We love a world class bar here at The Daily Meal, trust us. But sometimes, you don’t want a $15 cocktail, a bartender who scoffs at you when you simply want a lager out of a can, or a candlelit speakeasy experience. Sometimes you just want a good old-fashioned dive bar. No matter where you live in the country, from the biggest coastal cities to a small town in Wyoming, we think everyone can appreciate a laid-back drinking atmosphere and some quirky wall décor. So we sought out the best dive in every state.
These places aren’t necessarily the filthiest or the roughest dive bar in every state. You may want to stay clear of those. But these joints offer some very, very important things: cold beers, friendly folks, and a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. At these 51 dive bars, you can walk in happy or walk in grouchy, slouch on a stool, and drink Bud Light out of the bottle without anyone asking any questions.
So whether you’re looking for a new local watering hole or simply want to find new and unusual places with plenty of personality to them while you travel across the county, these are the places for you. So pop open a cold one, put some Led Zeppelin on in the jukebox, and check out the best dive bar in every state.
Alyssa Haak, Carolyn Menyes and Taylor Rock contributed to this article.
The Nick in Birmingham has been around for 35 years, and this dive bar/music venue has had its fair share of iconic bands pass through. Black Flag, Jane’s Addiction, and Widespread Panic all played this dive bar before they hit it big. Pass on through and maybe you’ll catch the next big thing.
The Salty Dawg Saloon isn’t just the best dive bar in Homer or the best dive bar in Alaska. It’s the state’s best bar, period. The Salty Dawg is housed in a nineteenth century building, and the friendly bar staff will be quick to pour you one of their signature drinks, including the Duck Fart (a shot composed of Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Crown Royal).
With no windows, ripped chairs, and walls covered in graffiti, The Buffet in Tucson is a true dive bar. But that’s what makes it great. Well, that and the cheap, stiff Maker’s Mark cocktails, of course.
For 30 years, bikers, punkers, and indie rockers alike have been congregating at Zeitgeist in San Francisco. Though the clientele has classed up a bit over the years, the bartenders are still crusty and the barbecue is still greasy. Don’t leave without trying one of their legendary Bloody Marys and drinking it out on the sprawling patio.
Two happy hours a day? Say no more. The Ace-Hi Tavern in Golden, Colorado, caters to the third shifters by opening up at 7 a.m. and running a special drinks menu, which is truly in the dive bar spirit. This bar has been around for over 130 years, with 60 years under this moniker, so its reputation as a world-class dive bar is well earned.
The Spigot in Hartford is surrounded by shiny, new bars, which makes this dive all the more charming. Their beer on tap ranges from your classic Miller Lite to regional offerings such as DuClaw. This bar comes with all the dive classics, like TVs on the wall, well-worn dart boards, and a jukebox.
If you’re a beer drinker, 1984 is the bar for you. Grab a cold one and play Skee-Ball for 50 cents or throw a quarter in one of the pinball machines and go to town. All in all, this dimly lit dive bar has more than 30 arcade games (hello, Ms. Pac Man!), 21 craft beers on tap and 30 bottled varieties. This place has live music, karaoke, trivia and an extensive board game collection. We especially enjoy its motto, which reads, “1984: where introverts come to be extroverts.”
Mac’s Club Deuce/Yelp
Mac's Club Deuce is the antidote you need to counteract the trendiness of Miami Beach. With a happy hour that actually runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., this bar is grimy and old school. But don’t let the clientele scare you off; folks here are actually as friendly as they come. Bring plenty of cash; this bar doesn’t take tabs and you may be there for a while.
Is it a dive bar? Is it a strip club? Why not both! At the Clermont Lounge in Atlanta, women dance on the stage while patrons chow down on chicken wings and sip on some ice cold PBR. What could be more divey than that? How about the bar that’s only held together by years and years of duct tape. Yeah, that’s pretty divey.
Dive Bar S./Yelp
Smith’s Union Bar is the oldest bar in Honolulu and the diviest. Patrons will be singing their sloppiest karaoke (it’s just $1 a song) while sipping on their $3 Bloody Marys during happy hour. This bar also has plenty of history. It was the watering hole of soldiers stationed on the USS Arizona, which was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Kirby’s Beer Store is a Wichita institution. The walls prove it with their layers upon layers of band posters, event fliers, and Wichita State University stickers. The beers are cheap, and there’s almost always live music on the weekends — always without a cover.
