Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Champaign/Urbana Bars... my goal

The other day as I was looking around the web for information on bars owned by Carlos Nieto, I came across this website. It's a nice little rundown of some of the bars in C/U. As I read it I realized that it was 4 years old, and many things have changed since then. So I thought... Someone's gotta do it... so it'll be me.

So at least once a week now, in addition to the beers and all the other crap that I fill your free time with, I'm going to review a bar. Tuesday night is normally the night that Kriddy and I have to go to a bar (at least it's the NORMAL night for that) we get out some other nights, but mostly it's Tuesday that we hit bars. So on Wednesday's you'll be able to read up on some bars.

Things I'll try to get in are (of course) beer selection; wait staff knowledge of the beer selection; food selection; atmosphere and overall impression. Yes, I'm biased to certain bars and there are some that I know that I hate; with pool being in house and not traveling anymore, it'll be difficult to get to the dives, so I'll go from memory on those.

First up, the dives...

I think the biggest dive in CU is D.R. Diggers. Diggers is kind of like Moe's tavern, without the possibility of any fun nights. When you walk in, there'll be a bunch of regulars there who look at you over the top of their macro lager, as though you don't belong there. There'll be some girl who just turned 21 a couple of months ago, who used to be pretty in highschool, but the past 3 years have aged her poorly. She'll be hanging out with her friend who's a couple years older and several nights closing the bar ahead of her, she's the mentor. They are only 15-20 years away from being straight up bar hags... prune tang. They'll come up to you and ask you to buy them a drink... refuse to do it. If they offer to buy you a drink... RUN!!!

Diggers has 2 pool tables in the back. They are coin-op per game but can also be fed dollars and played by the minute. The juke box is Touch Tunes. The songs played normally on it vary from "my dog just died" country; to "i'm going to kill you" death metal. You can play pretty much anything in there, someone might like it, one of the surly drunks at the bar won't. Just stay away from him.

I've heard their food is ok. It's mostly fried fare, but it's pretty good drunk food.

Diggers is poorly lit. It feels dark. The ceiling over the pool tables has fiber optic lights punched through it which gives it a starry feel, but it's still... very dark. As for the beer, there is nothing too interesting there. Mostly macro's. You might be able to find the Michelob seasonal there (I've had Winters Bourbon Cask Ale on draft there) but the highlight of their selection is HAMMS (for $1.50 I believe).

Diggers has "for entertainment only" video poker.

Diggers "allows" smoking (Illinois has a no smoking law). Unfortunately, it's back near the pool tables, so that really sucks. Some people go out and follow the rules/law, other go near the back door, others just sit, hidden away in a corner, puffing away. This gives off a seedy-dive feel. I'm pretty sure once while I was relieving myself in the men's room, that a drug deal was taking place in the stall.

Diggers is not a place I chose to go to. I only go there for billiards, since I'm not in a traveling league... I won't be there for a while.

The next dive is The Phoenix. The Phoenix has absolutely no redeeming qualities, or at least no reason to go there that I couldn't get at a different bar.

The Phoenix beer selection is really bad. They don't sell bottles because people who get into fights would kill another person with it. The Phoenix probably has the largest selection of 24 oz canned beer in CU. If you are stuck drinking horrible beer, you might as well get a really huge friggin can of it, right? WRONG!

They have 2 pool tables, both coin op. There is also "for entertainment only" video poker.

They also have Touch Tunes, but get really mad when you play something that isn't Lynrd Skynrd... It seems very southern rock-y.

The bar is also very dark. The front windows are tinted dark. It's dark. There is a stage where bands play, and I'm pretty sure it's only local death metal bands. I've never been there on a music night.

It's a biker bar some of the time. Kriddy is pretty sure that once while she was there a guy was jacking off in the corner while looking at her. On another occasion, two bikers in full leather pulled up in front of the bar, parked came inside and shouted "Let's get this party started". Which would be scary enough, except the guy who said it was speaking through a mechanical larynx. This is a scary bar. I am uncomfortable there.

Another major issue with this bar is, the "allow" smoking. One of the parts of the Smoke free Illinois thingy is that bars can't have ashtrays on the table. The Phoenix technically doesn't have ashtrays. The last time I was there, they had Altoids cases on the tables, that could easily be closed, should some sort of enforcement person show up. We were there for pool and outside of us, there were maybe 10 other people in the bar. It seemed all 10 people were smoking. I stunk worse than when I smoked. Kriddy had to take a shower before she could go to bed, the smell of smoke was too strong for her. Renee got sick from the overpowering smell.

For food, the Phoenix has frozen pizza... and some bags of chips and stuff.

If you are looking for a place where you'll get beat up, can drink crappy beer from 24 oz cans, and can smoke, then the Phoenix is probably for you!

The final dive for today is Boomerangs. It seemed like we were always at Boomerangs every year for the all star game. I'm not sure how that worked, but for quite a few years we'd be sitting in front of the same tv watching the all-star game. Boomerangs has two pool tables.

Boomerangs bathroom, during the winter, is possibly one of the coldest places on the face of the earth. In addition to being 20 degrees colder than the outside temperature, they somehow manage to pump water into the sink that is 10 degrees below freezing. You will get contact frostbite if you touch the sink. Don't stick your tongue on it.

Their food menu is decent greasy spoon grill fare.

They have one of the larger Leinenkugel selections in town on draft. Otherwise, there is nothing to spectacular for beer.

The jukebox is an internet jukebox, but not touchtunes. I'm not sure the name of the style, but it's one of the greatest I've seen. You can listen to at Boomerangs. I can torture their patrons for hours with nearly the entire KMFDM collection.

Boomerangs isn't as dark as the other dives. It's also a starting off point for some people as it shares a parking lot with the the Silver Bullet (dancers wanted, no exp. needed).

If you are looking for these three dives, they work from west to east. Diggers is off Springfield Ave on 604 S. Country Fair Drive. The Phoenix is at 215 S. Neil Street. Boomerangs is 1309 E Washington St.

There's more dives in town, I'm sure I'll remember more... I'm not trying to leave anyone out. I'll get them later.



Chipper Dave said...

With ringing endorsements like that you should ask them to advertise on your blog. (or not)

Funny you mentioned KMFDM, that's my oldest son's favorite band. He plays that non-stop.

vgrid said...

Since we aren't playing traveling pool anymore, I figured I should review the bars that I won't be going back to first. The ones I like to go to I'll review as I hit them.

Tonight is should be going to Mike and Molly's, which has a decent tap and bottle selection.

I think I'll also review some bars that people like and I have no idea why they do.

I saw KMFDM last year (or was it 2 years ago) when they were headlining with Combichrist. They put on a good show and have years and years of material to go through.

You may want to talk to your son about liking them. They were the favorite band of the Black Trenchcoat Mafia in Columbine.