“Do you think we’ve hit Peak Plaid?” My friend asks me this as I sip my red wine. I don’t know what the vintage is, because the menu choices are French Red, Italian Red, Italian White or German white. If I was in a mood where I cared for more information than that, I wouldn’t be drinking at State Park, and that’s all you need to know about what sort of place this is. And, yes, there is a lot of plaid.
State Park is a dive bar, but not the sort of dive where disputes are resolved with broken glass or where the toilets might give you cancer. It’s a dive bar as it exists in our collective imaginations, fueled by films of cops, grifters and construction workers, sharing stories over a pint of beer. There’s a comfortable vibe, cheap snacks, and quarters for pinball. There’s shuffleboard and pool, and a whole bunch of neon everywhere. It’s the Platonic ideal of the dive bar if Plato drank Miller High Life and ate potato chips.
I shrug at my friend’s question. Yes, there’s also a lot of plaid, waxed hair, black-framed glasses and other hallmarks of the American hipster. However, that’s a feature, not a bug. The city has a ton of fancy cocktail bars and beer nerd halls but it has few places that are as uncomplicated as State Park, and that is a relief.