Minneapolis East Bank

Minneapolis, Minnesota

A bar crawl along the Mississippi River has a little romance to it, especially when two of Minneapolis' finest karaoke institutions can be found along the path.
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior
As the Mississippi River meanders through Minneapolis, it cuts the city in two, the city’s urban core and North Loop neighborhoods on the west side of the river, the dive bar heavy Northeast neighborhood east of the river. Aptly named, the East Bank sits in between, tracing the bend of the river just over the bridge out of downtown Minneapolis, sporadically bursting into life with bars and restaurants sporadically interwoven with green space.

This is not the typical Minneapolis tourist destination, to be clear, this is an area with a little bit more grit than the North Loop but not quite the dive bar concentration of the Northeast neighborhood. But these types of in between spaces are exactly the types of areas in cities that spark the growth of unique, often timeless dive bars unencumbered by the laser focus of gentrification. That this particular tour features two of the city’s dive bar karaoke staples only enhances its allure.

The Stops

1. Whitey's Old Town Saloon

400 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Google Map
(612) 623-9478
Web Site Link

This review could be complicated, or I could simply mention the giant wooden carving of a woman in a red dress (of sorts) that hangs above the bar. Worth the price of admission alone, the sculpture is the eye-catching feature of Whitey’s, a fairly modern bar that sits in a reclaimed dive bar. First on the itinerary, this is a place to set a foundation before a long trail of drinking, and karaoke opportunities.

2. Terminal Bar

409 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Google Map
(612) 623-4545
Web Site Link

Across the street from Whitey’s sits Terminal Bar, one of the oldest dive bars in Minneapolis, opened in 1932. In a dive bar twist, the wood paneling here isn’t solely inside, but outside as well, complementing two half-moon windows that look like two drunken eyes looking out onto the city. Terminal Bar doubles as a live music venue, meaning its position on a dive bar crawl might be impacted by the allure of music later in the evening.

3. Otter's Saloon

617 Central Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Google Map
(612) 331-4169
Web Site Link

At last review, Otter’s Saloon was closed for renovations, a shame because the dive bar’s reputation is stellar as unique space and karaoke hub. Its position at the end of the block Terminal Bar sits on means that it has a layout that narrows to a point, providing some interesting acoustics for the 7-days-a-week karaoke that takes place inside. Karaoke runs 8 PM to 2 AM every day, meaning that no matter what state of inebriation you require to sing in front of strangers, Otter’s Saloon likely offers a timeslot that accommodates.

4. Spring Street Tavern

355 Monroe St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Google Map
(612) 627-9123
Web Site Link

When we say East Back Extended, welcome to the extension, a trip further toward the Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis to capture a hub of activity that starts with Spring Street Tavern. Offering a perfect balance of quality food and dive bar atmosphere, Spring Street Tavern covers every need from * AM biscuits and Bloody Mary’s to late night cocktails. And don’t sleep on Gopher Liquor next door to snag post-closing time refreshments.

5. Moose Bar & Grill

356 Monroe St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Google Map
(612) 623-4999
Web Site Link

Picture a BW3 or other sports bar chain and now dial up the atmosphere and authenticity a couple of notches. The layout will feel familiar, bar rails and booths across a cavernous space that looks a bit like a church steeple from the outside. And if you’re hoping for a theme to this East Bank dive bar crawl, it is 100 percent karaoke and if you haven’t had your fill yet, the Moose offers its own version as well. The hours are late and the place is typically packed, making it a great night capping destination.

6. Vegas Lounge

965 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Google Map
(612) 378-1873
Web Site Link

And then there’s Vegas Lounge, the self-proclaimed best dive bar in the city and undisputed king of karaoke so loud you may suffer permanent ear damage. A block or so away from the Moose & Spring Street Tavern, Vegas Lounge is a different vibe altogether, a karaoke hot box in a short brick building that traps in the sound, the heat and the sweat of the congregation. Moose Bar is a great night capper to save a shred of sobriety for the next morning. Vegas Lounge is the place to blow that idea, and your vocal chords, out of the water.

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