Tucked away in South Park, Gene's Beer Garden might be missed if you weren't looking for it. While it was easy to spot along 461 Wilson Avenue, it's not along a well-traveled path. That might explain why the crowd is a bit older, a bit more local and bit more down-to-earth - no offense, college kids.
I had heard that Gene's was the place for a cheap beer and a good hotdog. I found my way there for just that. South Park is a bit different with their parking, so make sure when you park along the street that you're not on a colored line. This bar is small, so it's not like you're fighting with a ton of other people for a spot. There are actually two doors to the bar, one to the left and one to the right. We walked in the right to discover a small counter, a couple booths, a center table and a stage. A band was playing, quite loudly, in front of a lit-up wooden West Virginia cutout. The walls were decorated with WVU memorabilia. I felt at ease right away.
It's a total local bar, and I think that's why I love it. You can come in in jeans and a hoodie and feel at home here. The lady behind the counter was sweet and helpful. I ordered a beer and a hot dog and made my way to the one empty booth. After a few minutes, she walked over with our hotdogs in hand. Complete with chili, mustard and onions, the hotdog was fine. The chili was toppling over the bun, and it had a little bit of a kick to it. It was a solid hotdog overall, especially for the price. It was even better with the ice cold beer.
There's a larger, more relaxed room to the left, which is where the other door leads to. It was much quieter here, so I could talk with my friend. There was a comfy wraparound couch and a pinball machine. Sitting here, you can watch the army of people outside having a cigarette, enjoy some local music, some good hospitality and a fine hotdog. I felt like I belonged here - and I think they felt that way, too. I think my total came to around $3, with tip $6, so it can't be beat.