Even though we’ve rounded up the best dives before, the stories, drink prices, and crazy characters from these places are so unique that we had to do it again. Now, we’re excited to announce our 2015 edition of America’s 25 Best Dive Bars
In order to compile our list, we rounded up a short list of more than 100 of the ultimate dive bars in America and ranked them based off of four categories we thought defined what makes a bar a dive: First, they had to have a jukebox (a good jukebox). Then, we checked to see if they have ultimate “time-wasters,” such as pool, darts, or karaoke. Next, we took a look at food and drink prices. And finally we considered that intangible, overall character. Using these criteria, we narrowed the number down to 25.74
This year’s results included bars from all over the country, ranging from places as far apart as Third Street Dive in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Salty Dawg Saloon, in Homer, Alaska. Our top five spots alone include cities from almost every region in the United States.
A true dive bar will have the cheapest beers in town, a clientele of colorful (sometimes questionable) characters, and something a little quirky to set it apart. Read on to see our list of America’s best dive bars for 2015.
The Buffet Bar / Facebook
Yelp / Alex B
McSorley’s is a legendary Irish pub in New York’s East Village. Not only is it the city's oldestwo beer choices — dark or light of their own unique brew — which are served until the sun comes up.t continuously operating saloon, but it has hardly changed since it opened in 1854. The scenery includes sawdust on the floor, dust-caked chandeliers, and a cozy bar. There are only
Gil’s Fish Camp / Facebook
Santa’s Pub / Facebook
No tabs, no credit cards (there's an ATM outside), beers as cheap as $2, and karaoke every night, If that's not a dive bar, what is? What do you picture when hear the name “Santa’s Pub?” Christmas lights and decorations? A bartender with a big white beard? Yep. Head to this bar to sing your heart out, and as the people of Santa’s say, “Be nice.”
Yelp / Susan F
It’s all about the music at Grady’s. After touring with his band for 17 years, founder Grady Cross wanted to stay put for awhile and open a venue where other bands could play. Red Dirt bands predominate here, and Oklahoma locals who enjoy swaying to the music with an ice-cold brew appreciate the $2 domestic beer specials.
The Sink / Facebook
At 93 years of age, The Sink, located in the basement of an ancient frat house, is the oldest bar and restaurant in Boulder. There's plenty of beer here, of course, but it’s best known for serving some of Boulder’s “best burgers,” like the Farmers Market Burger, a grass-fed burger made by executive chef Dave Davis. You might wonder whether a joint that cares about the sourcing of its meat and identifies its chef by name is truly a dive bar, but drop in to this colorful spot to admire the funky paintings on the walls and kick it with the and you'll see why it fits the category.
Yelp / Javier O
When the word “dive” is in the name, you know it’s the real deal. At Third Street Dive, the walls are covered in chalkboards. This way — after a few PBR’s for under $5 — Louisville locals can wobble around the bar, write on the walls, and rock out to the punk music that’s constantly playing over the speakers.
Yelp / Mary B
Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge is truly one of a kind. This bar is a small late-night locals bar that’s open every night of the year, especially Christmas. It’s a tiny green shed-like house, nestled comfortably in the middle of a quaint New Orleans neighborhood. In case you were wondering, yes, this is another Christmas-lit bar, and the beer prices start at $2.
Yelp / Bill D & Jason K
Unlike many bars on our list that are cozy and small in size, the Full Throttle Saloon is massive. This is the world’s largest biker bar, which only makes sense when you realize that this South Dakota town is home to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally — one of the biggest motorcycle rallies on Earth. The bar hosts concerts with some of the biggest names in rock and country, like Bret Michaels and FireHouse. If you’re not into music, watch the “freak show” or head to the bar and enjoy a cocktail. Be sure to order with caution, as some of them have foul names.
Yelp / Matt C
When it comes to the regulars at Ms. Mae’s, anything goes. This spot is great for downing a $2 shot or chugging a $1.50 can of beer with the locals. The bar is known for its cheap booze, colorful exterior, and rowdy nights. So rowdy, in fact, that’s there’s an entire website dedicated to it: Ms. Mae’s Wall of Shame.
Yelp / A.R.P
Bad Decisions refers to itself as a “relaxed cocktail bar,” but from we can gather, this place is far from it. Aside from their handwritten cocktail menu and their told-you-so name, Bad Decisions is best known for its bacon. Once a month, it hosts a “Bacon Night,” featuring cocktails and dinner plates that use bacon in the craziest ways possible. Want to order a martini with a slice of bacon inside? No problem. Feeling shameless enough to order a basket of bacon and nothing else? They don’t judge. In their words, they’re “kind of a big deal with bacon.”
Any bar that offers happy hour twice a day will attract quite the crowd, and Ace Hi Tavern is no exception. Happy hour runs 7 a.m. through 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. through 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, allowing locals to enjoy a cheap cold one at their best convenience. Situated on the historic Washington Avenue in Golden, this bar is rich in history and filled with character.
Yelp / Jeannette G
The Salty Dawg Saloon lies in a late nineteenth-century building, one of the original cabins from the town site in Homer. Since opening in 1957, this bar has become an emblem of the state. The unique décor includes dollar bills hanging from the ceilings, life rings, and endless Alaskan memorabilia. Ask the friendly bar staff, (who have been working there for decades), to whip you up a salty dog (vodka and grapefruit juice) or a Duck Fart (Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Crown Royal).
Yelp / The Bar in Sugarhouse
If you’re seeking that cozy, neighborhood feel, this is the spot for you. The Bar in Sugarhouse is exactly like a dive bar fairytale. It’s a teeny tiny bar, crammed into a mock gingerbread house. This joint is constantly filled with Salt Lake City locals, knocking down a beer (which is all they serve) and swaying to the jukebox. Be sure to reserve your seat for the night, for the small size of this watering hole has made it super exclusive over the years.
