Best Dive Bar in Every State

Best Dive Bar in Every State

Like “speakeasy,” “dive bar” is a term whose meaning has evolved over time. A speakeasy used to be a strictly illegal drinking place, whether high-tone or lowbrow, whose patrons were subject to arrest if they were discovered (and possibly to poisoning from bathtub gin if that’s what they drank); today, it seems to just mean any place with a hidden entrance, and possibly with bartenders sporting bowties.

As for dive bars, they used to be notoriously disreputable, dirty, and possibly dangerous – the kinds of places where strangers weren’t welcome and where, if you weren’t a stranger, you were very likely to be disreputable, dirty, and possibly dangerous yourself.

Today, “dive bar” is used increasingly to mean simply a bar with character, someplace not too fancy, an establishment with a personality of its own – maybe a little ill-kempt but rarely worrisomely unclean or in any way threatening.

But if a dive bar is to be differentiated from any other neighborhood watering hole, or from all the trendy new places with dive bar pretensions, there ought to be some agreed-upon definitions.

Here are attributes that a true dive bar should have: A regular clientele with regular bar seats – the kind of people who might turn to look at you when you walk in, but then turn back to their beers, minding their own business and expecting you to mind yours; graffiti on the walls (or, at the very least, on the restroom walls); an old-school jukebox (not the internet variety; extra points if it takes quarters or dollar bills), tuned a little too loud; at least one pool table; and furnishings repaired with duct tape.

The real thing also needs: Daytime hours (a hardcore dive bar opens as soon as it’s legal – 6 a.m. in some states); beer in cans, often including PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), as well as in bottles (taps are optional); a light level that’s either too low or too high (ideally there are no windows); bartenders who are either really friendly or really surly – nothing in between; and cheap drinks. (These are America’s best-selling beer brands.)

To assemble a list of the best dive bar in every state, 24/7 Tempo began by consulting ratings and reviews of establishments identifying themselves as dive bars, in whole or in part, on Yelp. Many of these were disqualified because they were primarily restaurants, sports bars, or chain operations, or because they were judged editorially to lack essential dive bar characteristics.

We also consulted numerous roundups of dive bars, ranked and otherwise, from a variety of websites, including those of Thrillist, Eater, Tasting Table, and The Daily Meal, as well as numerous local and regional sites and both websites and Facebook pages belonging to some of the bars under consideration.

A few caveats before you head for one of these places: Many of them are cash-only. With only occasional exceptions, they’re not places where you’d want to eat anything fancier than a bag of chips or a frozen microwaved pizza. And some don’t serve liquor – just cheap bulk wine (maybe) and lots of beer.

On the plus side, dive bars are often friendly, surprisingly welcoming hangouts; the bar tabs tend to be modest (even for a full evening of drinking); and you’ll almost certainly have more fun and more interesting experiences overall than you would if you’d gone to some swanky uptown place. (If you prefer that kind of establishment, though, these have recently been voted the best bars in America right now.)

Source: Courtesy of Snapper's Lounge via Facebook

Alabama: Snapper’s Lounge
> City: Orange Beach

The unique feature at this no-frills beach dive in a Gulf Coast town just across the bay from Florida, is a weathered 25-foot-long shuffleboard table, said to be half a century old. Beer is the usual tipple here, though simple mixed drinks are available.

Source: Courtesy of Van's Dive Bar via Facebook

Alaska: Van’s Dive Bar
> City: Anchorage

Live music, free popcorn, pool table, cheap drinks….It’s easy to see why this Anchorage institution has a loyal local clientele and appeals to any visitors savvy enough to find it.

Source: Courtesy of Michaela L. via Yelp

Arizona: Bay Horse Tavern
> City: Tucson

The illuminated head of retired Bud Light mascot Spuds MacKenzie looks out over the bar above a cooler filled with “Important Beers” at this Tucson standby, praised by Yelp reviewers for its “sharp, funny bartenders,” “great prices on drinks,” and “small patio for smoking with a TV.” “What a dump!” wrote another Yelper, adding, “I mean that in a good way.”

Source: Courtesy of Dive Bar Shirt Club Z. via Yelp

Arkansas: Midtown Billiards
> City: Little Rock

Yelp comments include “Worse bar I’ve ever been to,” “[D]on’t think you’ll leave without a layer of grease on your clothes,” and “[Y]ou get hassled at the door, insulted by the staff, and hustled by the low rent meth head[s]…who camp out on the only two…pool tables.” In other words, it’s the perfect dive bar. And on the plus side, other Yelpers say things like “Fantastic place,” “a delicious burger and staff,” and “This is as real as it gets.”

