Bathe in the dim, Christmas light glow.
Patiently waiting outside of the CC Club for the Minneapolis dive bar to open around 11 AM on a Saturday felt like waiting for concert doors to open. It was clear that something great was going to happen once inside, the slow build of the lights turning on and the door eventually being unlocked only heightening the anticipation. And all of that exists because from the outside, it would be hard to look more like a dive bar than the CC Club, a corner spot in a Minneapolis neighborhood that looks like a dive bar stole an old Pizza Hut roof and stapled it to the side of a building.
The CC Club started life as the CC Tap, as the dive bar’s web site states, just after the repeal of Prohibition. CC Club’s roots are musical, with bands like Soul Asylum and The Replacements among those counted as frequent guests. During the CC Tap days, the site served as a prominent stop along the upper Midwest for touring bands. And all of that history can be felt in just a glance of the iconic exterior appearance of the Minneapolis dive bar.
Picnic tables line the outside of the white with brown trim building, those magical words “food” and “liquor” attached to the aforementioned roof above. Notably, a menu can be seen from the street, making it immediately clear that this is a dive bar with more than the usual amount of pride in its food. Windows dot the exterior, but those windows somehow seem to let in precious little light, a trait readily apparent walking in to see the space unfold in a burst of Christmas lights, red padded booths and every conceivable dive bar beer sign.
The space is amazing. As the first visitors to the dive bar that day, we were able to pick out seats at the bar up front that serves as a sort of nerve center to the surprisingly large space. The horseshoe shape provides for ample bar seating and the type of community vibe that quickly presented itself as locals trickled in. There was shouting about current events, sports stats, the definition of a “ballplayer” as a universal term and that kind of vibe really only exists in a way that welcomes strangers in a truly neighborhood dive bar like CC Club.
To top off the cavalcade of local drinkers, an elderly couple and their daughter were among the first to enter the bar that Saturday, taking up one of the many, many low circular tables that make up the majority of the bar’s seating. One patron was even overheard talking about how is parents met at the CC Club decades ago. It’s that kind of place.
The color palette inside is the perfect dive bar combination of dark wood tones that seem to absorb ambient light paired with densely strung Christmas lights to give the space a real glow. The lights extend around the bar, up and down the main seating area, over booths that run along the spine of the dining-ish area and around every spare inch of ceiling-adjacent wall. The effect is a pleasant mix of dim yet colorful lighting that even at noon made the ambiance feel like a proper dive bar.
In friendlier weather, an extensive porch stretches out back filled with additional patio furniture-style seating. On the way, two pool tables and a pair of pinball machines command the rear of the main space, right next to another long line of padded booths that stretch the length of the bar’s back wall. A kitchen peeks out from one corner of the cavernous space, source of pizzas, hot dogs, burgers, appetizers and even weekend breakfast that looked pretty tasty as it started to flow.
There are few places left that feel like CC Club. This is a dive bar without too much grunge, a neighborhood bar that still welcomes all comers and a community staple that has been graciously left largely unchanged as the block shifts around it. That this kind of vibe can be found in the presence of sloppy weekend breakfast plates, all the better, making the CC Club one of the strongest entries in the Minneapolis dive bar scene.