines.  Andy's only has three TV's, but they were easily seen from any spot in the bar as we all watched the Ryder Cup...and when I left on Saturday afternoon the US was up BIG.  The Ryder Cup is in the bag...what possibly could go wrong on Sunday??

Bartender Chat:  As I ordered my second beer, the bartender said "You know, if you're having more than two beers, the mini-pitcher is the cheaper way to go."  Now, I never did order the mini-pitcher...but ALWAYS a thumbs up to a bartender that gives unsolicited advice on how to get the most bang for your buck at her bar.  

Clean as a whistle.
Restroom:  These are currently under a complete renovation, so the men and women have to use the same one.  The protocol seems to be knock before you enter, wait for the entire bar to say "Helllllooooooooo?" and then enter if no one is in there.  Man, when they are done fixing these up...they may be the best restrooms in Omaha.  I can only assume that Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket once walked into Andy's and repeated his line "I want that head so sanitary and squared-away that the Virgin Mary herself would be proud to go in and take a dump."  That is the only reason to have restrooms this nice in an old bar. 

How Far Did My $20 Go?: I didn't necessarily go this route, but 20 bucks will get you four beers and four shots...with some change left over.  Stay strictly with the draft beer and that gets you nine pints.  Mathematicians in the group lay off, I know that 9 x $2.25 = $20.25...but I'm sure you can bum a quarter from someone at the bar keeping your total to an even $20.

Final Impressions:  Andy's is exactly what a neighborhood should be.  Good service, friendly people, cheap prices and a laid back let's get drunk atmosphere. Thanks to Howard Evans for this little gem tucked away in South O.  If you want to experience a quintessential dive in the best part of Omaha for bars (without question) you owe it to yourself to make a trip to Andy's...and if you can figure out which one Howard is make sure to buy him a "Polish and a can O' Bud" for the great advise!

DIVE-O-METER
9  

Nothing beats a South O bar.

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