CONOR BYRNE PUB
A 108-year-old Irish pub in the heart of a former Scandinavian fishing town, Conor Byrne (previously The Owl) is a bar that feels distinctly Old World with its warm wooden interiors and cold pints of Guinness as well as local Seattle brews. The old-fashioned aesthetic is often reflected in the live acts they feature throughout the week, ranging from informal bluegrass jams to local indie-folk bills.
Founded in 1896, Oklahoma's oldest bar is among the main attractions in the tiny former railroad town where it's located. It's modest and unassuming from the outside like most dives, whereas inside customers are treated to cold beer on tap and exceptionally cheap fried chicken — only $14 for the whole bird.
A fixture of Austin's music scene since 1961, Donn Adelman purchased one of the bars where he performed in 1972, housed in an old Missouri-Pacific train depot, and he's been showing off his extensive piano repertoire for patrons ever since. At Donn's Depot, local live music acts vary six nights out of every week, and there's also a no-stakes blackjack table. For drinks, try the margarita-esque house special Great Train Wreck, but don't ask what's in it.
GENOA BAR AND SALOON
Built in 1853 and serving drinks since 1884, the Genoa Bar calls itself Nevada's oldest "thirst parlor" and looks about as much like an old cowboy saloon as that moniker might suggest. It's been visited by U.S. presidents and Hollywood celebrities alike throughout its long history. In winter, it's a cozy place to unwind by the woodstove, and impromptu "porch parties" are known to break out come summertime.
SALTY DAWG SALOON
Opened in 1957, the Salty Dawg Saloon is the best kind of dive — a fisherman's dive, complete with log cabin exterior and attached lighthouse acting as a beacon on a 4.5-mile spit of land in the Kachemak Bay. The cozy inside is plastered with thousands of former patrons' signed dollar bills, and their most famous drink is a layered shot made with Bailey's, Kahlua, and Crown Royal whiskey — the Duck Fart.
Opened in 1902, Arizona's longest continually operating drinking establishment survived Prohibition by converting to a soda shop (wink wink) and today serves as a neon beer sign-lit link to this now-artsy border town's gritty past. Celebrities from John Wayne to Charlie Sheen have patronized the place, but St. Elmo's current claims to fame include wet t-shirt contests, shuffleboard, and bloody marys.
LAFITTE'S BLACKSMITH SHOP
Built around 1722, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is housed in one of New Orleans' oldest structures, a brick building allegedly older than any other drinking establishment in the country. The French Quarter building became a popular nightlife spot in the '40s, and despite its enduring popularity, the bar remains a welcome respite from Bourbon Street for its homey décor, outdoor patio, and cheap drinks.
Founded in 1936, Boise's oldest bar was still popular enough in 2017 to be named Uber's most popular destination in Idaho. What have they done right? Maybe it's the jukebox, the billiards, or the prime location for access by bikers and university students, but our money's on the cheap drinks — with wells and domestic drafts starting at just $2.
KELLY'S WESTPORT INN
Kansas City, Missouri
Built in 1850, one of Kansas City's oldest structures began serving alcohol in 1947, then was christened Kelly's Westport Inn in 1977, after the beloved Irish bartender and his family who bought the place. Anchoring Westport's nightlife scene, the pub now offers weekly recurring drink specials, live music acts, a rooftop patio, and a built-in pizza shop.
BLUE MOON TAVERN
The Blue Moon Tavern opened its doors on the west edge of Seattle's University District in 1934 shortly after Prohibition and quickly became a low-key hotspot for college students and eventually for counterculture icons like Allen Ginsberg and Richard Hugo. Today, it's still a popular spot for cheap draughts, sports games, and local cover acts, its walls stacked with musty old tomes patrons are free to crack open and start reading.
SNAKE AND JAKE'S
In contrast to Lafitte's, this New Orleans dive is housed far away from the French Quarter in a simple shack that looks like something your beer-bellied handyman uncle might have cobbled together, complete with year-round holiday decorations. Their signature drink features a shot of Jagermeister dropped into a pint of Schlitz, and is named the Possum Drop after the time a possum dropped through the ceiling onto a patron's head.
THE OLD PINK
Buffalo, New York
This iconic upstate New York dive is best identified from the outside by its colorful, fiery paint job, but locals know it best for their steak sandwich, a flagship menu offering since 1968. Otherwise, it's a prototypical dive bar — dingy, decorated from floor-to-ceiling by graffiti and excessive kitsch, and undeniably cheap.
LITTLE LONGHORN SALOON
The Little Longhorn Saloon has been operating more than four decades as one of Austin's premiere spots for live country and honky-tonk, but there's so much more to see and do at this Lone Star state roadhouse. Try the signature wine-a-rita cocktail and schedule your visit on a Sunday to witness one of their legendary "chicken sh!t bingo" games, wherein patrons gather around a chicken coop and yell passionately for the hens to defecate on their chosen bingo squares.
THE KINGFISH PUB & CAFÉ
Serving since 1933, the Kingfish is one of the East Bay's few remaining old bars, though the owners once had to haul the wood-sided structure across the street to evade a looming condo development. It's still one of Oakland's most beloved dives, thanks to its down-to-earth friendliness, food from neighboring restaurant Red Sea, and everyday drink specials like $2 Olympia cans and $6 Star Specials (Red Stripe & Bourbon).
