Food & Drink

The 15 Best Dive Bars in Honolulu

Published On 01/22/2016 Published On 01/22/2016

Sometimes, you want a cocktail meticulously created by an expert mixologist; sometimes, an ice-cold craft brew with a funny name you’ve never heard of. Then, there are days when you just want to disappear into a dark, dimly lit bar for many hours, curl your hands around a cheap drink, and not worry about getting gum on your brand new pair of expensive raw denim pants. Because you didn’t wear them. Because you’re at a dive bar. Under these circumstances, turn to the best of the divey best:

Café Anasia

Cafe Anasia

Moiliili

Although their bar sign clearly reads “Vietnamese Restaurant,” those in need of traditional bar bites will still find nachos, burgers, and chicken wings on the menu in addition to Vietnamese pork chops and pho. Here, you can throw darts, shoot pool, or challenge your friend to an arcade game, while tossing back daily drink specials and slurping up a big bowls of noodle soup... Pro tip: UFC matches are always aired at this low-key sports bar, and you can reserve a booth for your group for a minimal cover charge. 

The Hideaway Bar

The Hideaway

Waikiki

Tucked in an alley between a 7-Eleven, a Vietnamese restaurant, and a laundromat, this watering hole pours drinks from 6am to 2am. With a jukebox, darts, a pool table, cheap arcade games, cheap drinks and a questionably clean restroom, this Waikiki institution is the epitome of all things dive bar -- which is what keeps locals and the occasional stray tourists wandering in during all odd hours of the day. Stop by during power hour, where you can swallow $2 well drinks and domestic beers from 6-7pm. Bring your singles, because this bargain-priced bar is cash only.

Home Bar & Grill

Moiliili

With a somewhat fancy food menu and lively atmosphere, this casual sports bar toes the line of a traditional dive. Located near the Convention Center, former Slammers general manager Chris Tai’s four-year old bar is a popular spot for locals. Busy during happy hour, you can slide into a patched-up vinyl booth and catch up on your favorite sports team over a mountain of kim chee fried rice or tater tot nachos and discounted drink specials. Parking can be difficult; try your luck with street parking or spring for $5 valet or the pay-to-park stalls next door. Reservations are also accepted.

Flickr/Yelp Inc.

Hank’s Cafe Honolulu

Downtown/Chinatown

Open in 1998, owner Hank Taufaasau opened the Nuuanu tavern to showcase and sell his artwork but added a bar to pay the rent. His Polynesian portraits and sketches adorn the walls and are punctuated with live entertainment, cheap drinks (make sure you try Dave Loando’s famous pineapple upside down cake shot), and friendly bartenders. The space is small, so be prepared to bump a few elbows, but once you find a seat, kick back and enjoy the playlist of classic rock and ‘80s throwbacks. 

8 Fat Fat 8 Bar & Grille

Makiki

Named for the auspicious Chinese lucky number, this neighborhood watering hole has been around so long even the owners aren’t exactly sure what year they opened their doors. Located along the busy S Beretania street next to Midas, rush hour commuters can park in the auto repair shop stalls after 5pm, and wait out traffic by filling their bellies with homemade crispy gau gee, Fat Fat Special Chicken and generous happy hour pours. After a long day, this hole in the wall is a nice respite for fulfilling your Chinese food craving and/or singing your troubles away with $1 karaoke.

Station Bar and Lounge

The Station Bar & Lounge

Ala Moana

This tiny watering hole holds just a few booths, cocktail tables, and bar stools. The dark, intimate space lends to a warm and friendly atmosphere, with great local bands, open mic performers, and comics hitting the stage. Come for their daily 6-8pm happy hour, and have a post-pau hana $5 Jameson or $2 hot dog with your live entertainment. 

Anyplace Cocktail Lounge

Moiliili

If you’re looking for a bar where you can yell at the TV during early morning 7am football games on Sundays, this affordable dive lets you do so without waking your neighbors. Although this watering hole is a Raiders bar, you don’t have to bleed black and silver to enjoy gathering with friends and supplementing your breakfast beer(s) with their Sunday morning buffet. 

Flickr/Wally Gobetz

Smith’s Union Bar

Downtown/Chinatown

Amidst the burgeoning Downtown scene, where trendy restaurants and gastropubs are slowly replacing old dives and diners, the oldest bar on the island is mostly unchanged despite their new neighbors. With economy-priced beer and shot deals and First Friday specials, this tiki-inspired tavern offers some of the cheapest drinks in the area. Although the bar is as old as your grandpa (81 years old), their wallet-friendly libations will surely keep your spirit young. 

