Friday, January 23, 2015

Cruisers Bar and Grill, Omaha -- REVIEW

8634 F Street
Omaha NE 68127
402-614-7445


Let's Cruise
It's actually harder to write about a bar that I've been to a few times than it is to just walk in for the first time and start writing down my immediate knee-jerk reactions.

But, two weeks ago on Facebook, I asked people to nominate (and vote for) their favorite bar for HTD to review next. In that voting, Crossbones Bar was the clear winner, but I'll be damned if the regulars at Cruisers didn't put up one hell of a fight too.

So, two reviews from one vote it is...of course...I came down with some ebola-like flu and didn't get around to writing this one in a timely manner, until today. Well, that and I wasn't really sure what to say about Cruisers because I've never really walked out with much of an impression one way or the other, and then sitting at their bar the other day it hit me...which is now why you need to keep reading.

A trip down Route 66
PROS: Clean. Affordable drinks and food. Great place to sit and hang out. Unremarkable.

CONS: Hard to find at first. Could not grab a seat at the bar on a Friday night. 

First Impressions: Did you check the "Pros" of the bar? How in the world can using the word "unremarkable" to describe a bar be a good thing? I mean, come on, the definition of the word according to Collins Dictionary is "not worthy of note or attention."

Like I said, I've been here a few times before so I know basically what to expect. But if you're heading here for your first time, you'll immediately notice that this bar is a bit tucked away off of 84th Street in an unremarkable strip mall.

Not impossible to find at all, but not the kind of place you just stumble into if you're not looking for it.  I first learned about Cruisers more than a year ago from Brock at The Village Bar who said this was the place he would "escape" to when he wanted to get away from his bar and just hang out.

The only other thing I really knew about this place was from a picture sent to HTD from a bunch of IBEW Local 22 members that hang out here. And I figure, if a bunch of union guys make this their place to throw back a few beers, that's usually a good sign too.

Clean clean clean 
The Bar: Living up to its name, the first thing you'll notice when you grab a seat at the bar, or one of the many tables and booths in the room, are the car murals on almost every wall.  Show up after dark, and they light those babies up with old school black lights...like being in Spenser Gifts in the mall when I was a kid.

Five beers on tap including Stella Artois, and a decent collection of bottled beer that will keep most of the beer snobs somewhat happy. Is it the most extensive collection of beer in town? Not even close, but a few different IPA's, Bass and even New Castle Brown Ale should be good enough to keep most people that frequent a "bar and grill" pleasantly buzzed.

Cleaning stuff
The Crowd: Sitting there on a Friday night there were a pretty wide array of people from union guys to business people.  There didn't really seem to be a specific age to the crowd either...it ranged from couples in their early 20's to empty nesters in their 60's (pounding drinks like they were in their 20's) but all-in-all a pretty laid back, unremarkable, crowd.

I couldn't score a seat at the bar, but in the hour I was there, the only thing occupying the bar stools were the drinks of the people outside grabbing a smoke. And, from the length of time they were away from the bar...they must smoke 'em about 10 at a time in this place!

Service: Sat at a table on a Friday night, and at the bar on a Thursday afternoon, and had great service in both spots.  Much like the bar itself, everything in Cruisers (including the service) always seems to be clean, efficient and unremarkable...and I still don't mean that in a negative way.  More on that in a bit.

Water?
Prices: They have daily drink special that include (depending on the day) $7 domestic pitchers, $1.75 Busch Light, PBR or Hamm's cans and $4.00 Captain Morgan drinks all day on Saturday and Sunday.  Make it a point to check their daily food and drink specials right here before you go, they really do have something going on every day of the week.

Food:  This is a bar and GRILL and Cruisers has just about all the bar food you can imaging including nachos, burgers, salads, a bunch of things that they fry...and wings.  How are the wings you ask? Well, once that is written later today, the review of their garlic-parmesan will go here when its finished later today. Were they too "unremarkable"? We will see...

Good wings!
Entertainment: Your usual collection of stuff like darts, Keno, and a few TVs (One of which always seems to be on a car-themed channel). Other things of note include a gumball machine by the front door and a good old Ms. PacMan table top game.

From what I can tell, the real entertainment here is in the parking lot out front once the weather gets nice enough for their weekly car show on Saturdays from 12:00-6:00pm...and comes complete with an outdoor beergarden.  I've never been here for one of those...but will be stopping by for sure once we get rid of winter.

Bartender Chat: Oh, you know, not a whole lot other than just your basic stuff. But, the last two times here I've had the chance to talk to the bar's owner "Homer" who seems to be a genuinely nice dude who is proud of the bar he's created.  From what I can tell, Homer is the kind of guy that likes to hang out at a bar, have a few drinks and talk to friends...nothing more...nothing less. And guess what? That's exactly the kind of bar this is.  What a coincidence.

Even smells good
Restrooms:  Much like the rest of the bar, the men's room was pretty much spotless.  The only real thing to note was the intense fresh smell of the air freshener hanging on the back wall from my friends at AmeriPride. It's so effective in fact, you can smell it will before you even get to the restroom area. Powerful stuff!

How Far Did My $20 Go?: Actually, it wasn't my money on Thursday afternoon, it was Brock's from The Village Bar as he joined me for lunch.  So, just how far did $18.63 go?  Two tacos, 12 wings, and three beers...that's a pretty good deal...with change leftover.

Final Thoughts: Not everything you encounter should be IN YOUR FACE or larger than life. In fact, a lot of people want quite the opposite when they spend some time in a bar. They want a place to hideaway and just hangout. A place where they can be guaranteed not to encounter the regular bullshit of a five (or six) day work week.  A place where you can still get good food and a few beers at a price that won't break the bank.  Ultimately, the regulars here want to spend some time in a spot that does everything well, but aspires to do it unremarkably for their benefit.

If a bar that aspires to be the equivalent of a Las Vegas sideshow is what you're looking for, don't look here. If you're part of the Ritalin generation, this isn't going to stimulate you nearly enough either.  Like I said at the beginning, I had always walked out of Cruisers with no real impression of the bar one way or the other...but never with a bad impression.

It wasn't until last week that I began to see the simplistic appeal of this place, and why there were so many devoted regulars who voted repeatedly to get HTD in here to write about it. Cruisers is remarkably, unremarkable...and in this instance...it makes for an enjoyable experience. HIT THIS DIVE!
Homer!

DIVE-O-METER
7.5

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