The Best Dive Bar in Every State

Dive bars
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Bar trends come and go. One day, it's wannabe Tom Cruises juggling brightly colored shakers, the next it’s a hipster putting 19 different kinds of bitters in a glass. But one American drinking institution that will never change is the humble dive bar, that dark, dank, slightly disreputable den of sin where ancient old men and wily young pool sharks come together under the banner of stiff drinks, good company, and a moderate amount of danger.

America is packed with holes-in-the-wall ranging from comfortably scuzzy to terrifying. In selecting the single best dive in every state, we focused our attention on established dives that are on the friendlier side of surly, institutions where most drinkers will feel welcome, even if they're slightly uneasy when they order their first shot. Everyone's welcome at these places... even that one guy who thought it was a good idea to put "Don't Stop Believin'" on the jukebox.

Flickr/Antonio Zugaldia


Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar

Orange Beach

This iconic roadhouse on the sand looks like the result of M.C. Escher's Redneck Period, with staircases, hallways, bars, and music stages all arranged with no apparent order, but still in perfect harmony. It's one of America's great unrefined treasures, a place where bikers, sailors, and snowbirds drink bushwhackers side-by-side with nary a mention of any of their differences. Its annual highlight is the mullet toss, a competition to see who can throw a fish furthest across the state line. But like any self-respecting Southerner, Flora-Bama still reserves Sundays for church, when it plays host to the weekly Worship on the Water services. -- Matt Meltzer


The Salty Dawg Saloon


The Salty Dawg been many things in its life, from a lighthouse to a post office to a school, but more than anything, it's been the best dive in Alaska for decades. Covered from ceiling to floor in autographed dollar bills, the place looks like somebody set off a glue bomb in the back of a nautically themed strip club (of note, a strip club is one of the few things the Dawg has never been). It's a rare dive that doubles as a tourist attraction and a favorite of locals who are more than willing to share legends -- real or made up on the fly -- about the history of the bar, particularly the human skull that calls it home. -- Andy Kryza


Coach House Tavern


Slinging drinks since 1959, Coach House has watched the area around it grow more and more refined, but has itself remained the same rough-around-the-edges joint it's always been. It draws patrons with the promise of stiff drinks and Natty Light on a raucous patio that stands tall like a middle finger sticking up from the crowd at a cocktail party. The aesthetic here is cozy and old-time saloon-y, though come winter the place glows with enough Christmas lights to give Clark Griswold a seizure. For real, you can probably see this place from space... and smell the booze from Tucson. It's incredible. -- AK


Roger's Rec


"Find what you love and let it kill you," reads the ancient graffiti over a urinal at Arkansas' greatest dive, once a come-one, come-all bastion for hippies, bikers, college students, and all in between. The place truly achieved dive status in the '80s, catering to a rougher crowd before being hacked in half as one side was transformed into a high-end whiskey bar. But like an alpha worm, the half-runt that is Roger's still thrives on its dirtbag charms in its halved form, a nicotine-stained nook lit by old neon signs and populated with faded football posters, cheap beer, pool tables, shuffleboard, and that ancient graffiti that tells the tales the battered stools simply can't. -- AK

Flickr/Thomas Hawk


Kingfish Pub


With dive bars in hip cities increasingly faced with the wrecking ball, the Kingfish's survival is something of a Cinderella story... provided Cinderella's voice was too raspy from Virginia Slims to sing properly, and her mouse friends were actually rats. With condos encroaching on its space, the place got saved by Oakland's Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board, then was straight-up loaded onto a trailer and moved down the street. So what changed? Nothing. The ceilings still require a tall man to duck upon entry and the intense shuffleboard games rage on. Hell, if we didn't know better, we'd think that some of the patrons never even got up from their seats as the building was moved. And if they did, it was the first time that it happened in decades. -- AK


