Saranac Lake is the perfect place to hit the town for an evening with friends. There are just enough bars to keep you busy, but not so many that you can’t stand up straight by the end of the night, and for the most part they are all pretty close to one another. I’ve found myself on an impromptu pub crawl through Saranac Lake just to meet up with multiple friends who are out in various places or to try to hit up all the different live music and activities throughout town.
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get many people to go out with me on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, since most of my friends work regular day jobs, but I ended up with a fun and festive crew and we had a great time!
Eat at Casa first!
We started the evening with dinner at Casa del Sol, a Mexican restaurant that is a local favorite. My friend Corey, who would be my designated drinking buddy for the evening, picked me up and drove me there. We met a group of friends, including Brandon and Seema, who were celebrating their anniversary - yaaaaay! Most of the crew stayed at the bar while Corey, Hannah and I sat down at a table in the dining room. Had it been a balmy summer day, we would have all dined on Casa’s wonderful porch, but it doesn’t quite work as well in November, unfortunately.
Meals at Casa always start with a bowl of corn and flour tortilla chips, along with green and red salsa. We also got an appetizer of guacamole to go with the chips. For dinner, I had a delicious carne asada dish, paired of course with one of the establishment’s famous margaritas.
The meal was wonderful, as usual, and filled us up for the long night ahead!
Another great place to do dinner at the start of a night out is the Belvedere Restaurant, which also has a fun bar, but unfortunately it was closed the night we made our rounds.
Live music at the Nail
After dinner, we dropped off Corey’s car and walked down to the Rusty Nail. No car necessary now that we're back from dinner at the other end of town!
We unintentionally hit the Rusty Nail on one of the best nights to go there. They host an open mic night every Tuesday evening, even in the middle of winter, and there’s a decent-sized group of musicians who frequent it. Anyone who knows me knows I love live music, so I was happy!
We each got a beer and checked out the tunes, which were mostly bluesy and classic rock-style covers. A few of our friends had dropped off after Casa, but there was a good group still going strong.
My father and his wife Sioux met us there as well, because they were celebrating my dad’s last day of work ever! Well, maybe not ever, but his last day before he was officially retired. So exciting!
We hung out for a bit at the Nail, watched people play pool, and met an adorable dog named Bruiser who hangs out there sometimes.
Then it was time to move on!
Bowling at Romano’s
Romano’s Saranac Lanes is just around the corner from the Nail. After we got a drink, half the group split off to bowl a few rounds, while my dad and Sioux ordered some food, and I met up with my friend Gabe, who was in town visiting for the holidays from North Carolina. We caught up while the bowlers bowled. And Corey would like me to mention that she got a strike on her first frame.
Dad and Sioux got some wings that they enjoyed, but the kitchen offers a variety of other options as well. I like their quesadillas!
I tend to visit Romano’s on Sunday afternoons to watch football, because they have about a million TV screens, so you can see all the 1 p.m. games at once, which is important when you are watching several players for your fantasy team or keeping an eye on the teams that are competing with yours for wildcard playoff spots.
I have also been known to enjoy a rare Saturday-night karaoke session at Romano’s here and there. No, I will not give you any videos of my singing.
After Romano’s, most of the crowd dropped off and went home to bed, while Corey, Gabe and I headed up the hill.
We had intentions of trying to make it to Downhill Grill before they closed, but we didn’t make it. So we ventured on.
Silliness at the Waterhole
By the time we arrived at the Waterhole, we were starting to feel a little silly.
Normally my favorite part about the Waterhole is the frequent concerts, often in their Upstairs Music Lounge but also outside on the patio or inside in the downstairs bar area. There was no music tonight, so instead Corey played some fun metal classics on the jukebox. And some other random music.
The Waterhole has a great porch where people will often spend the whole night, even when it’s freezing outside. I’m not a smoker, but I venture out to the porch frequently to breathe some fresh air and hang out with all my smoky friends.
After a few smokes and a few drinks, it was time for our last stop.
Ending the night at Grizle T’s
We finished the night with a drink at Grizle T’s, my favorite bar in Saranac Lake (and the closest one to where I live). It goes by a variety of nicknames, including Grizle’s, Grizzly T’s, Grizlets, or just Griz (my favorite, because I’m into the whole brevity thing).
Griz has a great, homey atmosphere; beautiful, Adirondack-style wooden tables; and the most draft beer taps in town, with the beer offerings constantly shifting. I love trying new beers, so it makes me happy.
There’s usually a good crowd at Griz on Tuesday nights, because they offer two-for-one on a variety of their drinks after 9 p.m. That Tuesday night was no exception. As we walked in, we were accosted by big hugs from Brad, a former Saranac Laker who moved out of town and was visiting for the holiday, and there were plenty of other friends and friendly strangers hanging out as well.
We watched Brad play pool and quaffed some delicious beer as I took stock of all the reasons I love Grizle’s: There’s a foosball table, a photo booth, all the bartenders are great, and graffiti is encouraged in the bathrooms. For real - the walls of the ladies room are all painted with chalkboard paint, and several pieces of chalk are usually available to write and draw all over the walls.
I meant to get Corey and Gabe to do some strips of photos with me in the photo booth, but I forgot, so I’ll just have to leave you with some of the other fun photos we took during the night, because what's a pub crawl without a few fun photos?