Better known as “Mag Bar,” the Magnolia Bar & Grille offers all the dive bar essentials: pinball machines, pool tables, a jukebox, and cheap drinks. 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 remember and never forget.
Ms. Mae's in New Orleans never closes. Literally. It’s open 24/7, 365. Get away from the touristy parts of Bourbon Street, and you just may find Win Butler of Arcade Fire sipping unpretentiously on a $1.50 bottle of Miller High Life or a $4 (stiff) mixed drink.
Bubba's Sulky Lounge in Portland has antiques seemingly everywhere — hanging from the ceilings, sitting on the bar, and bolted to the walls. If that isn’t character enough for you, you’ll find plenty of cheap drinks and locals during the day. At night, the dance floor lights up and ‘80s music pumps through the speakers for a dance party that is not to be missed.
When a place is called simply BAR, you know it’s a true dive. That’s certainly the case for BAR in Baltimore. The décor is simple, just vinyl-covered stools and a black and white checkered floor. The beers are dirt cheap, especially the Natty Light, and the bartenders are crabby. Just drink your beer, do your shot, and leave.
Abick's Bar is Detroit’s oldest continuously family-operated bar, and the tin ceiling and years’ worth of signs show its age. The drinks are cheap and the jukebox is always rocking. If you’re lucky, you may meet the bar’s mascot: the owner’s adorable mastiff named Shadow.
With cocktails strong enough to take the enamel off your teeth and cheap pitchers of Hamm’s, Palmer’s Bar in Minneapolis is a certain bet to get you sloshed starting at 8 a.m. weekdays, if you so choose. Oh, and the free bands are consistently rocking, too.
Gil's Fish Camp in Ocean Springs is a laid-back beach-hut bar with cheap booze, tasty crawfish, and a splendid waterfront view. Pitchers of Shock Top and Bud Light are as cheap as a single beer at some joints, giving true meaning to the phrase “happy hour.”
A South City staple since 1954, The Hideaway is truly like a bar from another time. You may or may not find patrons smoking inside, but the cheap beers, friendly owners, and plenty of TVs make up for any inconvenience that may cause. If that doesn’t sound delightfully divey enough for you, on Sundays they offer a Bloody Mary bar for just $5.
With a bar that runs down the entire space, a pool table, and a small-town vibe, even out-of-towners will feel welcome at Charlie's Bar in Missoula. In the back, you’ll find Dinosaur Café, which serves up some of the finest Cajun and Creole food you’ll ever try.
Omaha has its fair share of fine dive bars, but Homy Inn just may be the best. The walls are lined with old-school memorabilia, like Elvis posters and vintage baseball cards. Most distinctively, Homy Inn has Champagne on tap! But don’t think that means this place is pretentious; the bubbly is just $5 a glass and poured by the friendliest bartenders you’ll ever meet.
McGarvey’s in Manchester actually has some of the finest bar food in New Hampshire. Whether you’re chowing down on their chicken nachos or burgers, you’ll be more than satisfied. But the beer is cheap and plentiful too, with six seasonal selections on tap. If that all isn’t enough to get you in the door, this dive has karaoke every single night.
Situated where routes 3 and 46 meet in Little Falls, Great Notch Inn is a true roadside dive bar. Walk inside this neon-lit cabin bar, and you’ll find friendly locals sipping on cheap drinks. The jukebox plays classic rock, the bikers mingle with those who just happen to wander in, and the beer is always cold. What more could you want?
The Matador in Santa Fe is your standard dive bar. Walk down a narrow staircase, and you’ll find punk and metal music blaring from the speakers and a solid selection of bottled beers. Don’t let this small bar intimidate you; the bartenders and patrons are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever find in New Mexico.
New York City is certainly not wanting for dive bars. But perhaps there is no more iconic spot than McSorley's Old Ale House. Sawdust (and other dust) covers the floors, and knickknacks litter the shelves. You have two choices for beer: light or dark. That’s it. You can order them in pairs only, but one round costs just $5.50. If that ain’t a good dive, I don’t know what is.
Opened after Prohibition in 1936, the Empire Tavern in Fargo has been owned by the same family since 1947. The bar keeps its old-school spirit intact with a working-class client base, stiff drinks, and bartenders who are the epitome of Fargo friendly.