Source: Courtesy of Zeitgeist SF via Facebook

California: Zeitgeist
> City: San Francisco

A cash-only Mission District punk bar, Zeitgeist is famous for its Bloody Marys and its outdoor seating area. Aficionados might question whether a true dive would have 64 beers on tap, as this one does – but some patrons find the staff to be rude and mean, which helps restore the place’s divey credentials.

Source: Courtesy of The Nob Hill Inn via Facebook

Colorado: Nob Hill Inn
> City: Denver

This slightly gritty Denver old-timer – there’s been a bar or restaurant on the site since 1937 and it’s been called the Nob Hill Inn since 1954 – is decorated with paintings done by the owner when he was an art student 30-plus years ago. According to the Denver news and arts publication Westword, “The off-band jukebox still takes dollar bills, and…[t]he crowd ebbs and flows as hipsters, old-timers, and guys wearing sunglasses indoors all come and go.”

Source: Courtesy of Sara W. via Yelp

Connecticut: The Bruce Park Grill
> City: Greenwich

This upscale Connecticut community might be the last place you’d expect to find a dive bar, but the Bruce Park Grill is the real thing. Cheap beer, burgers and pan pizzas, a shuffleboard table, friendly bartenders, and a regular clientele…. It’s a world away from the posh boutiques and pricey restaurants nearby.

Source: Courtesy of Comegys Pub via Facebook

Delaware: Comegys’ Pub
> City: Wilmington

A small, family-owned blue-collar watering hole known for its friendly staff and friendly regulars, Comegys’ has been called “the Cheers of Wilmington.” It’s the kind of place, one regular told the local entertainment site Out&About, where “Someone will always buy you a drink, whether you want one or not!”

Source: Courtesy of Chirstopher L. via Yelp

Florida: Boat Club
> City: Tarpon Springs

There’s beer and a little wine but no hard booze at what Yelp reviewers hail as a “dilapidated, crooked,” “classic Floridian dive bar” with “the wildest ambiance, the best bartenders, the greatest stories.” Perched above the Anclote River, leaning over it on “at least a 20 degree angle,” it’s “jam packed with character.” As one comment notes, “Don’t come here looking for hipsteresque irony; you’ll be eaten alive.”

Source: Courtesy of Manny C. via Yelp

Georgia: The Rail Pub
> City: Savannah

Opened in 1890 in what was then the city’s red light district, the Rail Pub has been everything from a railroad workers’ bar to a boarding house to a brothel. Today, the attractions in this “dark, dank, sketchy, and…amazing” joint (as one Yelper called it) include $5 Forties (40-ounce beers), free fried chicken and live music on Fridays, and, according to the bar’s website, “the city’s finest collection of daytime drinkers.”

Source: Courtesy of Two Girls And A Globe B. via Yelp

Hawaii: Honolulu Tavern
> City: Honolulu

“If you look up the definition of dive bar in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of this place,” wrote one fan of this hole-in-the-wall local favorite on Yelp. Different cocktails and shots are featured every day of the week, and everybody seems to love the bartenders, variously hailed as “awesome,” “talkative,” and “the nicest people.”

Source: Courtesy of Cactus Bar via Yelp

Idaho: Cactus Bar
> City: Boise

“Many a Jäger Bomb has been defused at this downtown institution,” according to Boise Weekly. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Cactus Bar offers “cheap strong drinks,” including $3 well drinks and domestic drafts and $5.50 microbrews – cash only. The clientele, says the Old Boise website, “includes bikers, students, and pretty much anyone who loves to drink.”

Source: Courtesy of Sarah S. via Yelp

Illinois: Chipp Inn
> City: Chicago

This bar’s origins are said to date back at least a century. The Chicago Bar Project website describes this cash-only corner joint as “a smallish room with walls of green and a gold-painted tin ceiling…[with] a battered wooden floor…[and] much Old Style and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer memorabilia.” Bring your own food (or order in), but as one local Yelper put it, it also has “cold beer, friendly bartender, reasonable prices, late hours…Just what was needed when we ran out of booze at home.”