Luckey's Club Cigar Store first started serving under its current name in 1911 when Eugene was a dry town and women were not welcomed, but then after Prohibition, it became the county's first establishment to obtain a liquor license. These days, it's one of downtown Eugene's best spots for live music and cheap drinks, with women not only welcomed but encouraged to come in for their Tuesday Ladies' Night specials on $3.40 Absolut cocktails.
SIP 'N DIP LOUNGE
Great Falls, Montana
The Sip 'n Dip Lounge isn't decked out in Polynesian tiki bar decor as some ironic in-joke — no, this motor inn bar was simply opened in 1962, when bamboo ceilings and scantily clad "mermaids" swimming in aquariums were still cutting edge. The place still feels slightly frozen in time, albeit in the best way thanks to extravagant cocktails like the Fishbowl and jazzy live music provided by "Piano Pat" Spoonheim, more than 50 years at it and still going strong.
SAM JORDAN'S BAR & GRILL
Navy veteran, boxing champion, and San Francisco's first African-American mayoral candidate Sam Jordan opened his eponymous tavern in 1959 to serve not just food and drinks, but also as a community gathering space for neighborhood meetings, luncheons, and scholarship drives. It's managed by his children now and stills functions equally well as both an unassuming watering hole and family-friendly lunch destination.
THE MINT BAR
Look for the neon cowboy on a bucking bronco and you'll know you've reached The Mint Bar, "Where Good Friends Meet" since 1907. After converting back from a speakeasy for Prohibition, the bar continued serving as a home base for locals and amassing a reputation among Yellowstone-bound road trippers, who love the Old West authenticity of its walls lined with taxidermy animal heads and cedar shingles branded with more than 9,000 unique cattle brands from across the state.
THE CRUISE ROOM
The Cruise Room opened the day after Prohibition was repealed, and the underground hotel bar still looks like a turn-of-the-century relic, complete with sleek red lighting and art deco ceilings modeled after the lounge on the Queen Mary. It's secluded and simple as a speakeasy bar should be, with cheap small plates and desserts making up for the ritzy cocktail list.
Established in 1948, the Vesuvio Café was a focal point for San Francisco's thriving beat poetry and progressive politics in the '50s and '60s, along with its neighboring North Beach institution the City Lights Bookstore. The neighborhood bar is still popular with locals and tourists alike for its spacious balcony seating, wall paintings by local artists, and drink specials like the Jack Kerouac.
Glur's Tavern has been serving reliably basic bar food and cheap drinks since 1876, making it the oldest continuously operating bar west of Missouri River. It looks like an old family home from the outside, and it's nothing fancy on the inside — just friendly atmosphere and antiquated prices like $2.50 for a hamburger or $6 for a basket of fried gizzards.
FAST EDDIE'S BON AIR
Fast Eddie's is less a dive bar and more a divey burger joint, famed for its cheap, sodium-loaded specials like homemade bratwurst and the Big Elwood (tenderloin steak) on a stick. The Mississippi River-side stand was opened by Anheuser-Busch in 1921 and has seen its seating area quadruple in the time since, so hundreds can now enjoy their beer, sports-playing TV screens and music-pumping outdoor patio.
Housed in one of Houston's oldest buildings, La Carafe is a bar whose most reliable fixtures are its jazzy jukebox playlists and rotating selection of domestic and imported wines. Converted to serve drinks in the 1950s, the wooden bar still looks lovably timeworn and has its fair share of ghost stories to boot, contributing to the seances occasionally held on its second floor.
LEE'S LIQUOR LOUNGE
Lee's Liquor Lounge has been a community gathering place for the historically working-class North Loop neighborhood since 1957. The neighborhood may be changing, but Lee's still draws in old timers and tourists for its no frills ambiance, evening happy hours, and a roster of events including country music performances and swing dancing classes.
BRYANT'S COCKTAIL LOUNGE
Milwaukee's first cocktail lounge served as a beer hall shortly before original owner Bryant Sharp switched to serving only cocktails to keep up with the times in 1938. They have a bumping jukebox but no drink menu — instead, their mixologist bartenders can whip up virtually any drink with all the flair of a Prohibition-era speakeasy and featuring ingredients from bourbon and brandy to ice cream. If you're not sure where to start, ask for the cocktail of the month or arrive for $5 Old Fashioneds during their weekday happy hours.
Family-owned and operated since 1908, Holler House is, like many bars in Milwaukee's historically Polish South Side, an unadorned neighborhood institution for good conversation and reasonably priced draughts — albeit one with dozens of bras dangling from the ceiling rafters. Their other claim to fame is having the nation's oldest bowling alley in their basement where guests can still play — just be prepared to tip the pinboys and keep score by hand.
BILLY GOAT TAVERN
Opened in 1934, the Billy Goat Tavern is such a Chicago mainstay that it even played a crucial part in the alleged "curse" that led to the Cubs' decades-long losing streak. It's also spawned an "SNL" skit and eight other locations around the metropolitan area, and the original no-nonsense tavern itself is still popular among city newspapermen and tourists for their signature burgers and Billy Goat beer.
