Best Neighborhood Bar (South County)

Sappington Lounge

Its sleepy, innocuous location sets the stage for Sappington Lounge. Wedged inside a strip mall between a women's clothing resale shop and a make-your-own pottery store, it's hardly south county's most hoppin' watering hole. What it lacks in flash, though, it makes up for in genial service and bottom-barrel booze prices. Sappington Lounge has changed hands in the last few years yet retains the same salty charm — despite modern additions such as flat-screen TVs and a bowling video game. But Sappington Lounge is still a smoking-friendly establishment, and several American flags warn, in handwritten scrawl, "Don't Tread on Me." It's not a bar out of time, exactly, it's just choosy about what it's ready to warm up to. Fortunately, the bar's staff has no trouble welcoming new blood into the fold, and neither do its patrons — some lifers, some just passing through. That is Sappington Lounge's greatest strength; that it immediately imbues visitors with a sense of belonging, conjuring a closeness and history that usually requires years of cultivation.

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