First off, dive is a relative term; these places are pretty damn awesome. Some of us have been frequenting them for a long time, no need to go into details, while a lot of our team has never had the pleasure. Here are our team’s (well a few of us) favorite Grand Rapids Dive Bars. Bonus points if you can match the team member to the bar.
Start your night here, do NOT end your night here (you’re just asking for an epic hangover). Cause I’m the oldie in the group, I remember Bridge Street when it only consisted of O’Tooles, Montes, Anchor and Kale’s. Because we were all real dumb in our 20s, we always started out at O’Tooles, then hopped over to Kale’s where we were inevitably surprised EVERY time that they were cash-only and then we’d head next door to the Anchor. You’ll get stiff drinks, like I’m not sure they actually use mixers, intimate seating, stale popcorn and the world’s smallest bathroom. There is nothing else like it and that’s what makes it so special.
East-West Brewing Company, formerly knowns as The Queen’s Pub
When I lived in Eastown, my roommates and I were regulars at The Queen’s Pub, now known as East-West Brewing Company. The only reason was it was within stumbling distance of our house. We found ourselves there every weekend for karaoke even though we had no business singing–probably the liquid courage.
I used to live on the corner of Fulton and Lake Drive in one of the old Heritage Hill homes that was scorching in the summer and freezing in the winter, but what made it great was how walkable it was to everything. One of the places I would walk over to was Birch Lodge (yes it was a long walk). Michigan Street was a popular hangout spot (Logan’s Alley, Duke’s, Bob’s)mostly because we were broke and you could get free food on Sundays – popcorn, hotdogs, tacos and more. They really knew how to entice a bunch of 20 year olds who only wanted to spend their money on drinks. Long tables, video games, a bar that stretched almost the entire space and only two windows…it was awesome.
When I worked as a chef, Logan’s Alley was the go-to place for industry workers. An impressive and up-to-date beer selection and surprisingly good food (loaded tots ya’ll). After slinging cornish game hens, bouillabaisse, and kettle soured beers all day, finding a good corner with cheap beer and greasy food just made sense.
Clique Bowling Alley
Last but not least, Clique Bowling Alley. No, you don’t need to bowl–you’re more than welcome to just sit and sip the night away while conversing with other friendly folk who know how awesome this bar is. And hey, if you do get bored, go throw a couple frames down the lane. The place has an old school bowling alley vibe with bright neon carpet and old-timey decorations. Definitely a top spot for me. If you hear “Hooked on a Feeling” on repeat, chances are I’m on one of the lanes.
Rez Lounge, formerly knowns as Sazeracs
Seriously, this place. It’s the “Cheers” of Creston. The employees that work here are kind and attentive – but don’t put up a front to appease the masses. They let their personalities shine through and I think that makes the place even more comfortable. Plus, the red beans and rice with their cornbread (that has a honey drizzle) is *chef’s kiss*.
The first time I walked into this bar when I moved to Grand Rapids 10 years ago, I walked right back out because I just was not what I call “Grand Rapids cool/hip” enough to fit in with my awkward mix of backwoods kid turned city dweller. Fortunately, it only took me 5 years, finding some cool, artsy friends and Wine Wednesdays before I finally felt like I belonged. P.S. There’s pinball and the back patio is a great place to sit your friend-who-always-drinks-too-much in time out. Nothing beats trying to watch a stumbling pal try to slide into bench seating.
So what classifies as a dive bar? We think it’s a place attracting locals, it’s walkable and it is uniquely its own.
Tell us your favorites.