Great article by , of the Indy Star.




I love a good dive bar. So, I was happy to find a good one near our home when my wife and I moved to Indianapolis. And now Thrillist has named our favorite bar, The Dugout, Indiana’s best dive bar.

The Dugout, 621 Virginia Ave., is a Fletcher Place anomaly. Among the sleek new apartment buildings,  talked-about restaurants and trendy bars of the neighborhood is this empire of dirt. And yes, Johnny Cash is on the juke box.

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Thrillist writes that The Dugout’s “Hoosier Hospitality” sets it apart from the typical scary dive. I’d agree with this wholeheartedly. Yes, the cheap drinks and good food (try the pulled pork cooked in a Big Green Egg smoker) are great, but the staff keeps us coming back. We’re happy to now know bartenders by name. And they know us. We’ve found our “Cheers.”

Situated on the Cultural Trail along Virginia Avenue, you can sit outside on a nice night and enjoy the bustling neighborhood. Or, step inside where you’ll find a long bar filled with an interesting mix of people that only gets more interesting as the evening progresses. Grab a seat and a few dozen pull tab tickets. You might just get lucky.

It’s not dirty. It’s just not new, not fresh. The beer cooler is covered in a variety of union stickers. The walls are adorned with beer ads you’d find in your grandpa’s garage. Do they even make swimsuits with hips that high anymore? I miss Kelly Kapowski.

I grew up in Rockford, Ill., a tough city that’s made it through tough times. While it’s currently witnessing a renaissance of sorts, it wasn’t always a place where $15 drinks that involve someone slapping mint just right to release its essence existed. Dive bars were the bars. And that’s why I think I’m drawn to these types of places. The Dugout is full of real people, patrons, bartenders, cooks and servers. You can talk to the guy next to you and play some Johnny Cash. Relax. It’s like home.

Read more by Joe Tamborello

Follow IndyStar Social Media Platforms Editor Joe Tamborello on Twitter and Instagram. Or, find him at The Dugout with his wife and basset hound on the weekend.

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