Bars where Pete has had a Drink (5,729 bars; 1,754 bars in Seattle) - Click titles below for Lists:

Bars where Pete has had a drink

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

#5655 - Tiki Bar Behind Low Key Hideaway, Cedar Key, FL - 3/25/2024

Low-Key Hideaway and Tiki Bar
Cedar Key, FL

People who are seriously into tiki generally have exacting standards for what constitutes a "tiki bar," and the state of Florida in particular is full of thatch topped "tiki bars" that don't meet the criteria. The "Tiki Bar Behind Low Key Hideaway" is one of those, but whatever you want to call it, it is a wonderful bar -- one of my very favorites in the country.

The bar is part of a small, eccentric complex that also includes 5 motel rooms, nine RV spaces, a food truck, and a "tiki taxi," sitting on the waters edge in Cedar Key off the Gulf of Mexico, and with the entire space restricted to adults only. The bar is set in an old fish house, and looks exactly like one would want a beach bar to look, appearing to have been constructed of various flotsam collected from the beach.

Tiki Bar Behind Low-Key Hideway
Cedar Key, FL

A place like this would have been one of my favorites whatever its history, but one thing that makes it even more remarkable is that it was severely damaged by Hurricane Idalia just nine months ago. Video (Facebook) of the place after the storm waters crested at 8.9 feet shows the bar filled up to the windows with several feet of water, with extensive damage throughout the business. But with the owner, staff, and a small army of volunteers on the job, they were almost miraculously reopened within about a week, including rebuilding walls made of old bottles, and the deck being rebuilt just one week after that. The place got power and water restored in a day or two and immediately offered the hotel rooms to displaced locals, and free meals from the food truck.

Just looking at the place on this visit one would have trouble finding any clue that anything like that intense damage and immense recovery effort had every happened. The bar cat looks out over the marsh from a perch above the glass bottle wall, as the bartender serves frozen cocktails and elaborate Bloody Marys in front of a bar formed from an inverted piano. The various nautical knick-knacks and eclectic pieces of folk art look like they could have been sitting undisturbed for decades. Were it a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday Night, the bar would probably feature live music as well.

I can only put so much into words, but if the pictures don't make you long to spend some time relaxing here, well, we're just made of different stuff. The Low-Key Hideaway, the entire "arts community" of Cedar Key, and the surrounding small towns of this region are now very high on my list of places I'd like to return to and spend more time exploring.

12050 FL-24, Cedar Key, FL 32625
Web site: - instagram 
Reviews: link - yelp - wandering florida 

Monday, April 01, 2024

#5670 - The Blue Front Cafe, Bentonia, MS - 3/27/2024

Blues Front Cafe, Bentonia, MS

On this sunny, early weekday afternoon, in the midst of a 4,400 mile road trip, I crossed some railroad tracks and pulled up to a windowless, cinder block building in Bentonia, Mississippi, population 318. Here, in the shadow of the large, corrugated steel Blue Front Cotton Gin building, was is said to be the oldest juke joint in Mississippi -- and probably in the world, looking like it probably barely changed since opening in 1948. The tiny community of Bentonia has become of genre, "Bentonia Blues," developed by Henry Stuckey and Skip James, and inherited by Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, the owner of the Blue Front Cafe since his father died in 1970, and currently making his way inside the joint. On my road trip I would see several great historical bars across the south, a number of beautiful antique back bars, tiki bars, beach bars, and some of the most enjoyable craft cocktails I've ever had. But it was this place, utterly authentic and wearing its history as if preserved in amber, that was my favorite stop of the trip, and one of my very favorite bar stops ever.

