Anyone who has a soft spot for cheap beer, stiff drinks, a flair for the historic, and strangers with character knows there’s no substitute for a really great dive bar.
When the folks over at Thrillist recently took it upon themselves to round up the nation’s finest, they gazed lovingly upon St. Paul’s East Side. There, they found Arcade Bar nuzzled into Arcade Street, where it patiently waits for you to sidle in for a Hamm’s 365 days a year.
Located beneath a former flophouse, the Arcade was long adored by regulars and moonlighters alike for feeling like it hadn’t changed one bit since the mid-'80s. But when the bar’s ownership changed hands in April 2017, the minor changes that irk oldtimers slowly rolled in. Though the loss of her checkerboard tile flooring is a biggie, those wooden beer coolers and the neon sign (pictured above) go a long way to maintaining the sort of ambiance one expects from the cream of the dive bar crop.
As Thrillist notes:
More importantly, the character of the place is intact. The Arcade's bartenders are happy to serve anyone with money to spend -- they're also quick to remind offenders that bar rules prohibit crooked hats and foul language. This is the kind of joint that inspires conversation and laughter between strangers. If you're hungry, your choices are Slim Jims, microwaveable burgers and sandwiches, or Heggie's frozen pizza.
Though our checklist of what makes a great dive may differ slightly from the folks at Thrillest (characteristics which could be endlessly argued and never agreed upon), the Arcade is an indisputable gem deserving of this accolade and so much more.
So the next time you’re looking for a spot to crawl into and lose yourself for a while, give the Arcade a go? They’ll always be there for you, as long as you’re there for them.
932 Arcade Street