The 501 Club, (not to be confused with 331, 400 bar, Laura's 1029 bar, Seven or the far too similar sounding 508 bar) is located not un-comically between a Caribou Coffee and a Planet Beach in what appears to be a small strip-mall parking lot but is actually a heavily-trafficked corner of Washington Ave and 5th Ave S in downtown Minneapolis. The irony here is a hipster bar in a very un-hipster location, i'm sure that was not lost on the reader. The question is, does it work?
I'll save the suspense, it does. With two levels and some space to throw around, the 501 Club has two bars (one on each level) with pool tables above and a stage that can comfortably (if cozily) fit bands of up to 4 or 5 members, below. The 501 Club, sister bar to Northeast's 331 (reviewed below), runs a gamut of events and specials throughout the week. Wednesdays it's the uber-well-crafted Movie and Music Trivia, Mondays might find a game of the local favorite "bling-O" (which is basically bingo with Hip Hop music in the background). Every night of the week there is live music, many weeknights without a cover. The month of May sees Bethany Larson & The Bee's Knees every Wednesday night, a solid if sometimes plodding rock-folk 4-piece headed, ostensibly, by the oft-flamboyant-skirt-wearing Bethany Larson. And though the stage seems a little small it makes a big noise, if you're sitting close it wouldn't hurt to get some 75 cent ear plugs at the bar.
With weeknights offering half-off appetizers after 11 (and the bar food here is as high-quality as it is varied), a tagline on their website that reads "never a cover" and events like trivia, movie nights and bingo functioning essentially as opening acts for the nights musical line-up, the 501 Club offers enough to keep anyone coming back for seconds. Even if it looks like your entering a bar at the airport at first glance, it feels like a well-thought-out, professionally run establishment by nights end, with flares of the hipster and the downtown crowd scattered throughout.
Take this bar in with a pint of Goose Island on-tap, some vodka tonics and the chicken quesadilla on the appetizer list after 11, because that's exactly what I did...and it worked out pretty well.