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Food & Drink

Best Neighborhood Bar (East Side) 

Smokey Joe's

Smokey Joe's waits in the darkness of the Great River Road like a tiny smoke-filled oasis. The roadside tavern serves as both an escape for the twentysomething from Edwardsville who wants to avoid small talk with former high school classmates and a pit stop for regulars, many of them guys who work at U.S. Steel in Granite City. Smokey Joe's has many dive qualities — think water-stained ceiling panels and yellowing décor — but it is a lively place. Though the beer coasters proclaim, "Less talk'n, more drink'n at Smokey Joe's," the crowd at the bar is always chuckling and yakking away. No one pays attention to the three television sets, which are absent-mindedly set to soccer, American League baseball and a show about the Harry Potter movie. The shuffleboard table no longer takes coins, but it still gets some play. An entire wall to the left of the entrance is lined with casino-style video games. The sole loner present is engrossed in video slots, but when someone starts playing the digital jukebox, he ponies up five bucks to keep the music coming.

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