The Sundown Saloon


The subterranean bar affectionately known as the Sundowner isn't just a 180 from downtown Boulder's patchouli image; it's the kind of dive that would give Jon Taffer a heart attack. Sure, it's gotten slightly less tawdry in recent years: the lights are slightly brighter, and a smoking ban means you can see the person sitting in front of you without squinting.There's even non-PBR beer available now, and the well whiskey shares a shelf with a surprisingly robust selection of brown liquor. But the essentials remain: the pool tables and foosball, the cheap drinks, aloof staff, and blaring music. It's a place where non-college students can escape the chaos of the Hill to... well, to behave like college students. -- AK


The Half-Keg Tavern

New London

Yes, The Half-Keg is a little more polished than a lot of the bars on this list, what with its decent beer selection and good food (get the steak grinder, you're in Connecticut!) and inability to make your skin feel itchy upon entry. But this is also a bar that's shaped like a goddamn half barrel of beer, and its low ceilings, neon glow, and wall of signed dollar bills earn it a certain distinction among dive bar elite, adding fuel to the age-old saying we just made up: "If the building looks like something you want to drink, go inside." -- AK


Murph's Irish Pub


Thanks to one Wayne Campbell, Delaware's got a reputation of being, shall we say, ho hum. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have its share of dive bars, of which Murph's stands tall as a sterling example of an Irish pub done right. The rec room feel of the place comes courtesy of low ceilings nicked up from pool cues, while the big-ass 360-degree square bar keeps the Guinness flowing. Yup, it's an Irish bar alright. And a damn fine one. -- AK

Mac's Club Deuce
Zeinab Kristen/Thrillist


Mac's Club Deuce

Miami Beach

While the rest of South Beach turned itself into a playground for beautiful people over the past 25 years, the Deuce was content serving people in desperate search of two-for-one whiskey shots during theToday show. The home of the 8am happy hour is a South Beach staple whose dark, neon-lit interior hasn’t changed since the area around it was an art-deco wasteland. It’s a place where hardcore Beach locals mingle with mumbling old men who look perfectly at home next to models post-gaming their night at LIV, presumably with that guy by the pool table who keeps going to the bathroom. Cheap drinks and an eclectic crowd are part of why anyone who’s lived in Miami for more than a year makes this their bar of choice in South Beach -- even if you do smell like stale whiskey and cigarette smoke for a least two days after. -- MM


Northside Tavern


Once a gas station and grocery store, the Northside has spent the past four decades as Atlanta’s darkest, dankest, smokiest dive bar, a place where neon lights and the sound of loud, live blues blast out of the barred-up windows and through the tattered front door. The drinks here are strong enough that they might function as jet fuel in a pinch, and the dance floor is permanently clogged with folks dancing -- or moving in a way that resembles dancing -- as unknown blues bands blow their mind. Just... maybe try not to use the bathroom. You’ve been warned. -- AK


Arnold's Beach Bar


Spend more than a couple of days in Waikiki, and a lot of things start to get old. The throngs of generic tourists. The endless chains. The $9 drinks. Arnold's is the cure: It’s a haven for those who don’t fit in in Waikiki, from intense wandering locals to weird frequent visitors. When you step to the bar you might order a round of drinks, and when the bartender tells you $8, you reflexively tell her you’re paying for two. But that’s your total, and those painfully cheap drinks are why you’ll find the best crowd in Waikiki at Arnold’s. If you want an escape from your tropical escape, Arnold’s is the place. -- MM


Ford's Bar

Idaho Falls

Idaho's a state full of incredible bad-decision bars, but few strike that balance between charmingly divey and "seriously, should I go get a vaccination right now?" quite like Ford's, a wood-paneled, shuffleboard-equipped, smoke-choked hive of glorious bad taste. This is where the locals come to show their seedier side, to belt out off-key karaoke while their usually reserved neighbor engages in their bi-monthly make-out session with a stranger. Could that stranger be you? Cue up some Skynyrd and pop an Altoid with your incendiary cocktail. It's gonna get interesting fast. -- AK