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes
Bluesman and owner of the Blue Front Cafe
I felt immense good fortune to find Jimmy there during my visit, and to have the opportunity to chat with the legendary bluesman and bar owner. Jimmy's parents Carey and Mary Holmes founded the Blue Front in 1948, serving "buffalo fish" and moonshine to Yazoo County cotton workers, along with blues played by locals and itinerant bluesmen traveling up Highway 49. The place is old enough that Jimmy's parents weren't allowed to serve Coca-Cola. "... nor could black customers purchase it or other items reserved for whites anywhere in Bentonia; African Americans were allowed only brands such as Nehi and Double Cola." (  Perhaps ironically or perhaps not, the sign now out front is framed by Coca-Cola logos.

The particular brand of haunting blues music that arose in these parts is largely defined by it's tuning.

"It’s where Henry Stuckey and Skip James traded licks, and where both men indoctrinated Jimmy in the style known as Bentonia blues. That genre is the result of Stuckey learning open-minor-key tunings from Bahamian servicemen during World War I, and incorporating them into the sounds of home—then teaching his music to Skip James, who remains the style’s most famous exponent. (Check out James’ “Devil Got My Woman” for a case of the Bentonia willies.) Rarely can we point to a single town, let alone a single place, where a distinctive musical style ignited and was nurtured, to eventually reach the world. Bentonia and the Blue Front are such a place."  (

"Bentonia is a strange, more ominous idiom. Its unsettling sound hinges partly on a guitar player’s spidery fingerpicking, which frequently requires the use of all ten fingers. Perhaps most important, the Bentonia style is played in a minor-key tuning, making it sound tense and dark, with repeating motifs and ringing open strings plucked without a hand on the fretboard. The result is a droning, hypnotic character. And unlike the comfortingly predictable 12-bar blues most people are familiar with—think of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley or “The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King—Bentonia blues has a loose structure. There is no chorus, no set number of times to repeat a musical pattern. The overall effect is “spooky in a way, but really beautiful,” says Dan Auerbach, frontman for the blues-rock group the Black Keys, whose Nashville-based recording label Easy Eye Sound produced Holmes’ 2019 album Cypress Grove, which was nominated for a Grammy Award."  (Smithsonian Magazine

Jimmy Duck was born in 1947, just one year before his parents started the place, and one of ten children and four cousins that grew up in his parents’ home. He's now 76, I believe, but still on top of local music enough to recommend a place that night a few blocks to my hotel in downtown Jackson. Since 1972 he has hosted the "Bentonia Blues Festival on the third Saturday of June, attracting blues fans from around the world. Fans also come to the bar from around the world, although on this day it was a smattering of locals hanging out. And increasingly blues artists and other performers have come to jam and sometimes record (e.g. the Black Keys). 

On this lazy afternoon, Jimmy chatted about the place and, upon learning where I was from, about places he'd played in Pennsylvania, with me often straining to hear him over the news blaring from the television above. I loved that I had this time to chat with him, but I also feel like I won't really know the place before I've come on some evening when the music is playing and the joint is hopping. That's going to go high on my list of priorities for future trips.

107 W Railroad Ave, Bentonia, MS 39040 - (662) 528-1900
Est. 1948
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: facebook 
Articles Ranked: msbluestrailpremierguitar - smithsonianmagyoutube - clarionledger - atlasobscura - countryroadsmagazine -- deltamagazine - jeffmores - gardenandgun - thesouthlandmusicline - visityazoo - wheresthedrama - sheindiewikipedia - tripadvisor - yelp - 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

#5579 - The Adams Hotel, Greenville, PA - 2/21/2024

Adams Hotel Bar
Greenville, PA 
The Adams Hotel Bar has been sitting just off the Shenango River since current owner Richie Williams' father bought it in 1951. Richie bought it when his dad retired at 88 years-old. It's a comfortable old neighborhood dive here in Greenville, some 80 miles north of Pittsburgh and 80 miles east of Cleveland, and home to the Werner Company, the world's largest manufacturer of step and extension ladders.

Unlike most bartenders in similar joints, Richie wears a tie every day, hanging from below his white beard, lending him a sort of professorial look.

The sign out front is a bit confusing, giving no reference to a bar, and containing the tag line "Where Your Family." I forgot to ask exactly what was meant by this (Where you're family? We're your family?).

