Nightlife and Taverns

your Best of the Chippewa Valley 2009 winners for nightime fun

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson |

1st Place: Wigwam Tavern
2nd Place: Erwin’s 19th Hole
3rd Place: Sea Horse Inn

Want to exert your lung capacity and bare your inner Meatloaf in front of a receptive, rambunctious crowd? And, afterward, do you want to rest from your karaoke labors in big, burgundy booths while secretly loathing politely watching your fellow karaoke professionals? Then you probably voted for the laid-back Wigwam Tavern, winner of the karaoke title for the second year in a row. At second place is Erwin’s 19th Hole in Chippewa Falls, a venue that addresses the question “Why not have karaoke two nights in a row?” with “No reason!” And once again, Chippewa Vallians can hardly resist karaoke when it is paired with nautical idolatry and the sparkly blue barstools of simpler times. The Sea Horse Inn snagged third place again this year. Just don’t break the rules and tap on the mic. – Kinzy Janssen

1st Place: The Joynt
2nd Place: Ray’s Place
3rd Place: The Mousetrap

If you’re in the mood for getting away and going to a place where everybody knows your name, apparently that means it’s time for The Joynt. Often these neighborhood taverns are put down as “townie” bars, but I can’t see anything wrong with the type of place that patrons send a wall full of postcards to … just to say they wish they were there! Taking a break from all your worries sure helps a lot, and a beef sandwich served on a napkin never hurts while you’re at Ray’s Place. True townie bars need a solid nickname for those “in the know” to quickly infer their destination, and I can’t think of anything better than “The Trap,” where you’re always glad you came. – Trevor Kupfer

Hallie Hint: Erwin’s 19th Hole

1st Place: The Mousetrap
2nd Place: The Livery
3rd Place: Happy Hollow

No bar is complete without something to do while you’re tossing one back. The expanded Mousetrap comes complete with a comfortable billiards room, foosball, pool leagues, dart leagues, two different shake-of-the-days, a Nintendo Wii, and a couple video slots. You’d be hard pressed to go in there and not find something fun to do, so go ahead and try it. The new Livery comes complete with it’s own game room, where windows let you watch passerbys on the street, and a hallway lets you access great food and drinks at the adjacent restaurant. Happy Hollow in Altoona was basically made to play games in. With plenty of room, specials, and a decidedly happy atmosphere, you’re guaranteed to have a good time dropping some pool balls while your friends stand awestruck at your skills. – Aryn Widule

1st Place: Loopy’s
2nd Place: Wigwam Tavern
3rd Place: The Pioneer

When your sand volleyball leagues are so popular you decide to build a dome for indoor play, chances are you’re doing pretty well. And, indeed, Loopy’s in Chippewa Falls takes the cake for best outdoor/league sports. I suppose second best is having your own complex, complete with a bar, foosball table, and bean bags. And that’s exactly what The Wigwam has in The Depot. The Pioneer has always been a popular choice behind Stave & Hoop, but Menomonie’s tavern has a backyard complex with leagues for volleyball, bean bags, and horseshoes, plus live music and a Frisbee golf course. – Trevor Kupfer

1st Place: The Joynt
2nd Place: The Red Parrot
3rd Place: Mogie’s

The Joynt was made for talking. Think about it. What’s missing? A dance floor. That’s right. Because the Joynt is all talk, all the time. Many of the Chippewa Valley’s brightest thinkers and most talented artists have called this place home. Even when it gets loud, the collective IQ begs for conversation. The Red Parrot, in second place, has a popular happy hour. The lounge draws people in during the week for some lively chatter.  he Red Parrot provides enough lighting that you can read the lips of the person next to you if it gets loud on the weekend. Mogie’s, in third, has some nice deep booths and a solid menu going for it. Nothing says confab like five of your besties in a booth with an order of Spuds O’ Plenty and a few cold ones. – Betty Rae Matthews

1st Place: The Red Parrot
2nd Place: The Joynt
3rd Place: The Mousetrap

Oh, delicious drinks, where would we be without you? With a fun, classic atmosphere, The Red Parrot Nightclub and Lounge has quickly become one of Eau Claire’s most popular places to have a few with your friends. With good music, trivia nights, and excellent service, the Red Parrot is the kind of place where you can relax in style. For decades upon decades The Joynt has been a landmark establishment in Eau Claire. With walls papered with photos of musicians, affordable drinks, and a virtually iconic staff of bartenders, the Joynt has been the place to read a book and have a beer, or just have a seat and chat with friends. The Mousetrap tops the downtown neighborhood with always-free musical acts, an outdoor beer garden, dart leagues, pool leagues, and great game-time drink specials. Toss in a weekly open mic night and you’re officially ready for a good time. – Aryn Widule

1st Place: The Red Parrot
2nd Place: The Joynt
3rd Place: Friday’s

In the Chippewa Valley, there is nothing better than some cheap drinks while you’re catching up with friends after a long day of work. Red Parrot Nightclub and Lounge placed first this year, for drink specials so affordable you may be tempted to stay later. Every day, from 4 to 7, their already-low prices on drinks go down another 50 cents. Stop into The Joynt any day between 5 and 7 for seriously awesome deals on tap beer and the best spot to verbally unwind in the Valley. Feeling a little hungry? Make a trip to Friday’s for happy hour between 4 and 7 on weekdays and enjoy half-priced appetizers and $5 off Jack Daniels’ Grill entrees. – Jenna Campbell

1st Place: DJ Marcus (Scooters)
2nd Place: DJ Miss Felicia (Scooters)
3rd Place: Nick Arnold (Wigwam Tavern and 5 O’Clock Club)