Source: Courtesy of Dea A. via Yelp

Indiana: Alley Bar
> City: Bloomington

“This is a day drinker’s paradise: peanut shells on the floor, solid selection of taps, natural light from street windows (but not too much), and a salty and well seasoned bartender/owner/operator.” That’s according to a Yelp reviewer from Indianapolis. “Dark, narrow, hole in the wall, but perfect,” wrote another Yelper, adding, “it’s a place your father would have had drinks.”

Source: Courtesy of Kara D. via Yelp

Iowa: Locust Tap
> City: Des Moines

Extravagantly graffiti’d walls, a decrepit tin ceiling, a drink-stained pool table – and, in the words of one Yelp reviewer, “They play loud music, have cheap beer, [and] the booths are falling apart….”

Source: Courtesy of Fat Matt's Vortex via Facebook

Kansas: Fat Matt’s Vortex
> City: Kansas City

Built over an old crematorium (tours of the basement are available), this local institution in Strawberry Hill features bartenders full of character, flatscreen TVs, a pool table, icy cold beer, and a signature cocktail called Grog/Witches Brew.

Source: Courtesy of Heather P. via Yelp

Kentucky: Chevy Chase Inn
> City: Lexington

“The cocktails are cheap [and] [t]he ambiance is dark, dirty, vintage, and brooding, in the best way” at this old-school dive bar (said to be the city’s oldest continuously operating watering hole), according to one Yelp comment. Another warns, “This place is not for posers! Zero poser policy!” Live music and a good choice of carry-in food options nearby are added attractions, and “Beer comes canned and ice cold.”

Source: Courtesy of Eric H. via Yelp

Louisiana: Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge
> City: New Orleans

With one of the great rundown-dive-bar exteriors – complete with a large sign advertising Regal Beer on tap (the Bourbon Street brewery that produced it closed down in 1962) – Snake & Jake’s has been called a “bucket list dive bar destination” on Yelp. The site also notes that “The drinks are cheap, the staff is friendly and accommodating, and the bar dog is a friendly pup….” Reversing the usual morning-to-late-night policy of many dive bars, this one’s open from 7 p.m. till 7 a.m. And the holiday decorations stay up all year long.

Source: Courtesy of Ruski's Tavern via Facebook

Maine: Ruski’s Tavern
> City: Portland

Uncommonly for a dive bar, Ruski’s serves what many reviewers hail as excellent food – including hearty breakfasts. Yelpers call the place “unpretentious, casual, and…a great mix of locals of all ages and backgrounds” and note that “The drinks are strong, the service is warm and the music will keep you bopping.”

Source: Courtesy of RunAway B. via Yelp

Maryland: Mount Royal Tavern
> City: Baltimore

Come to this Belvedere dive bar, writes one Yelper, for “Cheap drinks, great music, diverse crowd, artwork on the ceiling and funny postings behind the bar,” as well as bartenders full of great tales to tell. One local notes “It’s grimy, dimly lit and a little sticky. I fell in love with it immediately.”

Source: Courtesy of Swanarna M. via Yelp

Massachusetts: Moynagh’s Tavern
> City: Worcester

Opened in 1935, moved to its current location in 1948, and still in the Moynagh family, this classic neighborhood workers’ bar is near the DCU Center arena complex. “Cheap beer and everyone leaves you alone,” wrote one Yelp reviewer, even though it’s “the kinda place where you walk in and everyone looks over.” Another reviewer called out the “strong drinks [and] loud people” and observed that it’s “dark and a little dirty” – before adding, “It’s my kind of place.”

Source: Courtesy of Alan C. via Yelp

Michigan: The Bronx Bar
> City: Detroit

Until she retired in 2018 after 42 years on the job, the big draw here was curmudgeonly daytime bartender Charleen Dexter, who remembers when beer was 15 cents a glass at this midtown standby. You can still get a cheap brew here (if not quite that cheap), and the burgers, fries, and fried pickle spears get good reviews. Critics complain about lousy service and too-loud music, but it has also been called “a fun, gritty place.”

Source: Courtesy of Tony R. via Yelp

Minnesota: Palmer’s Bar
> City: Minneapolis

This music club-dive bar dates its origins to 1906, and has operated under various names and owners ever since – becoming Palmer’s Bar in 1950. Strong drinks, cheap beer, and an outdoor area are among the attractions. According to the bar’s website, Palmer’s has been described as “a church for down and outers and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows — bums and poets, thieves and slumming celebrities.”