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Rose's Lounge


When seeking out a serviceable Chicago dive bar, a worn-looking Old Style sign above the doorway is just about the surest indication that an establishment will have cheap beer and minimal pretense. Rose's has said sign, but the floral rendition of the bar's name that also adorns the building indicates that it might have a little something more -- like a hodgepodge of old office furniture, dilapidated couches, and Christmas decorations. And a jukebox that's still seven plays for a buck. And, most irreplaceably, Rose, the octogenarian owner who's not behind the bar serving up cheap iced mugs of Old Style as often as she once was, but make no mistake, it's still her place -- just like the sign says. -- Matt Lynch


Dugout Bar


The Dugout might be a tad too, well, welcoming for those who prefer their dive bars a little bit scary, but, you know, "Midwest Nice" and "Hoosier hospitality" and all that. But once you're in there, doing shots with some regulars you just met before throwing some darts, downing cheap domestics, and fortifying yourself with a fried bologna sandwich that's better than it has any right to be, it'll occur to you that maybe being nice isn't so bad after all. -- ML


The Locust Tap

Des Moines

There's graffiti everywhere. There's radiator heat. There's a distinct possibility you'll have to hold the bathroom door closed while you're using said bathroom. The music's loud. The beers are cold and cheap, and the bartenders deliver them with just the right balance between friendliness and efficiency. The smell has that requisite "I can't quite pinpoint what that is" quality that's necessary in any worthwhile dive bar, and The Locust Tap remains top tier. -- ML


Louise's West


Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, Lawrence residence of all stripes (yes that includes some college kids, but the type of college kids who are already wise to the qualities of a fine dive bar) flock to Louise's for foosball, cheap schooners of beer, and plenty of jerky behind the bar, because you need protein to drink more schooners. And the barstools are bolted down in case you get any ideas about throwing one due to a questionable Bill Self coaching decision, which in Lawrence can afflict members of any age group. -- ML


Magnolia Bar


The sign outside may read "Magnolia Bar & Grill," but if you're expecting to enjoy a sensible grilled chicken sandwich and a family-friendly atmosphere, you've come to the wrong place. However, you will find a deceptively solid but still cheap beer selection, a damn fine, punk-heavy juke box (when there isn't an equally fine band playing), and a bathroom that'll make you have the age-old "how bad do I REALLY have to go" debate. So yeah, Mag Bar may not be the place for mom and dad. Unless mom and dad are, you know, cool. -- ML

Snake and Jake's Christmas Club
Scott Gold/Thrillist


Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

New Orleans

In a city -- nay, a state -- populated -- nay, defined -- by amazing dive bars, it's incredible how easy of a choice Louisiana really was. But that's what happens when you house one of the greatest damn dive bars in the world, which Snake and Jake's very much is. In this ramshackle wonderland, the sun doesn't shine, though that doesn't matter when you have ample illumination from candles and Christmas lights. It's a cave of all that is holy in the dive-bar realm, serving out its boozy communion to Tulane students and craggy old regulars alike. It's a place that's survived everything the city has thrown at it -- and endured patrons testing the legend that showing up naked gets them a free drink -- and one of the most unflinchingly unapologetic drinkeries on the planet. -- AK


Matthew's Pub


Though only a pub in the strictest "serves alcohol" sense, Mathew's does bring a little more to the table than the average dive bar -- it even has a rooftop patio! However, for the roughly 10 months a year when outdoor drinking isn't really feasible in Maine, there's always free pool and darts, Jell-O shots, and old Mainers who've been in there since the doors open sizing you up silently from the bar. Yep, those are year-round features. -- ML




If not for the extremely to-the-point sign, you might easily pass this joint up and end up in one of Fells Point's dozens of other far trendier establishments -- why do dive bars need names, anyway? Of course, once you make it into the nondescript row house you'll be met with a decor scheme best described as "hoarder biker at Christmas time," sticky floors, blessedly inexpensive Natty Boh, and plenty of regulars griping about the Orioles, Ravens, or both. Just settle in until you become one of them. -- ML