It’s easy to tell the difference between a decent DJ and a stellar one. When you look around the room during a song from a decent DJ, you may observe a little toe-tappin’, maybe a little head bobbing, and just maybe, a little booty shaking. However, during the play list for a great DJ, observe a ton of people screaming the words, and massive amounts of people getting down on the dance floor. Scooters boasts not just one, but two such DJs. Both DJ Marcus and DJ Miss Felicia bust out the techno dance jams on Friday and Saturday nights at 10. Then there‘s “Karaoke” Nick Arnold, the lovable and outgoing karaoke DJ for both Wigwam Tavern and 5 O’Clock Club four nights of the week and host of the Valley’s best trivia night (at Wigwam) every Thursday night. - Bailey Berg

1st Place: Shenanigans
2nd Place: Scooter’s
3rd Place: Friday’s (tied)
3rd Place: Whiskey Dick’s (tied

Ahh, hooking up. Shenanigans sits atop the list as Eau Claire’s favorite place to go out, meet someone who is looking to meet someone, and then have a good time. Grab a drink, go have a dance, and see where it leads. Scooter’s downtown lets you meet just about anyone you’d like to meet, the establishment’s openness and fun atmosphere make it a favorite hangout for people looking to go out and have a good time. With great happy hours specials and a relaxed atmosphere, Friday’s is a place where you can meet someone new, have a chat and maybe get a bite to eat all at the same time. Whiskey Dick’s party atmosphere and continuum of fun events makes it a bar that virtually guarantees that you meet someone out to have as good a time as you are. – Aryn Widule

1st Place: Scooter’s
2nd Place: The Red Parrot
3rd Place: Shenanigans

Unless you’re a robot, chances are you like to dance. Actually, robots have their own dance, so you really have no excuse if you don’t like to get down from time to time. That’s why there are places like Scooter’s. Chances are you’ve been there at least once, and if you make it on the right night you can boogie out to some of the most classic and eclectic dance tunes around. The Red Parrot is relatively new on the scene, but has quickly become one of Eau Claire’s most popular hotspots. The only place around with a returning swing band, the Red Parrot lets you practice your tossing and twirling in an officially lounge-y atmosphere. If the co-ed dance party is more your style, shoot down to Shenanigans on Water Street and get down and dirty in a club setting that will remind you what college is all about. – Aryn Widule

Really?: Any place the mood strikes you

1st Place: Buffalo Wild Wings
2nd Place: The Mousetrap
3rd Place: Dooley’s Pub

The No. 1 rule to watching a sporting game is to have a big enough TV so everyone can enjoy the game. Buffalo Wild Wings takes the cake on this one. With enough TV’s from every angle, it’s nearly impossible to miss a play. Let’s say you’re walking downtown on an afternoon weekend to unwind because your team just threw an interception in the fourth quarter. If you get a chance, stop in at The Mousetrap tavern where dartboards, pool tables, and foosball will allow you to watch the game at a distance. If you’re near Water Street, the best place to watch a sporting game would have to be Dooley’s Pub. Besides offering free popcorn all day, the pub shows Aussie Rules Football, rugby, Premier League Soccer, Hurling, and Gaelic Football. – Emily Diehl

1st Place: Isabelle (Red Room)
2nd Place: Swany (Dooley’s)
3rd Place: Kiah (aka Scarlett) (Red Parrot)

Some believe that bartender quality should be gauged by their ability to creatively pour drinks (i.e. flipping bottles in the air), but the poll voters knew better when they selected these three barkeeps. They know that a great bartender is one who can sit back and swallow your soul pouring, dole out a much-needed joke at the right time, and toss out encouraging life advice. This is Swany’s second appearance on the poll, moving up one spot since 12 months ago, while Isabelle and Kiah make their debut appearances. This is our way of showing appreciation for all you do. But don’t worry, we’ll still leave a tip. – Trevor Kupfer

1st Place: Stella Blues
2nd Place: Haymarket Grill
3rd Place: The Livery

Whether you enjoy an obscure and delicious microbrew, a martini with a flavorful name, or a meal paired professionally with a beer to enhance your experience, you will find it at Stella Blues. This year’s winner boasts a tap beer selection second to none in the area. You will find everything you were looking for and probably some you never knew existed. Coming in second is the always-classy Haymarket Grill. Legendary infused vodka makes their bloodies a must have, while a seasonal selection of several Oktoberfest beers on tap should not be passed up. In third is a recent and unique addition to the Eau Claire drinking scene, The Livery. With available top-shelf alcohol and always-fresh ingredients, their made from scratch drinks have already created a name for themselves. – Mitchell See

Menomonie Morsel: Das Bierhaus, where they not only carry awesome domestics and imports, but they also brew their own awesome beer.

1st Place: Grand Illusion’s Delusion
2nd Place: Haymarket’s Cucumber Martini
3rd Place: Shanghai Bistro’s Sake-tini

There are two kinds of voters in this category: those who want to enjoy a fine cocktail, and those who want to have bragging rights. The Delusion wins in a landslide because it is a potent drink with a rockstar status. You can get a beer or a rail mixer anywhere, but you can only get a Delusion from The Grand Illusion. The Cucumber Martini from Haymarket Grill occupies the other end of the spectrum. It is subtle, sophisticated, and refreshing. It tastes like it is fresh from the garden. For those who are tired of fruity cocktails, it is the perfect alternative. Shanghai Bistro’s Sake-tini rounds out the list. It is incredibly smooth and easy on the taste buds with a rainbow of fruity flavors to choose from. – Betty Rae Matthews