Identity Crisis! The Hammond: Superior, WI

The Hammond is just across the bridge from Duluth. It has a little split personality problem. It’s a bar. It’s a liquor store. It’s a restaurant and it’s even a little meat shop. I’m not sure it does any of these very well. Which is a pity, really. These things all go pretty well together. Stop off for a quick drink and pick up some meat for the grill and a bottle of something to drink. If you don’t want to cook, eat in the restaurant. Well…the liquor store part is OK. It’s certainly nothing spectacular. It has an OK (there’s that word again) selection but the prices seemed kind of high. The meat counter looks like a sad little after thought. It’s a couple of shelves with a few steaks. Again, they seemed kind of pricey and didn’t really look appetizing. Of course, what I know about what a good steak should look like isn’t much. The bar is one of those dark places where you can’t quite see the person a few seats down which is probably perfect because you aren’t sure  you want to. The bartenders are never very friendly. More interested in talking to the regular at the end of the bar who’s hacking up a lung or doing just about anything other than chatting up clientele. The drinks have either been pretty bad or not too bad.

The decor definitely needs to be updated. I always feel dirty walking in. The bathroom isn’t much better. I’m never sure why we keep going back other than it’s right across the bridge. One caveat: I’ve never eaten in the restaurant, which is upstairs. I’ve heard it’s ‘The’ place to go for steaks in the Twin Ports and maybe one day I’ll make it there for food. If I can get past the bar.

UPDATE: JT’s Bar in Superior

I suppose it was bound to happen, right? Things rarely stay the same and usually I’m a fan of change but not so much in this case. JT’s, probably the best gay bar in Superior, is no more. We walked inside and it seemed like something was different but we couldn’t quite place what it was. We sat down and ordered our drinks and the bartender spilled the beans. It was JT”s no more! Yup. That was the problem. No more rainbows on the walls. No more gay olympic signs. All of it gone. Even the music seemed different. No more dance music, just…mainstream stuff. How did this happen? No. I don’t care. It was devastating. The new owner said she bought it from her ex. She was changing it because she wanted ‘everyone to feel welcome’. Got news for ya, honey: I felt more welcome at JT’s than most other bars. She’s changing the menu, too, and I don’t care as much about that. Food is food but mainstream is not gay and I’m not sure Superior can handle another straight bar. I hope she makes it but she’ll probably have to do it without us. We might venture in once just to see what she’s done with the place but I doubt we’ll go back.

>JT’s: Superior, WI


Ah, JT’s….how I love thee. Your oh so friendly bartenders. You’re the only bar in Souptown that isn’t overrun by TVs playing the latest sports game. You actually have good music, a pool table AND space to dance! Wait…what are all those rainbows for? What are all those….oh. I see. Gay bar! I’m not gonna lie to you…it took us a few trips before we even realized that we were in a gay bar. One of my husband’s hunting buddies wouldn’t couldn’t believe what it was until all the cute little rainbows & other gay pride things were pointed out to him. Nope, nothing wrong with it. This is one of my favorite bars in Superior. We always have a great time at JT’s. The guys can & have spent an hour or more playing pool. Us girls have danced with ourselves or whoever might be there. We even got gifts from someone else’s birthday party. What’s not to love? Ok, they don’t usually open until four in the afternoon which is late for Superior (most bars open around 8am) but other than that it’s a fun hang out.

The drinks are ok. Sometimes better than others. They do serve food; mostly apps & burgers. Probably pizza, too. It’s pretty decent though all we’ve ever gotten is the appetizer sampler. Fried food heaven! They have live music. A lot. Seems like just about every weekend they have some band in there. Maybe one of these times I’ll even have a chance to listen to one of them.

>Sawmill: Virginia, MN


The Sawmill is sort of on the outskirts of Virginia.  We generally drive by it when we’re returning from a trip to the range.  It’s a huge bar outfitted to look sort of like a sawmill (go figure).  It’s a pretty loud bar.  They usually have the music turned up and the high ceilings don’t help any.  Being the quiet person I am I usually have to repeat my order at least two or three times before the bartender can hear me.  The pours are pretty corporate.  I don’t think we’ve been overly impressed once.  And yet we keep going back… The bartender was pretty social with everyone except us.  She poured the wrong drink for my husband and it took quite a few minutes before we could flag her down to get it corrected.