Out back there's a small patio overlooking the river, and to the left of that is a much larger porch that Richie is going to add to the current bar, along with the building beside it.

I had just eaten a chili dog at the Majestic Bar and Grille -- which is said to have been famous for them since it was established in 1920. But both Richie and patrons like Chris assured me that the Adams now has the superior chili dogs, so a return visit is absolutely necessary so that I might judge for myself.

106 Main St, Greenville, PA 16125 - (724) 885-1111
Est. 1951 
Previous bars in this location: None known 
Web site: None
Reviews: yelp 

Thursday, January 11, 2024

#5538 - La Carafe, Houston, TX - 1/6/2024

La Carafe, Houston, TX

Established in 1955 in a downtown Houston building constructed in 1860, "La Carafe" is often referred to as both the "oldest bar in Houston" and the most haunted site in the city. I'll leave the latter claim to the ghost chasers, and the former is highly dubious; but it is an old and wonderful bar housed in one of, if not the oldest commercial buildings in the city.

The oldest bar in Houston is not a question I can answer. There are various places that make the claim, most of them starting during Prohibition or in the two decades after, and pretty much none of them having a clearly established date of when they were established as a licensed bar, rather than an ice house, grocery, etc. The history of the La Carafe location goes back to the Kennedy Bakery, built by Nathaniel Kellum in 1847. As the torimask blog notes:
"Let that sink in just a minute. 1847. Ten years before, Houston was incorporated, with a population of 1200 people. Sam Houston is head of the Republic of Texas."

La Carafe, Houston, TX

That original structure was destroyed by fire, leading to the current building being completed here a few blocks from Houston's first steamboat landing, where the Kennedy Bakery sold hardtack during the civil war. In subsequent years the building is said to have hosted a Pony Express stop, an apothecary, a print shop, a drugstore and a hair salon. In either 1955 or 1957, James Harrison leased the space and opened a bar named Le Carafe. Then in 1963 the place was purchased by William V. Berry, who appears to have tweaked the name to "La Carafe," and who is responsible for the vast number of portraits, old photographs and antiques, said to be from his travels around the world and also a large estate sale in New Orleans.

La Carafe, Houston, TX

So to Mr. Berry we owe the veritable museum, but we are also indebted to the subsequent owners for preserving the artifacts and lovely ambiance of the business. It was purchased in 1987 by Warren Trousdale, who died the following year, leaving the bar (and also the nearby "Warren’s Inn") to his younger sister, Carolyn Wenglar, who has run it ever since. A Rice University "Owlnet" article observes:

'Since 1988, Wenglar has kept La Carafe at it's original, mellow best, hiring bartenders who have been with La Carafe for her entire duration as owner. Though many people have offered to buy the place from her, Wenglar has said that the building is not hers to sell. Its a building, she says, that belongs to the public and she is none too anxious for entrepreneurs to make it into a law firm. Aside from her interest in the history and preservation of La Carafe, Wenglar says of her life as owner and manager, "It's been fun, real fun, and I like it."'

As a sort of collector of information on antique back bars, it's a bit frustrating that I have not found any background on the two very interesting such bars (one on each floor). If anybody has any information on these, I would love to hear it.

Today the bar remains a chill, comfortable, happily dark place to grab a drink and have an interesting conversation. It is wine centric, with additional beer choices, and steadfastly refuses to allow a television inside. On my visit, bartender John helpfully let me and some other first time visitors take a look at the second floor and balcony, which are only open on weekends, and which just further cemented the place as one of my very favorite bars I've ever been to.