THE SLIPPERY NOODLE
Founded as a roadhouse in 1850, The Slippery Noodle is now Indiana's oldest bar and still a consistent destination for travelers and locals alike, thanks in part to their combination of ornate antique fixtures and laid-back atmosphere. Customer favorites include the pork tenderloin, breaded grouper, and nacho grande plate — all half-priced on Thursday—and they have live blues musicians playing every night.
SPRINGWATER SUPPER CLUB & LOUNGE
Don't let the name fool you — this West Nashville dive has neither dinner nor the rarified atmosphere of a "club." Instead, they have 75-cent billiards games, cold beer, and electrifying live performances that belie the venue's grimy appearance. As for history, the building has been serving drinks, legally or illegally, since 1897, while in more recent decades it's also been used as a filming location for commercials and music videos.
PINKIE MASTER'S LOUNGE
Marked by a simple PBR banner, Savannah's most well-loved dive bar is a cozy cash-only joint with a jukebox, a mounted historic plaque bearing the countenance of Jimmy Carter (a good friend of the former owner), and not much else. The draw is just how friendly, unfussy, and eclectic the crowds can be on late weekend nights at Pinkie Master's, though the $3 beers and $5 well drinks certainly don't hurt either.
The holidays are the best time to visit this hole-in-the-wall fixture in downtown Scottsdale, when the exterior façade and interior walls are literally covered with Christmas lights and novelty stockings. Founded in 1959, the Coach House has remained a refreshingly bare bones establishment for strong drinks and good times even as the rest of downtown Scottsdale has become more refined and tourist-ready around it.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Operating in downtown Little Rock since 1940, Midtown Billiards is dark and dank as any proper dive should be, but it's just as popular for its billiards and decadent burgers as for its cheap beers. Favorites include the Midtown grilled cheeseburger, which substitutes each hamburger bun for a full grilled cheese sandwich, and the Midtown Challenge, a tower of bread, meat, and cheese guests can try on Sundays only.
HALF KEG TAVERN
New London, Connecticut
The Half-Keg is one of Connecticut's last remaining taverns specializing in beer and wine alone, converted in 1946 from a military living quarters that bore a convenient likeness to half a beer barrel. Inside guests will find the walls and low ceilings plastered with signed dollar bills and a reliable menu of basic meals like beef chili or steak grinders for under $10.
Founded in 1954, The Dugout's original owners played an important part in Indianapolis' mid-century softball history, and today it still feels like the sort of welcoming neighborhood bar you'd want to unwind in after a big game. Embrace the friendly Midwestern atmosphere with a cheap domestic beer and a fried bologna sandwich, or come during the week for rotating lunch specials on fried chicken, meatloaf, and more.
The Cantab Lounge looks like nothing special from the outside, or even from the inside for that matter, but it has a storied history of serving drinks and highlighting local talent in its community. The upstairs bar opens at 8 a.m., while downstairs plays host to poetry slams and bluegrass performances most weekends, earning it accolades as one of the nation's best dive bars and music venues.
Orange Beach, Alabama
This lounge straddling the state line between Florida and Alabama has everything you could want from a Gulf Coast beach bar: briny oyster shooters, shrimp po'boys, taco Tuesdays, multiple stages for live music, annual chili cook offs, bikini contests, and fishing rodeos. All this and more is housed in a claptrap mazelike wooden structure that feels like redneck heaven, especially with one of their signature Bushwhacker blended cocktails in hand.
Nancy Whiskey is a window into Detroit history, having served as a speakeasy during Prohibition and a hangout for Teamsters like union boss Jimmy Hoffa during the postwar economic boom. It's survived urban decay by catering to local police and firefighter populations while consistently booking blues and Motown acts for the weekends. It's especially worth visiting for one of their big annual parties, on Wednesdays when jukebox selections are free, or on Fridays for their weekly fish fry.
Once a favorite hangout of writer Charles Bukowski, the Frolic Room is an art deco dive bar in the heart of Hollywood whose framed caricatures of old-timey celebrities like Chaplin and Marilyn recall the Golden Age glamour of the neighborhood from when the bar first opened in 1934. It devolved into a menu-free biker bar in the latter part of the 20th century, and today it's a refreshing break from the hip craft cocktail bars that otherwise dominate Hollywood Boulevard.
BOB & BARBARA'S LOUNGE
Opened in 1969, Bob & Barbara's is locally famous for hosting Philadelphia's longest running drag show every Thursday, equally popular for LGBT locals, college students, and roving bachelorette parties. This is no gay bar, however — just a welcoming watering hole for any sexuality, also featuring jazzy live performances on weekends and a bar "special" that's actually just a can of PBR and shot of Jameson served together for $4.
Gooski's is beloved in Pittsburgh for its friendly bar service, cheap drinks, wings and Polish pierogies, and floor-shaking punk concerts, but their online presence is so little that it's impossible to pin down when precisely they opened — the sign of a truly unfussy dive. If you're not feeling the PBR for $3.50, look for local microbrews on tap for under $5.