[Editor's Note: We all know local music and dive bars go hand-in-hand. So in the interest of merging the two together on Heard Mentality, we bring you our newest nightlife column Dive, Dive, My Darling. Read as our bold web editor Taylor "Hellcat" Hamby stumbles into the dive bar scene every week to find crazy stories, meet random weirdos and guzzle good booze.]
They sure love their Pabst at Henry's Bar & Grill, a shrine to the sludge. Its good ol' red-white-and-blue color scheme makes an ap-pearance on almost every wall in many forms: metal signs, handmade posters, paper garland and, perhaps the best of all, empty tall boys hanging from the ceiling instead of Christmas ornaments.
Of the two sets who are most stereotyped for drinking Milwaukee's finest, the working class and the hipster, Henry's serves as a haven for the former. It's tucked away in an industrial section of Garden Grove surrounded by a neighborhood; it's well-hidden, hardly a destination bar. The main clientele are locals and folks taking a break from work--stop in at lunch, and you'll see bright-orange Home Depot polos and pails, mechanics' shirts, and soot resting on baseball caps and under fingernails. It's good to have a bar walking distance from work, no?
I asked the gal on the day shift what the specialty is. "I definitely recommend our burgers if you haven't tried them yet," she said. So I ordered a classic cheeseburger and garlic fries and sipped on my Blue Moon in anticipation. The bar was alive, not with the sounds of the Internet jukebox or the announcers from one of the many TVs broadcasting sports, but the sounds of the lumpen proletariat letting off steam. This decompression chamber was packed with conversations of girl trouble and work drama. Co-workers listened and offered advice. A man in a work shirt stopped in and gave the bartender a plate of homemade cookies.
"Again?! Why am I so spoiled?" she responded happily.
My cheeseburger arrived, smelling delicious and warm. I dug into the steak fries. With Parmesan and chopped garlic sprinkled atop, they were crispy and piping-hot, but I continuously burned my tongue because I couldn't wait to eat them gracias to the awesome smell. I put my love affair with these fries on hold long enough to try the lauded burger. The bun had a perfectly crisp outside and soft inside; the juicy meat was flavorful; and the lettuce, tomato and onion were fresh. It was a great bar burger.
A nighttime visit is equally pleasant, the only difference being more people gather around the TVs to watch Monday Night Football intently, jeering and cheering, instead of verbally venting with co-workers. Henry's offers 23 beers on tap, 16 bottled beers served in chilled glasses, and a full food menu worth ordering from, plus a pool table and some board games to let the blue-collars be kids for a couple of hours.
Henry's has reportedly gone through some changes, but since I've only been visiting there recently, I don't think I'm qualified to deem them as positive or negative. All I have to go on is the past reportings of fellow Weeklings, back from when I was in middle school. It's no longer called Henry's Hof Brau, and there's no liquor, dollar bills attached to the ceiling or graffiti on the bathroom walls. What you have now at Henry's Bar & Grill is a clean bar in good old Garbage Grove, filled with people and drama-free. And sometimes, that's all you need from your local dive.
BEST QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: "I saw this movie last night, La Bamba. Oh, man, I cried."
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FAVORITE PIECE OF FLAIR: The ladies' room sign of a girl pushing a guy--clever!
Henry's Bar & Grill, 10549 Stanford Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 537-9884.