Words & Deeds

Business in front, party in back: Downtown Boise dive bar plans upgrades.

Hell just froze over.

Oops, wait — maybe that’s just a toilet running over at the Cactus Bar.

Either way, the seemingly unfathomable looks like it’s coming to the beloved Cactus. The cash-only dive at 517 W. Main St. — known for stiff, inexpensive drinks — is planning a modest but notable remodel. Including restrooms.

The Cactus still will be dependably low-brow when you walk through the front door on a Tuesday and order a tall, $2.50 double well whiskey sour.

But out back? Uh-oh.

A proposed overhaul of the rear patio has been submitted to the city of Boise. The plan is to add “an enclosed bar area, pergola and an awning/canopy and overhead/roll-up door to the rear wall of the existing building.” (A fancy-schmancy roll-up door at the Cactus? Just. Wow.)

Cactus Bar.jpg
The Cactus Bar was founded in 1936. Brad Talbutt Statesman file

That’s not the half of it. Also planned as part of the rear patio upgrade? Two new restrooms. TWO!

If you’ve experienced the joy of pretzel-crowding into the unique, tiny men’s restroom at the Cactus with another dude, well — this is earth-shattering news. Sure, alcohol clouds your judgment, but it really does seem like that plumbing hasn’t changed since the bar opened in 1936.

Never been to the Cactus? You’re missing out. The Cactus blows through the 8th-most liquor among Boise bars, according to recent data from the Idaho State Liquor Division.

Cruise there on a Sunday — when PBR tall boys and drafts are $1. Shoot some stick. And take advantage of that restroom rite of passage while you still can.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he also has been a sportswriter, entertainment editor and features editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.
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