The 27 Best Bad Decision Bars in America

Bad Decision Bar
Dan Morris/Thrillist
Dan Morris/Thrillist

You know that bar down the street from your place that has board games and does British comedy trivia every Wednesday night? The one you took your Mom to, and she called it "quaint?" These bars wipe the floor with that bar. Actually, they probably never wipe the floor at all. And while you might never know what that stickiness underfoot is, you do know that it -- and the allure of cheap booze and neon lights -- is keeping you there, and that the night ahead is going to be much more interesting as a result.

That is, granted you can remember it. Here are the 27 best bad decision bars in America -- all places you're guaranteed to do something stupid in.

The 13th Step
The 13th Step

The 13th Step

New York, NY

The 13th Step will magically transport you back to your college years, if you went to college in a place where nobody could move at all, and everyone got aggressive when you accidentally brushed their shoulder while they were playing beer pong even though it was completely unavoidable.

The Club Ms. Mae's

New Orleans, LA

After a night out at Ms. Mae’s tossing back $2 well drinks, a little well-earned nap time on their glow-in-the-dark air hockey tables might seem like a good idea. Of course, when you wake up in the morning, the bar will still be open... BECAUSE IT NEVER CLOSES, but at least you’ll be Internet famous on their Wall of Shame blog.

the ginn mill denver
The Ginn Mill

The Ginn Mill

Denver, CO

You might not remember it, but you were at the Ginn Mill last night. You kind of remember getting yelled at for doing something really inappropriate/unsanitary in view of concertgoers at Herb’s. You’ve got popcorn in your pockets and butter streaks on your clothing. You’ve also got way more money in your wallet than you should after a night this full of amateur moves. All that’ll happen when you’re at a place with specials like $2 you-call drinks and 2-for-1 wells. Also, whose lipstick is on your chest!?

Jumbo's Clown Room

Los Angeles, CA

Courtney Love used to be a “dancer” at this totally non-strip club (they’re go-go dancers), where rolls of dollars come in handy both for tipping the -- AHEM -- performers and for paying for the heaviest pours you’ll ever see. Temporarily falling in love with strippers is always a bad decision for your wallet. Even when they're not really strippers.

monkey pants phoenix
Monkey Pants

Monkey Pant

Phoenix, AZ

If you stick around Monkey Pants until 1am, you’ll have a chance to participate in their one-cent Shirtless Shot offer. Most of the participants will be oblivious dudes, but at that point in the night, none of them will care.

Cherry Bomb

San Diego, CA

There are a ton of bars in San Diego that could lead you to ill-advisedly losing your clothes, but Cherry Bomb might take the cake. That’s because it’s located next to a laundromat. The temptation to stop into the exquisite dive bar for a casual/extremely stiff drink between loads is irresistible. Or three. Which is to say, your laundry is gone. Lucky you, you now have the option of making another bad decision. Just buy the person next to you a stiff drink before you steal their wardrobe.

the hangge uppe

The Hangge-Uppe

Chicago, IL

Pronounced "Hang Up" -- don't mind the extra letters -- this bi-level den of dubious behavior is in its fifth decade of catering to sloppy Chicagoans. Most veterans immediately descend the staircase leading to the labyrinthine basement, where the DJ is blaring every '60s through mid-'90s song you've ever wanted to belt out. Push your way past the sweaty, screaming mass of humanity. Secure a beer bottle to use as a microphone prop. Make out with some girl from a bachelorette party while the dude standing next to you is peeing in a garbage can WHILE trying to order a beer to the soundtrack of a thousand people murdering "Friends in Low Places." Wake up on a strange couch. Get ready to do it again tomorrow night.

the library minneapolis
The Library Bar & Grill

The Library Bar & Grill

Minneapolis, MN

Remember that weird older dude who used to lurk in your college party bar, drinking an endless stream of vodka/energy drinks, hitting on the 21-year-olds, and insisting “my friends call me Boner?” You’re him. And you’re not the only Boner in the house.