Source: Courtesy of Gil's Fish Camp Bayou Bar via Facebook

Mississippi: Gil’s Fish Camp
> City: Ocean Springs

This “laid back beach-hut bar with cheap booze, tasty crawfish, and a splendid waterfront view” (according to The Daily Meal) has cabins attached, in case you dive a little too deep. The beer is ice cold (“damn near frozen”), the atmosphere is great, and the bartender is “usually entertaining,” say Yelp reviewers.

Source: Courtesy of David W. via Yelp

Missouri: Silverleaf Lounge
> City: St. Louis

“The standard by which all other neighborhood bars should be judged,” according to St. Louis’s Riverfront Times. “Patriotic relics line the walls,” the Times continues, “and a collection of regulars are a fixture at the bar, trading jokes and jibes with the bartender while a jukebox cranks out soul and oldies that harken back to the time music was actually good.” The Silverleaf is cash only, but prices are low. “[T]he only way you can enjoy a cheaper drink is to drink at home,” noted one Yelper.

Source: Courtesy of Sunil R. via Yelp

Montana: The Rhino
> City: Missoula

One Missoula resident posted all you need to know about this place, officially known as The Rhinoceros, on Yelp: “Peanut shells on the floor, a boozy musty aroma floating in the air, non-apologetic gruff bartenders and a crowd full of a nice mash up of college students, resident alcoholics and adults trying to escape their children.” Its array of 50 beers on tap and more than 50 single-malt scotches may move it out of true dive bar territory for some, but the nightly specials are definitely dive-like in price.

Source: Courtesy of Patrick T. via Yelp

Nebraska: Harry’s Wonder Bar
> City: Lincoln

This downtown Lincoln institution takes its name from the fact that it occupies an old Wonder Bread store. Drinks are poured generously, and domestic beers are $6 a pitcher or $2 a bottle weekdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. There’s no food other than chips, jerky, and the like, but bartenders will nuke a Tombstone frozen pizza on request. There’s a pool table and there are some video games, but the main sport here is keno. “All of us in here play,” bartender Steve Coufal told the Lincoln Journal Star.

Source: Courtesy of RunAway B. via Yelp

Nevada: Rusty Spur Saloon
> City: Las Vegas

There’s a rearing silver-hued horse with a PBR logo on its hindquarters outside this old-style cocktail lounge in a motel parking lot, located in the Dollar Tree/Bass Pro Shops/Ross Dress for Less part of Sin City. “This is not a craft beer bar…,” warned one Yelp reviewer. “This is a Bud, Coors, PBR bar.” Best indication on Yelp that this is a true dive bar: “Unfriendly towards Pokémon Go players.”

Source: Courtesy of Ian W. via Yelp

New Hampshire: McGarvey’s Saloon
> City: Manchester

Want dive bar cred? A man was once arrested here and charged with biting off a portion of the bouncer’s finger when he tried to eject him. On the other hand, many Yelp reviewers praise the great service, drink specials, and welcoming locals. And one visitor from California on karaoke night noted: “[W]e had the distinct pleasure of witnessing two of the biggest ugliest gnarliest biker dudes singing the most beautiful love ballads – not together.”

Source: Courtesy of Dana Marie S. via Yelp

New Jersey: Hudson House Bar
> City: Beach Haven

“The Hud,” not far from Fantasy Island Amusement Park on the Jersey Shore’s Long Beach Island, was originally a Prohibition-era speakeasy. It’s deliberately unpromising looking from the outside. “[A]fter years of intentional disrepair, the Hud now resembles a haunted house,” wrote The Press of Atlantic City, “something akin to the Addams Family home with its peeling paint, strips of duct tape holding cracked windows together and lack of landscaping.” “Come here for cheap beer, the ambiance, and to experience a bar that time forgot,” counseled one Yelper. “Dirty Jersey at its finest,” said another.

Source: Courtesy of Jess X. via Yelp

New Mexico: The Matador
> City: Santa Fe

According to Yelp: “Sort of gnarly dark post punk atmosphere but great music and GREAT bartending.” “[B]e prepared to get up close and personal with other patrons when it’s busy…[and] don’t order anything complicated!” “If you want a lil’ grit, a good pour from a happy bartender…, good metal/punk, and that general feel of being transported somewhere that time doesn’t exist, head here.”

