Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Belmont Dives

Matias herded a bunch of us out on a pub crawl Saturday to celebrate Paul and Jana's impending parenthood. The theme was "formerly smoky bars". We kicked off at the Horse Brass, but the rest of the places on the agenda can safely be filed under "dive". The Triple Nickel and the Vern (directory assistance name: Hanigan's Tavern) were pleasant surprises for me. We proceeded on to Claudia's, and I even made it as far as the Langano Lounge, but I bailed out from there before they got around to serving me a beer.

No offense to Claudia's or Langano -- or the beloved Horse Brass -- but as the title indicates, today I want to write about those two dives on Belmont: places I wouldn't have set foot in before the smoking ban, but which are now fair game.

Triple Nickel (37th and Belmont): Four steel-tip dartboards, that's all you need to know about this place. Same number as the Horse Brass, but on Saturday two of them were free at the Nickel, on a night when you'd need the patience of Job and cat-like reflexes to get a dartboard at the Brass. The Nickel has a lot of taps -- 27, the bartender counted them for me -- but only one or two that are more palatable than the drinks at this other Triple Nickel. Dave and I ended up with Terminal Gravity IPA. Other pluses: lots of pool tables, and Black Sabbath Vol. 4 on the jukebox.

The Vern (26th and Belmont): Not quite as many taps as the Nickel -- they're in the picture above -- but much better beer. A couple of good Lagunitas taps, Full Sail Wreck the Halls, and Stone Arrogant Bastard come to mind. I had to go for a Ninkasi Total Domination. The Vern looks so inauspicious from the outside that I never imagined it would have a selection like that. There are one or two pool tables, but no dartboards.

There are plenty of promising dives in the neighborhood that I still need to check out, but this was a good start. The Vern in particular is so close to my house that it's likely to become a semi-regular haunt, now that I know there's something decent to drink there. Cheers to Matias for getting this crawl rolling.


  1. Wow. I'm famous. Guess it is time to start Matias' corporate retreat bar crawl services...
    The Vern was a pleasant surprise indeed. Can't say it had too much going for its atmosphere, but the beer selection was impressive and cheap. Probably not a destination bar, but not a bad place to have as your local.
    I would also like to mention that The Triple also serves hella strong mixed drinks. Which knocked out one of our participants early that evening.
    Cheers Bill!

  2. I haven't been to the Vern in 20 years. The tap list then was ... worse. I'll have to stop by again.

  3. Pub crawls are always fun. I want to do one of Foster, but more because the dives look to be of a much...divier nature.

  4. Matias: If you find a way to make money at it, let me know.

    DM: I hope you do the Foster crawl, I'd like to see what you come up with.

  5. Jeff: I chickened out from walking into the Vern 2-3 years ago. Pretty sure part of my decision was not seeing any good beer through the window. It was a pleasant surprise to see a good selection there.

  6. I keep intending to do a Belmont/Hawthorne dive bar crawl myself. Good to know there's some gems. I also would never have guessed the Vern had anything going for it.

    @DM Foster dives are definitely the real deal.