Dusty’s in Northeast

WACSO / Heavy Table

The door creaks shut behind us.

The place is dark — conspicuously dark for early afternoon.

Our entrance seems to have awoken everyone in the bar.

As we come under the scrutiny of every squinty eye in the joint, it’s hard to forget the specialty here shares a name with an ethnic slur. The “Dagos & Liquor” sign hanging over the entrance isn’t subtle either.

We sit down and try to act like we know what we’re doing.

Without question, Dusty’s is a “Nordeast” bar. Wood panelling. Wood grain laminate counters. Wood particle ceiling that angles low over the cozy bar. Handwritten meat raffle and drink special signs tacked to the wall. Most of the light here emanates from beer signs.

Everyone seems like a regular. Except us (and maybe the new digital jukebox that sits awkwardly in the back of room like a nervous guest, not quite knowing if it belongs here yet).

The door swings open again and a blast of cold air and afternoon sun breaches the bar. Again, every head in the place turns. Again, eyes squint. Only this time, we get to stare with them.

A man with a cheerful face stamps snow from his feet and unzips his coat, revealing a plaid shirt and suspenders cutting into his round shoulders. He wears a cap with “Veteran” stitched in the brim. And he heads for a stool at the far end of the bar.

The owner nods from behind the counter as the guy passes. “Pesky,” he says. At first it sounds like an insult. But the nod tells you “Pesky” may very well have been coming here every day since the place opened in 1952. The nod tells you “Pesky” is welcome here.

Now that “Pesky” has passed inspection, the other patrons turn their attention back to their Dagos and liquor.

With some unease we ask the owner about the name “Dago.” Isn’t it… er… well, you know? The owner leans in so we can see his smile. He tells us his dad, Dusty — who opened the place long ago — was a Slovenian Iron Ranger. Lots of guys on The Range were immigrants, he says. It was common for best friends to trade ethnic barbs endearingly. Besides, he says, “I’m half Italian. My first name is Pasquale.”

WACSO / Heavy Table

And for an ethnic barb, this sandwich is exceptionally tasty. A smashed patty of spicy Italian sausage topped with sweet red peppers, caramelized onions, and mozzarella, served on a little white bun. It arrives from the kitchen on a small, plain, white paper plate that seems to be an essential part of the presentation. Served on anything fancier, it’d be a good sandwich. Served on a paper plate, it exceeds expectations.

“Pesky” turns out to be Wayne Peske. We ask how many days a week he comes in. He tells us after Vietnam he worked at a box factory just up the road. He’d come in for lunch almost daily. A few years ago he moved 200 miles away. Now he only gets in a couple times a year.

A couple times a year, and still treated like a regular.

Everyone here seems like a regular. Take the cook, Pat. “She came here to fill in for two weeks,” the owner says, “That was 11 years ago.”

Apparently just stepping into Dusty’s puts you in danger of becoming a regular, too.

BEST BET: The soups are homemade. The goulash was unmistakably goulashy and surprisingly good. But let’s face it, you don’t come to Dusty’s and not order a Dago. If the name makes you bristle, just smile and point at the menu.

Dusty’s
Bar and Dago Shop in Northeast Minneapolis

1319 Marshall St
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612.378.2118
OWNER: Pasquale “Pat” Stebe
HOURS:
Mon-Wed 8am-1am
Thu-Sat 8am-2am
Sun 10am-11pm

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WACSO and M.C.Cronin

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15 Comments

  1. I love this! You described what it feels like to walk into Dusty’s with splendor.

  2. howard_child02/10/2011Reply

    Yeah! Thanks for the review. I drive up that place almost daily (not a big fan of bars) but always wondered what hid behind that thick brick building and what in the world was a ‘Dago’.

  3. This is my favorite neighborhood bar great people, great prices, yummy homemade soups & great music – hipster free!

  4. I adore Dusty’s! It’s one of my favorite bar food places in NE. Always friendly, and in no way hipster. Shaw’s is another great one.

  5. morchella02/10/2011Reply

    I love WACSO. More more more!

  6. This is awesome! I love the illustrations especially. I have always wanted to check out Dusty’s; reminds me of a neighborhood place in Queens or the Bronx. I was going to say Brooklyn, too, but those joints are too full of hipsters these days.

  7. I find the hipster comments a bit irritating. Those who use the word hipster are often hipsters themselves and do not want other hipsters invading their hipster. I am sure your elitist attitude is truly appreciated by the regulars talked about in the article. Can’t you just enjoy a well-written and fantastically illustrated piece without making some sort of a snarky commentary?

  8. Rudyinparis02/10/2011Reply

    Good review, too bad you didn’t stick around for some of the live music that gets played in the evenings (no cover). Dusty’s is awesome–absolutely no pretense and a genuine, heartfelt vibe. No coincidence that pretty much every person in your illustrations is smiling. The place has a real gentle air about it. It’s a place I’d be comfortable as a woman to go to alone and sit at the bar. The very best of my neighborhood, Nordeast.

  9. I love the description and the illustrations. It sounds like a homey, happy kind of place that you don’t find much these days, except maybe in small towns. I’ve already added Dusty’s to my list of places to visit in the Twin Cities.

  10. I was introduced to Dustys by our very good friends TT and GG. We only get to visit Minnesocold a few times a year now and when we do, all roads seem to lead to Dustys. Being from California and a Vegetarian one might think that Dustys Dago’s might not be where I like to hang, you’d be wrong. Nothing like a good old Meat Raffle to warm the heart.
    See you all tomorrow evening, flight gets in about 6:30….see ya @ 7pm..

    Tipsy Hipsters and all…

  11. Dusty’s is in my neighborhood and a local favorite. Show up when The Bill Patton Trio is playing and watch us sing along. :-) It’s good-natured good fun.

    Pearl

  12. and what about those soups! they’re all amazing, but then there’s the dago, egg, and cheese with bacon and hot peppers..hoo boy!

Trackbacks for this post

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heavy Table, M.C. Cronin. M.C. Cronin said: In which WACSO and I try a "dago" for @heavytable : http://bit.ly/gIQyNJ […]

  2. […] April 16. And check out his rigorous yet soulful art in his stories for us about The Local, Dusty’s, The Gopher Bar, Bonnie’s Cafe, the pizza farm in Stockholm, Mac’s Fish and Chips, […]

  3. […] mozzarella cheese, Dusty’s Bar offers a bar menu, drink specials and entertainment. Recently Heavy Table sketched a visit to Dusty’s and in 2006, Minneapolis St. Paul reviewed the dago. Visit Dusty’s website and Facebook […]

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