Last October Esquire Magazine had a nice write-up on Nye's in Minneapolis. In fact, the author rated it "The Best Bar In America." Now Nye's has been around, at least at their current location, since 1950's, so the place does have legs. I, on the other hand, grew up in Minneapolis and have been around even longer. And, yes, I did frequent Nye's. Mostly for the food though. Usually their spare ribs and sauerkraut, prime-rib when I was splurging. I can't say I ever hung out at the bar that much though. My favorite bars back in those days were Broadway Bar, the original location, and Lyle's, where everyone I knew hung out. Back then Broadway Bar was much cooler, in a bit of a rough way, than Nye's, and they had the best pizza in town, maybe in the world. Now this isn't to say that Nye's isn't a mighty fine bar, because it is. But the best bar in America? That might be a stretch. Everyone has their own favorite though.
Be that as it may, when I returned to Minneapolis from my trip up North I thought it would be fun to hit Nye's for old-times sake. My buddy Rico and his wife Sandy went with The Mysterious Chinese Woman and me and we arranged to meet another buddy, Jerry, at the bar. You may remember them from the infamous Brokeback Cabin posting, among others.
Bar Man And Rico At Nye's
Needless to say, we did not heed the "Do Not Enter" sign out front.
Here are a couple of more shots to give you an idea of the spread of the place. On the corner is the bar and the other two areas have dining and yet another bar.
Now, if you think a good bar is a dark bar, then Nye's meets that criteria. I don't think there is anywhere that you can see outside. In fact, their really aren't any windows except for one in the bar. But you can't see out of that one because it is pretty much opaque.
My buddy Jerry showed up so we had one at the bar before settling into our table for dinner.
Jerry, Sandy, Bar Man, Rico with Dan the Bartender
I had a Manhattan with their well-whiskey which, I believe, was Jim Beam. Usually I like mine made with Maker's Mark, but I am starting to favor some of the other bourbons now. Maybe because they are newer to my palate. They seem to have a deeper, smokier taste. Interestingly, in the Midwest, you have to specify that you want your Manhattan with whiskey. Brandy Manhattans seem to be the norm. This doesn't seem to have hit the East Coast yet, as far as I know.
The dining area, adjacent to the primary bar area, is decorated in what Esquire said was a bordello style. It is, I guess. Can't say I have seen to many bordellos though so I will have to take their word for it.
I think, with the American flag and all, this is what a bordello might look like if it was run by your neighborhood VFW or American Legion. Which gives me a great idea on how those venerable institutions could revitalize their memberships.
There is a second bar in the back, but it seems like it is more of a service bar than one at which you could actually have a drink.
Bar In The Back
If you are ever in Minneapolis I would recommend you make the effort to pop into Nye's, just so you can see what Esquire thinks is the best bar in America looks like. There are several others in the neighborhood too, so you could do a bit of a crawl if you wanted.
Oh, I had the spareribs and sauerkraut for dinner and although I liked them, the Mysterious Chinese Woman thought they were a bit bland. I explained to her that in the Midwest these were considered spicy. In the Midwest adding salt and pepper is considered a bit daring. Lutefisk rules.