Going all the way back to the early 1900s, this dive bar was called the Winthrop Pool Hall and Tavern for many years, but today it’s known as Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon & Café and renowned as the oldest legal saloon in the State of Washington.
In 1895, this little violent mining town was a great example of the Wild West with the bad guys shooting at the good guys and vice versa. And oh yes—there was plenty of vice to go around with heavy gambling and tons of drinking, and that’s when Jack entered the picture.
Three Fingered Jack’s is named after a local character named Jack Lemma who was a butcher by trade and a gun slinging gambler at night. Indeed, he also had only three fingers on his right hand. The history books will tell you that Lemma injured himself cutting meat, but others will say that he was trying a fancy shooting trick that went bad and took two of his digits. With his other eight fingers, Lemma turned the joint into a success and a made it a destination dive bar.
Jack has long since passed away, but others say that he lives on in the form of an annoying but jovial ghost that hangs out in the men’s room. With its swinging doors, hardwood floors and rustic features, Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon & Café has retained its country western feeling that is the central theme in Winthrop, WA.
There are two separate sides to the business at Three Fingered Jack’s and they couldn’t be more night and day. On one side, there is a dark dive bar with country music in the background and on the other there is a bright and pleasant café. Back in the old days, standalone dive bars were scarcer, because people wanted food and booze at the same location, especially prior to the advent of automobiles.
But this is not a history lesson, it’s a review of a fun place to drink and meet intriguing and highly interesting people—a mixture of locals, tourists and possibly a few folks that rarely leave the bar. If you imbibe a little too much, the café at Three Fingered Jack’s is serving food every day of the year for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Thursday Night is Steak Night and some of the more irresistible items on their menu include Pulled Pork Sliders, Bacon-Cheddar-Chive-Potato Kegs (which are essentially stuffed tater tots), and six different kinds of burgers, including their own signature belly buster—the Jack Attack! All of the food at Three Fingered Jack’s is designed to absorb alcohol in the hopes that heavy hitters can still drive home (or at least walk out).
For games and contests of skill and guile, there are several large TVs in the place, including pool tables and a few dart boards. They offer 14 craft beers on tap and any cocktail you desire, unless it’s something that has Grey Goose in it. (They don’t carry it). They have a Happy Hour M-F 4-6 pm. If you want a snarky Millennial “mixologist” go elsewhere—because these people are real bartenders that pour real drinks!
Get a little taste of the Old West, Northwest-style and drop in at Three Fingered Jack’s the next time you’re in the neighborhood.
Location: Winthrop, Washington
Be sure to try: The potato kegs, of course!