The Tam


It's no easy feat to achieve consensus legendary dive-bar status in a city with almost as much reverence for its dive bars as it has for arguing, but The Tam has long reigned as an unfussy oasis in an otherwise club-happy Theater District, where the balance between the lifers and the disaffected Emerson kids is just right, the bathroom is just the right level of off-putting, and the bartenders keep everyone equipped with drinks with admirable efficiency. -- ML


PLAV, Post #10


At PLAV, as the Polish Legion of American Veterans is known by its regulars, beer is cheap, nobody's serious, and everything's highly entertaining. That -- and the karaoke -- makes it the ideal spot to launch or close your Hamtramck bar crawl, or ya know, pop in intermittently and see if the karaoke host has laxed the statute of limitations and will let you perform "Hunger Strike" for the third time in one night. Hamtramck, an immigrant enclave surrounded by Detroit, is home to some of the quirkiest (and most welcoming) dive bars in the country, and in high quantity -- there's one on nearly every block. You don't need to be Polish to enjoy this bar, but you do need to respect thy neighbor, and that's what multicultural Hamtramck is all about. -- Megan Frye

Arcade Bar
T.S. Flynn/Thrillist


The Arcade Bar

St. Paul

Thanks to new ownership, a few gallons of paint, and a feather duster, St. Paul's Arcade Bar has transitioned from one of the diviest bars in the state to the best dive bar in Minnesota. The old checkerboard tile floor is gone, but her glorious neon sign and wooden beer-cooler doors remain. More importantly, the character of the place is intact. The Arcade's bartenders are happy to serve anyone with money to spend -- they're also quick to remind offenders that bar rules prohibit crooked hats and foul language. This is the kind of joint that inspires conversation and laughter between strangers. If you're hungry, your choices are Slim Jims, microwaveable burgers and sandwiches, or Heggie's frozen pizza. There are new TVs at either end of the bar, a jukebox against the side wall, and a pool table in back. What more do you need? -- T.S. Flynn


Nick's Ice House


Namesake barman/former Southern Miss Golden Eagle footballer Nick Kolinsky recently went to the big dive bar in the sky, but his legacy will hopefully live forever in the joint that bears his name. This is a magical place where the ceilings are low enough that it's easy to scrawl graffiti all over the top as a live band blows out your eardrums. It's a place where the underside of the pool table could double as a science project, one so self-aware of its dingy glories that the barstools are actually toilets and the urinals are sawed-in-half kegs filled with ice. Oh, and it's also a moving company. That gives Nick two legacies under one roof, though it's the one you're less likely to remember (those cold beers go down fast!) that's likely to leave a more lasting impression. -- AK


The Hideaway

St. Louis

The St. Louis institution cleaned up ever so slightly after new ownership took over a couple of years back following the longtime owner's passing, but thankfully they knew not to mess with a good thing. There's still carpeting on the bar. There's still tasteful but suggestive quasi-nude paintings adorning the bar. And, most importantly, there's still the same old timer tickling the ivories on weekends and cheap Budweiser flowing freely, always. -- ML


The Murray Bar


Just a smidge outside of Bozeman -- the big city in the region with a walloping 40,000 residents -- little Livingston is host to some of the best steaks in the world, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, and the legendary Murray Bar. National music acts rolling along I-90 stop in Livingston to play between their bigger gigs just to hit the Murray. This cozy little room is as warm as it is rollicking, with cheap, basic cocktails and lots of cowboys. Go here to catch plenty of country-style dancing (swing, two-step, triple-step, waltz, etc.) from professional to sloppy. It's a charming spot, a classic old Western bar with top-notch entertainment but without any of the frills and fancy of Boze-Angeles. -- MF

