The Bar Guide 2015: Entertainment & games

Rounding up the best entertainment- and game-packed bars in the Twin Cities.


Updated 4/2/2015

Betty Danger’s Country Club *NEW*

2501 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-315-4997 • www.bettydangers.com

It’s a bird … It’s a plane … It’s a drunk couple getting way too handsy on a Ferris wheel! Surely the sophisticated patrons of Leslie Bock’s wacko country club — which, as you’ve heard, boasts a 65-foot Ferris wheel — are above margarita-fueled PDA. But the giant fun beacon and companion mini golf course have aroused bargoers’ interest as they’ve waited all winter to play.

 

Bedlam Lowertown *NEW*

213 E. 4th St., St. Paul • 651-209-0597 • www.bedlamtheatre.org

It’s hard not to long for the Bedlam’s West Bank days. But after losing its former Minneapolis home, the resilient arts organization/ bar/restaurant landed in St. Paul’s up-and-coming Lowertown in 2014. Despite having a great space at the end of the Green Line, the scrappy nonprofit is held back as a reliable late-night option by inconsistent booking and lack of promotion. But when the theater’s rocking, it’s a blast.

 

Rival House *NEW*

411 Minnesota St., St. Paul • 651-255-0645 • www.rivalhousestpaul.com

From the team behind Bradstreet Craftshouse comes this beerier sibling. Anchored in the downtown St. Paul DoubleTree, the “sporting parlor” is all about beer, wood-fired pizzas and games. Best your drinking mate at skee-ball, shuffleboard or (like a true Minnesotan) dome hockey.

 

331 Club

This heralded hipster hangout has been a staple at 13th and University Avs. NE. for years. Well-worn booths and a time-toughened bartop bear the mark of a delightful dive, but its beer list goes behind low-priced lagers. The venerable live venue is one of the hottest destinations during the popular Art-a-Whirl, hosting a vibrant patio party. But sipping a beer on the casual sidewalk patio is a summer-night ritual all season long. (331 13th Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-331-1746 • www.331.mn.)

 

Amsterdam Bar & Hall

This Dutch-themed bar and music venue knows what you want. You want pot brownies. Why, sure, they’re only a tasty chocolate treat stuffed into a terra cotta vessel, but you know. Or, why don’t you try one of a few dozen drafts, or the extensive selection of 30 gins, including Old Raj, one of the strongest gins available, along with some hash (eggs and potatoes, that is). Live music & DJs nightly. (6 W. 6th St.• 612-285-3112 • www.amsterdambarandhall.com.) (Mecca Bos)

 

Aster Cafe

A stroll on the river, a glass of wine and thou. Bohemie, la belle vie, a graceful turn off the beaten path of bars, pubs and clubs. A terrace café that’s jumped right off a Van Gogh canvas. Beyond its sprawling New Orleans-style courtyard, this civilized venue offers live music most nights, light bites designed to share, and plenty of libations for pairing. This is romance, and the rest is up to you. (125 SE. Main St., Mpls. • 612-379-3138 • www.aster-café.com.) (M.B.)

 

Brit’s Pub

This is where the Queen, lawn bowling, Yorkies, high tea and Boddingtons reign supreme. But more than this, Brit’s is where young executives and khaki-clad Targies come to loosen ties, cut loose, roll some balls and knock back a few. There’s no prettier place to be than the verdant rooftop lawns occupied by ruddy-faced hotties on the make. (1110 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. • 612-332-3908 • www.britspub.com.) (M.B.)

 

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Both an institution and a neighborhood anchor, BLB maintains a classical hipness. The vintage bowling alley is a priceless entity, yes, but the live cabaret and all-day eating and drinking establishment ups the ante considerably. Where else can you roll a game, take in some burlesque and enjoy a $2.50 Schlitz? (810 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-874-7226 • www.bryantlakebowl.com.) (M.B.)

