Mar 6, 2023

County 5 defines ‘dive’ in Bulpitt, Ill.

Central Illinois Small Town Bar Tour – 2023 Edition

For the second stop on the 2023 edition of our Central Illinois Small Town Bar Tour, tour guide Danielle and Greg guided us along the county highways of western Christian County, south from Edinburg and directly in to the heart of beautiful Bulpitt, Illinois.  At the main intersection with Illinois Route 104, we found our destination – County 5 Bar & Grill.  

Ok, perhaps it’s at the intersection of Route 104 and Harley Babe Blvd. 

Nonetheless, one look at this place from either side, and I could tell we had landed on a true dive in every wonderful sense of the word.  The brick storefront was old and weathered, the wooden railing and tin porch roof were mismatched, and even with the open sign lit it was hard to tell if that was accurate when we first drove up.  

They were, in fact, open, and a sign out front led the way advertising cold drinks, hot slots and hot food.  What more do you really need?  Whether it’s morning (it was actually closer to 12:30 p.m. by this point) or the next morning, it looks like County 5 has everything you could ask for in a dive bar.

While Whiskey Ridge Saloon in Breckenridge surprised me by how nice it looked like on the inside, I was just as impressed with the natural divey-ness of County 5 from the moment I opened the creaking screen door and walked in.   It actually took a minute to absorb all of its awesomeness.    

The makeshift wood paneling surrounding the entrance?  Great touch.  The metal walls resembling a garage in a possible past life?  Very cool.  Giant Golden Tee machine?  Count me in.  More slot machines than patrons in the daytime?  When you gamble, it’s good to have options.   And is that a giant handsaw hanging on the wall?  And a giant bobber hanging from the ceiling?  Umm … ok. 

The bar stood at the back of the room.  A shiny wooden surface rested on more metal.  The bartender seemed delightfully indifferent to his unexpected group of customers.  I suspect our sudden appearance took him a little off his routine.  Still, we settled in at the closest available corner and ordered a round of beers – Natural Light for the ladies and Stag for the boys. 

At the bar, I continued to relish the overall divey-ness of our surroundings.  We had westerns on the one television that was turned on … always a solid choice.  We saw plenty of dollar bills and Polaroids pinned to the wall … every one tells a story, no doubt.  And we had access to a larger liquor selection than you should expect to find at most dive bars.  It was decision time among our group.  What shots were we having?  

Wait a minute … what’s in the tank near the cash register?  A batch of recently made (by dive bar standards) homemade pepperoncini shots?  Topped by a metal bucket for sanitary reasons, obviously.  Count us in!  Maybe it was the moment, but it proved to be the perfect complement to a cold Stag beer.  

I should note that while we did not order food at County 5 (probably a mistake in hindsight), the fryer in the kitchen seems to put out some really good stuff.  Yes, the menu leans heavily on fried apps, but based on the take-out orders I saw being picked up, whoever’s cooking knows how to do it right.  Danielle also vouched for the quality of the grub here, so that’s good enough for me. 

The menu also features a good mix of burgers, sandwiches, wings, horseshoes (a must for any respectable food-serving Central Illinois tavern), and specialty pizzas.  I suspect there’s a devoted following in and around Bulpitt for the food at County 5.  It surely serves a need in a small community.

All in all, we considered the second stop on our small-town bar tour to be another huge success.  When it’s still relatively early in the afternoon and you’re reluctant to leave, you know you’re in a good place.  I know I’d like to return soon if for no other reason than to try the pizza. 

If you go searching for the County 5 Bar & Grill, it’s relatively easy to find from Route 104.  It’s on the same intersection as Rumors, another fine drinking establishment, closest to the border between Bulpitt and the village of Kincaid.  Chances are good they’ll be open when you get there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds great. I am especially hungry for their fish, and pizzas ��…. Nothing like it in Va

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

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