Best Dive Bar Minneapolis 2014 - Christensen's Big V's Saloon
1567 University Ave. W.
St. Paul, MN 55104
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.