When it comes to Campus bars, High Street is a seesaw balanced by glittery Gateway pubs on the south end and charming dives on the north. But wandering just off this wobbly path yields even more discoveries, like the classic, tucked-away hangout Thirsty Scholar.
Located near the corner of Neil and Lane avenues, the tack-sized pub floats somewhere between a thrifty dive and a Campus house party. On a Friday night, smokers linger outside the tan and brown Bavarian-styled building and the commotion in the air is matched by partiers at nearby townhouses.
Neighborhood twentysomethings occupy circular tables inside Thirsty Scholar, which is busy but rarely booming. There's a long bar area on one side, a staircase on the other and a few dozen students bumping elbows in between. The music overhead - Beyonce, Green Day, ZZ Top - plays just quiet enough for mingling conversation.
Joining the fray, I head to the bar to peruse the surprisingly large draft beer selection, including standouts like Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat, Magic Hat #9 and Newcastle ($3.50).
Low-cost domestics like PBR and Amber Bock ($2.25) will please cash-strapped students, but the bar's daily drink discounts really bring in the crowd. Popular specials include Friday Mug Nights, when refills start at $1.75, and Tuesdays when all bottles run $1.75 and all shots cost $3.
Beer in hand, I proceed to find a tall stool next to the electronic juke. Seven flat-screen TVs grace the walls and they're all tuned to various sports except for one playing Shrek. I contemplate if Mike Myers' and Eddie Murphy's careers could get any worse, then head downstairs.
There's a giant TV, two pool tables and a gaggle of guys occupying stools in the humble, well-lit basement; a small second bar is nearby as well as an unused beer pong table.
Following my stomach's heed, I pop upstairs to check out Thirsty Scholar's fare. The small menu includes guilty pleasures - Pizza Rolls ($2.75), Jalapeno Poppers ($4) and Chicken Nachos ($4.55) - alongside an array of sandwiches.
Skipping over light bites, I order the Real Thirsty Burger ($7.50): two half-pound patties piled on a bun, lined with cheese and served with chips. It's a daunting sight but proves to be a tasty, sloppy burger. Good luck getting any beer down afterwards.
2201 Neil Ave., Campus
3 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday
5 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Saturday