You don’t have to be down on your luck or completely broke to appreciate a good dive bar. Whether you’re drawn in by the dirt cheap beer, greasy eats, eclectic clientele, or jukebox jams, every city has a dive bar for you. The trick to finding the right one is to weed out the seamy cesspools from the best kept secrets.
So if you’re looking for down and dirty dive bars in LA, floor-sticking glory in New York, or bargain-basement booze in DC, we at Party Earth are here to help you find the best cheap drinks in the US with the least amount of pretension.
If you want a truly great dive experience in the City of Angels, head on over to Hollywood hangout, White Horse Inn Cocktail Lounge, one of the best dive bars in LA. It’s located in a Super 8 Motel, so you know its reeking with class. Vicky, the bar owner is also a regular, who will regale you with all of the sordid stories in her repertoire. With two authentic 70s couches, a pool table, and all-you-can-eat pretzels, popcorn, and microwave hot dogs, it’s an easy place to have one too many. (Hostels in Los Angeles)
One of the most iconic San Francisco neighborhoods is Chinatown, which houses a real dive treasure, Li Po Cocktail Lounge. Raved about by famous chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, this throw back to opium dens of yore serves up some of the strongest Chinese Mai Tais and Ng Ka Py, Chinese whiskey. With a full-blown Buddha shrine, and other kitschy décor, it’s definitely a fun place to have a few drinks and collect some strange stories along the way. (Hostels in San Francisco)
It goes without saying that dive bars are best appreciated once already inebriated, and Marie’s Riptide Lounge is no exception. With karaoke, a jukebox, cheap drinks, loud music, and dirty floors, Marie’s is one of the best bars in Chicago to make out with someone you shouldn’t. When you just want to get rowdy in the worst possible way, Marie’s is definitely your Chicago go-to bar. (Chicago Hostel)
New York City
Originally, the Holland Cocktail Lounge resided in the Holland Welfare Hotel, in the depths of the Port Authority. Back in the day, The Daily News labeled it as the institution boasting the most health violations and it’s basically the same story today. There are year-round Christmas lights, and an old, old-school jukebox to play some retro jams. The bar opens bright and early at 8am, for those who make a living out of wrecking their livers. As you can imagine, it’s a cash-only register. (New York City Hostel)
One of the best dive bars in DC is without doubt Dan’s Café. From the outside, it appears to be a condemned building, but inside is a veritable playground for adults looking to get wasted. The best part about going to Dan’s is that you get to be your own bartender. After selecting your mini airplane sized bottles of liquor, you pour them into condiment containers with mixers. You’ll be set for the rest of the night as you squirt shots into your mouth. With a big pool table and plenty of seating this is a great place to start or end the night. Be aware that it’s a cash-only bar. (Washington DC Hostel)
If you’re not too careful, you could miss this Bostonian gem. Bukowski Tavern is the place to go with a small group of buddies to catch up and grab a brew. Named after Charles Bukowski – literary laureate and world-class drinker – the joint only serves beer, so come with hops and malt on your mind. The seating is limited, so large parties could struggle on any given night. And don’t worry if you come hungry, there are plenty of traditional bar munchies like mac & cheese. (Boston Hostel)
Coast to coast you can always find a diamond in the rough bar or pub. Every town has them; you just have get in with the locals to find out how to distinguish the dilapidated dumps from the treasure troves.
Party Earth is a global media and entertainment company that publishes reviews and listings of the best social experiences around the world including: bars in Paris, pubs in London, beaches in Ibiza, plazas in Rome, parks in new York, festivals and concerts everywhere, and more.