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Our Favorite Dive Bars for the Holidays

Insider Tips & Inspiration, Craft Beer, Spirits, Wine

It’s holiday time, and whether you’re looking for a place to celebrate with friends and family (or escape them!), there’s no better place to take time out than at one of the Valley’s local dives.

Kelly's Saloon in Geneseo – Kelly's Saloon, Geneseo. Photo credit: Conrad Baker 2017

Kelly’s Saloon
The quintessential dive, Kelly’s Saloon represents the heart of the Geneseo community. Since the late 1970s, locals, out-of-towners, college students, and professionals from all walks of life have gathered at Kelly’s as equals. Famous for its graffitied walls and generous pours, Kelly’s is often the first (and last!) point of call for those returning home for the holidays. Sadly the bar burned to the ground in 2015, taking with it decades of patrons’ history inscribed on the walls. Luckily Kelly’s owners, the Dieter family, were able to preserve the original signed ceiling tiles and built them back into the wall, including one signed by the original owner, Jack Carr, a testament to the bar’s reverence for history and tradition.

Graffiti at Kelly's Saloon in Geneseo. Photo by Conrad Baker, 2017.
Graffiti at Kelly's Saloon in Geneseo. Photo by Conrad Baker, 2017.

What we love: Kelly’s encourages patrons to leave their own mark on the walls, adding to the bar’s long and lively history.

The Idle Hour
Around the corner from Kelly’s is “the Idle,” another beloved watering hole with an equally colorful history and cast of characters - not least of which are the “Jackalope” heads mounted on the wall behind the bar (apparently Frank Avery, the bar’s original owner, had a thing for these mythical creatures). At over 50 years old, the Idle is possibly the oldest and longest running bar in the Valley. Like Kelly’s, the Idle is the “go-to” spot for expats flocking home at holiday time to reconnect with old friends and relive some of those old glory days.

The Idle Hour Bar in Geneseo.
The Idle Hour Bar in Geneseo.

What we love: its versatility - local movers and shakers show up every happy hour but as the sun sets the scene changes to open mics, live music, and trivia nights.

Mounted Jackalope Heads -  the Idle Hour, Geneseo.
Mounted Jackalope Heads - the Idle Hour, Geneseo.

The Greenway Pub
The Greenway Pub is definitely one of those “hole-in-the-wall-spots, if-you-blink-you’ll-miss-it” kind of places - and for that reason we love it. Situated just off the Genesee Valley Greenway in Cuylerville (once the heart of the Seneca Nation in the Valley), the Greenway Pub is one of the area’s coziest and friendliest dives; as one local put it - “it’s like a backyard living room for the neighborhood.” The Greenway is also only a stone’s throw away from the National Hotel, one of the area’s most iconic and historic restaurants.

What we love: neighborhood vibes and dog-friendliness make this a great pit stop when hiking the Genesee Valley Greenway.

The Wadsworth Grill
The Wadsworth Grill, or “the Grill” locally, has become a sister-bar to Kelly’s across the Valley. When Kelly’s burned in 2015, the Grill held fundraiser after fundraiser for the Dieters to buy the condemned building, tear it down and build it back up again.

What we love: the Wadsworth Grill is everything we love about a dive - CHEAP drinks, EXCEPTIONAL wings, and salt-of-the-earth people.

Wadsworth Grill in Piffard.
Wadsworth Grill in Piffard.

Tee & Gee
We round out our list of favorite dives with Tee & Gee - one of our region’s undercover gems. Located at the Northern end of Conesus Lake, at first glance Tee & Gee looks and feels like a typical dive with motorcycles parked out front and a low-lit bar inside with the requisite, quirky paraphernalia adorning the walls. That is until you view their menu: prime rib sandwich, Wisconsin beer-cheese soup, pretzel burger, escargot as an appetizer alongside mushrooms Alexandar - say what???! Tee & Gee chef (and, since 2018, co-owner) Jonah Sanguedolce took over the restaurant in 2000 after many years at the Conesus Inn (one of the area’s best restaurants, famous for its prime rib) bringing with him those fine dining skills to create some of the best, elevated pub-food around.

What we love: isn’t it obvious? The FOOD!!!

Escargot at Tee & Gee in Lakeville.
Escargot at Tee & Gee in Lakeville.

Our local bar owners love their people like family, and the bars can stand as a living room away from home and can lean on each other in times of crisis. If that isn’t the meaning of the holidays, we don’t know what is.

So there you go - you’re welcome:) Happy Holidays!

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