Bud Olson's Bar
T.S. Flynn/Thrillist


Bud Olson's Bar


A lending library just inside the door of this gritty saloon is the first indication you've entered a unique place. The bar is long, running a good 50 feet along the right side of the narrow space. At its midpoint, a shaft of sunshine from a skylight in the high ceiling illuminates the serving station. A framed, hand-lettered poster proclaims Bud Olson's is the "Best Dive Bar" for several reasons: "cheap, stiff drinks, a pool table without a line, and a jukebox that still plays Johnny Cash."  Tattoo artists and their customers from a shop down the block drink here alongside a wide cross-section of working-class Omahans. The décor is likewise a mishmash: baseball and college football memorabilia along with surprising touches of capital-A Art, including the elevated pool room's three-wall mural portraying George's Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Olson's charms are revealed layer by surprising layer. -- TSF


Double Down Saloon

Las Vegas

Life is about choices. When in Vegas, you could choose to have your ears ringing from bachelorette party shrieks at whatever club people happen to be talking about that month, or you could choose to venture a bit off the strip and experience said ringing as the result of an aggressively loud band at the Double Down as you admire the sticker and graffiti-laden walls and sip on some "ass juice," which is a combination of -- let's be honest, you ordered the ass juice, do you really care what's in it? -- ML

New Hampshire

Penuche's Ale House


Despite the "Ale House" moniker, Magic Hat No. 9 is about as fussy as the tap list gets -- and pints from said list all cost less than a five-spot, with the also popular choice of whatever domestic bottle you happen to fancy being much cheaper. Although "really cheap mixed drink in a big 'ole pint glass" is also a popular choice. The bands are loud. The original edition Trivial Pursuit is well-worn. The bathroom sink is erratic. The regulars seem like they've been here forever for a reason. -- ML

New Jersey

Great Notch Inn

Little Falls

From the highway, the neon-lit, A-frame cabin known as the Great Notch Inn looks like the kind of rough and tumble joint you'd see at the climax of a particularly punch-happy Swayze movie, what with the huge number of bikers congregating under the neon triangle surrounding the entrance. But enter the place and... well, it's pretty much that, but a hell of a lot friendlier (no throat rips here!). Bands cram into the dark and rustic roadhouse, which would look like a regular old lodge were it not for the long bar, throngs of people, and incendiary drinks fueling the rowdiness. There's even an open jam on Monday nights for road-hardened troubadours to show their songwriting tunes. See, bikers can be sensitive too. Just don't tell them that. -- AK

New Mexico

The Matador

Santa Fe

Where can you go in downtown Santa Fe once you've exhausted yourself looking at ubiquitous silver jewelry and whimsical art galleries? Well, if you want a stiff drink without the fuss, there's really only one option. The Matador is an underground misfit, a cellar of one-ingredient cocktails and pretty much the only dirtbag bar you'll find in the otherwise sparkling city center of this Southwestern jewel. It's the kind of place that's still cash only, partly on principle, but mostly just to piss off picky customers. The walls are lined with posters and artwork, as any good-punk rock drinking hole should be. And let's be honest: The dark atmosphere is probably for the best, because we imagine these floors haven't been washed for a while. Expect the music to be loud, the regulars to be friendly, and the memories of last call to be fuzzy. -- MF

Milano's Bar
Cole Saladino/Thrillist

New York

Milano's Bar

New York

Open since 1880, Milano's is a living relic that survived SoHo/NoLita’s rocky timeline from manufacturing zone to art-house hangout to a sanitized tourist haunt. But its designation as "the diviest bar in the area" is just part of its seedy charm. Bartenders are casually surly, whether you're there at 9am or last call at 4am, and the only way to win them over is to be equally rude to them. The walls are decked in tchotchkes, pictures of dead presidents, mismatched strings of Christmas lights, and crusty polaroids that look like they could have been taken at any point from 1963 to yesterday. It's a bar where no one knows your name, and no one really cares in the first place. That's the beauty: Milano's rises above the rest by being the absolute worst. -- Wil Fulton

