Where to Drink Like a Local in Downtown Las Vegas
From dive bars in the Arts District to micro-breweries on Fremont Street, you can’t miss these locals’ bars in DTLV.
Sure, you probably know Fremont Street, but what do you know about Downtown Las Vegas, better known as DTLV? And what do you know about doing DTLV like a local? From the Arts District to East Fremont, Downtown Las Vegas has seen so much growth in recent years, and local Las Vegans have found so many new places to love (the joke for many being that Las Vegas is starting to feel like “a real city”). If you want to get to know the real Las Vegas, crust and all, these are the best places to drink like a local in DTLV.
F The Bar
Newly opened at the renovated Fergusons Downtown motel, F the Bar (as in, “Fergusons the Bar”) fills in what could only have been described as a gap in Fergusons’ offerings: a traditional bar. That’s it: just a bar. But a bar that certainly suits the vibe of the place, serving an assortment of local Las Vegas and Nevada beers, funky and natural wines, and playful cocktails.
Berlin is a relatively new (pandemic era) joint with aging dive bar DNA. With weekly punk rock karaoke and bring-your-own-vinyl nights, and an aesthetic that skews heavily anarchic, Berlin might call itself a “uniquely European experience,” but it is definitely a punk rock bar that just happens to serve giant soft pretzels and various forms of sausage. Speaking of sausage, their specialty cocktail list includes drinks with names like “Knob Job” and “Morning Wood.” Just saying. There’s a niche audience of loyal locals who love this Arts District spot, yet it’s still managing to fly largely under the radar of tourists (as in not from Vegas) and TikTok tourists (as in saw something on social media and had to come in to make their own version of the same video).
It’s always tricky to call a place a dive bar that hasn’t been around long enough to earn the title. Dive bars are old and crusty, made divey by the unforgiving passage of time. The Silver Stamp is basically brand new, but it has put the work in to make itself look like a charming retro dive: think 1970s basement man cave with wood paneling, old beer cans as wall art, and Christmas lights strung from the drop ceiling. It also has a bloody fantastic craft beer list—the owners have some serious local craft beer pedigree—and the kind of cozy, welcoming “sit and stay awhile” vibe that, well, makes you want to sit and stay awhile.
The full name of this Arts District bar is “Jammyland Cocktail Bar & Reggae Kitchen,” and they serve a nice spread of rum-friendly from-scratch foods like curries and jerk wings, but this is a cocktail bar first and foremost. And these cocktails are some of the best in town, using ingredients and flavor combinations you won’t find anywhere else (they also have some super fun rare bottles if you’re a real liquor nerd). Their spacious patio right on Main Street in the heart of the Arts District is also a great spot to do some quality people-watching.
Able Baker is certainly one of the most popular and well-loved breweries in Las Vegas, with a stellar draft lineup and specialty drops with their own cultish followings. The Arts District taproom is a hugely popular spot for people to hang out and enjoy a few beers, bring their dogs to chill on the patio, watch the game (whatever game!), and grab a bite to eat—the Arts District Craft Kitchen located inside of Able Baker is a separate entity operated by the same owners as 595 Craft and Kitchen, and provides some great classed-up pub food to go with all that beer. This is the local brewery’s locals brewery, a neighborhood fixture and a game-changer for Las Vegas craft beer culture.
Velveteen Rabbit is a sexy cocktail bar located in the Arts District that goes for baroque with its high-drama vintage furniture and barely-lit interior, then goes full whimsical with its straight-outta-Wonderland magical pink patio. The cocktails are also equal parts drama and whimsy with every season, which always bring a new batch of inventive cocktails made with fresh produce and house-made ingredients all based on a particular theme, like fairy tales and folklore or obscure cult classic films.
Garagiste is a wine bar for people who don’t suck. If you’ve ever been curious about all these natural wines you keep hearing about, this is the place to visit; they’ll guide you through the experience without making you feel like a moron. The vibe is super casual and laid-back, just a touch rocker (think ‘90s new wave, grunge, and alt metal), and wholly approachable. If you like wine but hate wine snobs, this is your spot. It’s also a bottle shop, so if you try something you like, you can take a few bottles home with you (always 50% off the list price to take home). And if you’re snacky, they have some very nice cheese and charcuterie plates (and also some very nice beers and ciders for the non-wine-drinking guests).
