South Dakota: Carey’s Bar
> City: Vermillion
Founded in 1954, Carey’s is a college-town dive bar (Vermillion, in the southeastern corner of the state, is home to the University of South Dakota). It’s cash only (there are nightly discounts on various drinks) and there’s no food other than free popcorn — though food may be brought in. “This is a cozy dive bar with wood throughout,” according to one Yelper. “A cool place to have a pint.” A taxidermied elk head with a cigarette in its mouth and “Go Yotes” mittens on its antlers (the USD football team is the Coyotes) overlooks the bar. “We at Carey’s have been and still are operating at limited capacity for optimal social distancing,” according to a tweet from the bar.
Tennessee: Fran’s East Side
> City: Nashville
With its “giant velvet painting of a kitten with a rose on the wall…cinder block walls, no windows… [and] $2 Miller High Life and occasional free beer from the bartender,” according to a visitor from Ohio on Yelp, “This place raises the Dive Bar bar.” In addition to frozen burritos and corn dogs, sustenance here, wrote another Yelper, includes “Microwave popcorn and buckets of domestics…so don’t come in looking for a frilly cocktail.” It’s cash only, beer only, and full of smoke, but also, according to one comment, “amazing.”
Texas: Club No Minors
> City: Houston
In response to local liquor laws in the 1960s, the Galleria area Mexican restaurant El Patio opened a separate operation, the Club Villa Sana, through a door just inside the entrance. A sign reading “No Minors” was attached to the door, and the place soon became known as Club No Minors. The room is small, the live music (sometimes mariachis) is loud, and the margaritas — served in big water glasses — are potent. Patrons have been known to dance on the tables after a couple too many. While bars had been closed by the state following a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state in late June, they were allowed to reopen on Oct. 14, at 50% occupancy.
Utah: Cheers to You
> City: Salt Lake City
“[L]oud and crowded and the design was likely commissioned by a drunk,” according to Yelp, whose reviewers also comment repeatedly on the rude bouncers. On the other hand, it’s a “fun casual dive bar with great drinks” with “[a]wesome bartenders and very friendly door guys” and “[e]xcellent, timely, courteous service.”
> City: Montpelier
This one-time biker hangout has turned into what one Yelper reviewer described as “a tiny little dive bar like you see in the movies where all the locals hang out for cheap drinks.” Another cited the “diverse crowd of bureaucrats, hippies and pool sharks” (or as another one put it “[n]ice people from all walks of life…congressmen to bums (if you can tell them apart)….” Alcohol is cheap here, but several reviewers have complained about the bar’s practice of limiting the number of drinks they’ll serve each customer (a not very dive-bar-like policy).