Top of the Hill

Kaimuki

Tucked amidst a bevy of restaurants along Waialae Avenue, this is a no-frills bar with a few pool tables, dartboards, and an up-to-date jukebox. Open for 25 years, this neighborhood pub draws a mix of younger kids and regulars who have likely been patrons since the bar’s inception. With a moderate yet reasonably priced beer selection of domestics and imports, here, you can freely drink PBR without feeling like you’re succumbing to a life of hipsterdom.

Honolulu Tavern

Honolulu Tavern

Waikiki

After a day of sunning yourself amidst the crowds at Waikiki Beach, you deserve something more than aloe vera to cool off that sunburn and the sting of paying for that $18 beach towel at the hotel gift shop. Downstairs in a low-rise condominium hotel, that “something” at this tucked-away watering hole comes in the form of $2 Rolling Rock during Monday’s Power Hour, $1 chicken tacos on Taco Tuesdays, $5-and-under specials during Whisky Wednesdays or $4 Fireball Fridays.  

Arnold’s Beach Bar

Waikiki

The self-proclaimed 'last tiki bar in Waikiki' has everything you want in a dive bar: cheap drinks, cheap food, kitschy décor… plus, everything you never knew you wanted: free popcorn popped in bacon grease, Hebrew National hot dogs boiled in beer, AND a topless hula girl mannequin, who’s always ready for her Instagram close-up, especially after one too many Mai Tai or Tiki Teas. But the best part? Drinks specials start as soon as their doors open at 9:00am.

La Mariana Sailing Club

La Mariana Sailing Club

Sand Island

With its rattan chairs, glass balls ornaments, and carved tiki glassware, the palm-tree lined, harbor-side pub is exactly where you’d picture Gilligan and the gang throwing back a couple of Mai Tais after a long day of crime-solving on a deserted tropical island. Except it’s surrounded by warehouses in the middle of an industrial district. This historic tiki bar has been around since before Hawaii's statehood (beat it by four years), survived two tsunami scares, and is the last remaining original tiki bar on the island. Order the notoriously super-strong Zombie Mai Tai, and relax under the glow of twinkling Christmas lights and 1950s tiki décor. Get buzzed just like grandma (probably) used to.

RB Bar and Grill

Moiliili/University

This college bar delivers all that you would expect from a place named 'Rock Bottom' (the R and B, duh): cheap drinks all night long, pool tables, dartboards, live bands, free Wi-Fi, sticky floors, questionable bathrooms, and the occasional beer pong tournament. Meaning, if you have any 'bros,' you should bring them here.

Cafe Duck Butt

Café Duck Butt

Kakaako

Some days call for a giant half-watermelon filled with soju. And when that day comes, this Korean karaoke bar is the place to fulfill your alcoholic fruit dreams. It’s especially worth stopping by during happy hour, where you can fill your belly with mandoo, kimchi pancakes, and discounted soju. Karaoke songs are $1 each, which means you can serenade your friends and strangers while tackling the vast soju list. Plus: shots named Fuzzy Duck and Duck Fart.

Anna O’Brien’s

Moiliili/University

Formerly known as Anna Banana’s, this university-area watering hole has been around since Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Recently, the Irish pub updated the house speakers, upgraded the AC, expanded the bar and seating capacity, and renovated the bathrooms, but kept the same divey feel with live music in the upstairs showroom and a laid-back bar downstairs, filled with darts, a pool table, and a jukebox. Sip daily drink specials or $4 Irish Whisky of the Month without breaking into your student loans funds.

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Summer Nakaishi is a freelance writer for Thrillist, who would probably enjoy consuming a Duck Fart someday.

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1. Cafe Anasia 2227 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96826

This dive and Vietnamese combo offers traditional bar bites -- nachos, burgers, and chicken wings -- alongside Asian-inspired pork chops and pho. In addition, Anasia's also offers darts, pool, and arcade games.

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2. The Hideaway Bar 1913 Dudoit Ln, Honolulu, HI 96815

A dive through and through, this cash-only bars is open 6am to 2am and boasts daily "power hours," when well drinks are just $2.

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3. Home Bar & Grill 1683 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96826

Home Bar & Grill is a lively, albeit divey, sports bar frequented by locals for the American domestics and bounty of bar bites with island twists. While it serves a juicy bacon and blue burger with crispy crinkle fries, truffle fries, and tater tot nachos piled with jalapeños, sour cream, green onion, bacon, nacho cheese, salsa and black olives, it also serves bowls of Ahi Poke, Seared Ahi Sashimi, and a number of fried rice dishes.