Source: Courtesy of J L. via Yelp

New York: One Star
> City: New York City

Joe DiPietro’s No Idea was an anomaly: a true no-frills downtown dive bar on a trendy street in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood (the upscale Gramercy Tavern was a few doors away). When the landlord priced him out of the place after 21 years, DiPietro moved to a new location nearby and opened this place – which owes its name to Yelp. He thought the one-star reviews of No Idea on the site were funny, and named his new bar in their honor. Of course, the One Star pages on Yelp are filled with four- and five-star assessments. Among the comments: “Kinda dingy lighting, long bar to sit at…;” “Go for the tallboy and whiskey shot special for $8;” “Sure it’s simple, and plain, and that’s exactly what it’s meant to me.”

Source: Courtesy of Abby L. via Yelp

North Carolina: Thirsty Beaver Saloon
> City: Charlotte

The owners of this modest brick-walled neighborhood dive refused to sell their property to developers a few years back, so the developers built a 323-unit apartment building around the place on three sides. Inside, wrote a Yelper, “It’s a small biker-esque bar with one bar, a couple of pool tables and cheap beer…and it has a 70s vibe” – expressed partly through a collection of bras hanging from the rafters and barred windows. “Grab yourself a PBR and pull up a stump to the old school jukebox,” advised another, “and slip into honky tonk heaven.”

Source: Courtesy of The Box - Fargo via Facebook

North Dakota: The Box
> City: South Fargo

The Box is a combination bar and mini-casino off the lobby of an inexpensive chain hotel. It isn’t dark or dirty or dangerous-feeling, but qualifies as a dive with its menu (it includes cheese curds, fried pickles, pretzels with ranch dressing, and frozen pizzas); its low-priced drinks (including $1 “mystery shots”); its “cool” and “friendly” bartenders (according to Yelp); and the fact that it’s the place to go when you don’t want to be (Yelp again) “creeped out by the low lives of downtown, but don’t want to drink in these boring places where people have name tags and company logos all over their clothing.”

Source: Courtesy of Harbor inn via Facebook

Ohio: Harbor Inn Café
> City: Cleveland

Reviewers on Yelp like this West Bank dive bar – one of the oldest bars in Cleveland – for its “nautical and rather outdated” décor; “friendly bartender [and] friendlier patrons,” and “the history, the vibe, the thorough beer list and the low price tag.” Advice from one Yelper from the ‘burbs: “Take 15 people here, drink a lot of beer and play darts. Don’t overthink it, you’ll hurt yourself.”

Source: Courtesy of Edna's via Facebook

Oklahoma: Edna’s
> City: Oklahoma City

The signature cocktail here sets the tone: It’s called the Lunchbox; it’s made with fresh orange juice, light beer, and amaretto in a frosty mug; and the bar claims to have served more than 2 million of them since it was invented accidentally in the 1990s. Reviewers describe Edna’s as a classic dive bar, with décor featuring dollar bills stapled to the walls. Bar namesake Edna Scott, who died in 2014, used to dance on the bar every time somebody played “Great Balls of Fire” on the jukebox.

Source: Courtesy of David I. via Yelp

Oregon: Yamhill Pub
> City: Portland

The headline for an article a few years back about this octogenarian institution in Willamette Week reads “Yamhill Pub Somehow Endures As Downtown’s Only True Dive.” The sub-head counsels, “Do not order food, avoid the toilets, and never ask how this bar has managed to survive.” Low prices have doubtless helped. Newcomers here, according to Willamette Week, “are tolerated, begrudgingly.”

Source: Courtesy of Lefty's Irish Pub and Restaurant via Facebook

Pennsylvania: Lefty’s
> City: Pittsburgh

“[C]heap and strong drinks, colorful clientele, unpolished karaoke, and well-worn bar stools” are among the divey attractions at this Strip District standby, according to Yelp. Alcohol choices include a menu of “shot and a beer” combinations (the Jim Morrison is Bud and Jameson) and a choice of brews in bottles only from a list divided into “domestics” and “geeky beers.”

Source: Courtesy of Ben S. via Yelp

Rhode Island: Pontiac Tap
> City: Providence

“[F]ar from a fancy place but it’s a fun place to kick back and relax with your friends,” wrote one Yelp reviewer, also noting that it’s “dark and dingy,” but that the drinks are “cheap and strong.” Another comment criticized the depressing atmosphere, calling the Tap “a mediocre bar that has a touch of kitsch” – but still another hailed it as “King of dive bars.”