This time we ordered food because the other two in our party were hungry.  They ordered the pulled pork sandwich and my husband & I split an order of nachos.  The guys said the sandwiches were ok but nothing to write home about.  Our nachos were pretty craptacular.  The meat was just ground beef with no seasoning. There was a pitiful amount of cheese and the rest of the toppings didn’t make up for these two inadequacies. For nine bucks, we were expecting more than we got.  All of us were in agreement that the food was way overpriced.  So while we may stop back for cocktails we won’t be ordering food again.

>The Anchor Bar: Superior, WI


Anyone that knows anything about the Twin Ports has heard of The Anchor Bar.  ‘Best burgers ever!’ is usually the tag line.  When we first started going here that was true.  Not only were they awesome, they were/are cheap.  You could get a burger and some damn good fries for under $5.  But lately the burgers have been crap and the fries suck donkey.  I’m not sure what they did to the recipes but they need to change it back.  I’d almost rather have a McDonald’s burger.  And the fries are now a rubbery, tasteless mess of something that was once potato. Maybe.

Doesn’t that look good?  Don’t let it fool you, though.  It’s pretty much $5 I could have spent on something much tastier.

The decor of The Anchor is a cluttered mess.  I’m not sure what look they’re going for but cluttered trash heap is what comes across.  They have stuff hanging from the ceilings and the walls are covered with even more.  Most of it is of a nautical nature but not all. And it is all covered with a thick layer of dust.  Don’t breathe too hard or you might suck something in you wish you hadn’t.

The bartenders have a reputation for being bitchy.  Yup.  They are actually proud of the fact that they come across as bitches.  If they’re busy and feeling overworked, they don’t have a problem being snippy with you.  Something that would never fly in any other service oriented business but it’s something they’ve managed to somehow use to their advantage.  As a result, the pours vary greatly.  If it’s a good day, they’re not bad. If the bartender is feeling tired, cranky, pissed off or whatever the excuse of the day is it’s pretty crappy.

Having said all that let me just add this.  We don’t go here anymore due to the reasons listed above.  When we went to get the pictures for the blog it looked like they maybe had new bartenders so your experience may vary.  But I stand by the shitty food comments.

>Prairie River Retreat, McGregor, MN


This is the other bar in McGregor.  Everyone else seemed to prefer this one.  It was more open, more lit and more busy than The Red Rock.  This is one of those places that plasters dollar bills all over the place.  I’m still trying to figure out why bars do that.  The rest of the interior is pretty sparse.  There are a lot of tables and chairs with the bar being sort of in the middle of it all.  It, too, serves food and we all ended up getting burgers here.  They were ok but pretty forgettable.  The drinks were about the same.  Certainly no better than Red Rock’s.

Ultimately, that’s probably all I have to say about this place.  I was pretty underwhelmed by it.

>Red Rock Bar & Grill, McGregor, MN


Walking in to this bar, it looked like part of it as undergoing construction.  I’m not sure if they were adding a dining room or remodeling it or if it always looked like that.  But it was pretty ‘rustic’.  The bar part wasn’t too bad.  They did have a pinball machine.  Fat Cats, I think it was called and we did amuse ourselves with it for a game or two.  But first…my husband is what we call a Crack Whore.  No, not that kind of crack!  He likes to play pull tabs.  There were a couple of boxes behind the bar and one of them was calling his name.  The bartender, who was also the owner, hadn’t yet unlocked the boxes and when he went to unlock the box, he couldn’t find his keys.  He swore he just had them because it hadn’t been that long since he had opened up.  But they disappeared and disappeared but good.  The couple that we were with insisted on helping him look for them.  So that was fun watching them run around looking for this guys keys.  They probably ‘helped’ him for a good twenty or thirty minutes before they all gave up.  

Other than that, the bartender was nice enough.  He talked to us about the area and a little about his time in the military.  It was sorta cute that he was pretty proud of the new TV he had just installed.  The drinks he poured were decent enough but nothing special.  They do serve food but we didn’t try it.  It’s not actually a bad bar.  I liked this one better than the next one we went to but I was in the minority.