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Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

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Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby bob_rx2000 » Mon May 25, 2009 7:02 pm

This one is a bit off the beaten track and is the first of a series of pub crawls to various joints of local color and tradition. Mrs-Bob_Rx and several others in our loosely knit dining group have been suggesting that we go to the local small pubs for what is normally inexpensive and good food in a joint with some local flavor and color. Our first target was Joe’s Tavern, located at 1201 Dunham St. (the corner with S. Arnold St.) on the west side, just off West Sample.

The Sock-Theorists and Bob_Rxs dined at Joe’s Tavern on Friday. The neighborhood is one of those “in transition neighborhoods” we all comment about, but Joe’s Tavern is a reminder of when this was a Polish ‘hood. If I’m not mistaken the capstone on the building indicates that it has guarded this corner since 1908. I can almost hear the ghosts of the guys from the Studebaker, Oliver and the South Bend Machine Tool factories coming in for a cold brew on their way home from their shifts. There are pictures of all the ND Heisman winners behind the bar along with the banners of the football opponents and a number of ND alumni club banners. Parking on the streets is available and you can also park across S. Arnold in a warehouse lot.

Lets cut right to the chase – if you’re looking for fancy food and atmosphere, move on, but if you want good, solid food, friendly service and a cold beer (or mixed drink) and especially if you want them at a reasonable price, you’ve found a place. Joe’s Tavern has the sign that they permit smoking but virtually nobody was smoking when we arrived at 6:30pm. The seating arrangements are pure workingman’s “family bar” with barstools at the bar and tables & chairs scattered the length of the establishment. What I really liked is that walking into the place, having never been there before, the waitress welcomed us with a cheerful hello as though we were long lost regulars.

The Friday night specials were up on a whiteboard at the end of the bar and I’d already been warned by Sock that the pollack was about as good as it gets in South Bend and that the pirogis were to die for. Sock tells the truth. Mrs-Bob_Rx and I started off with a cheese pirogi and some cheese poppers for an appetizer and this was without question the best pirogi I’ve had since the Polish festival back on “the hill” in my hometown. I have to go back to try the sauerkraut variety. They are large, perfectly cooked, stuffed full and cost all of $3. I had the pollack special with home fries (and be sure to try them, they are very close to oven-roasted) and it included three very large filets and a salad. I was stuffed and we won’t talk about the cold beers. Mrs-Bob_Rx had the liver and onions, as did Sock, and I was about sorry I didn’t try it. The liver is grilled, and it looked cooked to perfection. I’ll be going back just to try it.

I mentioned our waitress and she was exactly what I expect in place like this one – she knew the menu cold and treated us with exactly the right mix of breezy informality, attention and wisecracks. I was never lacking for a nice, cold draft of Bud. I should be clear here too, you are not going to find anything at Joe’s Tavern but cold, mainstream brews and solid mixed drinks. The price is, well, right. With two entrees, six drinks and three appetizers, we still managed to keep the tab under $50. I liked Joe’s Tavern and I’ll be going back. It is clean, friendly and serves good, solid food. It is a reminder of what South Bend and West Side were in the glory days of the city, and I’m still not sure I did that pirogi justice.
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby York » Mon May 25, 2009 8:21 pm

First of all, Bob, you are an excellent writer and your restaurant reviews are stellar! Secondly, Joe's Tavern is a Dyngus Day tradition for many South Benders! Typically, (from what I know!) on Dyngus Day, you start with breakfast at Crumstown Tavern ( Hi Pam!) and then hit Westside Democratic Club for a brewski or two ... or five, then hit Joe's for lunch for pierogi, sausage, hard boiled eggs and brewskis and then finally end up at ZB or MR Falcons. Joe's is great, as is the other neighborhood bar, Chuck's. I think it is cool some of the old neighborhood bars are still kicking in the wake of all of the restaurant activity on the north side of Mishawaka and other places in the county. The 'hood surrounding St. Casimir rocks!
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby st michael jr » Mon May 25, 2009 9:23 pm

I also recommend Joe's. I love to eat lunch there and the food is ALWAYS good!
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby Big Kahuna » Mon May 25, 2009 11:13 pm

I guess that calls for a visit.
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby Kingsman » Tue May 26, 2009 12:28 am

Mrs. K and I went to Joe's for lunch a month ago. Great experience. I had the meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and corn special. Good, solid food. Mrs. K. plans to have her St. Joe alumni ('54) gals go there soon. So glad to read a detailed review of the place. By all means, we should patronize the neighborhood bars which serve food. Judging from the Notre Dame alumni banners from various states in the windows, Joe's fame extends far beyond the West Side.
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby MFrohike » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:24 am

Lunch or dinner you can't go wrong with Joe's. Like they used to say in the old Warner Brother cartoons "Eat At Joes".
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby Happy At Last » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:50 pm

If I am not mistaken Joe's is where they filmed a lot of the movie Rudy. Great food Prime Rib on the weekends was always great. They also do a great polish dinner catering. Our family gets this at the holidays but if serving 10 order for 5 or 6 HUGE portions.
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby MFrohike » Sat Jun 27, 2009 2:13 am

Not to take away from Joe's Tavern, but actually the old "Cap N Cork" bar, Niles & Lasalle, now doing business as Corby's was used in the move Rudy. I haven't had the prime rib or Polish dinner at Joe's, but I've eaten there several times & you can't go wrong eating there.
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Re: Joe's Tavern - Summer Tour Spot #1

Postby sephora2008 » Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:38 pm

I will admit joe's has great food. I would go for lunch and and early dinner. This is not recommended for a friday night dinner nor an after 7 place. I went there on a friday after work so excited for the pizza and when I walked into the door I could not breathe with all of the smoke. There was a ton of people there and it was a smoke fest. But I love the pizza and will continue to go there. I will make it a lunch event.
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