30 Best Dive Bars in the U.S., Ranked
Sometimes, what you're craving is a beautifully made cocktail. The kind in a chilled glass with a block of ice and an herb garnish. But that time is not now. Today, what you're craving is a cheap tallboy of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a room so dimly lit you can't see the decades of spilled drinks slicked across the floor. (You can feel it, though.) What you want is a dive bar.
There are many boxes to check when it comes to qualifying as a good dive bar. Cheap drinks are a must. You'll also need a space with a lot of character (think historic to the point of almost grimy) as well as a lot of characters — people who have a story to tell and who will oftentimes tell you twice.
As you can imagine, the U.S. has hundreds upon hundreds of dive bars. You may even have a favorite or two that you frequent. But which of the many neon-lit, jukebox-filled, peanut shell-covered bars is the best in the country? We've combed through Tripadvisor reviews from barflies across the country to determine the very best of the best.
If you're ready to throw a few back at the best dive bars in the U.S., here are 30 of them, ranked.
Why Kahale’s Is Worth a Visit
Allegedly Maui's oldest dive bar, Kahale's Maui's Local Dive Bar is a fan favorite thanks to its live music, sports games and one of the longest happy hours on the islands — 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It's a key player in Maui's "BARmuda Triangle," one of the areas of Kihei known for its nightlife and restaurants.
29. The Pioneer Bar
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Year opened: 1952, 2002
Visit: The Pioneer Bar
Why The Pioneer Bar Is Worth a Visit
Anchorage locals absolutely love The Pioneer. Affectionately nicknamed "The Pio," this local dive has cheap beers, darts and pool.
During the day, it's a quiet place to grab a pint, while things get a bit more high energy on the weekends with dancing and music. Don't miss the Irish coffees, either. That's one of its specialties.
Why Captain Tony’s Saloon Is Worth a Visit
Key West has a lot of iconic bars and restaurants, but none is as famous (or divey, for that matter) as Captain Tony's Saloon. Festooned in loose currency from around the world, bedecked with license plates and bras, and sticky almost everywhere from spilled sugary drinks, Captain Tony's is a Key West institution.
Actually, it has been for decades. It was once the preferred watering hole of legends like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Jimmy Buffett.
27. Santa's Pub
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Year opened: 2011
Visit: Santa’s Pub
Why Santa’s Pub Is Worth a Visit
Nashville isn't short on dive bars, but Santa's Pub is probably its most beloved, especially if you like cold beer and karaoke.
The dimly lit dive has everything you'd want from a local watering hole — Christmas lights, an outdoor patio and plenty of neon signs luring you in for a cheap pint and a laid-back vibe.
26. Zeno's Pub
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
Year opened: 1972
Visit: Zeno's Pub
Why Zeno’s Pub Is Worth a Visit
If you're passing through State College, you'd be missing out if you passed on Zeno's. This basement dive is known for its dizzying beer selection, live music, and it even serves food.
The underground haven has been a neighborhood essential for five decades and is a rite of passage for any beer lover passing through the area.
25. Lula's A Pub
Location: Wilmington, North Carolina
Year opened: 1992
Visit: Lula’s A Pub
Why Lula’s A Pub Is Worth a Visit
When you visit Lula's A Pub in Wilmington, what you're getting is both a dive bar and a ghost story wrapped up into one. The legend tells of an enslaved man named Cooter who kept running away from the plantation where he was held. Eventually, he was executed on the site where the pub now sits.
Believers will tell you, though, that he never left. In between cheap drinks at this subterranean hideaway, be sure to check the mirrors. You may catch a glimpse of Cooter's reflection.
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24. Delux Cafe
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Year opened: 1993
Visit: Delux Cafe
Why Delux Cafe Is Worth a Visit
Boston may be a city of refined dining rooms and elegant menus, but it is also, most definitely, a city of dives. Delux Cafe in the South End is an iconic Boston institution — one that inspires locals to say, "They don't make them like this anymore."
What you'll find within its vinyl-covered walls are taps of cheap beer and a menu of hearty and unpretentious food that rotates every few weeks. That said, you'll find staple items like a roast half chicken and grilled cheese on the menu year-round.