North Carolina

Burger Bar


This cozy mountain operation has been satiating Asheville’s stalwart Bud-and-Beamers 57 years, long before the city became synonymous with craft beer’s best and beard-iest. You'll still find $3 tallboys and bargain G&Ts and dedicated regulars toe-tapping their way through Honkey Tonk Ladies' Night. It’s got all the usual suspects: strings of off-season Christmas lights; bars on the windows; deeply scarred furniture inside and out; a pool table that’s assuredly born witness to things you and I could never imagine; and a live music roster that runs the gamut from bluegrass to punk. Recent changes in ownership have admittedly given way to a handful of microbrews and more sophisticated cocktails (i.e. more than two ingredients), but there’s one thing you can rest assured will never, ever be served: burgers. Don’t ask. -- Meredith Heil

North Dakota

Empire Tavern


The Empire began its life as a Greek diner in the '30s, survived Prohibition intact, and transformed into the Empire Tavern in 1964. That year's also just about the last time anything but the prices changed, likely including the mop water, which gives the bar a certain glorious, lived-in charm. The ventilation ducts still lord over the long bar, with old-school beer mirrors and neon signs packed onto the wood-paneled walls. This is a place that's known for its ultra-stiff cocktails, meaning it's also a place known for people overdoing it and being asked to leave before they're done drinking. Luckily, there's a liquor store next door, too. -- AK



Oklahoma City

Usually, when you see beer cocktails on a menu, you're likely to also see a mustachioed hipster with a bandolier of bitters behind the bar. Not at Edna's, a dark cave covered from floor-to-ceiling with enough dollar bills to last an entire night at a Vegas strip club. Here, the beertails are called Lunchboxes and include two constant ingredients: Coors Light and Amaretto, usually with some juice but sometimes with Buttershots or Hot Damn. No bitters required, save for the bitterness you might feel the morning after housing a few. -- AK


Harbor Inn


Long the home-away-from-home for dockworkers of Cleveland's West Bank, Harbor Inn has been slinging suds since way back in 1895, making it the oldest continuously operated North Coast drinkery. Very little has changed over the years, save the recent addition of drafts to fuel boozy games of bar bowling and darts. Come in during the morning and the place is packed with third-shifters, while the night crams in a mix of slumming yuppies and blue-collar regulars who seem to have been here since the place opened more than a century ago. It's dingy and thriving, a place that helped define the American definition of a dive while remaining virtually unstuck in time. -- AK

Reel M Inn
Andy Kryza/Thrillist


Reel M Inn


There are certainly divier bars in Portland, but there's just something special about a blue-collar, sorta-nautically-themed dive that also happens to make the best damn fried chicken in one of America's best food cities. Said bird typically takes more than an hour -- there's only one fryer, you see, and only one bartender, who is very likely outside smoking by a dumpster -- but it's well worth it, especially when the wait means boisterous conversation with strangers over impossibly stiff whiskey drinks. The bar, along with a porn theater, is one of the last vestiges of seediness following the neighborhood's transition to condo-laden "hot new food neighborhood." Settle in with a pint, play a few rounds of Big Buck, and prepare for greasy fingers in a Portland time capsule. -- AK




"The Rules: Know what you want; have your money ready; don’t make us kill you." These are the words that greet customers at Gooski's (along with immortal phrase “If you needed Yelp to find this place, you don't belong here,” which should be written in every dive bar, period). This is the platonic ideal of a dive: You've got the shitty Christmas lights, you've got the gruff bartenders, you've got the scruffy garage bands playing under black lights on the weekends, a banged-up pool table, and even that poster of Johnny Cash flipping the bird. And since you're in Pittsburgh's Polish Hill, you've the (damn fine) perogies on the menu. Just remember you are on a stepping out onto a VERY steep hill at the end of the night-- and in Pittsburgh, in the winter, things are bound to get "slippy." -- WF

Rhode Island



Lit almost exclusively by dim lamps and neon signs, Nick-A-Nee's is Rhode Island's preeminent dive for a few reasons, from the dog-friendly policy on the tented-off back patio to the generous pours of well liquor. It's also an institution thanks in no small part to the constant rotation of live music, with full bluegrass bands crammed into a corner on a regular basis and the sound of banjos bouncing off the walls in the glorious shoebox of a bar. It's the definition of a neighborhood corner dive, one where everybody becomes a regular the minute they walk through the door and into the darkness. -- AK

