603 Vanderbilt Avenue
What is it: Straight out of a spaghetti Western, this modern day saloon – complete with lassos, a player piano, and a mounted moose head on the wall – offers up a nearly endless array of beer and spirits, a rotating roster of live local bands, and basement air hockey and pool.
Why we love it: From carbaret to White Trash Bingo to seriously soulful open mic nights, there’s never a dull moment in the three rooms that make up this neighborhood bar. Literally — there are a range of events almost every night. Not quite a dive but certainly no stroll through the park, Branded manages to throw together a corn dog, a PBR and a Mountain Dew slushie and call it a special.
Who to bring: This place is a total mixed bag, so check the schedule before you rally a crew. Some nights get LGBT-wild, other nights cater to a brotastic karaoke scene. No matter the crowd, Branded is the kind of place where bumming cigs from a stranger out front doubles as a token of friendship. If you’re looking to sleep in your own bed tonight, you might want to head elsewhere.
What to order: In true Wild West fashion, this joint offers a legit supply of liquor, including Willy Nelson’s Old Whiskey River Bourbon. The cocktails, too, are nothing to shy away from — try the Armored Palmer for a sweet tea spin on the old school staple that’ll have you feeling fine. If you’re in the mood for something more savory, start off with a bacon whiskey milkshake.
Branded Saloon fun fact: The kitchen stays open until 3am every. single. night. What’s up, vegetarian Frito pie?