You either love them or hate them. Dive bars are filled with drunken men who have too much time on their hands and too little money in their pockets. Just when you thought you’ve seen the worst, you enter the toilet, hoping to find a quiet refuge as you worship the porcelain god. Well, they’ve certainly done their jobs. Just when the stench from the urinals wafts through your nose, you feel your entire meal traveling back up your esophagus, making its way out of your mouth.
The US certainly boasts of the wackiest and most unforgettable dive bars in the entire world. Some of the seedy establishments are just too disgusting, while others are decent enough. Whatever the case may be, you certainly don’t get 5-star service in these places. Still, you find yourself coming back week after week. Could it be the cheap alcohol or the hilariously rowdy people that populate the room? Most likely.
If you’re a dive bar regular, here are some of the country’s most memorable:
1. Five Point Cafe
415 Cedar St Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-4777
The rude and blasphemous bartenders would have a priest scurrying right back to church to get some holy water as he washes all that profanity out of his system. Nonetheless, people just keep coming back to this place. The urinals are dirty and the food too greasy. But ask a regular patron and he could care less about it. The food just tastes so good that you’d even eat the strands of hair that occasionally get stuck in it. The drinks are stiff as they are cold. It’s the perfect bar for the manly man who couldn’t care less about his surroundings just as long as his gastronomic needs are met.
2. Adair’s Saloon
2624 Commerce St Dallas, TX 75226 (214) 939-9900
Everyone has a certain level of tolerance. If you like Adair’s Saloon, then your tolerance must be high. You don’t mind mustached bartenders who smell like stale cigarettes and the noise of a really loud band who never plays cover songs, this will be your constant sanctuary. The bar may be found in a town of wealthy kinfolk, but the customers are as stingy as hell. They go to Adair’s for the cheap all-you-can-drink Lone Star Beer. By the time they get home, they’re so inebriated that they forget about the rowdy crowd and just remember the amazing time they spent in this bar.
3. 2 Way Inn
Address: 17897 Mt Elliott St, Detroit, MI 48212 (313) 891-4925
This bar is as resilient as its crowd. It survived hundreds of bar fights, dozens of riots, and the collapse of MoTown music. In fact, this bar was once a store, a jail, and a brothel. It has a colorful history indeed, and people just keep coming back for more. The drinks are so strong that the bar’s name shouldn’t be mentioned in AA meetings. The cocktails contain enough alcohol to blow up hell itself, but who’s complaining? You’ll soon see that most of its patrons are old timers and hipsters who have too much blood in their alcohol system.
4. Dan’s Café
Address: 2315 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009 (202) 265-0299
You’d think that Washington was all about business and politics. Well, you’re certainly far from the White House when you head over to Dan’s Café. You could be sitting next to a future senator, or you could be beside a dude who’s contemplating on killing you. But once you’re here, you couldn’t care less. The bar is dilapidated, to say the least. The drinks? They’re as stiff as your muscles will be the very next day. You always leave this place with fond memories, but your liver will definitely disagree on that.
4. Buddha Lounge
Address: 901 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108 (415) 362-1792
There are 2 things about this bar that’ll keep you coming back for more: Mark the bartender and the Three Penis Chinese Whiskey. Yep, you heard the latter right. And leave it to Mark to provide you with the entertainment you need. He pushes this drink pretty hard and if you’re early enough, he’ll even challenge you to a game of dice. The rules are simple, really. If he wins, you buy him a beer. If you win, you get your beer for free. Just make sure to end the game before 8 p.m., Mark’s personal curfew. After that, drinks will no longer come for free.
5. Double Down Saloon
Address: 4640 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89169 (702) 791-5775
When you hear the word saloon, you think of cowboys and gun slinging. Well, this establishment certainly lives up to its name. The bar has hosted thousands of fights that oftentimes stem from the stupidest arguments. So, why would you visit the strip’s seediest place? People go there for the popular drink called Ass Juice. You can bet that you’ll be pooping that juice when you hide under the table, trying to avoid the bottles being thrown from the angry men in the middle of a fight.
6. Irish Haven
Address: 5721 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (718) 439-9893
No one can drink like the Irish. In fact, even Martin Scorsese knows that. He chose this bar when he filmed The Departed, and when you walk into the place, you’ll immediately know why. The bartenders still speak with the thick Irish brogue. As for the drinks, you can get your alcohol fix with just a few glasses. Its biggest attraction, however, is its amazing cranberry juice. You can search high and low for another place that serves one that’s just as good, but don’t expect to succeed. Nothing beats Irish Haven’s cranberry juice recipe.
7. The Goat Hill Tavern
Address: 1830 Newport Blvd Costa Mesa, CA 92627 (949) 548-8428
This bar is dirty, and that’s saying it kindly. The moment you walk into its doors, you’ll already smell of vomit, stale cigarettes, sweat, and strong beer. Even if it takes a couple of showers before you actually feel clean again, you’ll want to keep coming back to this place. The bar boasts of over a hundred choices of beer. That alone makes this bar every alcoholic’s nirvana. And if you stay long enough, you can bet that you’ll soon start to see ghosts, one of which will be the spirit of a sober version of you hovering in the corner, wondering what happened.
True Texans love this bar. After all, it plays country songs and offers a game of Chicken Shit Bingo to all willing customers. Every Sunday, proprietor Ginny Kalmbach plops a chicken down on a plywood bingo board as everyone waits for the bird to take a crap. When the dropping lands on your number, you win the money that’s in the pot. It’s that simple! But while you wait for Lady Luck to enter the room, you can keep yourself occupied with the bottles upon bottles of $2 Lone Stars. Unlike most dive bars that host brawls, Ginny’s main rules are: No Cussin’, No Fussin’, No Hasslin’, No Wrasslin’!
9. Welcome to the Johnson’s
Address: 123 Rivington St New York, NY 10002 (212) 420-9911
If you’re looking to get drunk and have no one judge you for pissing in your pants, this is definitely one bar where you can be your inebriated stupid self. The $2 PBRs are unheard of, especially in Manhattan. This means that you can get so much with so little money. Puke on yourself or land on your face, no one’s going to give a hoot. In fact, they’re probably doing the same thing. So, you’re in perfect company. This might just be the perfect place to nurse a broken heart. You can drink to your heart’s content and still have the money (and dignity) to do the same thing the very next day.
10. Tiki Ti
Address: 4427 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 669-9381
This tiny establishment only seats 12 at the bar. Couples or groups can stay in one of the tables. That is, if they’re lucky enough to see one available. If you’re frustrated with that cancelled trip to Hawaii, visit this dive bar. It’s no island paradise, but it’ll soon feel like one as you sip one sweet drink after another. In fact, you could just let your imagination soar as you indulge in every cocktail available in the menu.
If you think you’ve seen every dive bar in your area, put all these in your bucket list and make sure to visit each and every one of them. You ain’t here for the sights and sounds. You’re only here to feed your body with alcohol without paying an arm and a leg for it. The bars may be filthy and seedy, but your senses are going to get numb soon enough.