What sets a good gay bar apart from any other might be lost on those who have grown up in the generation where gay bars aren’t the only place the LGBT community are welcome. These are the bars and clubs that have done it right for years, and are all around fun places to grab something to drink, maybe a bite to eat, do a little dancing and chatting, and know how important the institution is.
515 Washington Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Whether its karaoke, cheap drinks deals like 3 for 1 Fridays, or one of the themed nights like Leather Night (every second Saturday), Bear Night (every fourth Saturday) or, possibly the best night, the Underwear Party (every first Saturday), EagleBOLT is a great place to go. But while the weekends might make this one of the busiest and wilder places in the city, the weeknights will offer a little more relaxed vibe. It’s a wonderful place to meet guys of all ages, grab a bite and a strong drink, and see where the night takes you.
115 1st St. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
JetSet offers a chic, sleek setting in which to dance, drink and to see and be seen. It has the energy that makes the North Loop of Minneapolis such a great area to spend an evening out, while still maintaining a personality all its own, and that is something to be celebrated. While “the stronger the better” is the stereotype of gay bar cocktails, the bartenders at Jetset make sure you’re getting quality as well. The cocktails here are fantastic. There’s nothing wrong with grittier spots found around the cities, but for those looking for an elegant evening, Jetset is your place.
1415 University Ave. W.
St Paul, MN 55104
Something like the opposite of places like the aforementioned Jetset, the Town House is a fun bar where you can find both drag shows and dance nights, and the cheap drinks and assuming interior of a dive. The only bar in the Twin Cities that seems to have been dedicated a lesbian bar, St. Paul’s oldest LGBT watering hole is still as welcoming as ever. Come here to relax, play some pool, and stay far away from the flashing lights and wall-to-wall booty shakers that fill some of the Twin Cities’ other gay bars.
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490 Robert St. N.
St Paul, MN 55101
This is a whole new place after a recent remodel took away the large murals and underwater palace feel. Now, think north woods hipster bar (almost tongue in cheek with its deer heads on the wall and flashing marquee signs) that still somehow keeps the original swagger of the sleek gay bar we had come to know and love in a quieter St. Paul. This is also still one of the best places for cabaret, dancing, strong drinks, good looking guys, and, on the whole, a whole lot of fun with a whole mix of people. Catch Mia Dorr for some live tunes while you drink, or get tickets to one of the various shows and see what the new downtown St. Paul looks like.
Lush Food Bar
990 Central Ave. NE.
Minneapolis, MN 55413
This Northeast warehouse bar only gets better and better. The food (as the name implies) the people, the music…all top notch and always a lot of fun. Come out for a giant slushy in a bone cup, and do some dancing with some of the finest men in the Twin Cities. Or just come in for brunch and bingo on a Saturday. This hotspot isn’t limited to just one type of crowd, but you don’t have to worry about the bachelorette parties and suburban tourists that swarm into the ’90s like ants on an ice cream cone.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.