Another week, another perfect example of the rule “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I’m almost thinking we should change the name of this blog to something along that lines. Because we visit some shady looking places, y’all. And have yet to be shot at, kicked out of or completely disappointed in – well – most of them. Not too shabby.
So, yeah, Dante’s is definitely a bit shady on the outside. Like we drove right past it at first because we weren’t sure a) that was the place, and b) it was open. We finally realized there must be parking behind the building, since there were zero cars on the street. However, that lot was really no less daunting than the front of the building. As we parked, Shane noticed a light on above the creepy looking basement door.
Shane: what’s up with that basement?
Me: that’s where people go to die. You watch enough horror movies, that should be obvious to you.
We then had a lengthy discussion about how I would most definitely be the first one of us to die, since I was the only girl in the group for the night (Amanda was home sick, boo) and I was wearing 4-inch heels. So there’s that.
Dante’s is way tiny inside. Like small enough that the whole “put a mirror up on one wall to make it look bigger” trick almost works. But it’s small in a good way, in that it just makes it feel homey. Like a neighborhood bar, which really is exactly what the place truly is. I mean, it even has the stale smell of old neighborhood bars. You know what I’m talking about … the smell of about 57 years worth of nicotine and spilled beer in a place that can never open a window. And it hits you like a wall as soon as you walk in. But in a good way.
All that being said, you might expect the records to screech to a halt and the regulars to stare us down as soon as us “newbies” walk through the door. But that’s one of the best things about Dante’s, we realized … everyone there is treated like they’ve been coming to the place for ages, regardless if that’s truly the case, or if they just walked in for the first time. Our server/bartender was the first to greet us, and she did so with a smile and wave as if we were old friends. Maybe we are? I mean, we’ve been to a lot of places these past few years. Hmm.
And in fact we trusted her as if she were an old friend – it seemed that everything she old us to order we jumped on like a kid in a bouncy house. She was great at giving suggestions once we told her it was our first time there, and didn’t judge us one bit for saying we were slightly afraid to come in to the place before this night. Although she did judge Shane, who was switching things up and ordering a vodka & Red Bull for his drink (since the Long Islands effectively kicked his ass last week) and, when asked what kind of vodka he wanted, just replied “I don’t care, well is fine.” You’d have thought she was just told to go shoot puppies out back and use their blood in his drink by the way she feigned shock. She replied that “I’m Ukrainian, we don’t believe in well vodka. I can’t serve you that, I have to give you something with at least a name.” Well played.
Meanwhile Ted went the complete opposite route and ordered an IPA (Pine something, maybe?) solely on her recommendation. So he’s clearly still on her good side.
I went with the Woodchuck, since there was nothing on the beer list that necessarily sounded good to me.
Ted: You don’t know how proud it makes me that the beer list included Miller, Coors and Bud, and you said that “nothing sounded good.”
I seriously thought he might cry.
So for food, we all went with burgers, since the server told us that’s one of their specialties. I think at this point we might’ve ordered a pile of old boots deep fried in motor oil, that’s how much we trusted her recommendations. Ted ordered the Chuckie (which has salami on it), Shane got the Hot Pepper Burger (guess what that has on it?) and I had the standard Game Day Burger, with added mushrooms. The guys also got wings (Jamaican Jerk and Garlic Butter), because, well them.
Shane also ordered the Game Day Fries – another of the specialties and high recommendations of our server. These are basically regular fries covered in melted cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing. A combination which is music to the ears of my ranch-loving husband … but somehow that Midwestern gene skipped me. I also – thanks to an incident with a sink full of dirty dishes and a wet cracker from when I was about 8 years old – can’t stand soggy things, which is exactly how those fries end up after the cheese gets cold and the ranch seeps into them. But that’s just me. Which meant more for him, and he was perfectly OK with that.
The burgers were good. I was stuffed full after only half of mine, and about 1.5 onion rings. Shane said his hot peppers on his burger weren’t especially hot, but there was some sort of sauce on the sandwich that was made from one level of the surface of the sun, so that helped balance it out. Ted commented that he thought Dante’s must get their burger meat from the same place that supplies the Windsor Pub, because they tasted very similar.
The wings were OK – Ted said he thought that the Jamaican ones would’ve had more of a kick to them, but they were actually more like a sweet BBQ. And they were very salty. He said they weren’t bad … just “different.” He likened them to eating a bag of BBQ potato chips. Only the chips were made of chicken. So there’s that.
One thing we did be sure to note – we noticed it on a card on our tables and had to ask our server to be sure we weren’t seeing it wrong – Thursdays are $1.00 burger nights. $1.00. Right?? We didn’t believe it either. I mean, that’s like a holy offering to food lovers like us. Now granted they are 1/4 pound burgers (every other night – including the ones we had – they’re 1/2 pound), but still … I mean, it’s $1.00. You can buy four of them, mask them together and make a one pounder … and you’d still have change from a $5 bill. It’s kind of a no brainer.
So all in all, Dante’s is a nice little neighborhood bar. It’s definitely no frills, just a great little dive bar with lots of TVs tuned to the latest games and a few regulars keeping the bartender company after the dinner rush. It’s one of those places you almost want to become a regular in, just because you can tell there’s a good atmosphere and people are fun to be around. Like most dives, there’s not an overly impressive beer list, but they have the basics and it’s cheap and just a cool place to hang out. Just steer clear of the basement. I mean, even now that we’ve been inside the place I still don’t want to know why that light is on.
Picked by: Shane
Drinks: Not a very impressive list, unless you have trouble deciding between Miller Lite, Coors Lite and Bud Light. Then you’re in the right place for sure.
Food: Typical dive bar fare – burgers, wings, anything you can make in a deep fryer. But a few surprises and specialties, like the game day fries. We took note of the $1 burgers on Thursdays. Because we like burgers, and that’s cheaper than McDonald’s. For real.
Service: Excellent. You know I love a server who can give any of us a run for our sarcastic and/or idiot sense of humor selves, while still doing a good job getting orders correct and giving suggestions. This was no exception.
Overall: Now that we know it’s not nearly as scary on the inside as it looks from a quick drive-by outside, I’m sure we’ll go back.
Next Pick: Steph