Lots of things to write about when you take 8 months off. Let’s start with additions to my list:
633 – Crawford Brew Works (Bettendorf): A cavernous space with high ceilings and windows behind the bar overlooking the deck, and a large second floor balcony that can be booked for parties. For dining options, they have rotating food trucks throughout the week. The beer? We’ve only been there once so it may not be a fair evaluation, but we weren’t impressed.
634 – Bourbons (Coal Valley): They took the old Headquarters and put in new cedar walls,
a granite bar, fieldstone pillars, and closed off the kitchen window. Only the ceiling remains from before. They claim 128 bourbons, including Whistle Pig Boss Hog Black Prince at $90 a shot. Food is good, too.
635 – Milltown Coffee (Moline): Unbeknownst to most people (including myself until we planned our May Parrothead social there), Milltown Coffee sells beer and wine, and has a liquor license! You also might not think of it as a music venue (and it seems underutilized for that now), but they have a great stage, next to a wall of windows to the Mississippi. They may have taken it off the menu, but the peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich was great! 636, 642, and 644 – Three bars in the TBK Sports Center (Bettendorf): First of all, what an amazing complex. A full size indoor soccer field (and two outdoor), 8 indoor basketball courts, football practice areas with tackling dummies, huge workout center, escape rooms – it goes on and on, but that’s neither here nor there. There are three bars: one on the main floor of the High 5 Bowling Center (where there are 16 lanes), another upstairs (Up Top) with another sixteen lanes, and Digs way in the back next to the indoor beach volleyball courts, with more courts right outside the door. Food is not what you expect at a place like this (Coconut Shrimp in with tropical habanero sauce is really good, and my wife really enjoyed the burger). Digs also has music, but let’s just say it’s acoustically … unsound. 637 – Cody Road Cocktail House (LeClaire): Ask for one of the numbered cocktails, otherwise you’ll be met with confusion – wife asked for a vodka cranberry, and she was referred to a # 7, because their mix of cranberry, lemon, and orange was the closest thing they had to cranberry juice (even though another bartender pulled out the Ocean Spray for a subsequent customer). Slow service, but nice patio. 638 – Riverfront Grille (Rock Island): They did a real nice job of remodeling Martini’s On The Rock, and totally enclosed and heated / cooled the room by the river. The food is good and reasonable, and the place is still a viable music venue, but as of yet, closing time is still 3pm. 639 – The Little Deli (LeClaire): The owner of our favorite bar in LeClaire, 129, has opened a deli up Jones St. Sandwiches and soups are excellent, and there’s the bonus of having a full bar. Not surprisingly, the atmosphere and decor is similar to 129, and the service is just the same - impeccable! 640 – Abides (Milan): Milan Bowl reopened as Backyard Bowl, and what was formerly Toucan’s / Skinny Legs BBQ became Abides, which is, of course, a take-off on The Big Lebowski. Gone are the cheesy Caribbean murals (which I loved), and it’s definitely a more antiseptic feel. The menu has gone more upscale, too. I realize that a Saturday afternoon during bowling off-season won’t be busy, but being the only two customers with 10 employees was a little creepy. 641 – Eleven 17 (Village of East Davenport): One of my favorites of this post’s selection, this bar (formerly Baked On Tap) is maybe one of the smallest in the QCA. A couple tables as you walk in, then three steps down to the bar which looks to seat about 16, and a couple more tables. In the summer, their seating capacity doubles with a wrap-around patio. The two owners are rock stars of the local bar scene as bartenders and managers, and they know (and teach their staff) how to treat customers. The busiest time of day, is usually 11:17 pm, where free shots are given. 643 – Viva (Downtown Davenport) If you’re visiting from out of town and staying at The Current, this is a perfectly acceptable lobby bar, but not necessarily a destination if you live in town. Viva is known for upscale Mexican food, but the first time I tried to eat there, it was closed (lunch hour on a Friday), and the second time, it was open but you could only order from the Up Sky Bar menu – which doesn’t include Mexican food. 645 – The Key (Downtown Davenport). Inside the Union Arcade building, The Key is a breakfast / lunch / small plates / dessert restaurant with a 7-8 stool bar, that’s only open until 9pm (1am Friday and Saturday). Beside the bar,there’s room for about three dozen to sit, and they still manage to have space apparently for live music. As far as I know, the only place in the Quad Cities that makes a Croque Monsieur – tasty, but not quite like having one at the Paris hotel in Vegas.
