I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in over 16 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still occasionally love going into quirky little bars now and then for a good burger, some extra-greasy fries, and a glimpse into a world that becomes more strange and foreign to me each time I venture in.

During my recent visit to the Wood River Valley in Central Idaho, I followed through on my promise to look in on a friend of a friend mine from Ocean Park. His friend allegedly owns a bar in Ketchum, and “if you happen to stop in there, tell him I said hello.”

I say this mysterious friend of my friend “allegedly” owns the bar, because I never managed to meet him. Oh, I went there, alright, and I had a great cheeseburger and fries, but “the boss” was away that day, so I had to content myself with hanging out with about a bazillion good-looking guys all drinking beer and watching the World Cup on the numerous flat-screened TVs.

Yeah, I know, tough job, but they definitely needed a little less testosterone in that place, and I think the only other female—the waitperson—was happiest to see me. No gal on earth could hope to compete with the enticing combination of beer and the World Cup for attention.

So I ate alone, soaking up the incredibly eclectic and oddly charming atmosphere while the guys all soaked up the suds.

It would be a shame if quirky little bars like this one go the way of thousands of small local coffee shops and Mom and Pop diners, but more and more “the big chains,” with their consistent “you know exactly what’ll you’ll get here” menus are taking over.

Which precisely why I go out of my way patronize independent bookstores, homegrown Saturday and Sunday markets, and kids selling lemonade on the street corner.

Viva la true Americana!