July 2008 Archives

Sully's - Minneapolis, MN

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sullys.jpgWhen we planned our road trip to Minneapolis we compiled a list of around 100 bars we wanted to try, but knew we'd only be able to make it to a fraction of that.

We ended up making it to 35, but one place we made absolutely sure we visited was Sully's. After all, how could we pass up a place that gets online reviews like these?

  • "As a young woman, I was crazy to go in there alone. I am lucky I made it out of there not drugged or something. The staff is not very pleasant either."

  • "It's way below a DIVE bar. Don't bother checking it out."

  • "Watch your back while tossing down the real cheap beer"

  • "Danger! Danger! Watch yourself! For those who crave excitement, check this place out. Drug deals in bathroom are a constant. "

  • "I wish giving this bar zero stars was an option. "

  • "Don't wear your nice clothes, as you might get a little blood on them in the scrap you'll find yourself in after a few too many rounds of Jim Beam."

  • "So put on your steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and head on down to Sully's. Where the men are men, and so are the women."

  • "Sully's, where livers go to die. Truly a manifestation of end-stage alcoholism, this is the spot from whence the four horsemen of the apocalypse shall arrive to wreak havoc upon the earth as judgment day draws nigh."

  • "I simply cannot stress to you how god awful this place is. Horrific traumatic memories flood my mind and my senses are transported to its urine scented pint glasses and feces stained walls just thinking about it."

  • "A scummy dump. Every "patron" in here looks like a meth user/dealer. If you're looking to get harassed or assaulted, this is the place for you."

There was no way we were passing this up!

We arrived at Sully's at 2:55 on an overcast Saturday afternoon. Like most places in Minneapolis (and I wish more places in Kansas City), parking was in the rear so we entered through the back door.

Because of the Minneapolis smoking ban there was no tobacco smell to mask the base odor of stale urine, faint remnants of vomit, and a faint but sharp odor that was reminiscent of the spray of a male cat.

We made our way down the narrow corridor to the large rectangular bar, where I ordered an Icehouse and my friend ordered a Bud.

We spied a Silver Strike machine and decided to play. My friend accidentally chose a female character so he made sure I did as well. I had never actually played before, so after losing the first game he gave me some pointers. I came back to defeat him for the next two games.

Meanwhile an intoxicated biker was trying to make song selections on the adjacent Internet jukebox but could not figure out how to use it. He asked for our help, so my cohort helped him find and play Still Loving You by the Scorpions as well as some Helloween, Metallica, and Black Sabbath. Eventually he decided he no longer needed help, and expressed this by grabbing my pal's arm and pushing him away.

Despite this minor scuffle we were a little let down. This was not the diviest dive we have been to, and it wouldn't even come close to being our scariest bar experience that day. (That would come about 3-1/2 hours later and will be the subject of a future post.) Still, this was a place that definitely met every single one of our dive bar criteria and was well worth the trip.

As we left the bar we were cornered by a pair of drug dealers in the parking lot. They were selling prescription drugs and were especially pimping their Vicodin.

"How much is that going for?" my friend asked.

"$2 a pill," replied one of the dealers.

"Hmmmm....." my friend paused as he feigned interest, "Naw, I'll have to pass. I can get them much cheaper from the hospital I work at."

As we climbed into the car I took a picture of the drug dealers to remember them by.


Sully's was located in the Nord East area of Minneapolis, on the east side of Central just north of Lowry. Unfortunately it has closed, the smoking ban has been cited as the reason for it's demise. As of this time we have been unable to confirm if another bar has re-opened in its place, and there is information that a neighboring food processing facility may have expanded into this location. It appears Sully's is now just a memory.

2519 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN  

twilighter4.jpgWe had been searching for a bar recommended by a bartender at an earlier stop, following a set of scrawled instructions on a series of post-it notes. Instead of reaching our destination, we found ourselves completely lost in a seedy looking neighborhood.

Luckily for us, this neighborhood included a strip dotted with several little watering holes-in-the-wall. Having time for only one, we picked the first place we spotted. It turned out to be the diviest dive of the day.

twilighter1.jpgWe parked in front of the Twilighter Country Club and were actually a little skittish about walking in. We worked up the nerve and heading on inside.

We took our seats at the double-L shaped bar. To our right, an older gentleman on oxygen was chain smoking while nursing his whiskey. Catty-corner to us, two leathered older women gossiped over bottled beer. (Except that the ladies were not older after all, we later learned from context that they were in fact in their mid 20s.)

Our bartender was a heavily pierced young woman who was watching daytime television and munching on onion rings. She glared at us for a moment when we sat down before sighing, setting down her onion ring, and coming over to see what we wanted.

After pouring us each a 12 oz draw of Bud Light ($1.25 each) she huffed, grabbed her onion rings, and sat back down to watch TV.

Now when you've had a few beers it's inevitable that nature will come calling, and in our profession that means you grow accustomed to relieving yourself under a wide variety of conditions. Which is fortunate, because the men's room here was swarming with flying insects and even featured urinal millipedes -- a first for us!

twilighter2.jpgAs we reached about the mid-way point in our beers, the front door opened. The bartender, previously focused only on her television and onion rings, jumped to her feet.

