I have never been inside Cowboy Jack’s in downtown Minneapolis, and since that I’m 31 years old, I probably never will.
But in spite of the fact that I’m 31, I do go on TikTok. A lot. And recently, a certain subset of Twin Cities discourse has dominated my For You Page: Cowboy Jack’s—is it very good, or very bad?
As far as I can tell, the conversation started with a June 24 post by Sheridan Camille. “My friends are at Cowboy Jack’s right now and they’re trying to get me to go to there, and I just cannot stop thinking why we have decided, collectively, as early twenties in Minneapolis, to think that Cowboy Jack’s is our only option,” she begins. “It’s not.”
“Why do we continue to go there? Every weekend?” she concludes, and commenters agree.
“I have never once in my time living in Minneapolis thought Cowboy Jacks was my only option,” says one. “Facts. Cowboy jacks is for the people who peaked in high school there I said it,” adds another.
“Since when is COWBOY JACKS the spot??? 😳” asks user blindguymcsqueeeezy. “Are y’all okay? 😅”
(Cowboy Jack’s is a part of a chain owned by the After Midnight Group, but these TikToks all refer to the downtown Minneapolis location.)
That initial video has amassed 188,000 views and 15,000 likes over the last two-ish weeks, with one commenter dubbing Camille “the head of the Cowboy Jacks hate club.” But the bar is not without its defenders, including one poor soul who asks, “What if we like the washed up frat guys though?”
In another locally viral post a few days later (120,000 views, 9,500 likes), user @clairdoty responded to that initial video with her “petition to keep Cowboy Jack’s in the rotation.”
“Nowhere else in Minneapolis can you run into your ex and the group of girls in your sorority you didn’t like, talk shit about them, bum a rooftop cig off a 28-year-old frat boy, throw up in the bathroom, and then get a quesadilla—all before 6 p.m.!” she explains in a June 30 TikTok.
And other accounts keep reviving the argument, jumping in with their own Cowboy Jack’s hate and/or slander and using various viral sounds about having a bad time (“I wanna go home,” “I wanna crash my car into a telephone pole“).
Cowboy Jack’s apologists like Claire argue that the things that make the bar shitty are actually the things that make it great. One commenter recalls watching a girl throw a drink in her date’s face in broad daylight, another likes watching people get kicked out. They have a point: There are plenty of mediocre bars in the Twin Cities, sure, but there are precious few spectacularly chaotic bars. You may be leaving Cowboy Jack’s exhausted and blackout drunk, but you’ll probably be leaving with a story.
I for one welcome the discourse; it’s a nice shift from the usual genre of Twin Cities TikTok that shows up on my FYP (children from the suburbs being casually racist). And it’s given me a lot to think about!
Plus the outcome is kind of fun: Camille has started a series in search of better bars than Cowboy Jack’s. Up first? The new Ties Lounge & Rooftop, which opened on Nicollet Mall earlier this year. (Verdict: better than Cowboy Jack’s.)
To quote commenter nickhannula1987—who, if that username is any indication, is also pushing the upper limit, age-wise, of folks who should care about Cowboy Jack’s—”I would watch this as a two hour live debate.”