23. The Ice House
Location: Yankton, South Dakota
Year opened: 1928
Visit: The Ice House
Why The Ice House Is Worth a Visit
To visit The Ice House is to visit a slice of South Dakota history. The Ice House was built in 1928 as the first artificial ice plant in the area. Following Prohibition, the Ice House started selling beer — and it never stopped.
Today, it is a Yankton institution and one of the only bars in the country with a carhop service. Inside decor is a dive bar through and through, but most people like to drink their beers outside for the views both over the Missouri River as well as the remnants of the thousands of smashed beer bottles underneath the loading dock.
Why Cafe Lafitte in Exile Is Worth a Visit
The bars of New Orleans are the stuff of legends. You can't throw a stone without hitting an iconic historic bar in The Big Easy. Cafe Lafitte in Exile is perhaps one of the most legendary in the city, though, as it is the oldest continually operating gay bar in the U.S.
The famous French Quarter watering hole was frequented by heroes of history, like Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. The upstairs Balcony bar is dimly lit and swanky, while downstairs is much more of a raucous Bourbon Street vibe.
21. Thirsty Beaver Saloon
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Year opened: 2008
Visit: Thirsty Beaver Saloon
Why the Thirsty Beaver Saloon Is Worth a Visit
The Thirsty Beaver seems rather out of place. The small building made of brick and yellow-painted cinder blocks is surrounded by newer apartment buildings. That's because the owner declined multiple offers from developers to sell.
This, among other reasons, has skyrocketed the bar to local legend status. That and its cheap drinks, pool table, black-and-white-checkered floor and neon signs. It's a Charlotte icon and one of the best dives in town.
20. Northside Tavern
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Year opened: 1973
Visit: Northside Tavern
Why Northside Tavern Is Worth a Visit
The gritty little white brick structure that is Northside Tavern has stood in this location since the 1940s, originally a grocery store and a gas station. But for the past five decades, it has been a blues club, dive bar and an important player (if not an underground one) in the Atlanta music scene.
Rough around the edges would be putting it politely, but that's exactly what its fans love about it. It's the ultimate dive bar.
Why Saltwater Hippie Beach Bar Is Worth a Visit
It's the type of place that exudes a "no shirt, no shoes, no problem" kind of vibe. Built for "beach chillin', boat lovin', board shreddin' hippies everywhere," this beach bar is the personification of an apparel brand that is devoted to those who love island living.
You can expect that same laid-back vibe at its beach bar, known for its live music, beach-shack eats and cheap drinks. Try to snag a seat in the backyard amid the palm trees.
18. Mac's Club Deuce
Location: Miami Beach, Florida
Year opened: 1926
Visit: Mac’s Club Deuce
Why Mac’s Club Deuce Is Worth a Visit
Mac's Club Deuce Bar is absolutely timeless. The neon signage on the front is an integral part of the South Beach scene, and the happy hour is legendary. Two-for-one drinks are sold every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and that fact hasn't changed since the bar opened in 1926.
Inside is nothing flashy. It's dark; it's smoky; it's basically a bar in the center of the room surrounded by neon lights and a jukebox. It's definitely one of the greatest dive bars in America, and anyone who frequents will confirm.
Why Shooting Star Saloon Is Worth a Visit
The Wild West is alive and well, and it can be found behind the doors of the Shooting Star Saloon, allegedly Utah's oldest business. The beloved historic bar has been in operation since 1879, serving a rough-and-tumble crowd of rugged adventurers headed west.
While the crowd may have mellowed a bit, the history remains with many historic relics inside. Plus, how can you beat $3 beers and $5 burgers?
16. Kingfish Pub & Cafe
Location: Oakland, California
Year opened: 1922
Visit: Kingfish Pub
Why Kingfish Pub Is Worth a Visit
Kingfish Pub & Cafe is a classic Oakland institution with history etched into every surface of the bar. No, literally — the wood surfaces in the bar are practically tattooed with past customers' carvings.
The bait shop-turned-bar has been in operation for more than 100 years and has withstood the test of time, remaining one of the great neighborhood dive bars of the East Bay.
