Nightlife and Taverns

your choices for the Chippewa Valley’s best in Nightlife and Taverns

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson

BEST KARAOKE SPOT

1st Place: Wigwam Tavern
2nd Place: Court’n House
3rd Place: Sea Horse Inn

Whether for comedic reasons or the opportunity to recreate your own American Idol moment, we just crave an evening of karaoke once in a while. As those drinks flow through you, so does the music. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and the whole crowd will sing along. Other times, well, let’s just say it’s all about having fun. And with these three elite karaoke hot spots, you’ve got your whole weekend booked. On Friday, you’re heading to first place Wigwam Tavern (314 E Madison St), with “Karaoke” Nick Arnold and those wild, fun-loving bartenders. This, of course, follows your thirsty Thursday at Court’N House (113 W Grand Ave). This second place finisher presented by Shawtown is a big hit with the college crowd as well as the locals. On Saturday, your heading to the third place sleeper Sea Horse Inn (2106 N Clairemont Ave), where everyone “gets the clap” and covets those awesome vintage chairs. – Trevor Kupfer

Chippewa Choice: Two Waters Bar, 2940 109th St., Chippewa Falls
 

TOUGHEST BAR

1st Place: My Place
2nd Place: Whiskey Dicks
3rd Place: The Bullpen

It might be good for a tourist to know which bars are the toughest, but for those who frequent them, their responses were “What? We’re the toughest bar?” My Place (408 Galloway St.) came in numero uno, but the locals wouldn’t spill the secret as to why. Maybe the bartenders? The patrons? Rumor has it that if you’re not a regular, you might have a tough time getting a seat. I don’t know…maybe you should try it out. The “toughness” is a bit more apparent at Whiskey Dicks (943 Harlem St.), where a sign posted by the door prohibits all gang-related clothing. And lastly, but not any less tough, is The Bullpen (1522 Bellinger St.). The bartender there laughs and says they don’t take s--- from anybody. The leather-clad bouncer might scare you off, but you never know – it could be your kind of place. So grab a friend (a tough one) and check ‘em out! – Robin Kinderman


BEST BAR FOR INDOOR GAMES

1st Place: Stones Throw
2nd Place: Bonnie’s Labor Temple
3rd Place: Dewey’s Roadhouse
 
When it comes to going out, some people like dancing, others like chatting with friends, and some like playing games. That’s where the Stones Throw, Labor Temple, and Dewey’s Roadhouse come into play. All three sport a handful of fun where you can laugh at your friends. The Stones Throw is home to two unique things in Valley: a shuffle board (one of only three in this area) and a Nintendo Wii. The Throw has an amazing jumbo screen that people can hook up the Wii to play bowling, boxing, golf, and a number of other fun games at any time. The Labor Temple also has one of the rare shuffle boards, as well as a golf game (claimed to be extremely popular by the owner), and, for the more simple folks, there’s a touch screen with crosswords, card games, and memory games. And moving into Chippewa, Dewey’s Roadhouse has a slew of video games, touch screens, pool, darts, and the ever-popular golf game. So grab your friends and get your game on. – Robin Kinderman


BEST BAR FOR TALKIN’

1st Place: The Joynt
2nd Place: Haymarket Grill
3rd Place: Mogie’s Pub and Restaurant

Sometimes you just want to sit down, have a drink, and talk with some friends, but the library is no longer an option because they keep shushing you and sharing a flask sucks because of all the backwash. In that case, V1 readers head to The Joynt (322 Water St.) as the number one spot for drinkin’ and talkin.’ What can we say about The Joynt that hasn’t already been said? It’s the tavern version of heaven. It has the power to cure disease. Your fingernails grow three times as fast when you hang out at the Joynt. Go there already. Sheesh. In second place, Haymarket Grill (101 Graham Ave.) boasts an attractive multi-level eating establishment with a fancy menu of both food and drinks. In third place, Mogie’s (436 Water St.) offers a great selection of tap beers and the super-famous Spuds O’ Plenty. Now that all three are smoke free, you can even see the people you are conversing with. We hope that’s a good thing. – Eric Rasmussen


BEST BAR FOR DRINKIN’

