These Hole-in-the-Wall Bars Have Survived the Decades

The Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming

Tawny T./Yelp

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La Carafe, Houston
Sydney H./Yelp

Deep Wells

It's almost impossible to define what makes a bar great, but longevity is often an important indicator. To survive and retain a core group of regulars as a community changes around it, a bar must have something special, even if that something is as simple as friendly service, cheap drinks, or a dazzling view. The following drinking establishments aren't necessarily the fanciest or even the most popular in their respective neighborhoods, but they're reliable and unfussy — and each has something unique to offer that's helped them stay in business over 40 years.

Related: The Best Hole-in-the-Wall Diner in Every State

Conor Byrne Pub in Seattle
Chad E./Yelp

Conor Byrne Pub

A 117-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.

Related: Cheap American Beers That Locals Love

Eischen's Bar in Okarche, Oklahoma
Donald H./Yelp

Eischen's Bar

Okarche, Oklahoma
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 $15 for the whole bird.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Spots for Fried Chicken in Every State

Donn's Depot
Christine S./Yelp

Donn's Depot

Austin, Texas
A fixture of Austin's music scene since 1961, Donn Adelman bought 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.

Related: Restaurants and Bars Owned by Celebrities

Genoa Bar and Saloon in Genoa, Nevada
Melissa A./Yelp

Genoa Bar and Saloon

Genoa, Nevada
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 wood stove, and impromptu "porch parties" are known to break out come summertime.

Related: 18 Towns Where You Can Still Experience the Wild West

Salty Dawg Saloon in Homer, Alaska

Salty Dawg Saloon

Homer, Alaska
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.

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St. Elmo in Bisbee, Arizona
Paul K./Yelp

St. Elmo

Bisbee, Arizona
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 more recent claims to fame include live music, shuffleboard, and bloody Marys.

Related: Moxie, Cheerwine, and Other Regional Sodas the Rest of the Country Needs

Laffitte's Blacksmith Shop
Laffitte's Blacksmith Shop by Lobberich (CC BY)

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop

New Orleans
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.

Cactus Bar in Boise, Idaho
Cactus Bar/Yelp

Cactus Bar

Boise, Idaho
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 $3.

Related: 16 Epic Motorcycle Rides Across America

Kelly's Westport Inn in Kansas City, Missouri
Kelly's Westport Inn/TripAdvisor

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 in Seattle
Brendan c./Yelp

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 hot spot for college students and eventually for counterculture icons such as Allen Ginsberg and Richard Hugo. Though it's closed temporarily to await the end of COVID, the tavern has become 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 New Orleans
Tiffany A/TripAdvisor

Snake and Jake's

New Orleans
In contrast to Lafitte's, this New Orleans dive — fundraising to stay alive amid the pandemic — 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. Its signature drink features a shot of Jagermeister dropped into a pint of Schlitz, named the Possum Drop after the time a possum dropped through the ceiling onto a patron's head.

The Old Pink in Buffalo, New York
Alex L./Yelp

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 its 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 in Austin, Texas
Vonia P./Yelp

Little Longhorn Saloon

Austin, Texas
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 see one of their legendary chicken bingo games, which has patrons gathering around a chicken coop and yelling passionately for the hens to defecate on their chosen bingo squares.

The Kingfish Pub & Café in Oakland, California
Jeanette W./Yelp

The Kingfish Pub & Café

Oakland, California
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 such as an $8 Star Special (Red Stripe & Bourbon). These days, the bar also offers to-go sales on everything from six-packs to toilet paper.

Related: The Best and Worst Cities in America for Driving

Luckey's Club in Eugene, Oregon
Sam M./Yelp

Luckey's Club

Eugene, Oregon
Luckey's Club Cigar Store started serving under its current name in 1911, when Eugene was a dry town and women were not welcome. After Prohibition, it became the county's first establishment to get a liquor license and grew to become one of downtown Eugene's best spots for live music and cheap drinks — and women are not only welcomed but encouraged to come in (though managers say their Ladies' Night specials on $1 Pabst pints won't be back until the end of the year, if then).

Sip 'n Dip Lounge in Great Falls, Montana

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 such as the Fishbowl and jazzy live music provided by "Piano Pat" Spoonheim, more than 50 years at it and still going strong.

Related: Cheers to These Unique Bars in All 50 States

The Mint Bar in Sheridan, Wyoming
Tawny T./Yelp

The Mint Bar

Sheridan, Wyoming
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.

Related: Speakeasy Bars and Secret Restaurants Across America

The Cruise Room, Denver
Sera H./yelp

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.

Vesuvio Café
© TripAdvisor

Vesuvio Café

San Francisco
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 such as the Jack Kerouac — rum and tequila mixed with orange and cranberry juices.

Related: 29 Destinations That Defined the 1960s

Glur's Tavern in Columbus, Nebraska
Arkadiusz S./Yelp

Glur's Tavern

Columbus, Nebraska
Glur's Tavern has been serving reliably basic bar food and cheap drinks since 1876, making it the oldest continuously operating bar west of the 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 such as $2.50 for a hamburger or $6 for a basket of fried gizzards.

