The Spot

St. Paul, Minnesota

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

A St. Paul neighborhood institution, The Spot is the longest continuously operating dive bar in the state of Minnesota, a distinction well worth a visit to this corner bar in a quiet city neighborhood. Open since 1885, The Spot honors that history with an impressive devotion to wood paneling, both inside and out.

Field Rating

8

out of 10

A testament to the timeless beauty of wood paneling.

Field Note

Of all the ways to decide on whether to visit a dive bar in a given city, looking up the oldest continuously operating dive bar in the state is a good place to start. The Spot earns that distinction for the state of Minnesota clocking in well over the century mark with a founding date of 1885. Yes, that 1885. A classic Midwestern dive bar outpost on the corner of a largely residential area, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to picture The Spot catering to locals for well over 100 years.

Having done a bit of research on The Spot and the surrounding area, the building itself lives up to the historical pedigree of the bar. Whereas the classic dive bar feature, vertical wood paneling, is typically seen inside, The Spot does the tradition one better with diagonal wooden slats outside that give the St. Paul dive bar a very lodge-like feel. The front door looks vaguely like two log cabins stacked on top of each other, two main signs hanging over the front door in the form of a classic Hamm’s variety paired with a Pig’s Eye Beer sign.

There’s something to be said for a dive bar that features wall to wall carpet.

While Pig’s Eye isn’t necessarily a nationally-known beer brand, the sign’s presence underscores the evolving role of The Spot in the St. Paul community, in this case providing a little bit of shine to a local beer brand founded in honor of the first resident of St. Paul, Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant. As the beer brand was founded in 1992 and revived in 2002, it doesn’t boast quite the same history as The Spot, but its inclusion as a primary visual element outside makes clear the enduring role of The Spot in the community.

There’s something to be said for a dive bar that features wall to wall carpet, and inside The Spot pays off the promise of the building’s timeless exterior. The front space contains a handful of short booths underneath a Minneapolis standard issue Grain Belt mirrored wall display. Wood paneling outside is replicated inside with slats that stretch from patterned carpet to white tiled ceiling. All told, there are bars open for less time that look far dingier than this century-plus steward of St. Paul, where it’s clear that internal updates have honored the enduring charm of the location without harboring a few layers of grime.

Behind the bar, wooden stairsteps provide home to the St. Paul dive bar’s liquor selection, the wood paneled motif extending to the refrigerated coolers.

Christmas lights ring this front room, home to The Spot’s bar area, an L-shaped structure that includes a pair of TVs and, of course, a ceiling fan overhead. Behind the bar, wooden stairsteps provide home to the St. Paul dive bar’s liquor selection, the wood paneled motif extending to the refrigerated coolers beneath. A handful of aged photos frame an illuminated, aged depiction of the bar itself. The back half of the dive bar can be described as the games area, a collection of dart boards, pinball machines and pull tab vending machines.

For over a decade, The Spot has served as a St. Paul neighborhood staple and that status is certainly not in jeopardy today. The Spot is a no-nonsense, low-frill institution, from the wood paneling outside to the wood paneling inside, and its stature as the oldest continuously operating bar in the state makes it a worthy dive bar destination.

Photos

The Basics

859 Randolph Ave
St Paul, MN 55102

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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