Nothing beats a nautical dive bar theme in the Upper Midwest.
There’s something special about the way a dive bar can pair an atypical name with a fairly contradictory environment to create something unique. One wouldn’t necessarily associate a yacht club with the great state of Minnesota, but here stands Northeast Yacht Club all the same, a dive bar gateway of sorts between the Mississippi River and Minneapolis’ dive bar-rich Northeast neighborhood. And if Northeast Yacht Club is the sentry along the river, the blue sign above is its lighthouse, glowing and inscribed with the words “Port of Minneapolis” and the name of the bar.
The sailing theme is persistent at this particular yacht club, the mural outside going so far as to embellish the weather reputation of the city by including a palm tree or two along with the name of the dive bar. Paired with the sign, the color palette is eye catching to be sure, bright blue sign atop cream colored building with red awnings and a little bar sign neon in the windows. Helpfully, the awnings serve a functional purpose as well, reminding those passing by that Northeast Yacht Club is open Sundays.
The structure reveals itself inside to be a shotgun-style shoebox of a Minneapolis dive bar, a long room broken into two parts, drinking in front, games in back. White mosaic tile stretches as far as the pool room, long bar to the left, tall tables to the right. This isn’t the kind of dive bar with every square inch papered over by dollar bills or aging Budweiser lights, sparse walls surrounding what is at its heart a neighborhood, no frills meeting point.
In back, a pool table commands a small room dedicated to a classic set of bar games that includes pinball and arcade hunting. A handful of helpful ledges jut out from the wood paneled walls, providing a couple of drinking of alcoves convenient to the room’s beer-aided activities. When the Minneapolis weather cooperates, a patio in back adds a few circular picnic tables and wooden bench seating to the mix, extending off of the pool room in back.
As a jumping off point for further exploration of Minneapolis’ Northeast neighborhood, Northeast Yacht Club is perfect, the right mix of dive bar and laid back atmosphere that can be a good foundation for more adventurous drinking a few blocks away. The beer and liquor selection here is formidable, the staff supremely relaxed and the overall vibe inviting. That two blazing blue signs scream a nautical theme a few feet from the Mississippi River only adds to the neighborhood-friendly feeling.