813 Congress St, Houston, TX 77002 - (713) 229-9399
Est. 1955 - Building constructed: 1860 
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: facebook 
Articles ranked: - torimask - texashighways - - greatdayhouston (video) usghostadventures - houstonianmagsecrethouston - yelp - tripadvisor - chronnbcdfw - houstonpress - cntraveler 

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

#4988 - Stone House, Wharton Township, PA - 1/29/2023

Historic Stone House Restaurant, Farmington PA

The Stone House Restaurant and Country Inn is a semi-formal bar, restaurant and hotel in a historic building just north of the Laurel Highlands and West Virginia border. Along the National Road first proposed by George Washington, and approved by President Jefferson, it is also just two miles east of Fort Necessity, where Lt. Col. George Washington fought his first battle against a large force of French and Indians. It first opened as an inn in 1822, and was largely closed to the public from 1909 until 1964, when it was purchased and reopened by the remarkable Fannie Ross.

I am indebted to the small publication Stone House Legends & Lore by Marci Lynn McGuinness, from which I shall liberally assimilate and quote:

"The new Fayette Springs Hotel opened in 1822, affording spring dwellers a comfortable inn. Billiards, a ten-pin alley, swings, fine meals, and overnight accommodations attracted wealthy visitors."

The building was constructed by longtime U.S. Congressman Andrew Stewart, who was the first to make industrial use of the power of Ohiopyle Falls with a sawmill above the drop. His sons built a large mill there and expanded their father's Ferncliff Hotel. Stewart died in 1872 and in 1877 Mrs. Elizabeth Stewart sold the hotel to Captain John Messmore, who leased the business to Samuel Lewis and then William Snyder.

On August 3, 1909, George Flavius Titlow purchased the building and property from Albert and Annie Boyd. Titlow immediately added a large addition to the building and named it the Stone House. He installed parque floors and fancy woodwork with fireplaces in every bedroom. This was used as the family's summer and weekend home.

After Titlow died, the family leased the building to Jack and Ethel Ray from 1941 to 1946, where Ethel ran Ray's Stone House restaurant and rented rooms (there was no tavern). In 1944 the Titlows sold the place to Rev. James Bouras, who a month later sold it to Stephen Samonas. Samonas built a tavern by enclosing the left porch, and leased the business to several people over the years, including Baron Karl and Russell Shearer. Upon his death in 1963, Samonas's sister sold the building to Fannie Ross and her friend James "Gene" Cardine.

"The mountain people didn't want me up here. I was an outsider. They did a lot of things trying to get rid of us, but they couldn't."
-- Fannie Ross, quoted in Stone House Legends & Lore

Fenalba "Fannie" Cassurole was born in Connellsville in 1907. Her mother died in childbirth while she was three and her father passed within six months of that. She was adopted by her Uncle Carl only to see him perish in a mine accident on the day they were set to return to Italy. Subsequently raised by her Uncle Chubby, an orphanage, and the nuns of a local Catholic school, Fannie would go on to an arranged marriage. When her husband's gambling resulted in their bills not being paid, Fannie built a career as a bootlegger and owner of a speakeasy. Her husband died of black lung in 1950.

Fannie would hold her own with some very rough characters back in her day, and according to Marci Lynn McGuinness this included shooting three men: 
  • 'The miners got out of hand in her Cardale speakeasy one time and Fannie told them to keep it down. Her husband was ill and trying to sleep. One of the men hit Fannie and they got into it. He knocked her down in back of a booth and she found a bottle and broke it. She went after him and they fought more.  Then he kicked her dog. "He kicked my dog who was trying to help me. That made me mad. I went behind the bar and got my gun and shot him in the pelvis."'
  • 'Another time I had a little place called the Coffee Pot on Route 40 and this man wouldn't pay his bill.... There was about six of them from Keister. They were drunk and I had two of my friends sitting at a table. I told them "You pay the bill or else." "Or else what?" one of them asked. I didn't even take the gun out of my pocket I just shot him."'
  • "One time a carload of young men stopped late at night at the Stone House. They wanted to use the phone but Fannie wouldn't let them in.... Carl came and gave one of the guys a ride to Hopwood to get some gas. Fannie told the rest of them to stay in the car while Carl did them a favor. One of the men challenged her and came toward her in an unfriendly manner. She shot him in the foot."
Fannie and James opened the new Stone House restaurant in April of 1964. Fannie would cook ravioli, spaghetti, lasagne and gnocchis, and Gene would cut steaks to whatever thickness the customer wanted. After Gene passed away in 1973, her son Carl and his family moved back to town to help keep the business running. Fannie finally sold the business to Fred Ziegler in 1995 when both hers and Carl's health issues made continuing impossible.

