Food & Drink

The 13 Essential Louisville Dives

Published On 01/22/2016 Published On 01/22/2016
LINDSEY MCCLAVE/THRILLIST (Edited)

Ah, the dive bar. There is no better barometer to gauge a city’s bar scene than its most grimy and beloved local dives. Luckily, for Louisvillians, we have a number of watering holes that can claim the dive distinction, several of which we highlighted for you last year. Since then we’ve updated the list to include another handful of spots that wear their dive bar badge with pride. These are the best dive bars in Louisville for 2016:

Magnolia Bar & Grill

Old Louisville

Don’t let the name fool you; the only thing Magnolia Bar & Grill serves up is some of the stiffest drinks around with a side of the most impressive jukebox in town. It’s not only one of Louisville’s essential dives, it’s one of the country’s, too.

Kern's Korner

Kern's Korner

Highlands

If you’re looking for a place to grab a cold one with your pops and watch the game with one of the best burgers in town, then look no further than KK.

Seidenfadens Cafe

Germantown

Home to one of the best (and no cover) dance parties in the city and some seriously cheap drinks, this spot a go-to for essentially every hipster in Lou.

Third Street Dive

Third Street Dive

Downtown

Feel free to judge this book by its cover, as this spot kinda wants you to do that. It's essentially synonymous with the dive bar scene in Louisville, and was always intended to be a dive, which not all of them are...

The Back Door

The Back Door

Highlands

The best part about this place? The bar staff. They’re all old enough to be our grandparents, which adds a certain charm to the place, and it also means they pour heavy -- really heavy. But not to worry, they’ve got a full-service kitchen to soak up all that booze.

Teddy Bears

Old Louisville

Old Louisville’s gay-friendly dive bar has all-day happy hour specials, karaoke nights, and the distinction of being the only bar in Louisville with plush stuffed animals on its awning.

T. Eddie's Bar & Grill

T. Eddie's Bar & Grill

Germantown

It serves the coldest, cheapest beer in town, and has karaoke Wednesday through Saturday -- if this palace doesn’t scream dive bar to you, then we honestly don’t know what will.

Bambi Bar

Bambi Bar

Highlands

Perhaps Louisville’s most well known dive bar, the Bambi is always a good idea, particularly if you are looking for something greasy to soak up their dirt cheap brews (opt for the burgers and wings). The time-honored tradition of the ‘Bambi Walk’ is indeed named for this dive considering it’s the official, unofficial, starting point, but don’t ask the bartender if you get a t-shirt once you finish. This isn’t truly their rodeo, they’re just the meeting point.

Akiko's

Highlands

“So we ended up at Akikio's...” many a Louisvillian has uttered these words when recanting tales of wild nights out on Bardstown Rd. Go immediately if you are a karaoke enthusiast or if you’ve had one too many and want to show the world your inner Kid Rock featuring Sheryl Crow. 

Nach Bar

Nachbar

Germantown

Open until 4am every day of the week, Nachbar is a mellow watering hole in Germantown that is totally cool with you bringing your dogs, who’ll watch jealously as you down one of their many craft beers. Also, be sure and hit the patio on warm summer nights.

Lindsey McClave/Thrillist

Patrick's

Crescent Hill

While there are many things about Patrick’s that make it a dive bar (cheap booze, pool tables, karaoke, etc.), the saloon-style urinal doors really pushed it over the top to earn its inclusion on this year’s list.

Mr G’s

Middletown

If you just so happened to head over to the east end of town because you were getting your nails done at Jeannie Nails, and now find yourself in desperate need of cheap well drinks, satisfyingly greasy bar bites, and a horseshoe shaped bar, this is the Middletown move.

Courtesy of Stevie Rays

Stevie Ray's Blues Bar

Downtown

Live music is the name of the game at Stevie Ray's, Louisville’s most divy blues bar, which has been rocking on Downtown’s Main Street since 1994.


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Lindsey McClave is a food and travel writer who knows there is more to Louisville's dining scene than the white-table-cloth establishments. Follow her food and drink exploits at @foodiegirlky.

