Big V's is unequivocally a relic of a bygone era. The only menu is the one on the wall for a kitchen that no longer exists, from back when a steak cost 60 cents. This dive has been on the corner of University and Snelling, in one form or another, since 1892, according to a bartender. The folks who inhabit it aren't the cute caricature of working-class "regulars" talked about at hipper watering holes. They're ruddy-faced, stoop-shouldered drinkers with gray hairs on their chins and Carhartts on their backs, and the bartenders are lifelong locals who have slung drinks there for 30-odd years. Pull up a stool and you'll get an earful of world-weary wisdom, both good and bad — on Russian politics, neighborhood happenings, even oral sex. But V's isn't a place to socialize so much as to get away from the outside world; that's why the only two windows are small and covered by blinds. It's a fluorescent-lit man cave from before there were surround-sound systems, and comes complete with a pool table, carpeted walls, and Slim Jims. So order a rail whiskey — it comes from a tap, after all — and ask who the people are in the photos around the bar. Those old bootleggers might not mean anything outside these four walls, but the bartender sure knows their stories.

Location Details

1567 University Ave. W.
St. Paul MN 55104


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