In addition to fulfilling Fannie's exacting requirements of new owners, Fred and Rhonda Ziegler put in a very substantial amount of remodeling and upgrades, including uncapping original fireplaces, exposing the original hardwood floors, and furnishing it with various antique pieces including what MAY be a Stradivarius violin. They also brought in accomplished chef Carl Fazio, who had served an apprenticeship at the Hyehold and worked the second inaugural dinner for Ronald Reagan. Chef Carl would go on to be named 1996 chef of the year by the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Culinary Association.

Today, the inn continues the tradition of a formal chef with an Italian-focused menu, and hosting visitors to the local springs, rivers and hills for over two centuries.

3023 National Pike, Farmington, PA 15437 - (724) 329-8876
Est. 1963 (first opened as an inn 1822) - Building constructed: 1822
Previous bars in this location: Fayette Springs Hotel 
Web site: - facebook 
Reviews: exploreroute40 - yelp - tripadvisor - ourhauntedtravels - wikipedia 

Monday, December 04, 2023

#5500 - Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN - 11/24/23

The Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN
Painted sign said to date back to 1850 origins

I've added the Slippery Noodle Inn to my most favorite bars list for its history and for its current incarnation as a great blues hub. While headliners play in the back room, I enjoyed regulars Reverend Robert and Washboard Shorty, and learning the history of the place from enthusiastic bartender Zach, whose father once worked the place. 

It is such a staple of Indy nightlife and the blues scene that it has a mammoth list of past celebrities who have performed and or visited, e.g. Greg Allman, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp, Albert Collins, Edgar Winter, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Harrison Ford, Dave Matthews, The Blues Brothers Band, John Entwistle, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Neil Diamond, Robert DeNiro, Liza Minnelli, Harry Connick, Jr., and Spike Lee.

The Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN

The bar makes certain claims to being the oldest continually operating bar in the original building in the state of Indiana; and while this relies on us granting its history under several different names and beating out the Knickerbocker in Layfayette (est. 1935) in some way I don't quite understand, there's no questioning the great history of building and gin joints here. And with such antiquity it has been found, inevitably, to be haunted.

It was great to get all the pointers from Zach, but still the bar's website

Reverend Robert and Washboard Shorty
Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN

"The  Slippery Noodle Inn was originally founded in 1850 as the Tremont House. It is Indiana's oldest, continually operated bar in the original building. The Noodle is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Originally it was a roadhouse (predecessor to the Holiday Inn) and a bar. It has traditionally been owned by people of German descent and it was one of the first German clubs in Indianapolis. The Noodle has been through several name changes over the years. In the 1860's the name was changed to the Concordia House. This name came from the first German Lutheran immigrant ship to land in the new world (the Concord)....

In later years the name was changed to the Germania House. It remained the Germania House until the start of World War I at which time German associations were to be avoided so the owner, Louis Beck, changed the name to Beck's Saloon. Prior to Prohibition, Walter Moore purchased the saloon and named it Moore's Beer Tavern. During Prohibition it was renamed Moore's Restaurant (although beer was still made in the basement). After Prohibition ended in 1935, it was renamed Moore's Beer Tavern. In the late 1940’s Boris Petercheff purchased the saloon.... Boris ran the tavern until early 1963 when Emelia Finehout, the property owner, took over. She found out all too quickly that she did not enjoy running a tavern, and promptly put the business up for sale.

