DILWORTH, Minn. — I was wearing a mask when I recently entered the Silver Spike Bar & Grill.
It was two days after the sudden falling of the Minnesota mask mandate, and I had missed the memo. Just three days earlier I forgot my mask in my back pocket after entering Menards. Even those with the nerve to undertake home plumbing projects were horrified. And here I was facing odd looks from the brazenly maskless.
Whatever chemical reaction that is said to cause shame, remorse and regret is badly in need of recalibration. My first thought is that it’s bingo night and perhaps bingo, inherently risky and appealing to thrill-seekers, simply attracts those wanting to live dangerously.
But, no. It’s nearly 48 hours after Gov. Tim Walz lifted mask mandates in Minnesota, and it’s time to cut loose and pound that bingo dauber down. There is nothing between catching one’s breath at the single untouched 14 under the B and the card itself but the air.
In Germany, there are sections of public parks and beaches that are often set aside as clothing optional when, in fact, those wearing clothes may well be the ones who feel out of place. It feels a little like that, wearing a mask in a sports bar in Minnesota. Everyone recognizes that you are probably one of those who is behind the curve and slow to catch up, but you do need to get back on the pony eventually.
North Dakotans are used to the ebb and flow of mask politics, even to the point of legislative vetoes and overrides. They know they are likely to encounter the odd libertarian who demands freedom or death and, in a pandemic, is willing to come close to the latter in pursuit of the former.
But Minnesotans, even as far west as Dilworth, tend to be rule-followers. East of St. Cloud, you wouldn’t see a maskless face except behind the barn where they’re smoking cigars they lifted from grandpa’s barn coat.
The Silver Spike is a nice place as sports bars go. High ceilings, some brick and neon, a rolling barn door and acres of television screens give a kind of clean, modern feel with a touch of contrived nostalgia. Not too dark or too bright.
Nacho’s ($14.99) are a good starter because they celebrate the communal, although sharing a plate still seems a little bit too intimate. The menu is enormous with standard bar food and a foot in the steakhouse world with ribs, steaks and seafood.
There are some unique creations on the menu that are worth considering. A heart-stopping poutine burger ($12.99) stretches the Québécois dish of fries and gravy beyond its cultural limits, but it’s a nice diversion from a typical bar built burger.
Perhaps one of the more interesting offerings is the bratwurst made locally in Dilworth. Truly an extraordinary brat with a crisp snap at the skin and clean flavor. At a very reasonable price ($8.99), it’s among the best brats you’ll find in Fargo or Moorhead — and, in the summer months, that’s a pretty large field.
Silver Spike opened in September 2020 and was forced to temporarily close in November due to Minnesota coronavirus-related restrictions on bars and restaurants. It may take a little time to get up on its feet again after a long period of uncertainty. The kitchen was slow but, in this near-post pandemic window of time where restaurants are struggling to return to full staff, full menu and full function, it may well be time to celebrate, and support, the survivors.
Across the valley, and just in time for summer, dining out is becoming less at your peril and more at your pleasure. A “normal” once again new.
Silver Spike Bar & Grill
Address: 314 15th St. NE, Dilworth, Minn.
Cuisine: Sports bar
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily (kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday)
Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.