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4. Hanks Cafe 1038 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96817

Live entertainment, cheap drinks (be sure to toss back a few pineapple upside down cake shots), and walls adorned with the owners Polynesian-themed artwork make this dive a Honolulu favorite.

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5. 8 Fat Fat 8 1327 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96814

With a name meaning double prosperity and fortune, 8 Fat Fat 8 is a Chinese bar and grill that might make you luckier, but probably just make you slip into a blissful food coma. Whether you come for the cheap happy hour, the karaoke, the billiards, or the Fat Fat Special Chicken, the atmosphere is always lively and friendly. Expect typical chinese dishes like fried rice, stir-fries, sauteed veggies, and pan-fried potstickers (up the fat fat-ness of your meal with deep-fried dumplings). The best part is that even after the kitchen closes Fat Fat still serves “emergency” snacks like popcorn. Pro tip: park in the Midas lot.

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6. Station Bar & Lounge 1726 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814

This dimly lit, intimate bar regulary hosts live entertainment -- local music, comedy, open mic night, and karaoke -- alongside attractive happy hour specials.

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7. Anyplace Lounge 2065 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96826

This typical dive is open early and passes no judgement on those who are skipping Sunday morning church to have a few beers.

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8. Smith's Union Bar 19 N Hotel St, Honolulu, HI 96817

Amidst the burgeoning Downtown scene, where trendy restaurants and gastropubs are slowly replacing old dives and diners, the oldest bar on the island is mostly unchanged despite their new neighbors. With beer and shot deals and First Friday specials, this tiki-inspired tavern offers a casual vibe and even more casual prices.

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9. Top of the Hill 3579 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

Tucked amidst a bevy of restaurants along Waialae Avenue, this is a no-frills bar with a few pool tables, dartboards, and an up-to-date jukebox. The casual menu offers a beer selection of domestics and imports, as well as basic eats.

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10. Honolulu Tavern 417 Nohonani St, Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

Honolulu Tavern is the perfect dive bar to visit at the end of your beach day. Every day of the week offers amazing specials like $2 Rolling Rock during Monday’s Power Hour, $1 chicken tacos on Taco Tuesdays, $5-and-under specials during Whisky Wednesdays and $4 Fireball Fridays.

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11. Arnold's Beach Bar & Grill 339 Saratoga Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815 (Waikiki)

You don't have to wait for happy hour to get the drink specials at Arnold's. Starting at 9am you can get as many Mai Tais or Tiki Teas as you want, plus free popcorn popped in bacon grease and hot dogs boiled in beer.

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12. La Mariana Sailing Club 50 Sand Island Access Rd, Honolulu, HI 96819 (Kalihi)

With an impressive collection of carved wooden masks and traditional decorations, La Mariana is immersed in Hawaiian culture and history and calls itself the only remaining original tiki bar in Honolulu. The nightly piano entertainment and view of the marina will remind you of the 40s and 50s when a Navy sailor might ask a gal to dance. The specialty Mai Tai’s are just as timeless. At lunch they serve locally-caught options like Ahi Sashimi, Mahi fish and chips, Ahi Spring Rolls, and the local favorite Ahi Poke. At dinner expect similar dishes like the seared Cajun Ahi over rice, Surf and Turf, and the Hawaiian Pupu Platter (Ahi Sashimi, Ahi Poke, and Tako Poke) that’s great to share with a date.

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13. RB Sports Bar and Grill 2535 Coyne St, Honolulu, HI 96826 (Moiliili)

The RB stands for rock bottom, so you can expect the classic sticky floor, pool table and cheap drinks situation that comes with a college bar.

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14. Cafe Duck Butt 901 Kawaiahao St, Honolulu, HI 96814 (Kakaako)

Cafe Duck Butt is guaranteed to make you crack a smile, name alone. You'll keep grinning while you sip on watermelon soju (that's right, soju that's INSIDE a watermelon), nom on mochiko chicken tacos, and have an all around good time at this bar that turns lively as the lights get low.

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15. Anna O'Briens 2440 S Beretania St, Honolulu, HI 96826 (Moiliili)

With live music upstairs and a laid back bar downstairs with a jukebox, darts and a pool table, this Irish Pub has encapsulated that perfect dive bar vibe. Sip on $4 Irish Whiskey of the month or a daily drink special for the full Anna O'Brien's treatment

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