“What’s your favorite dive bar around here?”
The bartender looked up from his pre-Saturday night dinner prep and measured myself and GBH Editorial Director Austin L. Ray, trying to figure out our vibe—or maybe just determine if we were worthy of such a secret. After confirming with a co-worker, he sent us on our way to Durty Nelly’s.
We’d gathered the night before in Charlottesville, VA with a few members of the GBH crew for the Intelligence & Diligence beer release at Champion Brewing. The next morning, we started the day with pie for breakfast, followed by two breweries, a weird cider taproom/art gallery situation, and the bar where Dave Matthews used to work. Then we enjoyed a snack of bitterballen and deviled egg dip at Champion’s high-end restaurant, Brasserie Saison, before we decided we were ready to change speeds.
Durty Nelly’s was a delightful patchwork quilt of a place. It included a bar with warm, wood paneling, but then transformed into a deli covered in cheap plastic tile and booths, before another drastic shift to an arcade with brutal concrete walls. In lieu of windows, a plastic stained “glass” skylight hung over fluorescent lights. The walls were adorned with t-shirts, hyping college football games of years gone by, and handwritten notifications of new additions to the drink menu. (“Now selling Prosecco Splits!!!”)
We dug up GBH OG Kyle Kastranec’s list of requisite dive bar characteristics to see if we could get a BINGO. Durty Nelly’s did great, but fell just short of the title. With all due respect, Kyle: if this bar isn’t a “winner” by your estimation, I don’t know what is.