Concrete Cowboy

Dallas, TX

Think of CC’s crowds like a mosh pit, but full of Uptown folk who aren’t smashing into each other intentionally. You will bump into a lot of people. You might make out with some of those people. Or you might bump into a bouncer, who will promptly toss you out for spilling a plastic-cupped drink on him. Don’t worry. You were probably going to get kicked out anyway.

bar none san francisco
Flickr/Andrew Mager

Bar None

San Francisco, CA

In most places, when everyone in the room -- regardless of their winning or losing streak at flip cup/beer pong -- is five pitchers deep, camaraderie is likely to develop. That’s what happens half of the time at Bar None, with the other 50% being devoted to spats over the availability of tables for playing said drinking games that are soon resolved in a whirlwind of hugging and weeping. There are also darts, but maybe, given the precedence of certain events here, you should avoid that particular activity.

Earl's on the Ave.

Seattle, WA

What’s the best mixer for your booze? At this University of Washington legend, the answers are “ice” and “oxygen.” These liquor-bombs don’t stop at 1:45am like some better-decision-making bars. Earl’s goes right up to that 2am buzzer. Whether it’s tonight or in the morning, your walk of shame -- and half of Seattle’s -- can be blamed on ol’ Earl.

Broken Spoke
Broken Spoke Saloon

The Broken Spoke

Sturgis, SD

Basically, during the yearly motorcycle rally, the entire city of Sturgis -- and a big chunk of the Black Hills -- turns into one big bad-decision bar. That the Spoke still stands out as one of the rowdiest spots in town (it's kind of like Mos Isley, but with more leather jackets and boobs) is saying something. Oh, and there's a campground, just in case you want that bad decision-making to spill into a stranger's tent.


Louisville, KY

You won’t want to leave Cahoots, and not just because the floors are so sticky that you’re physically incapable of doing so -- they’re pouring the stiffest drinks in Louisville here, in stark contrast to the crowd, which is the least stiff you’ll probably ever encounter.

the hong kong harvard square
Flickr/Ed Kopp

Hong Kong

Cambridge, MA

Harvard Square’s three-tiered Hong Kong is bizarro Dante Alighieri’s dream -- the higher you ascend, the further into madness you go. Once you’re done with the third-floor dance club, you’ve inevitably got a few scorpion bowls in you, and descending to the first to pick up some spicy dumplings might appear to be the ultimate panacea to share with your new friend who goes to... where is it again? Brandeis? It isn’t.

Lola's Depot

Houston, TX

Grungy, friendly, and cheap, Lola's is the anchor to many a night out on the town in Houston, and boasts a ton of distractions (wall-bedecking baubles) and games (pool tables) -- though the only game you'll be playing the next morning is, "Sorry."

Casa Diablo
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Casa Diablo

Portland, OR

In Portland, strip clubs are a way of life, and the perpetually troubled vegan/vampire-themed Casa Diablo is a big draw. And can spell your ruin. It’s in the middle of nowhere. You can only tip in $2 bills dipped in fake blood, so unless you spend them all there, your whereabouts are obvious. The ATM spits out $50 bills. Drinks are stiff. Dancers are hot, which means it’s extra tempting to get an expensive “full-friction,” touching-approved lap dance. Which is to say, you’re going home in a cab, reeking of strawberries, covered in glitter, blue-balled, and with a wallet full of ATM receipts.

drinkers pub philadelphia
Flickr/Terry Robinson

Drinker’s West

Philadelphia, PA

A typical night at Drinker’s includes perusing their list of 50-to-100-cent drink specials, then just ordering them all anyway because you’ve got a $10 bill burning a hole in your pocket. You'll accidentally spill half of them on the floor, then order them all again because you forgot which ones you just spilled. You will still have $8 left.

