Puempel's Olde Tavern is positively friggin' glorious. This is everything I could ever want in a pub. It has everything that suburban eateries, Las Vegas celebrity-owned restaurants and corporate-crafted themed joints cannot deliver: authenticity.
On my recent Labor Day weekend visit, I sipped my draught Hamm's beer ($2) while noshing on a Green County cheese sandwich. There's lots of cold cut sammie choices, but when I'm in Green County, Wisconsin, I always opt for a cheese sandwich. I chose a brick on rye adorned with spinach, raw onion and tomatoes. Served with a bag o' chips and a pickle spear, this pack of foodie delight costs only $4.50 and ...
Did I just say "noshing"? Did I say "delight"? "Sammie"? "Foodie"?!
What the heck is wrong with me?!?! I didn't go to Puempel's for the food. I didn't go to Puempel's for the beer. I WENT TO PUEMPEL'S TO BE AT PUEMPEL'S!! And that's a good enough reason!!
It's no surprise that during my visit I'd be seated at the bar next to a Chicagoan. As the oompah band set up--two ladies and two men respectively playing a humstrum, accordion, accordion and banjo--the Chicagoan says to his buddy, "Can you believe how touristy this is?"
This is why we can't be friends sometimes, Chicago.
You're at Puempel's. They've been doing this continuously since 1893. I've been there on the a midweek
day--there's still seniors playing sheepshead in the corner, they're still sipping a light beer or a diet soda, they're still listening to a group at the end of the bar playing two accordions, a banjo and a humstrum. They still get their news from the newspaper curled up and mustard-stained at the end of the bar. They discuss the crypt-o-gram. They think today's was a tough one.
Did you ever think that it's only "touristy" because you dragged your butt out of the 'burbs to get a real taste of the midwest?
Sorry, Chicagoan, but that question frosted me. Can't you just sit back and enjoy the folks 30 years your senior singing their hearts out? Can't you just appreciate the 100-year old tapestries and murals on the wall? The cash register that still has a 5¢ key? The brass rail? The wood floors? The hundreds, if not thousands, of dollar bills stuck to the ceiling and wonder like everybody else "How do they get those things up there?" Or that fact that your Hamm's cost only two dollars?!
If you want touristy, go to Bubba Gump's. If you want authenticity, go to Puempel's. Hopefully you'll see me there. I'll be the one staring at the ceiling wondering, "How do they get those bills up there?"
PuempeI's. I love this place.