Harold and Lorean Yeagy (Hal’s parents) bought the bar in late 1963, taking final possession on December, Friday the 13th. The "Slippery Noodle Inn" was named by Hal's dad after a lengthy family debate (Hal was six years old). Names were thrown out for the family to vote on and at about 5 a.m. "Slippery Noodle Inn" sounded pretty darn good. The Noodle has remained in the Yeagy family since that time. Hal took over the bar in 1985 after his father's death and since that time it has grown from a one room lunch counter into the Midwest's premiere blues club. [Note: in March 2023 the bar was sold to Jason Amonett and Sean Lothridge.]   

The "Inn" has been used in all types of activities. In the Civil War years it was a way station for the Underground Railroad. Later years saw a bordello open in the once luxurious Inn. It remained open until 1953 when a patron was killed. Two customers of the bordello got into an argument over one of the women, one killing the other and leaving the bloody knife on the bar. During Prohibition the Brady & Dillinger gangs used the building in back, originally built as a horse stable for the Inn, for target practice. Several of the slugs remain embedded in the lower east wall. In addition to liquor and beer being distilled in the building, cattle and swine were slaughtered and butchered in the basement. The meat hooks and water lines can still be found in the basement.

The ceiling in the front barroom is made from pressed tin. It was installed circa 1890. The "tiger oak" bar and back bar are well over a 100 years old and believed to be original. The trough at the edge of the bar was used as the cash register in the olden days. The "honor" system worked or else the colt 45 did! The Noodle is the oldest commercial building left standing in Indianapolis and the Tremont House sign painted on the north side of the building dates back to the 1850's."

372 S Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46225 - (317) 631-6974
Est. Dec 7, 1963 (1850 as Tremont House) - Building constructed: year
Previous bars in this location: Tremont House, Concordia House, Germania House, Beck's Saloon, Moore's Beer Tavern
Web site: - facebook 
Articles ranked: thrillistcbs4indyindystar - yelp - tripadvisor - phantomhistory - breadedtenderloin - wikipedia - indyencyclopedia - hmdb (historical marker)

Sunday, December 03, 2023

#5498 - St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis, IN - 11/24/23

St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis, IN

St. Elmo Steak House was founded in 1902 in Braden's Block of Indianapolis, constructed in 1875. It is said to be the oldest steak house in the country. Founded under the St. Elmo name and run as a relatively modest tavern for most of its life, the business expanded into the neighboring building, upgraded the menu, and added a top class wine cellar in 1996. The vibe is very much classic steak house, which, of course, benefits from the historic setting.

The restaurant and lounge both contain antique back bars -- probably Brunswick, but not standard models. Both bars contain round columns around a single central section. The restaurant bar tops the columns with cherub-faced capitals (ala Brunswick models such as the "Los Angeles"). It has large, egg-shaped appliques on the corners. This Tiger-maple bar is said to have been imported from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Similar but not identical models reside in Glascott's in Chicago and the Smokehouse Saloon in Greybull, WY. The model in the restaurant's "1933 Lounge" is considerably more simple, featuring some oddly shaped (cracked?) pieces in the top facade, and an unusually simple trim framing the central mirrors.

The upscale steak house of today attracts business people and has been a favorite of people like Peyton Manning and NFL owners. (At certain times of year it is described as "an extension of the NFL combine.) It has been named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. The cocktail menu is not particularly exciting, but contains several classics. We also sampled St. Elmo's famous shrimp cocktail -- four large shrimp covered with their signature, burn-out-your-nosehair-spicy cocktail sauce. According to Wikipedia the restaurant orders four tons of horseradish a year.

127 S Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46225 - (317) 635-0636
Est. 1902 - Building constructed: 1875
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: - facebook - 1933lounge 
Articles ranked: wikipedia - nytimes - varrtravel - abcnews - damonrichard - candacelately - columbiadailyheraldtastingtable - roadfood - gayoteindianapolismonthly - yelp - tripadvisor - frommers - hungrytravelers - forbesvisitindy - thrillist