South Carolina

The Upper Deck Tavern


Yes, you have to navigate a dark alley and the total absence of a sign to reach The Upper Deck, but this is not some cooler-than-thou speakeasy trying to channel 2009. Instead it's a gloriously friendly hole in the wall offering up shots, tallboys, Bingo on Wednesdays, Jenga for non-bingo days (and between Wednesday bingo games!), and the overwhelming feeling that you're glad you made the effort to find it. -- ML

South Dakota

The Icehouse


South Dakota's not hurting for dive bars, especially joints like The Dungeon open for the Sturgis Rally. But none is more iconic and magical than the Ice House, formerly the Pure Ice Company. While most bars keep their patrons' legacies alive via names carved in tables and a printout of people banned from entry, Ice House's legacy lives in the form of thousands and thousands of bottled shattered underneath the loading dock. The bartender will even bring buckets of bottles to your car so you can gaze at the beautiful Missouri River from the hood of your pickup before adding to the jagged pile yourself. -- AK

Earnestine and Hazel's
Sarah Voigt Rossi/Thrillist


Earnestine & Hazel's


Housed in a creaky old 19th-century brick building, this dusty booze den -- think worn photographs of rock & roll legends; peeling paint and retro neon signage; padlocked doors leading God knows where -- is the city’s lifeblood thanks to its cheap beer, fortifying whiskey shots, and hangover-battling late-night cheeseburgers (more on that here). On any given night the place is packed with an assortment of college kids, thrill-seeking tourists, aging hipsters, wizened regulars, and, of course, a few of Memphis’ less-dearly departed, including 13 -- count ‘em, 13 -- troubled souls rumored to have bit the big one inside the brothel-turned-bar. Spooky? Sure. But five minutes inside E&H’s haunted, hallowed walls and you’ll understand why some folks might have a hard time staying away... even if it means crossing over from the other side. -- MH


Lakewood Landing


The words "upscale" and "dive bar" usually go together like whiskey and warm milk, and putting them together causes the average dirtbag to question whether they're just entering a hipsterfied dive-bar theme park. But Lakewood Landing nails it, simply because this is an age-old dive bar that just happens to have solid Texas pub fare to go with the molotov-caliber cocktails and surly/friendly service. Get an enormous chicken-fried steak, bask in the glow of a TV that looks like it was outdated back in the '70s, and try not to get stabbed by a couch spring as you play pool under the watchful gaze of a fish mounted on a tacky wood-paneled wall, a literal interpretation of "upscale" only because the taxidermied animal happens to have scales and be nailed up near the ceiling. -- AK


X-Wife's Place

Salt Lake City

If you think SLC is all Zion Curtains and Jell-O, you've got it all wrong. For proof, look no further than the surly, dark, dank hole in the wall. The beer/shot pairings here run a scant $5, best consumed among college kids playing corn hole on the cinder block-lined patio or slumped over the bar between games of pool, ready to tell you that Ted Bundy used to hang here. The service is gloriously cantankerous, the patrons exceptionally friendly. And who knows? Perhaps you'll meet your future ex-wife over an overflowing shot and a pint. -- AK


Dover Bar & Grill

West Dover

To outsiders, Vermont might seem like hippie wonderland, all snow-covered fields, wood-burning stoves, and patchouli-scented yoga enthusiasts named Wind with legs like corduroy-clad pretzels. But in reality, the Green Mountain State is equal parts farmland and ski country, and if there’s one thing both beefy-handed cowpokes and downhill sportsmen like to do, it’s drink. Seriously, what else is there to do when the outside world looks like Planet Hoth five months out of the year? Enter Dover Bar & Grill -- lovingly referred to as “DBags” by its many patrons -- a boozy oasis good for a cold beer, a belly-warming whiskey, and a hot meal morning, noon, and night. Despite its mountainside locale, the place is more finished basement than après-ski lounge, with chatty bartenders mixing dirt-cheap drinks amid foosball and pool tables, a wall littered with old lift tickets and retired ski-resort employee name tags, and a DJ booth for some weekend entertainment. Don’t let the craft beer pilgrims and crunchy co-op shoppers fool you -- this is how real Vermonters drink local. -- MH