One of the greatest things about SerVehZah is the diversity of the crowd. Beer culture has long been derided for its lack of diversity and inclusivity; SerVehZah shows that just because it has historically been that way doesn’t mean it has to stay that way, as the Chicano owners specifically set out to unite the local Latinx and craft beer communities. The crowd is as age diverse as it is culturally diverse, which pretty much makes this the ideal neighborhood beer bar. It also helps that they always have a great selection of beers on tap, and even collaborate with local breweries like their Arts District neighbors Able Baker: OUR CHA TAH, an horchata-inspired cream ale (with a RUM CHA TAH barrel-aged version) is delish. Plus, they always have a fun food truck posted up out front.
HUDL is a microbrewery that feels very much like your local neighborhood bar. It’s a vibe that’s hard to explain and impossible to manufacture; it just is. From the first day they opened their garage doors in the Arts District, HUDL felt like a new home for local craft beer lovers. First off, the beers are excellent, and there’s a nice range of options for all manner of beer drinkers (the HEXX Chocolate Cream Ale and Spun Monkey spumoni-inspired Imperial Pastry Stout are particularly special, though). You can order food from Soul Belly BBQ or Nevada Brew Works next door and chill here, watching whatever sports or supercross events are on the TVs and enjoying the laid-back vibe. Robot Brain Music Bingo and trivia nights are particularly popular, and regulars definitely have their crews. If you had a friend or neighbor with a 15 BBL brewing system and a man cave setup with a great patio who liked to have everyone over to drink beer and play games, that’s basically HUDL.
ReBAR + Davy’s
Two separate spaces but effectively one place, ReBAR and Davy’s in the Arts District are local favorites for enjoying some cheap drinks, perusing the eclectic collection of vintage items (all available to buy!), and listening to live music on the huge patio out back. They also serve a sizable menu of bar food (wings, sandwiches, “drunk dogs”) for when you need something to soak up all that booze.
For those who want a historic dive bar with the oldest tavern license in the state of Nevada where people once watched nuclear tests from the roof and that has made appearances in Casino, The Hangover, and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and is also known for its extensive craft beer program, Atomic Liquor Bar is for you. And while you’re there, why not visit the Kitchen at Atomic, its relatively brand-new sister bar with a full kitchen and emphasis on cocktails, plenty of windows letting in daylight, and a spacious patio it shares with the windowless original right on East Fremont? Or maybe Atomic Tavern is more your speed: the classic divey gaming and sports bar is a new concept in an old building that retains nearly all its nearly 50-year-old character. Located on the edges of the Arts District, Atomic Liquor Bar, Kitchen at Atomic, and Atomic Tavern collectively have you covered.
The greatest happy hour deal in Las Vegas happens every single day Downtown Cocktail Room is open (Tuesday through Sunday) from 5 to 7 pm. They call it “Halfy Hour,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like: half-off everything. Half-off every single expertly made cocktail on their fairly extensive and always inventive seasonal cocktail menu, as well as half-off everything else (beer, wine, straight booze, traditional absinthe pours, etc). This happy hour is hardly a secret but it’s still the best-kept secret in Vegas despite being right off Fremont Street. Also, their cocktails slap.
Rebranded from Beer District Brewing, Neon Desert Brewing on the edge of the Arts District is a family-run brewing operation popular with locals, and especially popular for their trivia nights. They’re known for their big, boozy stouts; fresh-fruit-forward sours and ciders; classic German styles; and less conventional modern styles.
Hop Nuts Brewing
With all of the new breweries that have opened up in the Arts District lately, it’s easy to overlook the one that’s been there for years. Hop Nuts was the first microbrewery in the Arts District and has been holding its own on a very busy stretch of Main Street as the neighborhood has exploded with new bars, restaurants, boutiques, and other locally owned businesses. And while the name might lead some to believe this place is all IPAs all the time, don’t worry—this ain’t San Diego. Their list of 16 house-brewed beers includes a variety of styles for all types of beer enthusiasts, from the sour fiends to the hop heads to the haze hounds. But one must-try is the Golden Knight, named for Vegas’ beloved NHL team and pretty much a perfect Belgian golden strong ale. Also, if you are a local beer drinker and runner and are looking for a new beer-drinking running crew, the Hoppy Runners (a drinking group with a running problem) meets here every Thursday at 6:30 pm.