646 – The Tangled Wood (Bettendorf). New Year’s Eve was the last day open for Governor’s at its present location, which will be knocked down to build a Hy-Vee gas station. Though it’s not yet open to the public (Jan 14 is the official Grand Opening date, currently), many of the regulars got a sneak preview on the 3rd, and what an impressive space it is! The bar itself is almost the size of the entire old Governor’s, with a separate restaurant area and an area for functions in the front. The bar abuts sliding glass that can be opened to the continuation of the bar outside, where they have vast seating ability and plans for an amphitheater. They’ve also geared for success by making Tammie (co-owner of Café Indigo, and former owner of Steel Head Tavern) the general manager, and Doug Lear, formerly of Bass Street Chop House, the executive chef.
647 – Roam (Downtown Davenport). It was a matter of time, since we’ve already got two bars with bike shops (Crawford Brew Works, with Healthy Habits next door, and Ruby’s Beers, Bikes, and Brats) that they took it to the next level with a motorcycle repair shop in the rear (currently being used mainly as storage for the bar). Remarkably upscale for the Quad Cities, there are three separate sections: a coffee shop to the right as you walk in, a lounge with couches and low chairs to the left, and the bar / dining room beyond that, one step up, with seating against the wall plus a long table they can hoist up to the ceiling should they need the standing room. Unique features are reusable metal straws, two smokers for drinks, and liquid nitrogen to keep the cocktails cold (the Thai Basil was my wife’s favorite). An eclectic menu that includes Pig Head Tacos ($100.)
You might notice that I left off last post with 630, meaning I should have started this one at bar #631. I decided in a brazen effort to pad my stats that the Brix Annex and Van’s After Dark would count separately – they had a separate bar (which I’ve bellied up to on a number of occasions), and in fact were totally separate bars (Tailgaters, Rubikon, and Long Shots) before Brix moved in to the corner. So 647 is my new total (see the entire list here). My game, my rules.
Not sure how many people were consumed with anticipation of finally having a place in Davenport that serves honey mead, but Bootleg Hill Meaderyon 2nd St, which opened last month a block east of Barrel House, should calm their anxiety. I’ve never had it, but it appears that they’ll have a dozen or so varieties, plus beer and wine.
Torchlight Sports Lounge in East Moline has reopened with new ownership as, obviously, a sports bar. Not that it took much, but I hear it’s very much nicer than its predecessor.
Bullseye Saloon is a country bar in East Moline. It opened last spring in what most recently was Pulse, and has live music.
The Bend hotel project, also in E Moline, opened in December along the river where the Case IH factory was torn down. It includes two bar / restaurants: 9 Dot on the main floor, and the River Room on the top floor with great views, I’m told.
The old Rusty Nail in West Davenport (also did a brief stint as Rivertown Grille & Bar) is now open as the Gypsy Highway, billing itself as a family friendly motorcycle bar. They also will have music three or four times a week, and they’re already scheduled out until June. The owner of Generations has closed up shop to re-open at the corner of 5th Ave and 15th St, which most recently was Van’s Pizza and Pub. The new name is V. I. P.’s Corner Bar & Grill. Hopefully the location (which seems prime, to me) will fare better for them than it has for Van’s, Brix, Wide Open, Jack’s Place, Brubaker’s, Sydney’s, and Blackthorne. I’m not sure if the back room (Van’s After Dark) is part of the new bar, but I’ll report back after I visit. As the name implies, if you want to drink while creating string art or painting your own pottery, DIY Craft Lounge (on 5th Ave in Moline, adjoining Café Fresh) is probably for you. I’m curious to see if they still have the Austin Powers décor that was in Re-Fresh. It went from The Boat House to Water Bar to Driftwood in a relatively short period – now maybe there will be some longevity as the Canfield family attempts to recreate the bar / restaurant that for 30 years was adjacent to the Quad Cities Airport. Bud’s Skyline Riverfront is now scheduled to open in January, pushed back from December due to a little kitchen remodel that needed done. Based on the apparent success of the Davenport location, The Analog Arcade II opened New Year’s Eve on 5th Ave.in downtown Moline, offering two floors of vintage arcade games. The owner of Doctor Gyros and Doc’s Inn has found a building (one-time car dealership) adjacent to Runner’s Park in East Moline. I don’t have the time frame, but they will be remodeling it, building a kitchen and a music venue, and last I heard, it will be called Stop’s Showroom Over the last 20 years, there’s couldn’t be more than three places we’ve spent as much time in as Rick & Kathy’s Lounge in Silvis. They sold the business in August, and it has become the 815 Lounge. Though we haven’t been back in yet, Rick assured us that nothing much will change, except he’ll spend more time on the other side of the bar. I don’t get to Buffalo much, but I did notice that Biscuit’s to is now Judy’s Barge Inn. Don’t know when that occurred, but it’s been added to my What’s Left list. The Arsenal Club is now the Lock & Dam Lounge, and is open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Now I just need to figure out what all I need to get on the island. Fumbles in Bettendorf has new ownership, and now reverted to Wing Dam, a name it had prior to our moving to the Quad Cities (It was Stubbs Eddy when we got here, I believe).