1st Place: The Joynt
2nd Place: Wigwam Tavern
3rd Place: Haymarket Grill

The Chippewa Valley has its share of bars, pubs, taverns, clubs, and hootenanny establishments. And granted, you can get the same beer or cocktail at any bar across the Valley (most of the time), but sometimes they just taste different when you are parked on your favorite stool. Right? Yeah, thought so. The Joynt (322 Water St) is topping the list this year for good reason – it’s a great bar. The people (employees and patrons alike) are very friendly, there is great music available in the box, it has an interesting history, and unbelievable prices. At second base is the Wigwam (314 Madison St) with its famous fish fry, karaoke, Beerfest, volleyball, poker, and Wamfest. Any bar that hosts two fests is already a great bar for drinkin’ (high five). Chugging along in the caboose is the Haymarket Grill (101 Graham Ave), where food sits in shotgun but the high end drinks keep the clientele coming back for more. Try and resist ordering the Salty Dog or Stinger. – Mark Koenig

Chippewa Choice: Dewey’s Roadhouse, 1 East Canal St.
 

BEST HAPPY HOUR SPOT

1st Place: The Joynt
2nd Place: Haymarket Grill
3rd Place: Dooley’s Pub

Good deals and great conversation make happy hour a staple in the Chippewa Valley. Between 5 and 7 p.m., The Joynt (322 Water St.) is the best place to catch up with friends, coworkers, professors, and folks you’ve never met before. Down a pitcher or two of Premium at $3 a pop and, if you’re lucky, Menas will fill your glass. Happy hour at Haymarket Grill (101 Graham Ave.) leans closer to the upscale. Find drink specials Monday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. and try unique appetizers like roasted red pepper hummus or Spanikopita until 4:30. For a taste of the Irish, stop by Dooley’s Pub (442 Water St.) on weekdays from 3 till 6 p.m. Catch part of the game while sipping on a pint o’ Guinness.  – Carrie A. Weiss


BEST BAR FOR OUTDOOR SPORTS

1st Place: Wigwam Tavern
2nd Place: Loopy’s Grill and Saloon
3rd Place: Pioneer Tavern

Short of someone building a softball diamond or football field, the outdoor sports scene for taverns in the Chippewa Valley will always be defined by its volleyball courts. Four nights of the week during summer, you’re heading to The Depot, just down the street from Wigwam Tavern (314 E Madison St.), where you can watch the Brewers, listen to 90s rock, and play foosball or bean bags between volleyball games. Loopy’s (10691 Hwy 29, Chip Falls) is also a popular spot for volleyball leagues, as well as bean bags and broomstick. The bar’s popularity in this respect should only grow with the addition of its heated dome, which allows sand leagues year-round. For your third selection, voters like Pioneer Tavern (401 Water St. and E5699 Cty Rd D, Menomonie), which covers Eau Claire’s small court on Fourth Avenue as well as the Menomonie bar that has leagues for volleyball, disc golf, bean bags, horseshoes, snakes and ladders, and cornhole (whatever that means). – Trevor Kupfer


BEST DJ

1st Place: Erik Foiles
2nd Place: DJ Marcus
3rd Place: Nick Arnold

There is a litmus test for disc jockeys. It’s true. And it’s really easy to tell the difference between a good DJ and a great one. When you look around the room during the playlist from a good DJ, you’ll see heads nodding, toes tapping, a few people dancing, and several mouthing the words. The playlist from a great DJ, however, yields loads of people screaming the lyrics and forces people on the dance floor (no matter how scared of embarrassment they are) for all manner of body gyrations. If you don’t believe it, check out DJ Erik Foiles on Friday and Saturday nights at Dewey’s Roadhouse, which boasts the “best dance party in the Chippewa Valley.” Stop down to see DJ Marcus at Scooter’s for dance parties on Friday and Saturday nights. For a bit different experience, give “Karaoke” Nick a try on Thursdays and Fridays at the Wigwam or Sundays at Whiskey Dicks. Though a karaoke DJ, Nick will fill your face with factoids and feet with dance fever in between singers. – Trevor Kupfer


BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLES

1st Place: Scooter’s
2nd Place: Church (tied)
2nd Place: Online (tied)
3rd Place: Pioneer Tavern