 

Camp Bar

Not your run-of-the-mill gay club. Hanging out in the snazzy main bar feels like you’re cocktailing inside an underwater castle, but instead of backstroking mermaids there are strapping dudes behind the bar pushing stiff drinks. Press onward and you’ll hit the sizable cabaret room, used for various shows and dancing. (490 N. Robert St. • 651-292-1844 • www.camp-bar.net.)

 

Chatterbox Pub

If you’re not content with standard bar conversation, then the Chatterbox may be for you. Scads of games, from the electronic version to dog-eared Monopoly boards, are the name of the, um, game here. They’ve got all the makings for a satisfying bar experience, including beer, wine, burgers and tattered old easy chairs. (Three locations: 2229 E. 35th St., Mpls.; 4501 France Av. S., Mpls.; 800 S. Cleveland Av., St. Paul. • www.chatterboxpub.net.) (M.B.)

 

Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

For an elegant night on the town, you won’t do better than the venerable Dakota, where the music is world-class (it’s where Prince did six surprise gigs), the steaks are well marbled and the martinis are icy and big. This 20-year institution brings jazz from Havana, blues from New Orleans and vocal stylings from heaven. (1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls. • 612-332-1010 • www.dakotacooks.com.) (M.B.)

 

Icehouse

A live music venue on Nicollet Avenue, cabaret-style. Serious chefdom, with gourmet burgers, hand-cut fries and smoked-corn-encrusted oysters. A classic craft-cocktail program and an incredible whiskey library. And if you’re a lightweight or an indecisive sort, there are $5 “sipping shots,” which allow you to try, say, three separate cocktails, without breaking the bank or being 86’d for public nudity. (2528 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. • 612-276-6523 • www.icehousempls.com.) (M.B.)

 

Kitty Cat Klub

An eclectic place that could have been furnished by the proprietor of a curio store. The bar itself, the live stage and the loungey setting have made the KCK a Dinkytown darling, providing an offbeat sojourn and an almost coffee-shop atmosphere. (315 14th Av. SE., Mpls. • 612-331-9800 • www.kittykatklub.net.) (Spencer Doar)

 

Nomad World Pub

Music is a nightly occurrence and an array of art can be seen on the walls of this saloon. Frequent soccer events are paired with beers, and outdoor bocce courts are available — hence the “world” in the bar’s name. After a rough day at work, the Nomad features an ever-present special:  PBR and a shot of Jameson’s for $5. (501 Cedar Av. S., Mpls. • 612-338-6424 • www.nomadpub.com.) (S.D.)

 

Pinstripes

A crowd-pleasing addition in the office-saturated sphere near I-494 and France Avenue. The two-level bowling and bocce bar offers indoor recreation and a prime second-story patio with a fire pit overlooking Centennial Lake. Consider knocking back beers and pins here after work, or when planning a company outing or your uncle’s birthday party. (3849 Gallagher Dr., Edina • 952-835-6440 • www.pinstripes.com.)

 

Sky Deck Sports Grille & Lanes

As the old tagline went, “There’s a place for fun in your life: Mall of America.” How true, if Build-A-Bear Workshop and Orange Julius get you totally psyched. But at least this fourth-floor bowling alley/game bar has air hockey. Scarf pizza and mozzarella sticks (sweet!) while bowling with the bumpers up. It’ll be just like your childhood, only drunker. (401 E. Broadway, Bloomington • 952-500-8615 • www.skydecklanes.com.)

 

Town Hall Lanes

Not that there’s anything wrong with a game of 10-pin and a pitcher of Primo. But why not enjoy a craft beer while whining about that 7-10 split? Town Hall Brewery’s second satellite bar merges the two with this 10-lane, 20-tap alley in south Minneapolis. The revamped former home of Skylane Bowling also features a number of well-curated guest taps supplementing Town Hall’s arsenal. (5019 34th Av. S., Mpls. • 612-767-3354 • www.thlanes.com.)

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