“Why not?” an illuminating sign outside of Columbus’s Dick’s Den asks. And, yeah, why not walk in to this bar, which isn’t too far from Ohio State’s campus. Inside, you’ll find a bar where everyone fits in and live jazz music on most nights. There aren’t many frills to this bar, but that’s just how we like our dives.
Located on historic Route 66 in Yukon, Grady’s 66 Pub has everything you want in a dive bar and not much else. The 16-ounce bottles of Bud Light are cheap and cold, the dart boards are well-used, and there’s live music on many nights. Catch some tunes, drink some brews, and have the time of your life.
Some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever taste can be found at Portland dive Reel M’ Inn. While you nosh on your chicken and jojos, enjoy the quirky wall décor, pool tables, and Bill and Sheri Purdy, some of the friendliest bar owners you’ll ever come across.
McGlinchey's Bar & Grill in Philadelphia is dark and dingy, and the smell of cigarette smoke from years past still lingers in the air. And that’s only the beginning of what makes this joint a spectacular dive bar. You can get hot dogs for less than $1 and beer for less than $4 while you sit among Philly’s most colorful characters.
With a laid-back ambiance and dog-friendly atmosphere, Nick-A-Nees is a charming dive bar in the middle of Providence. On any given night, you’ll find a local band playing some tunes, a good selection of draft beers, and communal tables that help strangers to become friends throughout the course of an evening.
Guests describe this retro bar as “charming,” “funky,” “kitschy,” and “eclectic.” Guests love the fact they can get a free Budweiser just by checking in on Yelp, and they’re obsessed with the Django sandwich, which features smoked pulled pork, pepper jack cheese, Applewood bacon, grilled onions, roasted red peppers, jalapeños and spicy tomato sauce between two fat slices of Texas Toast. There is one universal complaint though, and it’s that the bathroom often lacks soap and paper towels. Maybe just bring some hand sanitizer.
Ice House, formerly known as the Pure Ice Company, is unique because the owners encourage patrons to smash their empty beer bottles against a brick wall beneath the loading dock. No, seriously. There are so many broken beer bottles at this place. Oddly enough, Ice House also has a carhop service, meaning guests can legally booze from the comfort of their vehicles. With that being said, please don’t drink and drive. Take a taxi home!
Despite having one of the best burgers in America, don’t mistake Earnestine & Hazel’s as a high-class joint. It’s a true dive bar with High Life for cheap and a cool, old-school jukebox with some of Memphis’ favorite sons and daughters on rotation.
J David H./Yelp
Lynnhaven Pub is a dark, dank hole-in-the-wall in Virginia Beach with a surprisingly incredible craft beer can selection. If that isn’t enough to get you through the door and into this dive, come for their barbecue. Their tacos are a thing of legend.
Ballard Smoke Shop/Yelp
Ballard Smoke Shop is a Seattle institution that’s half restaurant, half lounge; according to its website, the cast of “Deadliest Catch” is often spotted here throwing back pints. Locals and out-of-towners flock here for all-day diner-style breakfast that’ll cure even the nastiest of hangovers and drinks stiff enough to put hair on your chest, but not burn a hole in your wallet.
“No politics, no bombs, no idiots” are the rules at The Pug. If you want to get away from the hoity-toity parts of D.C., take refuge here — just, seriously, don’t ask for an Irish Car Bomb. In addition to a pork rinds vending machine, you’ll also find a laid-back staff and reasonable prices — two true rarities in this town.
Not all dive bars serve steak on the weekends, but not all dives are Doug’s Topside Tavern in South Charleston. Friendly regulars and the even friendlier Doug will greet you with some true Southern hospitality and a bottle of cold beer. Can’t ask for more than that, can you?
There’s a lot of cheap beer in Wisconsin, but the $8.50 pitchers at the Silver Dollar Tavern in Madison are hard to beat. You’ll find all your classic dive tropes here: shuffle board, pool, ATMs, dart boards, a jukebox and poker machines. It’s a great laid-back respite from your everyday life.
Wyoming is quite the elusive state, and The Virginian Saloon in Jackson is fittingly hard to nail down. Inside, you’ll find a roaring fire, cheap beer, and good whiskey. That’s nothing to complain about. And now that you’ve finished your American tour of dive bars, class up your drinking (a bit) with the country’s best bars, period.
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