Sending local fire-and-brimstone evangelicals into a tizzy, you voted Scooter’s (411 Galloway St.) as the best place in all of the Chippewa Valley to meet singles. Easily Eau Claire’s most prominent gay bar, Scooter’s has been offering a meeting place for unattached locals (and a thumpin’ dance floor regardless of your dating status) for over a decade. Demonstrating a diversity in the local single scene, the response “church” was close on the bar’s heels, tying for second place with “online.” (Perhaps there’s a lot of tech-savvy parishioners out there.) This tie allowed notorious meat market Pioneer Tavern (401 Water St.) to slip in at third, due no doubt to the grinding-room-only atmosphere cultivated every Thursday through Friday night. – Mike Paulus


BEST PLACE FOR DANCING

1st Place: Scooter’s
2nd Place: Dewey’s Roadhouse
3rd Place: She Nannigans

Well known for their bangin’ (and often overflowin’) dance floor, Scooter’s (411 Galloway St.) took your top vote for place to shake your money maker. Their DJs crank out one dance mix after another, urging on the crowd like a turntable moon rocking the tides of a sexy sea. In second place, Deweys Roadhouse (1 East Canal St., Chippewa Falls) fires up the dance party machine every Friday night. Meanwhile, Water Street groove staple She Nannigans (415 Water St.) writhed into third place. All three dance floors offer copious drink specials to help lubricate your smooth moves. – Mike Paulus

Really?: Several voters like dancing, “In the moonlight.”


BEST SPORTS BAR

1st Place: Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar
2nd Place: Dooley’s Pub
3rd Place: Ray’s Place

With a massive armada of chicken wing flavors, an apocalypse-level supply of beer, and  a flat screen televisions hanging upon most every flat surface, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar (4612 Keystone Xing) knows how to set the mood for spectator sports. Their potent mix of hot sauce, drinks, and football made the chain your top choice in sports bars. With fewer flat screens, but astronomically more Irish flare, Dooley’s Pub (442 Water St.) serves up the brewskies-n-ball games with ginormous, cube-shaped cheese curds. A few blocks down Water Street from Dooley’s, Ray’s Place (838 Water St.) offers the classic Packers-at-the-bar vibe, complete with their famous hot beef on a napkin. Those hot beefs good. – Mike Paulus


BEST BARTENDER

1st Place: Menas (The Joynt)
2nd Place: Missy (Wigwam Tavern)
3rd Place: Swany (Dooley’s)

One of the voters in this poll suggested that a quality bartender should be measured by his/her skills in pouring, bottle flipping, flair, and other such feats. But where did that get Tom Cruise in Cocktail? I’ll tell you: nowhere. We all know that a great bartender is someone who will sit back and swallow your soul pouring, then give the best relationship advice imaginable. The Joynt’s Menas exudes pure “chillitude,” giving the impression of an understanding listener with excellent musical taste. Missy at The Wigwam is the type of gal who can take your lunch orders during the day, then party hard at night – possibly involving dancing on the bar. Swany, the head honcho bartender over at Dooley’s, is known for his rapier-sharp one-liners and sweet jokes. All of them will give you the type of relationship advice you need, while hoping for a monster tip. – Trevor Kupfer


BEST SPECIALTY DRINK

1st Place: Haymarket’s Cucumber Martini
2nd Place: Grand Illusion’s Grand Delusion
3rd Place: Dewey’s Roadhouse Misdemeanor

A specialty drink can become a bar’s calling card. If it’s a great one, that singular beverage carries with it the power to potentially draw patrons by the bus full and etch the establishment into the annals of liquid history – like an inventor and his breakthrough invention. If you don’t believe me, ask Toby Cecchini, a Manhattan bartender with ties to the area who is widely agreed to be the inventor of the “cosmo.” Or you could ask Eli Whitney. Locals have discovered the deliciousness of Haymarket Grill’s Cucumber Martini, and those large versions of pickles may be the biggest vodka additive since olives. You’ve long known of The Grand Illusion’s colorful and fruity Grand Delusion, and the 10 blue cards that lead to T-shirt glory. Now the rest of the world just has to get a taste. The same goes for the Dewey’s Roadhouse Misdemeanor, and it’s a straight-up crime if you haven’t tried one. – Trevor Kupfer

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