"NO! You cannot come in here!" she barked.

"Why not?!?," growled a gravely voice from behind us. "I have money, I want a drink!"

Slowly we turned around in our barstools to see a dirty, haggard man wearing absolutely nothing except a pair of tattered jeans. No shirt, no shoes, no socks.

"No, you have to have a shirt to be in here!" the bartender yelled. "It's the law!"

"I come in here shirtless all the time! The owner lets me!" he insisted.

"Well number 1 I don't believe you, and number 2 he's not here so I'm the law. Now get out!"

"Well I'll just go to any of these other bars down the street since you don't want my money," he threatened.

"Fine! Go right ahead! They'll all tell you the same thing!" Our bartender was now shouting at the top of her lungs.

"Well I don't give a fat f*ck!" he screamed.

"Fine! Now get the f*ck out of here!" she yelled back.

"I will! F*ck this place, you f*cking bitch!". And with that, he surrendered and stormed out.

The bartender took a deep breath, looked at us, and said "I'm so sorry about that, guys."

"Oh no, don't worry about it," we said, "that was the highlight of our day!"

We all laughed and from that point on she warmed up to us.

*   *   *   *   *   *

When we left the bar we discovered that shirtlessness is apparently common attire in this particular part of town. Next to our car a beer-bellied shirtless dude was sitting in the bed of a pickup truck oggling women walking past.


The Twilighter Country Club features free poker tournaments on Sundays at 12:30pm and 3:00pm. It is located on the east side of N. Kansas Avenue, just north of the river and the railroad tracks. But beyond that, we honestly have no earthly idea how we got there.

816 N Kansas Ave, Topeka, KS  

jockey1.jpgOriginally I had selected The Jockey Club to kick off this site because it was the first new bar that we went to as one of our planned drinking excursions. But when I learned it had changed its exterior, I delayed its entry so that I could have time to get more information.

We arrived on a sunny weekday afternoon and pulled into the gravel lot, the only vehicle in sight. It was early in the day but from the stark silence and the exterior maintenance we wondered if we were out of luck.

Trying the door we were surprised to find it unlocked, so we walked into the dark, empty bar where we found ourselves completely alone.

We sat for several minutes, wondering what to do, when finally the proprietor came in through a back door.

Beer selections were limited to a selection of domestic bottles in a big tub of ice on the bar.

The bar's name ties to the local history, when a questionably-legal horse racing track operated during the 1930s under the financing and protection of Kansas City boss Tom Pendergast. Though the track is long gone, some of the original structures still remain. I am uncertain if this bar is one of those structures.

This looks like the kind of place that probably gets pretty wild and rowdy in the evenings and weekends, though we can't say for sure given that our visit was on a Tuesday afternoon. As a commentator added, there is a regular country band and karaoke nights.

In the time since our visit the owner has spruced the place up quite a bit. The outside has been cleaned up and repainted, and the broken sign atop the building has been replaced with a new, stylish sign. Sadly, however, the classic vintage "cocktails" sign that once graced the front of the building has been removed.

jockey2.jpg jockey3.jpg

The Jockey Club is located in Riverside on the west side of US-69, about halfway between Riverway Blvd and Vivion Rd.

4312 NW Gateway Ave, Riverside, MO 64105  

Darlene's Place - Ellston, IA

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darlene_1.jpgWe pulled in the town of Tingley, looking for a small rural bar that our information said should be here.

We searched up and down every road in town, and while we found plenty of construction barricades blocking the main road to the east, we couldn't find our bar. So we stopped at a general store where I asked one of the locals for directions.

"We used to have a bar," said a customer at the counter, "but the crazy people of this town went and voted to make this a dry town. So now the closest bar is over in Ellston."

"Ellston? How do I get there?" I asked.

"You gotta take that closed highway," he replied. "Just go around the barricades and drive on through. No one is working today."

We made our way back over to the barricades, drove around them, and traveled for miles down a series of narrow, gravel highways that looked like they had been bombed. Periodically we'd have to weave left or right to avoid large holes and open trenches. The roads through here carried multiple routes, creating street crossing signs like the one shown here.

We finally found Ellston and it only took a few moments more for us to find our destination, Darlene's Place.
We sat at the short end of the L-shaped bar under the watchful eye of a mounted goat head smoking a cigarette (similar to the one shown here). To our left a couple of weathered farmers were having a drink.

"We've got a population of, oh, about forty*," one of the farmers told us, "so we're awful lucky to have this place."

This is one thing we love about this area of Iowa. No matter how far it is from the main highway, no matter how small it is, you can almost always count on finding a place to stop and share a drink with the locals.

As we finished our beers, two young future regulars came in for some root beer. Hopefully Darelene's will still be there for them when they come of legal age.

We still had more places to see, so we said goodbye to our friends at Darlene's and got back on the gravel highway towards our next destination.


*55, according to the US Census 2006 estimate

Darlene's is easily found on Main Street (CR-J20) in Ellston, Iowa. Ellston is 17 miles west of I-35 exit 18 on CR-J20, or 7 miles east of US-169.

Main & Blaine, Ellston, IA  


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This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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