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.

>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.

>O’Neill’s Pub & Liquor


O’Neill’s is almost like a little bit of Ireland in Wisconsin.  They even have shuffleboard and darts.  The ceiling over the bar has been lowered, probably to give more of that Irish feel.  It’s a toss up as to whether this or Off the Wagon is my favorite bar in Superior.  This is one of the few bars that has a fireplace and while we always say we should sit in front of it some cold winter night we never get around to it.  

The staff is always very friendly.  The pours sometimes are great and sometimes not so much.  And this usually determines how long we stay.  It’s more pricey than most of the bars in Superior so we don’t tend to stay long for drinks that taste more like water than anything else.  I think part of what determines your pour is if the bartender recognizes you.  Seems like when we’re frequent visitors we get better pours than if it’s been awhile.  And their specials aren’t anything exciting, either.  Unless you happen to like beer and neither of us does.  

O’Neill’s doesn’t have food other than the obligatory appetizers.  We’ve tried them and they’re average.  We really like their pizza fries and will sometimes do those for lunch.  Sure, not the most healthy thing but then neither is drinking so we might as well go all out.

There is one sort of odd thing I have to mention: the bathroom stalls open out instead of in!  What does that mean?  No contorting of the body because the stall is small enough without the door opening in!  Honestly, it puts a smile on my face whenever I have to use the facilities here.  No idea if the same holds true for the men’s room…

The other unique aspect about this bar is it has a drive-thru liquor store.  Seriously!!  It’s one of their advertising points.  I think the building used to be a Wendy’s and when O’Neill’s took it over (or whomever) they never took out the drive-thru window.  I guess rather than let it remain useless they decided to gimmick it up.  And why not?  I’ve heard of liquor stores that deliver (and there need to be more!) so why not one with a drive-thru?  

>Off the Wagon


When we first started going to this bar, it was Adam’s Last Call. Owned by a guy named, obviously, Adam. He was a nice guy from somewhere in Eastern Europe, I believe. He would gab with us and even gave us a shot of his special reserve vodka once. We loved hanging out there. But then for reasons that I won’t go into, he had to sell the bar. So it’s now Off the Wagon. The new owners are just as nice as Adam and they haven’t really changed much about the place, other than the name and cleaning it up some. Even though it’s in Superior it was and still is a Vikings bar. Probably it’s an all MN sports bar but we don’t pay attention to any other sports.

They still do an awesome pour as they kept on most of the old staff. Like the vast majority of WI bars, they don’t serve food other than pizza. I think they have two kinds, one from a local place, Lil Nick’s, (which I’ve heard is very good), and the other from one of those ‘bar’ pizza companies.

Like so many bars, this is an old one. It has a lot of the original woodwork, to include the bar and the behind the bar area. It also has some beautiful stained glass on either side of the mirror that sits behind the bar.

We really like this bar. It has become ‘our’ place to hang out. Attending Vikings games there is a lot of fun. Adam would have food and drawings and we only hope the new owners will do so as well. I’ll let ya know in a few months.