Babes of Carytown


There’s something especially heart-warming about a dive bar that also happens to be a gay bar, one that eschews designer jeans and $20 cosmos for bottled beer, karaoke, and a staff that doubles as a welcoming committee for anyone who stumbles inside, regardless of how they identify. Not only does this 32-year-old RVA institution keep it real, it also keeps it rowdy with a sprawling drag-show-ready dance floor aglow with tinted lights and an old-school disco ball, rainbow Jell-O shots, a full menu of the most comforting of comfort food ($1 tater tots, anyone?), and, get this, a back deck overlooking a real-deal beach volleyball court complete with actual sand. Now that’s something to be proud of. -- MH

Blue Moon Tavern


Blue Moon


The Blue Moon was once frequented by Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, and Roethke, and stands out amid Seattle's other, more famous dives bars in its commitment to keeping its patrons feeling at home (Tom Morello, you're safe here!). The storied history of this University District icon dates back to 1934, back when the city's laws required that bars be at least a mile from the school, turning the standard walk of shame back to get your credit card into a mini-marathon. These days, the joint's as much a venue as it is a bar, pairing two-ingredient cocktails with eardrum-shattering performances by bands on the come up. Just don't come in if you have peanut allergies: This place is covered in more nut dust than an elephant pen. -- AK

Washington, DC

Dan's Cafe

Washington, DC

Things tend to come and go in Washington, DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood, but Dan's is one thing that thankfully stays the same. Why thankfully? Because we need more dingy establishments serving up rounds of mixed drinks (shots? whatever, it's booze and it's strong) in repurposed condiment bottles, spawning some weird DIY quasi Spring Break-y communal drinking minus the demeaning of shot girls. That's a platform all of America can get behind. -- ML

West Virginia

Mario's Fish Bowl


Here's a fun history lesson: In 1963 Mario and Rose Spina took over a confectionary that possessed some massive glass goblets they'd used to sling ice cream (and beer -- parents have needs). They dubbed them "fish bowls." The rebranding effort paid off, and 50-some years and a change in ownership later, value-minded Morgantown residents still flock to Mario's to knock back oversized frosty domestics and yell things about Bob Huggins at the television. -- ML


Tom's Burned Down Cafe

La Pointe

Pulling off the double threat of being one of America's best beach bars AND one of its best dive bars is no easy feat (though not impossible, see: Flora-Bama), but then again, once you've managed to construct one of America's singular watering holes from the burned down remains of the bar that stood before it, nothing is impossible. Well-played, Tom. Long may your ramshackle, bric-a-brac-laden watering hole preside over Lake Superior. -- ML


Red Feather Bar

Green River

Two things about Wyoming: 1) No one lives there, and 2) the few people who do actually live there want to keep it that way. So don't be surprised if you snag a few stares upon tying up your horse outside the Red Feather. It's nothing personal. Be on your best behavior and you'll likely find yourself with a slew of new comrades by the end of the evening. Live music is hosted on the regular here, as well as NFL Bloody Mary parties on Sundays (while supplies last). Don't feel like being social? It's also a drive-up liquor store. Roll up to the drive-thru window and place your libations order that way, to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own roadside motel. Green River is a little Podunk town full of mostly friendly folks, just off I-80, with a river of the same name running through it down to the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Whether you're in the area for good or just passing through, the Red Feather is one of Wyoming's most charming dives. -- MF

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T.S. Flynn, Megan Frye, Wil Fulton, Meredith Heil, Mike Jordan, and Matt Meltzer lent parts of their livers to this report. 
Senior editor Andy Kryza's favorite dive bar is Duffy's in Flushing, Michigan, where they don't pour doubles because a single's a triple. Follow him to Duffy's Delights @apkryza