A good dive bar has greasy food, music, things placed on the ceilings or walls by past patrons, and ice-cold adult beverages. It may or may not have a pool table, a dart board, a dancefloor, a resident pet, or a friendly barkeep. It most definitely will not have clean floors, pink drink umbrellas, or good lighting.
You either love these places or you fear for your life at the thought of venturing into one. Whatever your pleasure, Yahoo Travel went in search of some of the diviest dives in the country. We aimed for an assortment of pubs, taverns, hole-in-the-wall bars, music venues, and even a couple of Tiki bars. We found bars with long histories and a few newcomers.
The Nick Rocks bills itself as “Birmingham’s Dirty Little Secret.” That may refer to the atmosphere, but the music is the main attraction here. Whatever your preference, they have it on the schedule.
The Salty Dawg Saloon is exactly the kind of place you want to visit in Homer. It has graffiti, dollar bills hanging from every centimeter of the ceiling, and locals with tall tales.
The Buffet Bar & Crock Pot has a fascinating name and a long history. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but then it’s not supposed to, is it?
Midtown Billiards has something on their food menu called a “Gut-Bomb Burger.” That alone makes it a dive bar.
Bub’s Bar & Grill is a relative newcomer in the dive business, but any place that can turn tater tots into full menu page is dive-worthy.
Ace Hi Tavern in Golden has a suspiciously un-divey website. But there’s no need to fear their Internet skills. This place is a dive worth the drive into the hills above Denver.
The Dive Bar & Restaurant in West Haven is about half dive and half regular bar. It flies the red and white scuba flag, making it more of a bar for divers and less of a dive for drinkers. Don’t hold those things against it. The burgers and the view are worthy.
Zogg’s Raw Bar and Grill isn’t exactly in the same category as some of our grittier choices on this list, but who isn’t a sucker for a Caribbean bar?
Harry’s Banana Farm not only has a cool name with a story to go with it, but a cool mascot. Speedbump, the cat rules the stools in this dive. We don’t want to know the story behind his name.
Moe’s & Joe’s Tavern started serving a thirsty public in 1947. Can’t go wrong in Georgia with burgers and PBR on tap.
Arnold’s Tiki Bar carries on when other traditional Tiki bars in Waikiki are fading into the sand. Live music, local brew, and pulled-pork sliders are the draw here.
McCleary’s Pub takes some of the fun outdoors with covered patios and horseshoe pits.
Fast Eddie’s Bon Air has a long history as a corner bar. The first owner was Anheuser Busch. Today’s dive features steak on a stick and homemade bratwurst.
Five Star Dive Bar has an oxymoron for a name. The question is, which are they really? Answer—dive bar with fun, live music, events, and five-star bar food.
The Deadwood is the place to hang in Iowa City. Games, grit, and cold beer.
With a name like “The Red Room” you can be assured it’s a dive. If you need a spot to sip a brew and watch the Royals, this be the place in Overland Park.
Third Street Dive takes their divedom seriously enough to put it in their name. Don’t go here expecting a poser. This is a real dive.
Mama’s Crowbar is the kind of place where you can trust the name to tell you just how divey it will be.
Bad Decisions not only has the perfect dive bar name, but a bacon-based selection of food to munch on while you sip.
Quahog Republic Dive Bar is a cleaned-up sort of dive. They serve local brew, jazzed-up mixed drinks, and truffled parmesan fries. Oh my!
Abick’s Bar has history, good drinks, and a good selection of bottled beer.
Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook puts an emphasis on fun and good burgers, but it’s the bowling alley that makes this place a real dive.
Gil’s Fish Camp is shoulder-to shoulder fun with all the prerequisites for a perfect dive bar, including live music and rowdy patrons.
Zoo Bar is so far under the radar that it doesn’t even have a Facebook Page. That fact alone makes it a true dive. They get extra points for having a cigarette vending machine.
The Rock Pile is slightly more sports bar than dive bar, but with chicken-fried steak on the weekend breakfast menu, we proclaim it a dive.
Jerry’s Bar is another example of a well rehabbed dive from the 50’s.The jukebox works and the beer list is lengthy.
Take everything you think you know about Vegas bars and throw it out the window. Double Down Saloon is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Serious. Dive.
Eat clams. Drink beer. Repeat. Direct any questions to Perkins Pier Clam Shack & Bar.
You don’t need a cute name when you’ve been a neighborhood bar since 1932. Krug’s Tavern is what it is—dive bar with tasty food.
Taos Mesa Brewing draws an eclectic crowd, but then so does Taos itself. Don’t let the funky, artistic building scare you away. It lives up to dive bar standards with cold beer and entertainment. Try the Conspiracy Burger if you dare.
Duck Duck Bar is a neighborhood bar on Montrose. It’s a little tame by some dive bar standards, but just quirky enough to squeeze onto the list. Get lost in their Bermuda Triangle featuring jalapeno-infused tequila.
The name alone puts The Thirsty Beaver Saloon on our list. Live music. Cold drinks. Nothing fancy here, not even the ugly beaver logo.
The Bowler has 24 bowling lanes, fresh pizza, and three dive bars. No Fargo weirdness here—just fun.
Beck Tavern is a no-frills neighborhood bar in the German Village. Three dart boards, sports on the flat screens, and weekday happy hours.
In Oklahoma, dive bars are all about the music. At Grady’s 66 Pub in Yukon, the music is mostly Red Dirt with an occasional rock band thrown in for good measure. You can trust that the beer is cold and the crowd friendly.
The Rialto Pool Room Bar & Cafe has been a staple of the Portland scene since 1920. The smack of billiard balls surrounds you as you dig into a plate of food that is better than it has to be in this historic dive.
Tatooed Mom has a name that makes it hard to ignore, but if there is any doubt about its dive-worthiness, check the brunch menu. The Breakfast Bomb Pita is pizza, eggs, and tater tots rolled into one meal. Dive bomb.
Nick-a-nee’s calls itself a “heavenly dive.” Got to love it when a bar embraces the dive mantle. Lots of live music and a jukebox are the qualifying factors.
Did we mention that basement bars almost always qualify a place as a dive? Throw in some taxidermy and divedom is a lock. The Whig has both.
Monks House of Ale Repute has a name that is a little too cute for the typical dive bar, but 40 beers on tap and a list of more than 150 bottled beers is the qualifying factor. The fireplace is a bonus.
Ernestine & Hazel’s has Memphis soul. A sure sign of a good dive bar is a one-item menu. It shows a distinct take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Try the Soul Burger. Or don’t.
In Texas, it’s not a dive unless there’s a dance floor. Stepping out onto the dance floor at Gruene Hall is a rite of passage in this state. There is live music seven days a week and a bar serving cold beer.
The Bar in Sugarhouse is a simple bar in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Salt Lake City. Cold beer and friendly conversation with the locals are guaranteed.
Olde Northender Pub has tap beer, friendly staff, and a live band now and then.
Inland Reef is a smoky pool hall with cold drinks and a lively crowd. You expected more?
Stop by Tim’s Tavern in North Seattle for pulled pork and you may find yourself happily whiling away the day waiting on the eclectic evening music scene to begin. This is Seattle dive-bardom at its best.
Big Joe’s Bar & Grill has games, homemade potato chips, and plenty of screens for WVU games.
Blackbird Bar has pinball! And music. And 100 bottled beer selections.
For the uninitiated, all cowboy bars are dive bars. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar has a history dating back to the 1890’s. When in Jackson Hole, this is where you belly up to the bar.