Source: Courtesy of Abby C. via Yelp

South Carolina: Cutty’s Bar & Grill
> City: Charleston

Cutty’s is the kind of place one Yelp reviewer might give only a single star to, “hoping to discourage fancy jerks from ruining this secret oasis for the neighborhood” – though another one might give it five stars with a note that “The moment you step into Cutty’s, you’re teleported from fancy-pants Charleston to a dive bar in the heart of the Midwest.” Still another reviewer, several years back, wrote: “Great dive bar. I bought a pregnancy test out of the vending machine for $1 and a PBR for $2.” Strangely, the bar is said to sell more of the medicinal-tasting bitter Fernet Branca than anyone else in the state.

Source: Courtesy of Tom K. via Yelp

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.

Source: Courtesy of Dina N. via Yelp

Tennessee: Santa’s Pub
> City: Nashville

The specialties at this decade-old cash-only establishment are cold beer (the only alcohol on offer) and karaoke. One visiting out-of-towner called this the “Cutest place with the cutest local people (& cool tourists you actually wanna be around),” but warned “Be prepared for a massive hangover!!” Another Yelp reviewer recently reported that country pop star Kelsea Ballerini was in the house recently and “bought the whole bar White Castle sliders.”

Source: Courtesy of El Patio aka Club no Minors via Facebook

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.

Source: Courtesy of Todd S. via Yelp

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.”

Source: Courtesy of Urban A. via Yelp

Vermont: Charlie-O’s
> 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).

Source: Courtesy of The Locker Room via Yelp

Virginia: The Locker Room
> City: Richmond

According to the Virginia capital’s RVA Magazine, the Locker Room “has everything: indoor smoking, old dudes, a jukebox, pool and shuffleboard, Jell-o shooters, food that I would recommend you not eat” and is “the standard by which all other local dive bars should be judged.” In business since 1985, this is a family-owned place, with – the owner says – “free wifi, top shelf snacks and all the attitude you expect from a dive, complete with nicotine walls and ceiling tiles.”

Source: Courtesy of Al's Tavern via Facebook

Washington: Al’s Tavern
> City: Seattle

Al’s is one of those places that inspires some regulars to give it one-star ratings on Yelp simply to discourage the wrong kinds of people from coming. “Dank lighting, funky smell, faded Formica, vinyl half booths, stale chips, surly staff, stray dogs, irregular regulars, janky pool table,” wrote one Al’s fan. “Stay away. You’ll just ruin it.” Another qualified his single star rating by saying that it was “for the good of the bar and its regulars,” and implored readers to “Preserve the Al’s Tavern that’s been doing its thing since 1940.” Going the other direction with a five-star score, a woman from Philadelphia announced “This bar is making me consider moving to Seattle.”

Source: Courtesy of Mark C. via Yelp

West Virginia: Red Carpet Lounge
> City: Charleston

“[A] beloved dive bar to the locals” and “the purest version of a dive bar in existence,” according to its fans on Yelp, the Red Carpet would be perfect except that “it’s too bright and the walls are too white for a real dive.” Hefty liquor pours and cheap beer attract “[e]very walk of life.” However, warns one reviewer, “The bar staff doesn’t like you. This is not ironic detachment. They honestly do not care for you. They will sell and serve you drinks regardless.”

Source: Courtesy of Scott W. via Yelp

Wisconsin: Wolski’s Tavern
> City: Milwaukee

Wolski’s, which celebrates its 114th anniversary this year, offers patrons “Great bartenders, outstanding popcorn, inexpensive drinks and steel dart boards,” according to one Yelp reviewer. Others call it a “Dark, dark, classic forever neighborhood bar,” but “NOT a dive bar in the traditional sticky floor, dirty bathroom sense.” Anyone who stays until the bar shuts down (at 2 or 2:30 a.m., depending on the night) gets an “I closed Wolksi’s” bumper sticker. These are said to have been distributed all over the world by the Wolski’s faithful.

Source: Courtesy of Joe's Liquor & Bar via Yelp

Wyoming: Joe’s Liquor & Bar
> City: Rock Springs

This combination of a package liquor store and what is said to be Wyoming’s smallest bar (with seating for only about 20 customers) is “as divey as divey can get, as local as local can get, and as cool as cool can get,” according to one Yelp review. The 1961-vintage Joe’s supplies “an authentic Wyoming experience,” and while there’s no beer on tap, the bar makes up for the omission “in personality and rowdiness.”

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