Why Earnestine & Hazel’s Is Worth a Visit
The building that houses Earnestine & Hazel's has a storied past. It has been many things before it became the bar that opened in 1992. And along the way, it has gathered a few skeletons (legend has it 13 skeletons, to be exact, as 13 people have died onsite).
Today, the beloved Memphis dive bar is considered to be one of the most haunted spots in America. Chock full of Memphis music and cultural history, Earnestine & Hazel's is an iconic establishment. It serves up a mean burger, too.
Why The Clermont Lounge Is Worth a Visit
You cannot list the country's greatest dive bars without a mention of the legendary Clermont Lounge in Atlanta. This notorious watering hole is not only an iconic dive bar, but it also happens to be one of the city's best strip clubs.
Most people show up to see Blondie, the Queen of Clermont, who has been working at the bar for more decades than you have likely been alive. It's one of the only bars in the city where you can grab a PBR for under $3. Just don't touch the jukebox — the playlist is strictly for the dancers to handle.
Why Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge Is Worth a Visit
There’s a lot to love about Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge. This NOLA watering hole is way off the tourist trail, far from the raucous energy of Bourbon Street and is a local favorite. If you like cheap domestic beer, the soft glow of Christmas lights, and the wear and tear of time, this may be exactly the dive you’re looking for.
Grab a spot under the warped, corrugated metal roof or sidle up to the horseshoe-shaped bar. You can even park yourself out back on the foliage-covered patio. Wherever you choose, you’re in for a laid-back (and affordable) late night.
12. Reel M Inn
Location: Portland, Oregon
Year opened: ~1950
Visit: Reel M Inn
Why Reel M Inn Is Worth a Visit
Dive bars are known for their bare-bones, no-frills simplicity. And that's exactly what Portland's Reel M Inn brings to the table, with one exception. It also brings fried chicken.
The beloved neighborhood bar has been in existence for more than 50 years, though it has gone through several names in that time. But the Reel M Inn has been its name since the 1990s. Inside is a neon-lit collection of high tops, a pool table, tchotchkes and cheap tallboys. They also make arguably the best fried chicken in Portland.
11. The Rail Pub
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Year opened: 1890
Visit: The Rail Pub
Why The Rail Pub Is Worth a Visit
Savannah has many buildings that are steeped in history, and The Rail Pub is certainly one of them. The bones of the bar opened in 1890 and has worn many outfits over the years, whether as a bar for railroad laborers (hence the name) or as a boarding house and even a brothel.
Today, it is definitely one of the best dive bars in Savannah, serving $5 Forties, free fried chicken on Fridays and all-day happy hour.
10. Smith's Union Bar
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Year opened: 1934
Visit: Smith’s Union Bar
Why Smith’s Union Bar Is Worth a Visit
Some call it Smith's Union Bar, but those in the know call it Smitty's. Established in 1934, this is (allegedly) the oldest bar in Hawaii and one that is packed with local history. The bar opened in 1934 and was the watering hole of choice for sailors at Pearl Harbor.
Not much has changed over the decades, and the bar still has many tributes to its past. Visitors come for the heritage and, of course, the cheap, cold beer.
Why Bob & Barbara’s Cocktail Lounge Is Worth a Visit
If you don't know what to order at Bob & Barbara's, just keep it simple and order "the special." Since 1994, the bar's "special" has been a can of PBR and a shot of Jim Beam. It's a $4 deal and one that will certainly get you going on the right foot.
But this famous South Street staple is also known for its free live music and one of the longest running drag shows in Philadelphia.
Why Heinold's: First and Last Chance Saloon Is Worth a Visit
Today, Oakland's Jack London Square is a testament to modern-day Oakland. It has lovely waterfront eateries, a wine bar, a few hotels and green spaces. But one spot, in particular, stands out among the rest that's a reminder of Oakland's centuries-old past. That would be Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon.
Opened in 1884, this true Western saloon is one of the oldest establishments in Oakland. Its floor remains slanted from an earthquake in 1906, and its walls are plastered with antique relics from the bar's history. Author Jack London was a common face in the pub and would always stop by whenever he came to Oakland.
