While waiting for our lunch at the Unofficial Dive Bar & Grill, we were treated to a recording of Alice Cooper singing “School’s Out.” This felt entirely apropos: Alice Cooper seeming to be the scary rocker with boa constrictors wrapped around his neck, but turning out to be a nice guy who likes to golf. Such a contrast is present at the Unofficial. The exterior is that of a former Baker’s Square (which was its first inhabitant, followed by IHOP), but the current name tips you off that you’re not in Baker’s Square land anymore. Indeed, the interior is now decked out as a dive bar, but very much a tongue-in-cheek dive bar, from the absurdly fake exposed-brick walls and black ceiling with bright lights to the overall cleanliness. Rather than grimy, cranky barflies, here you’ll find families, grandmas, and couples of all ages.
The cheerful, faux approach to a dive bar takes a more serious turn when it comes to the menu. Our server explained that they make everything they can in house. The menu is heavy on bar food — burgers, sandwiches, fried appetizers — but with some appealing variations. We went with the server’s recommendation and ordered the Dive Bar Club ($11), a highly satisfactory version of the classic diner sandwich. The griddled brioche was crisp and soft, and the turkey and ham flavorful and fresh.
We also tried the Jerk Burger ($10), which is a beef patty in jerk sauce topped with a slab of ham and a slice of pineapple along with pepper jack cheese. Normally this is served on an egg bun, but the server said he thought the pretzel bun was the best choice. It was a very good choice: The bun was chewy and sturdy enough to hold up to all the ingredients. The jerk sauce was a nice touch, not terribly hot, but adding some fun flavor to the sweet pineapple and salty ham. The only downside was that the burger was well done. We weren’t asked for cooking preferences, but would have liked it closer to medium.
We also upgraded the side to cheese tots ($2 surcharge), and they were amazing. We envisioned something like regular tater tots slathered in a greasy cheese sauce, but instead we got little fluffy balls of finely grated potato, fried but not overly greasy, with a mild, melty cheese in the middle. Dipped in an accompanying seasoned sour cream ($1), they were perfect bar food, and we’d return just for a plateful. We would be willing to bet that Alice Cooper would like a plate of them too after 18 holes.
The Unofficial Dive Bar & Grill
Smart bar food in St. Anthony
3701 Stinson Blvd
St. Anthony, MN 55421
Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-1 a.m.
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $10-$12
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
PARKING: Parking lot