With all the openings and changes, I’ve fallen behind a bit and my What’s Left list stands at 19, highest it’s been in years. Among the many closings over these last 8 months are some bars that were open when I first moved to town. Sneaky Pete’s, Reggie’s Fox Den, and Blue Cat had been open more than 20 years. Out of those three, I’ll miss Blue Cat. Sneaky Pete’s had gone downhill and had begun to smell bad; Reggie’s Fox Den I considered to be the worst bar in the Quad Cities. Also closing were Road Runners in west Davenport, D’s Smokin’ BBQ in LeClaire, Moe’s Burgers and Brews (at one point, the rumor was they were going to move into downtown Moline where Ducky’s Formal Wear used to be), Galleries In The District, Princeton Ale House (Princeton) and Rico’s Cantina (sure will miss their Venezuelan hot dog). I’m not sure of the status of Funky Desi in downtown Moline – I went in back in the summer, they were doing remodeling. I hadn’t seen the Open sign lit up again until this month Of all the closings, the place I’ll miss the most is Steel Head Tavern, in the parking structure adjacent to Bass Street Landing. With Pub 1848 and Bass Street Chop House, there were three great choices to spend a Thursday night or Sunday afternoon with live music on the landing. With the closings of Reggie’s Fox Den (#1), Dee’s Place (#6), and Sneaky Pete’s (#10), I had to update my worst ten dive bars for the first time in three years (a couple of my favorite dives have closed, too – I’ll tend to them next post) Here is the new list: 3. Jim’s Domino Lounge East Moline 5. Happy Hollow Davenport 7. Central Avenue Tap Bettendorf 8. Gary’s Cedar Street Inn Davenport 9. Anna’s Village Tap Milan 10. Uncle Harley’s Blue Grass The Meat Market would have been on the list, but I’m told there’s new ownership and the place is looking much better, so I’ll need to visit again before I pass judgment.
Today, I have 329 bars listed in my QCA Directory - when I started tracking this almost ten years ago, 169 of those were open under the same name, at the same location (my memory isn’t as clear going back to when I moved here 22 years ago, but my guess is another 38 weren’t on the list).
Some places outside of the Quad Cities we got to during the year:
Old Town Tavern, Scottsdale, AZ Buzzard Billy's, Des Moines, IA Iowa Tap Room, Des Moines, IA New Buffalo Yacht Club, New Buffalo, MI
Hurricane Hole, Key West, FL
Our own floating tiki bar for the afternoon - Key West, FL Bars since the Apr 30 post ( * - new to my list):
Ruby's Beer, Bikes, & Brats
* Cody Road Cocktail House
Buffalo Wild Wings (Saginaw)
* Last Call Beach Bar (Key West)
* Key West Yacht Club (Key West)
* Hurricane Hole (Key West)
Sun Sun Pool Bar (Key West)
Margaritaville (Key West)
Captain Tony's (Key West)
Schooner Wharf (Key West)
Eden House Bar (Key West)
Beach Club Bar (Key West)
* Buzzard Billy's (Lincoln, NE)
* Wig And Pen (Iowa City)
Cork & Cleaver (Fort Wayne, IN)
* (New Buffalo Yacht Club (New Buffalo, MI)
* C Bar (New Buffalo, MI)
* Hard Rock Café (New Buffalo, MI)
Stray Dog (New Buffalo, MI)
* Buzzard Billy's (Des Moines)
* Iowa Taproom (Des Moines)
* Ceviche Bar (Des Moines)
* Entre Amigos (Midland, MI)
* Real Seafood Co. (Bay City, MI)
* Dan Kelly's Pub (Minneapolis)
* Prohibition (Minneapolis)
* McCormick & Schmick's (Minneapolis)
Until next time!