Triple Rock Social Club

Seven bucks, Baby. (Plus 75 cents for cheese.)

Photo by Jeremy Stratton

4–7 p.m., Monday–Friday

“Does their happy hour start at four?” asked the other hungry happy-hour zombie standing outside the locked door at 629 Cedar Ave. at 3:51 p.m.

“I think so,” I said. “I’m not sure, but I really think so.”

How could I not know that? When I’m craving some after-work cheap food and beverage (no, not always before 4 o’clock), The Triple Rock Social Club is most often my first choice of destination.

“I’m starving,” he said. Likewise, hunger and a taste for cold wet hops swam in my head and gullet. I mumbled something back about “didn’t sleep much, don’t really know…” and then the door mercifully opened, and we shuffled inside, arms outstretched, moaning “Beer, beer, beer…” Or something like that.

Happy hour does start at four — opening time. While we were technically the first customers through the door that Tuesday afternoon, the worn, wooden, bar-long bar was already half-full with black-shirted punks.

Now, the Triple Rock is one of the few places in town where you can use that term with both accuracy and good will — it’s a punk bar, literally run by punks; both my regular bartender and Triple Rock owner Erik Funk play in the local band Dillinger Four. It’s also the premier punk rock venue in town.

I ordered and nursed a blessed Guinness until my 50-year-old, decidedly un-punk buddy bellied up on a stool 15 minutes later. It was his first visit to the Rock. (I don’t know if they call it that.)

We settled in to the ambience of medium-decibel music — lead guitars screaming over a bed of ragged rhythm guitar and vocals. (Tangent: While “punk bar” is fair and accurate, it does give short-shrift to the jukebox offerings and regular airings. I’ve heard lots and lots of punk, but also Blondie and Thin Lizzy’s “Whiskey in the Jar” (countless times, thanks to the iconic Bob Murder, or is it Murder Bob?); and once a full album, end-to-end, of some of the heaviest-metal grindcore. I mean, good tunes are good tunes, right?)

Today, it was the CD player on shuffle, not the jukebox.

“What kind of music would you call this?” asked my friend.

“Punk,” I said, then reconsidered. “Or metal. It sounds more like metal.” It did.

“What’s the difference?” he asked, truly curious, as usual. A very good question.

“I don’t know. They’re both loud, fast, with lots of guitars…” I trailed off. I was still hungry.

“Isn’t all rock-n-roll loud and fast?” he asked.

“Yes, that’s it, rock-n-roll, that’s what they call it,” I said. “I forgot the name for a second.”

My burger arrived. A pepper-jack cheeseburger with fries and a pickle spear. I took pictures of it next to my beer. My friend ordered the same, but with a Surly Bender.

Oddly enough, I come to the Triple Rock because it’s a quiet (in a loud, white-noise sort of way) solitary place to drink my beer and eat my burger — a sizable, well-done beef patty on a sturdy bun with lettuce, tomato slice, red onions and cheese (75 cents extra) — and a bedrock of crispy fries blanketing the basket beneath my burger. It is only the beginning of a formidable full menu.

Amidst the growing crowd of tattooed-and-tatters patrons, my friend admitted he felt out of place, but I’ve seen his type there before. Squares, like me, approaching or enjoying middle age. And pre-game Twins fans, after-work professionals, young hipsters (at Tuesday night 2-for-1s) and fresh-faced college kids (like the ones queuing for the show later that night on the excellent sound stage attached to the bar.)

This is my point — not to divide, but to bring together: I’ve never felt a too-cool-for-school vibe at the Triple Rock. When I take my seat at the bar, a bartender always welcomes me with a “Hey what can I get you buddy?” or “What’ll it be my man?” In my experience (granted usually before sunset), the Triple Rock leaves the attitude to its music, style and décor, like the Dickies on the disc player; the floor server’s beautiful, vibrant, full-arm tattoo; or the cash register with a sticker that reads “F*** you. Pay me.”

And they serve a pretty good burger basket, with your choice of nearly a dozen good tap beers, for much less than $10. Just right to fill the needy head and stomach. And, for my money, some loud fast rock makes the transformation from sober and starving to pleasantly satiated just that much better.

At the end of an hour, my friend and I got up to leave. “I don’t know, Jeremy, my belly feels a little…” He trailed off, making a circular motion with his hand over his stomach. “It must be the music,” I said. I think he just needs a little acclimation. Maybe a rock show. Or a second $3 Surly. Me, I felt just fine.

The deal: Monday–Friday, 4–7 p.m.

$7 burger or $5 hot dog basket with tap beer or rail drink. (75 cents extra for cheese) Veggie burgers available; all-beef or vegan hot dogs come Chicago style or with a choice of toppings.

$3 taps and rails — currently: Bell’s Oberon and Two-Hearted, Surly Bender and Coffee Bender, Blue Moon, Stella Artois, Schlitz, Budweiser, Newcastle, Summit EPA, Hardcore cider (add an extra $1 for Guinness or Surly Coffee Bender to both beer or basket orders)

Other specials:

Sunday–Thursday, midnight–close — $2 Hamms and Olympia

Tuesdays, 9 p.m.–12:30 a.m. — 2-for-1 taps and rails

Wednesdays, 9–11 p.m. — $3 PBR tallboys and FREE BACON (That’s right, FREE BACON while supplies last.)

Surly Thursdays, 7 p.m.–close — $1 off all Surly taps and bottles

Mystery beer Sunday, 9 p.m.–close — $2 mystery beers

— Jeremy Stratton is editor of Minneapolis Bridgeland News

last revised: June 5, 2009