Drive down the right country road around the metro area and you can find anything. Just set Yelp to search outside the beltway occasionally to find colorful local spots like Junior’s Forgot Store Bar.
My sister recommended Junior’s Forgot Store. She’s a tight-fisted accountant who drinks more than I do, so her opinion is valid in matters where money and partying are concerned. I’m also pretty sure she doesn’t read these reviews, but I’ll find out now.
The drive is slightly circuitous, but scenic. Take the 30th Street exit north from I-680. Just north of the 680 bridge, go left on Ferry Street and right onto Calhoun. Go past Uta Halee, St. John’s and Ponca Elementary, and Junior’s is on the corner of Calhoun and Ponca Road. There are about 30 spots in the lot, with a special motorcycle section currently filled with snow. You can’t miss it.
The real attraction at Junior’s is owner Junior Mathiesen’s secret drink, The Watermelon. The intoxicating Kelly McDonnell introduced me to this intoxicating concoction. It looks and tastes like watermelon, but for $5, you will not mind that there is no watermelon in it. It comes with its own koozie fuel gauge so you know when to order another one. Keep your designated driver on speed dial, because Long Island has nothing on Junior’s Watermelon.
The Forgot Store has nigh on 100 years of history. It was originally a meat counter before it became a bar some 25 years ago. Mathiesen bought the Forgot Store Bar about a year ago. The cabinet maker and former owner of The Anchor Inn freshened up the place and made some changes to the largely hand-crafted menu. He also hand-crafted some fixtures, like the bar and the tap stand behind the bar. There’s seating for about 150 people, a patio with its own bar out back and a fireplace for when it’s not 5 degrees out.
Sign up for the Go newsletter
This complete guide of local music, movies, dining and entertainment will have you weekend ready.
Most interestingly, this is where Chip Davis and Bill Fries penned the greatest ever ode to 1970s trucker solidarity, “Convoy.” If you are fortunate enough to not remember the ’70s, this song performed by C.W. McCall was a huge hit. Check out Episode 8 from Season 10 of “Hee Haw” on YouTube.
It was so popular it inspired a major motion picture directed by Sam Peckinpah featuring Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw. It took in $45 million at the box office, which is like “Avengers” money in today’s terms. Cooler still is that after selling a million 45s, Davis gave his gold record to the Forgot Store, where it is proudly displayed to this day.
If you foolishly don’t drink a Watermelon, the taps include Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Busch Light, Samuel Adams Seasonal (Cold Snap for now) and Stella Artois. There are a slew of bottles and a full bar. The menu features a number of homemade, hand-patted, hand-breaded sandwiches. The steak sandwich is big on Wednesdays. Fried tacos are popular on Thursdays. Check the Facebook page for more specials. Hope to see you there.
1 of 24
La Buvette the closest thing you'll find to a taste of Europe inside of a 50-mile radius. Read more
Lincoln's White Elm Brewing Company is a welcoming, dog-friendly environment. Read more
The Crescent Roadhouse Bar and Grill in Crescent, Iowa, is a dive bar with a good kitchen. It's largely a domestics-in-the-bottle kind of place. Blue Moon, Lagunitas and Corona are about as hip as you’re gonna get. Click here to read more.
There is likely room in your schedule somewhere for The Cabin’s happy hours. They last from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Click here to read more.
Pour Craft Beer & Spirits has two dozen brews on tap from local favorites like La Vista’s Kros Strain Brewing, Omaha’s Brickway Brewery & Distillery and fellow Lincoln newbie Cosmic Eye Brewing. Click here to read more.
Lincoln’s Pub sits where Dixie Quicks used to in Council Bluffs' historic 100 Block. It is turning into a worthy successor. Click here to read more.
Cosmic Eye Brewing opened in east Lincoln fall of 2018. Its location makes it unique for a couple of reasons — for one, it’s the only Lincoln brewery in a former laser tag place, and the only brewery in the neighborhood. Click here to read more.
Pat and Mike’s has Chiefs games, cheap tacos and arcade classics like “Ms. Pacman” and “Frogger.” Click here to read more.
As nice as it might be to go to a bar where “everybody knows your name,” occasionally it’s pleasant to go to a bar where no one knows who you are, what you do or where you’re from. The District offers that. Click here to read more.
Florence's New Frontier is a great dive. It is quaint, friendly, out of the way and time-worn, but clean and comfortable enough to exceed one’s most reasonably tempered expectations. Click here to read more.
Barley's, a saloon-style bar in Council Bluffs, offers 30 brews on tap, a friendly staff and an "epic" amount of parking. Click here to read more.
Not all dives are cut from the same cloth. George’s Tavern in Blair hits all the right notes for socializing on the DL and has what discriminating tastes aspire to, if not actually settle for, in a dive. Click here to read more.
Green Flash has some traditional brewpub offerings like wings, of course. But, in general, the eatery specializes in slightly more sophisticated eats, with more fresh vegetables and fewer fried foods. Click here to read more.
The Spillway in Council Bluffs is always family-friendly. There is an ATM, pool, darts, 11 TVs, free Wi-Fi and — the best idea ever — a Breathalyzer by the door reminding you to stay safe and never drive buzzed. Click here to read more.
You can enjoy drinking with strangers at Rathskeller Bier Haus, including a few real Germans. Wall art consists of European beer signs, a boar’s head and a reproduction of Berlin Wall graffiti. The back garden will still nurture you once warm weather returns. Click here to read more.
Want to be alerted for severe weather? Or maybe you want the latest in dining, local businesses or sports coverage? The World-Herald's newsletters have a variety of options to cater to your interests. Click here to sign up.