Whiskey in the Jar

Hamtramck, MI

Things escalate quickly in Hamtramck, a city within the city of Detroit. It all starts with the complimentary "Welcome to Hamtramck" shot of Jezynowka and ends with you attempting to steal a bike you thought was yours even though you don’t own one -- and with all manner of freak show in between. There is nary a dull moment at the Whiskey -- even if it’s just you and the bartender.

club 152
Flickr/Heidi Blanton

Club 152

Memphis, TN

Three ingredients for a night of smart thinking: fire-flavored whiskey, sorority girls, and sorority girls grinding to remixes of remixes. That’s what you’re getting on the third level of Club 152. Your “pre-game” plans at the club might end up in a post-game of waking in a strange room, covered in the juices of a burst glow stick. But hey, at least you can see in the dark.

Southern Comfort

Conley, GA

There’s so much neon in this honky tonk that you can’t help but stare. And yeah, it makes your eyes tired. If only the guy waking you up as you sleep in one of the tractor-trailers outside could understand.

sign of the whale dc
Flickr/Dave Reid

Sign of the Whale

Washington, DC

Bottomless mimosas at breakfast. Cocktails by the pitcher at night. Crammed dance floor. Still making informed decisions? There’s a strip club nearby too.

City Limits Saloon

Wilmington, NC

Line dancing taken extremely seriously. Fightin’. Foam parties, body shots, neon. The ghost of Patrick Swayze should haunt this place. We talked to a friend in a country band, who said: “I played a gig there once. It may have been the most money I've ever made at a gig (people kept tipping us $20 a pop to play “Wagon Wheel”). You know that part in Fear and Loathing when Hunter S. Thompson is at the Circus Circus merry-go-round and declares that he's found the heart of the American Dream? I think I found the Heart of Dixie that night.”

santa's pub nashville
Santa's Pub

Santa's Pub

Nashville, TN

Karaoke every night. Beers starting at $2. Open until 2:30am. Named for a guy who probably slipped down the chimney of the double-wide trailer where it’s located, saw the Christmas decor, and decided to give up on the rest of his plans for the night and throw back a few brews. If we were Mrs. Claus, we’d be worried sick, too.

Blarney Stone

Worcester, MA

The $3 cocktails at Blarney Stone are about 90% liquor and 10% mixer, and the clientele is 100% there for that fact. Depending on the characters in town for the night, it can either descend into a bawdy hug-fest, or... well, let's just say the cops outside aren't there to stop people from making out. Either way, it's a free-for-all when it comes to the dangerously salty complimentary popcorn.

double down saloon las vegas
Double Down Saloon

Double Down Saloon

Las Vegas, NV

The good news is that there is one good decision you can make at this psychedelic, loud, punk-as-hell Vegas dive. But it’s a harbinger of doom. For $20, you can buy “Puke Insurance,” which means that if you blow chunks in the bar, they’ll clean it up for you. If you're uninsured, you’re on your own. And with the signature “Ass Juice” booze mixture flowing like, well... you might want to chip in for that policy.

Club Space

Miami, FL

It’s difficult to know the difference between a good decision and a bad one when you’ve been partying at Club Space for approximately 10 hours. It’s even more difficult to know for sure whether that marriage proposal you witnessed while in line for the bathroom was real, and whether or not the bar's life-sized astronaut statue accepted or declined the offer to be best man.

barbarella austin
Flickr/Kevin Christopher Burke


Austin, TX

If it's 2am and you're looking for someone to smash faces with to '80s dance hits, you're going to Barbarella. Just don’t stare at the lasers. Or, most likely, said face-smashing partner. Or the bathroom. In fact, just close your eyes and go with it.

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Adam Lapetina is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and has even made bad decisions at bars predisposed towards good decision-making. Read his musings: @adamlapetina.
Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist’s Food & Drink team. He once stole a bar’s March of Dimes donation box thinking it was a suggestion box as a prank (he returned it immediately). Follow him to extreme apologies and guilty philanthropy: @apkryza.