America's Best Dive Bars
January 31, 2012
A dive bar is a casual, neighborhood hangout, maybe a little disreputable, maybe just fun
Palmer’s Bar, Minneapolis, Minn.
With cocktails strong enough to take the enamel off your teeth and cheap pitchers of Hamms, Palmers is a certain bet to get you sloshed starting at 8 a.m. weekdays, if you need an eye-opener. Understandably, Palmers is popular with punks, bikers, and an assorted grab bag of degenerates, who all comingle lest they get their names added to the lengthy 86d list. Oh, and the free bands are consistently rocking, too.
The Patriot Saloon, New York City
The King Eddy Saloon, Los Angeles
In a skin-deep city built on gloss and sheen, we thank our lucky Hollywood stars that this downtown L.A. Skid Row dive endures. At this former Prohibition-era speakeasy "where nobody gives a sh*t about your name," you can pair your microwaveable cheeseburger and pizza with $2.50 well drinks and cold beer for a couple quarters more. Extra points for the glassed-in smoking room.
Springwater Supper Club & Lounge, Nashville, Tenn.
Formerly a speakeasy that, according to lore, once hid Al Capone, this low-lit Nashville dive is a smoke-shrouded ode to inexpensive excess — well, cheap beer. Sure, you can play darts, pool, and watch bands play on what might be the world’s crappiest, crackliest PA system, but a better bet is getting blotto during the Tuesday-night karaoke blowout.
The Republican, Philadelphia
Like a fruit fly, the Republican has a woefully brief life span. The political meeting hall turned after-hours club is only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. But during that brief, smoke-drenched hour, debauchery reigns supreme. Going to here is always a bad idea, which is exactly why you should go.
The 5 Point Café, Seattle, Wa.
Wikimedia Commons/Ricardo Martins
“We cheat tourists and drunks” is one of the slogans at this Seattle legend, where duct tape stabilizes the furniture and the men’s bathroom features a jerry-rigged periscope providing a view of the Space Needle. To sop up the 16-ounce cans of Olympia and 40-ouncers of Olde English, breakfast is served all day and night, including a gargantuan chicken fried steak.
Bubba's Sulky Lounge, Portland, Maine
Sixteen-ounce cans of Pabst fuel the madness at this sprawling, flea market–fabulous complex featuring an Old West saloon, tons of taxidermy, a collection of lunch boxes and — as if you needed more — a light-up dance floor.
Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, Austin
Yelp/Jay B S (jaybsauceda.com)
On Sundays, come to this teensy roadhouse to drain longnecks of Lone Star, grub on gratis hot dogs and bet on a pooping chicken. A chicken coop with a numbered checkerboard floor crowns the pool table. If the fowl defecates on your number, you win!
Gotham City Lounge, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Once a storefront church, this bunker-like bar is now a holy shrine to superheroes and comic books, with collectibles covering every corner. Dont care for Batman or Robin? Youll be plenty pleased by the $3 PBR-and-whiskey special.
Mary's Club, Portland, Ore.
Portland has no shortage of strip-clubs, but the venerable Marys its existed for nearly 50 years wins us over with its laid-back vibe, killer jukebox, and more than two dozen kinds of beer served by a friendly crew of female bartenders. As a bonus, theres a Mexican restaurant attached to the bar.
McGlinchey's Bar & Grill, Philadelphia
Smoke hangs heavy in the air at the grotty saloon, where the horseshoe-shaped bar is filled with creased old men puffing unfiltered cigarettes beside slumming twenty-somethings sipping on how-can-they-be-this-cheap microbrews. Chili dogs for a buck and a quarter seal the scummy deal.
Milo's Bocce Garden, St. Louis, Mo.
The nicotine-stained Italian joint offers dual backyard bocce courts where seniors and hepcats alike suck back cheap pitchers of Bud or locally brewed Schlafly Pale Ale, toss a couple frames and scarf down authentic meatball subs.
Ms. Mae's, New Orleans
Forget Bourbon Street: For one of New Orleans’ finest bars, head uptown to this insanely cheap dump where, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you can buy a potent mixed drink for about a dollar. Want a double? That’ll be an extra buck, please.
The Mutiny, Chicago
Salty Dawg Saloon, Homer, Alaska
Halibut fishermen haunt the Salty Dawg Saloon, where currency and women's underwear cover the century-old walls. Tipplers congregate to guzzle salty dogs — salt-rimmed vodka-and-grapefruit greyhounds. Play nice, or your cranium could provide company for the bar’s real human skull.