Fast Eddie's Bon Air in Alton, Illinois
Belva L./Yelp

Fast Eddie's Bon Air

Alton, Illinois
Fast Eddie's is less a dive bar and more a divey burger joint, famed for its cheap, sodium-loaded specials such as 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 more people can enjoy its beer, sports-playing TV screens, and music-pumping outdoor patio.

Related: Where to Find Great, Cheap Steak in Every State

La Carafe, Houston
Sydney H./Yelp

La Carafe

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.

Bryant's Cocktail Lounge, Milwaukee
Summer M./yelp

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. There's a bumping jukebox but no drink menu — instead, mixologist bartenders can whip up virtually any drink with all the flair of a Prohibition-era speakeasy 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 ask about a $5 Old Fashioned during their weekday happy hours.

Related: 31 Bars With Arcades That Are Worth Your Quarters

Billy Goat Tavern, Chicago
Chris M./yelp

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 newspaper journalists and tourists for its signature burgers and Billy Goat beer.

The Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis
Slippery Noodle Inn/TripAdvisor

The Slippery Noodle

Founded as a roadhouse in 1850, The Slippery Noodle is now Indiana's oldest bar and still a destination for travelers and locals alike, thanks in part to its combination of ornate antique fixtures and laid-back atmosphere. Customer favorites include the pork tenderloin, breaded grouper, and nacho grande plate, and live blues musicians play every night.

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge in Nashville, Tennessee
Carla R./Yelp

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge

Nashville, Tennessee
Don't let the name fool you — this West Nashville dive has neither dinner nor the rarified atmosphere of a "club." Instead, it has 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, and in more recent decades has been used as a filming location for commercials and music videos.

Pinkie Master's Lounge in Savannah, Georgia
Peter O./Yelp

Pinkie Master's Lounge

Savannah, Georgia
Marked by a simple PBR banner, Savannah's best-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 $6 shots certainly don't hurt either.

Coach House, Scottsdale, Arizona
Samantha T./yelp

Coach House

Scottsdale, Arizona
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 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.

Holler House in Milwaukee

Holler House

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 bottled and canned beer — 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.

Related: 18 Places to "Travel Abroad" Without Leaving the Country

Midtown Billiards in Little Rock, Arkansas
Lawrence P./Yelp

Midtown Billiards

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 a certain kind of visitor may want to ask about the Midtown Challenge, a tower of bread, meat, and cheese guests can try to conquer.

Related: 31 Belly-Busting Food Challenges That Offer Winners a Free Meal

Half Keg Tavern in New London, Connecticut
Half-Keg Tavern/Yelp

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 such as beef chili or tuna melt for under $11.

Related: Where to Find a Good, Cheap Sandwich in Every State

The Dugout in Indianapolis
Wanda M./Yelp

The Dugout

Founded in 1954, The Dugout's original owners played an important part in Indianapolis' midcentury 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 such dishes as fried chicken and pot roast.

Cantab Lounge, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cristina R./yelp

Cantab Lounge

Cambridge, Massachusetts
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. Before a coronavirus shutdown, the upstairs bar opens at 8 a.m. and and turned to bluegrass performances at night, while downstairs played host to poetry slams and rock, earning it accolades as one of the nation's best dive bars and music venues. It was rescued in 2021 by a former patron who went on to make money in private equity, and it's expected to reopen after renovations. 

Related: The 57 Coolest Coffee Shops in America

Flora-Bama Lounge in Orange Beach, Alabama
Christina E./Yelp

Flora-Bama Lounge

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, Detroit
Jessica N./yelp

Nancy Whiskey

Nancy Whiskey is a window into Detroit history, having served as a speakeasy during Prohibition and a hangout for Teamsters such as union boss Jimmy Hoffa during the postwar economic boom. It's survived urban decay by catering to local police and firefighter populations while booking blues and Motown acts for the weekends.

Related: 36 Bucket-List Destinations for Music Lovers

Frolic Room, Los Angeles
Marco K./yelp

Frolic Room

Los Angeles
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 such as 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 in Philadelphia
Kat C./Yelp

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 LGBTQ 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 Jim Beam served together for $4.

Gooski's, Pittsburgh
Darren W./yelp


Gooski's is beloved in Pittsburgh for its friendly bar service, cheap drinks, wings and Polish pierogies, and floor-shaking punk concerts, but its online presence is so little that it's impossible to pin down when precisely it opened — the sign of a truly unfussy dive. (Staff guess: 1995, which is the year the Gooski's company was formed.) If you're not feeling the PBR for $2.50, look for local microbrews on tap for under $5.

Lakewood Landing, Dallas
Audria K./yelp

Lakewood Landing

This "upscale" dive has been around since 1940, and though it's had various owners and incarnations over the decades, the bar celebrated the 20th anniversary of its current ownership not long ago. It is still looked over by a hanging portrait of its patron saint, Lucille Mathews, who worked there for 33 years before her death in 2001. Locals love it for its friendly bartenders, cheap drinks, threadbare-chic decor, jukebox selection, and "top-notch bar food." 

Related: The Oldest Bar in Every State