We're not talking about the flashy, hyped up popular bars in Utica and the surrounding towns. We're focusing on the dive bars, the small, hidden neighborhood bars, the bars that time forgot. Some of these fine adult beverage establishments have been around for a long time and have quite a bit of history. So if you're looking for some place different to hang with friends, take a look. If you know of a bar that belongs on our list, let us know in the comments below.
Bengees Downtown Bar has been a staple in a neighborhood that's gone through good times and bad. It is next to a strip club. And it is constantly referenced by a loveable character on Utica Topix, It also has one awesome Google Review:
Clean.pleasant.open.air conditioned.just an all around come as you are neighborhood bar with a bar kitchen menu for snacks and lunches.previous owner was a Proud Decorated US Marine. His son carries out his fathers pride through the decor of the place and pride for his business. Come play a game of pool.shuffle board or darts. Maybe if the mood stikes you do a little dance on the dance floor. (Carol Babicz, Google Plus)
Better stop by and check out soon. The neighborhood may be headed for a big change.
Breakway LoungeChuckery Corners
When you go driving past the cemetery on Route 12, just south of Utica National, you see a little metal "hut" with a gravel parking lot. It's been there forever. It doesn't even have a Facebook page, but plenty of people tag the place in pictures. We did say we weren't including "popular" local bars, but when you drive past this place at night the parking lot is always packed! It rates as underrated simply because of it's size and fairly remote location. It's definitely the only bar near Chuckery Corners.
Uncle's TavernNew York Mills
It's been the unofficial "premiere bar of America's Greatest Heart Run & Walk" for a long time. It recently burned down. But it was rebuilt and came back strong, still a force to be reckoned with in the New York Mills community.
Black River Ale HouseRome
I haven't logged much TSD (Time Spent Drinking) in Rome, but I've certainly driven past it many times. How can that even be a bar? A tiny entrance attached to a garage? But Romans rave about the place:
Great place to watch the game, grab some beers, or get some food. Cheap prices, friendly people, and great bartenders and waitresses. Wing night is wednesday... Best wings around (in my book). I like that it's hidden downstairs and has a patio. (Mitch Geddes, Google Plus)
Johnny Nole's Bar & GrillUtica
This unassuming little building used to be an American Legion Post, but was transformed into Johnny Nole's in 2009. It's right in the middle of all the action in Downtown Utica - the Stanley, popular bars and restaurants all within a 4 block radius, but Johnny Nole's is still a hidden gem. By no means a dive bar, but not necessarily a "hipster" bar either. It's just cool. They've already been the host to many national recording artists and regional blues acts. Legends have performed in this place!
Yes, you can see the "Word Of Life" building from the Hotel Willowvale. However, this place didn't exactly become the national media's watering hole of choice during the recent TV coverage. It IS the only actual bar in Chadwicks, and it's been a local staple for years. Not like the flashy bars in the "city", but this place knows how to have a good time.
Here's another one that's tucked into a fairly busy area on Genesee Street in New Hartford. But you don't often hear people say "Let's go to Prop's". Not true with the tons of satisfied customers who keep coming back! Here's what one Yelp reviewer from Albany had to say:
One of the best dive bars I've ever been to. Bathroom tiles on the floor, Vinyl booths right out of tones from the 1960's, old guys watching TV news around the bar (could be a Richard Russo book), great jukebox, cheap Utica Club, and a great secret menu. The food includes ziti with meatballs and marinara (Utica Italian food is about as good as it gets), fish fry (upstate NY classic Friday culture), and a chicken salad like no other. Late at night it gets much younger.. Just an amazing little c***hole of a bar. (Chompawomp B, Yelp reviewer)
With all the change in the neighborhood due to the arterial construction, it's surprising that this place is even still standing! We originally left this bar off the list because we considered it to be a regular stop on most Utican's bar hopping routines. But yes, this place certainly does qualify as a dive bar. If you've never seen Dick Smith's on St. Patrick's Day parade, we can tell you that it's every bit as packed as any bar on Varick!