7. Double Down Saloon
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Year opened: 1992
Visit: Double Down Saloon
Why Double Down Saloon Is Worth a Visit
Amid the bright lights and nonstop buzz of Las Vegas, the Double Down Saloon is a throwback to the Las Vegas of years past. It has pool, pinball, live music, hipsters, Bohemians and the occasional punk or two.
The walls are plastered in psychedelic murals, and every Thursday, the bar hosts an Atomic Video Jukebox, where you can request your favorite music videos all night long. Every live music show is free, and true to Vegas fashion, the bar has gambling machines for you to play.
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6. Dan's Cafe
Location: Washington, D.C.
Year opened: 1965
Visit: Dan’s Cafe
Why Dan’s Cafe Is Worth a Visit
D.C.'s Adams Morgan neighborhood has a lot of long-standing establishments, but none is as noteworthy as Dan's Cafe. The cash-only bar is exactly what you want from a dive — a sticky floor, shots that come in squeeze bottles, a dingy vibe and perhaps a degenerate or two.
You're coming here because you want to slip away from the swirling madness that is D.C. to a place where you can count on a stiff drink and a no-frills energy.
5. Harbor Inn
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Year opened: 1895
Visit: Harbor Inn
Why Harbor Inn Is Worth a Visit
Since 1895, Harbor Inn has been serving up frosty beers to the hardworking people of Cleveland. The oldest bar in the city, Harbor Inn serves more than 100 craft and domestic beers and draws a crowd who loves to play darts or use the antique bowling machine (one of the many historical mementos in the bar).
It's still a warm and welcoming place, inviting regulars and guests to come through and grab a pint in the dimly lit space at the long, wooden bar.
4. Richard's Bar
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Year opened: 1926
Visit: Richard’s Bar
Why Richard’s Bar Is Worth a Visit
If it's going to be a Chicago dive bar, then it has to be Richard's Bar. In operation since 1926, Richard's is known for its dive-bar status and a clientele that runs the gamut from old timers to cops, lawyers and even pro athletes. There's something for everyone here in a city that is continuously evolving to become more glitz and glam.
Old-school Chicago still lives behind the door of Richard's Bar. It has nothing on tap, just bottles and cans, as well as liquor bottles. Get yourself a six pack of Tecate for $7 and a few 75-cent, hard-boiled eggs.
3. Tiki Ti
Location: Los Angeles, California
Year opened: 1961
Visit: Tiki Ti
Why Tiki Ti Is Worth a Visit
Everyone loves a good tiki bar, but few have as big a following as Tiki Ti in Los Angeles. The colorfully lit bar, decked out in bamboo, is known for its seriously strong mai tais (and about 80 other tropical drinks on its menu).
It has been family-owned since it opened in the 1960s and still operates with an old-school attitude. Don't forget to bring cash, as this dive does not accept credit cards.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Year opened: 1947
Why Montero’s Is Worth a Visit
Despite the fact that Brooklyn has become one of the hottest real estate markets in the world, you can still find a slew of historic dive bars all across the borough. Montero's is, arguably, the best. Opened in 1947 as a watering hole for the many sailors who would cruise in and out of Brooklyn, the bar still pays homage to its nautical past with hanging lifesavers, flags and other sea-themed memorabilia.
The dive is about as laid back as it gets, with a pool table and a long bar built of cloudy glass bricks. If you're in the mood to sing a sea shanty, there's even karaoke in the back.
1. Jack's Bar
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Year opened: ~1933
Visit: Jack’s Bar
Why Jack’s Bar Is Worth a Visit
Pittsburgh is known for its die-hard attitude that applies to nearly everything. The Steelers are nothing short of religion, and a Primate Bros. sandwich is the stuff of legend. Of course, that same level of enthusiasm applies to its dive bars, but none like Jack's Bar.
The neon-lit dive sits on the south side of Pittsburgh, slinging cheap drinks (including pitchers of liquor) and finger-licking bar snacks. It's the kind of spot where everyone finds they fit in — so long as they have nice things to say about all things Pittsburgh, of course.