Happiest Hour 

Katie O'Keefe's

Why you're here: Football season is upon us once again, and it's time to start staking out your Sunday or Monday night turf. Look no further than Katie O'Keefe's Casino, a quiet and mostly overlooked little sports joint in Stephens Center. There's always a game of some kind playing on this impressive collection of gi-freaking-gantic flat-screen TVs.

Atmosphere: Katie's has kind of a bi-polar feel to it. Just inside the unassuming entrance lies a small dark bar decked in red lighting and crammed with keno machines. The howl of a man temporarily down on his luck spills from a smaller room nearby; the Del Mar horse race is playing on two large TVs (Katie's is one of the only local venues for off-track betting). Jog down a short flight of steps, however, and you'll find a cavernous sports-viewing utopia complete with pool tables and darts. Flat-screens line nearly every wall. Don't worry. The Del Mar is playing here, too.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

What you're drinking: If you ask the regulars—including an off-shift bartender—about the Katie's drink of choice, their reply is simple: "Bud." The bar offers pretty much anything you can think of, from a strong gin-and-tonic to an Irish Car Bomb, and all are pretty cheap (the former, plus two bottles of Miller Genuine Draft, came out at a hair over $7). Most just settle for a pitcher of something off the taps, though. Not that it lasts longer when the Griz are playing...

Where the party's at: Every bar has its "You haven't seen it like this before" days. For Katie's, that would be every Saturday afternoon. While the Griz football team takes the field at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, UM devotees gather en masse for a potluck. Bring a bag of chips, a cup of dip and don't skip over the homemade fudge. Did we forget to mention that the walls are lined with Griz memorabilia?

Where to find it: At 2100 Stephens Ave., in Stephens Center. Look for the storefront in the southeast corner. Don't blink. You might miss it.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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