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1. Magnolia Bar & Grill 1398 S 2nd St, Louisville, KY 40208

Located within historic Old Louisville, Magnolia Bar and Grill is a dimly lit dive with pool tables, a pinball machine, and a punk-heavy jukebox. The walls are dotted with old-fashioned beer signs, and an old fan provides some relief when the crowds get big. Friendly bartenders make already cheap pints and pours even better, but stop by the ATM beforehand as Magnolia is cash-only.

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2. Kern's Korner 2600 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

If you’re looking for a place to grab a cold one with your pops and watch the game with one of the best burgers in town, then look no further than KK, one of the best dive bars in Louisville.

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3. Seidenfadens Cafe 1134 E Breckinridge St, Louisville, KY 40204 (Germantown)

Germantown’s Seidenfaden’s Café is a friendly neighborhood by day and vibrant dance club by night, decorated with a red and white linoleum tile floor and leather barstools. With quirky movies projected to the right of the bar, Seidenfaden’s airs on the eccentric side, but with its incredibly reasonable drink prices and vending machine-style snacks, it’ll keep you coming back for dance parties, shows, and karaoke nights.

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4. Third Street Dive 440 S 3rd St, Louisville, KY 40202 (Downtown)

Feel free to judge this book by its cover, as this spot is essentially synonymous with the dive bar scene in Louisville. Cheap drinks. Live music. Why not?

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5. The Back Door 1250 Bardstown Rd, #116, Louisville, KY 40204 (Highlands)

This Highlands dive(ish) bar is a classic local watering hole with a wide array of fans, from newly-21 frat boys to 60-something bikers, and the walls are decorated with the painted-on faces of patrons past and present, young and old, not to mention a simple drink menu featuring strong, yet cheap libations.

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6. T. Eddie's Bar & Grill 1154 Logan St, Louisville, KY 40204 (Germantown)

f the coldest, cheapest beer in town with karaoke Wednesday through Saturday doesn’t scream dive bar to you, then we honestly don’t know what will. Head to this Germantown bar if that's your jam.

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7. Teddybear's Bar And Grill 1148 Garvin Pl, Louisville, KY 40203 (Old Louisville)

This Louisville gay bar is a total hole in the wall, and we mean that in the best possible way. Load up on cheap drinks and hobnob with a rowdy crowd while you get your dance on to 80s' club bangers.

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8. Bambi Bar 2701 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40205 (Highlands)

A rickety structure in the Highlands neighborhood houses this infamous dive bar, where locals have been flocking for years to kick back with a cold beer or a shot of bourbon. The real reason you're coming to Bambi, though, is to indulge in the beloved Bambi Burger, which you can order in one of five ways: no sides, with chips, with fries, with onion rings, or with your choice of appetizer. No matter what, this juicy delicacy comes topped with American cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, and mayo -- just like a classic watering-hole burger should be.

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9. Akiko's 1123 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40204 (Germantown)

Get your party on at this neighborhood karaoke spot and dive bar just outside of downtown Louisville. The drinks may be stiff, but the crowd is friendly and the mood, lively and fun.

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10. Nach Bar 969 Charles St, Louisville, KY 40204 (Germantown)

On the surface, this Germantown drinkery just your run-of-the-mill, neighborhood bar with a good outdoor area (and it’s dog-friendly!), a great beer selection, and inexpensive drinks. But some would say Nach Bar is the soul of young Louisville’s music-loving, sort-of-hipster, just-wanna-hang-out-somewhere-tonight youth.

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11. Patrick's 3202 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206 (Crescent Hill)

Patrick’s is the Beer Depot’s divey neighbor, and it gets a lot of things right -- the liquor flows cheaply, you can shoot pool before singing karaoke on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the urinals are armed with swinging, saloon-style doors. What more could you want? Seriously, we want to know, because at the moment, this place isn’t getting the love it so rightly deserves.

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12. Mr. G's Lounge 10432 Shelbyville Rd, Louisville, KY (St Matthews)

This cool as hell dive bar offers ample drinks, plenty of seating, an extensive bar menu, and hosts nightly karaoke sessions. What more could you want in a night out?

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13. Stevie Ray's 230 East Main Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Louisville’s requisite blues bar, where the music and drinks flow. Although a blues bar by reputation, Stevie Ray's also has a number of genres on tap every week from rock to jazz,

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