Yelp / Dive Bar Shirt Club Z
Slip on your dancin’ shoes and head to Ernestine & Hazel’s for what’s said to be the best jukebox in the country. Once you’ve danced your heart out, sit down and enjoy their famous Soul Burger, a giant patty and bun with onions, cheese, pickle, and their secret “Soul Sauce.” This spot is more than just a dive bar with a great burger, though. It also represents the musical history behind Memphis. Legends like Tina Turner, B.B. King, and Aretha Franklin used to come here to perform.
Yelp / Hollie B
Of course this isn't a café and there's no boat dock to be seen, but that't the kind of place The Dry Creek Café & Boat Dock is. Austin Culture Map describes this hole-in-the-wall as "better referred to as a grisly roadhouse or saloon," but apparently that’s why people love it. There’s one bar on the first floor and a patio upstairs that overlooks Lake Austin and Mount Bonnell. Austin locals take pride in enjoying the view and getting down to the “old school” jukebox at this quirky, beer-only bar.
Duck Island resides on the border of Ohio City and Tremont, placing it in a main hub for some of the most popular bars in Ohio. Their small size keeps them under the radar, but they prefer to have it this way. Initially opened as a speakeasy during Prohibition, this comfortable spot offers beer and shots for under $5. They admit that their bartenders aren’t mixologists, but that’s only because they don’t need to be. In their words, “we know our clientele and we know what they like.” It’s as simple as that!
Yelp / Deep Eddy Cabaret
Deep Eddy Cabaret has been happily serving Texans cheap beer, liquor, wine, and bar snacks since 1951. Named after a swimming hole that used to exist in the Colorado River (right behind the bar), Deep Eddy’s provides old-school televisions (no flat screens here), pool tables, and a jukebox: the ultimate dive bar trifecta. Manager J.T Travis often serves regulars mini pitchers of Lone Star and wine by the glass, among other drink choices. Munch on some chips, beef jerky, or pretzels and sip on a cold one at this famous Austin hangout.
Bubba’s Sulky Lounge / Facebook
Established and owned by “Bubba” for 47 years, Bubba’s Sulky Lounge has become one of the most popular spots in Portland. Maine=born alt-folksinger Patty Griffin even wrote a song about the place ("Please pass the bottle on…") This colorful bar is full of antiques that are hanging from the ceilings, sitting on the bar, and bolted to the walls, which were sought out and collected by Bubba himself. Offering a full bar, “80s Night w/ DJ Jon” on Fridays, and an “Everything Dance Party” on Saturdays, Bubbas is sure to offer a night you’ll never forget.
Known as one of Sin City' best dive bars, the Double Down Saloon is only for the wildest drinkers. The place hosts rock and punk concerts and their bar is fully stocked, but that’s only the beginning. They’re best known for two things: their motto, “Shut up and drink,” and their famous “Ass Juice,” consisting of a secret, deadly mixture. We’re not sure we want to know what’s in it. Pay no more than $5 or $6 dollars for a drink and get mesmerized by the colorful, trippy murals on the walls. (If you're not planning a trip to Vegas in the near future, there's now an outpost of the Double Down in New York City.)
Rudy’s has been around forever and is arguably one of the most famous dive bars in New York City. Rumor has it, this place was first opened as a speakeasy in 1919, and it was one of the first bars in New York to get a liquor license after repeal. If you’re a tourist, be sure to take a photo with the legendary six-foot plastic pig outside and ask the bouncer about the many celebrities who used to hang out there. Head to the bar for a $3 pint of beer or $5 glass of wine that comes with a free hotdog. Yes, you read that right: You get a free hot dog with your drink. What could be better?
Charlie B’s / Facebook
If you’re looking for a place to day-drink, Charlie B’s is for you. It opens at 8 a.m. and stays that way until 2 a.m., and there are always regulars here throwing back booze before noon. The bar is home to the famous Dinosaur Café, dishing up some of the most mouthwatering Cajun food in “Big Sky Country”. Take a seat at the bar, order one of the famous po-boys, and sip on a stiff Long Island Iced Tea, and it'll be sundown before you know it.
Yelp / Gary Q
Better known as “Mag Bar,” the Magnolia Bar & Grille offers all the essential time wasters: a pinball machine, pool tables, and a jukebox. With a notorious (and arguably disturbing) bathroom that’s rarely cleaned, a pole on the dance floor, and a dance party offered every Wednesday, this is the place for wild nights you’ll never forget. Assuming you can remember anything the next morning.
Yelp / Andrew P
Blaring Journey over the stereo and dishing out heaping amounts of fried chicken, this place is an ultimate dive bar. Whether you’re admiring the quirky and unique décor on the walls (including a water hose and a giant plastic fish), slugging back a cold beer for under $5, or enjoying a plate of their endless selection of fried chicken and potato wedges (better known as JoJo’s), Reel M’ Inn has it all. This place won’t break the bank, but it will fill you up and quench your thirst. Be sure to look out for Bill and Sheri Purdy, the beloved owners of the spot, for a memorable conversation about the history of the bar.
Yelp / Jessica A
Nestled deep in the heart of Austin, Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon — or just Ginny’s — is the center of Austin’s honky-tonk music scene. Forget $5 beers — at Ginny’s, you can throw ‘em back for only a buck or two. Happy hour is six days a week — Monday through Saturday — and Sundays, the dive bar hosts their famous version of bingo: If the chicken of the week defecates on your number, you get a free drink. If you’re not playing a round of bingo or enjoying a cheap beer, you’re swaying to some of the music of acts like Two Hoots and a Holler or Dale Watson. Ginny’s is filled with good people, cheap booze, and a rowdy crowd, which is why it easily grabbed our number one spot.