What’s in a name? Well, in this case, it’s an actual horse trailer inside the bar. Horse Trailer Hideout is an “industrial country-chic” (accurate) concept that started as a mobile bartending operation (still very much available for events) and grew into its own brick-and-mortar space in the Arts District with a horse trailer inside. It caters to country culture so if you’re a country and western fan, this will be your favorite new spot. Karaoke nights are popular, there’s usually live music on weekends, and they’ve got a great craft beer program and fun cocktails.
While CraftHaus’s brewing operation is in the Henderson ‘burbs, the Arts District taproom is a brightly colored happy little spot to chill with one of their 24 beers on draft, snack on some spent-grain pretzel rolls dipped in beer cheese, hang out with your pups on the patio, or just pick up four-packs to go. Not for nothing, CraftHaus has some of the best beer can art in town, and they’re always releasing fun, inventive new flavors.
If locals are going to do “Vegasy” things, they’re probably more inclined to “do” Fremont than anything on the Strip. But Fremont bars (especially deep Fremont, in or near the Fremont Street Experience) are not going to be their first go-to for grabbing a few drinks. The Griffin might be the closest thing to an exception to this rule. It’s deep Fremont, no doubt, but once you’re inside it feels very local. Drinks are strong and cheap, the live music and DJs in the back room are always a good time, the fireplaces are cozy during the colder months, and the vibe is very Rocky Mountains cabin/Scottish castle/Hogwarts-y—it’s just a reliably fun, unfussy spot, and one that even local Las Vegans will go out of their way to go to.
If locals are going to do Vegasy things on Fremont part two: Banger Brewing has been around long enough to cement its reputation as one of the best breweries in the city, and while it certainly gets it fair share of tourists wandering in, you’re just as likely to bump into a group of locals hanging out with their dogs, watching the Knights game, and refilling their growlers.
If you’re really serious about wanting to drink like a local, like really serious, then you need to head to the Huntridge Tavern. It is a glorious dive bar; teeny-tiny (for now…) and located away from the touristy areas of Fremont Street and the Arts District in the Huntridge Historic District. It’s open 24/7 and is the place all the bartenders from all the hip DTLV joints go to drink PBRs and do shots when their shifts are over. This place attracts quite the cast of characters, from the aforementioned post-shift bar crowd to the grizzled old drunks who are part of the furniture. The beer is cheap, there is often live music, and it is thoroughly a classic dive bar (dating back to 1962 and not much has changed since, aside from the video poker). Locals love this place, and when the Huntridge Theater reopens in a couple of years, expect to see a lot more people discovering its charms (please don’t kill the vibe!).
If you haven’t done Dino’s, you haven’t done Vegas. Located in the shadow of The STRAT, Dino’s is the place where when the going gets weird, the weird go pro. Their legendary karaoke (every Thursday through Saturday) doesn’t even start until 10 pm, which should give you a good indication of the kind of state people are in by the time they start bellowing onstage. There’s a good show of tourists here—people just know about this place—but also a good show of locals, for whom this is a favored shitshow bar.
Frankie’s is a Vegas dive bar/tiki bar staple that once appeared on every “best bars in Vegas” list ever because it was quirky and weird and unlike anything anywhere else in Vegas; the anti-Strip bar that represented a side of Vegas tourists rarely saw. But things have changed a lot in recent years with tourists exuberantly embracing Fremont and its weirdness, the “undiscovered” Chinatown just minutes from the Strip, and the excitement of the explosive growth of the Arts District. Now Frankie’s is, dare we say, passé. It’s the same smoke-choked tiki dive bar it has always been; there are just a lot of other options now. Still, it’s a Vegas icon, and the only tiki bar in town that is fully decked out in quasi-Polynesian kitsch—it was literally designed by the grandson of the guy who designed the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. It’s open 24/7 daily and has its own line of branded tiki mugs for sale (which are indeed amazing). If you like really strong rum drinks (and they are really strong), smoking (it is so very, very smoky inside), and being at a bar that influencers have long since moved on from back when they were still called Yelp Elites, this is the place for you.