Friday, October 21, 2011

Head Over Heels Friday: The Ultimate Halloween Inspiration, Donny Dirks Zombie Den

I've been so anxious to share this Twin Cities haunt here on the blog and I couldn't think of any better time than Halloween!  If you are a local resident there's no doubt you have been to (or at least heard of) Psycho Suzies Motor Lounge. But, I bet you have never been to their creepier drinkery Donny Dirk's Zombie Den. Donny Dirks opened back in 2009 right here in North Minneapolis.  Alex and I couldn't resist checking it out when we heard about it...

A bar with a year-round zombie den theme???  What does that look like?

Well, it is pretty un-real, un-expected, and uh-AMAZING! I felt pretty stunned when I walked in, like I had crossed over into a surreal dream (errr, maybe that is after one of their 'poisoned' concoctions?). Alex and I knew we had found our new favorite little bar and have been going back again and again ever since.  I am sooo Head Over Heels for Donny Dirks Zombie Den!

The decor has been described as classy kitsch, a zombie-fied twist on a 1950's Vegas Lounge.  You are curious right?  Let's take a peek inside?  BEWARE OF ZOMBIE ATTACKS, here we go!
I am unsure of who Undead Frank is, but his neon sign glows as a centerpiece above their bar along with a set of samurai swords.  Random right?  That's the point!

Their glassware doubles as decor with green lighting and smokey mirrored tiles behind. The chalkboard adds to the fun listing their 'Zombie Poisons'.
Above the bar are more smokey mirrored tiles, spooky tray lighting to enhance the crown moulding, and a mounted deer head complete with a red mohawk of course.
I absolutely love how their drink mixers are arranged like medicines in a mad doctors lab. Have you seen a cocktail made using an eyedropper??? I have!
Here's a look at the booths and seating.  Note the mirrored tile walls, lighting, olive green tufted seating with nail head trim, and probably the most interesting detail of all- tiger striped carpet!  Meow!!! Getting that 50's Vegas lounge feel now? 
The decor behind the booths adds to the creepy zombie-like ambiance with gothic candelabras, dead flowers, distressed/ graffittied wood trim, and a blood stained paddle.
Along the wall opposite of the bar are some mounted zombie heads.
If you look up at the beautiful vintage tin tile ceiling, you get a glance of the classic glass chandeliers complete with faux crows.
And.... in case of an actual zombie attack emergency, they have a chainsaw on hand :)
Isn't this place just strangely amazing???

Even better, if you stop by to grab a drink, you can also enjoy a tacky horror movie!  They have a TON of them on hand that play on two flat screens at each end of the bar.  Alex and I often find these movies to be hilariously over the top and cheesy :) adds a little more kitsch!
They have a great selection of beers that are served in large goblets.  I always recommend their Dark and Stormy, a mix of Ginger Beer and Rum- it is quite delightful!
If you are local, are you going to go get your zombie on at Donny Dirks???  Keep an eye out for this little green brick building on 2nd and 21st just behind Washington Ave.
Zombies and non-zombies are welcome :)

Are you Head Over Heels for Donny Dirks Zombie Den?

My trip to Donny Dirks certainly gave me more inspiration for my 'spooky' sideboard decor! Can't wait to show you how it turns out!  Also, the ceiling painting is wrapping up today, then our home is back in our hands!  Today is certainly an awesome Friday! 

Have a great weekend everybody!

Update 10.24.11: The mystery of 'Undead Frank' is solved thanks to Megan at Nomi Passenger!  Undead Frank refers to Stand Up Franks- a bar that used to occupy the space that Donnie Dirks Zombie Den now sits in.  Stand Up Franks was a notorious hang out for gangs, the city eventually shut them down.  Thankfully,  this space was revamped into the unique establishment it is today! Gotta love it when something negative turns into something positive!


  1. Haha, I was thinking "Where are the machetes? Oh, maybe she means the samurai swords?" That is a sure sign that my fiancee watches martial arts movies...

    Reference, if you are interested:

  2. OMG duh!!! You are totally right, I just made the edit to the post. Thanks for pointing it out :) Alex usually reads my posts before they go up, but he didn't with this one, I bet he would have caught that too! We actually have a machete from Home Depot, Alex bought it to hack at a shrub in the backyard. Home Depot definitely doesn't have samurai swords :) HA!


  3. Hey Dear, we loooooove the zombie den too!

    Undead Frank refers to the ghost of "Stand Up Frank's" -= the previous dive bar that occupied the building before Donny Dirk's.

    Stand Up Frank's was a notorious, dive-of-all-dive bars that was finally shut down by the City. That little stretch of 2nd street was sort of the last hold outs of what used to be referred to ask "skid row" way back in times after prohibition all the way up to the 70s. Irv's Bar on corner of Broadway and 2nd is now Master Engineering offices (the other cute green and black trimmed building), Johnny A's on the other corner of Broadway and 2nd is now Good Sports Bar and then this building is now DDZD.

    Here's Johnny writing about the closure in his ever so famous Johnny-esque flavor.

    Sooooo, that is the story behind Undead Frank!

    Now we must go for a drinky-poo. Or two. When John returns he can be our D.D.

    Also, notice on facebook they are having a voting opportunity to choose the costume of Diesel the door guy! Vote for the cocktail dress! :-)

  4. Before I went off to Afghanistan, Donny Dirk's gave me a drink "on the house." So I ordered some booze called "Death's Door," ha ha ha.

    Oh, that reminds me. Guard duty at the front gate in an hour.

  5. Hey Megan and JNS!!! Glad you guys saw this post! I will have to write an update about 'Undead Frank', when I read your comment I had that moment of 'oh duh?' I don't know why I didn't put that together because when I was writing this last Friday I looked up an article about the opening of DDZD and read about Stand Up Franks.

    Also, when Alex and I went there for the first time it was because we read that post on JNS when it opened. It was before our days as bloggers started and we were learning all the good (and sometimes bad) things about NOMI :)

    I would love to grab a drink at DDZD with you guys!!! Hopefully you will be home soon John!

    We'll talk soon!


  6. Hey Carla,

    Have you been to The Lowry Cafe on Penn and Lowry? I'm up here visiting the family and my mom suggested we go there. Surprisingly, it was pretty tasty. It's kind of off to the side from North End Hardware!

    Lora in AL

  7. Hi Lora,

    Yes! We have been to the Lowry Cafe a few times now! Love their breakfast and when I had lunch there is when I found out about their window repair shop (part of North End Hardware). Glad you got to visit some of the *GEMS* in the Northside for your visit! Always feels good to support the smaller businesses right??? Especially in the Northside!!!!



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