What are your favorite "dive bars"?

By “dive bar” it SHOULD meet some of these criteria:

-Not owned by a chain or franchise (ie TGI Fridays)
-Food is optional, but must be a bar that happens to serve food, not a restaurant that happens to have a bar. Hot wings and baloney bites earn huge extra points, though!
-Friendly crowd.
-Must serve beer.
-Preferably no plants.
-Jukebox or good music almost a must.
-Pool tables and arcade games a huge plus.

You get the idea. Here are some nominees from my travels:

CANNON’S, Allentown, PA. Looks like a dump from the outside; on the inside it’s nice and dark, great food, and never serves light beer on tap!

THAT’S IT!, Melbourne, FL- Antique bar. Very friendly crowd and owners, tons of exotic beers on tap, blues music on jukebox when live music is not being played.

MCCARDLES, Moselem, PA- Great food, good crowd, tons of TVs, Internet jukebox, and they just updated their Megatouch machine! Woo-hoo!

O’MALLEY’S, Allentown, PA- Great college Irish bar. Shuffleboard table, games, pool tables and the best cheese fries on the planet. Steak Night on Fridays is a huge winner.

CASEY’S, Quakertown, PA- Unfortunately they redocrated 5 years ago, but still a great hangout. Pool tables, dart boards, you get the gist.

How can I forget these 2 as well!

THE IRISH PUB, Atlantic City, NJ- This is the best Irish bar I have ever seen. Awesome interior. If you are ever in AC and need a drink, dont miss it. It’s 1/2 block off the Boardwalk between the Taj and Ripley’s Museum, so it’s safe.

JABBERWOCKY, Easton, PA- I love this bar because they have board games you can play at your table. Tons of pool, music, and they even have a champagne bar next to it if your trying to impress a date!

My favorite is out in Las Vegas…it used to be called the Four Kegs, now it’s called the House of Brews.

It’s a total locals hangout…half the time I have to give the cabby directions. Best bar food in the world…hot wings, cajun onion rings, cajun fries, stromboli…served in plastic baskets, the way nature intended. The ice-cold beer is served in goblets, there are plenty of TVs, and when I went back in January, I discovered they’ve added a couple of pool tables.

I make it out to Vegas once or twice a year for business and always make a point of stopping in.

The Cheshire Cat

On the Northside of Berkeley, CA near the campus. I cut my teeth on pitchers of Guinness Stout and Bass Ale in another lifetime.

In Oakland, CA on Telegraph Avenue. Long defunct, this place was a dream. You ostensibly attended for the all-you-can-eat Italian food. But it was the $1 singles, $2 doubles and $3 triples at the bar that kept you coming back for more.

Thanks scaper for the reccomend on the Irish place in AC!

My favorites in the Dive Bar category-

The Blind Tiger Alehouse- awesome beer selection, and the eats consist of chips, and not much else, but they have hand-pumped ale, and other yummy drinkables, including the hard liquor flammables. NYC

The Peculiar Pub- Insane beer selection, boffo jukebox, dark, sub-street level bar, with alleged food- got food there once, but the beer overshadows the food way too much. NYC

Riggers- Lousy food, Lame beer selection, and a decent mixed drink selection. OK jukebox. Most excellent selection of human debris to watch, selected from a very odd slice of society. Familiarize yourself with the exits. Seaside Heights, NJ.

More to follow…

Paradise Bowling Alley and Casino in Parkland (read: Tacoma) Washington. This little slice of skungy heaven happens to be within walking distance from the university, so my friend and I happen to go there (often on weeknights) to drink away the pain of evil men.

Bonuses: buffalo wings, cool waitresses who allow us to use the rolodex to order our drinks, AWESOME teriyaki chicken bites, a very easy to get around drink limit, and cheesy karaoke on Thursday nights.

I would be horribly disloyal if I did not note here that

MARS BAR (1st and 2nd ave, NYC) is the best dive the world has ever known. Too small for a pool table, but a great place to waste one’s youth.

Don’t go unless you’ve had some experience with dives, it might be too much for you.

This is going back about 6 years, so I don’t know if its still there, but the Dam Ice House in Houston. It used to be a Jiffy Lube, but was converted to a bar and is/was a regular hangout for west side bikers. On some Sundays they would do a free BBQ and there’d be 100+ Harleys there.

Jimmy’s is about the size of a large walk-in closet. It’s got a small bar, some tall tables, a beat-up pool table (75 cents), a golf video game, a dart board, and a juke-box full of country/western and rock. It’s owned by an old Macedonian man who is tough as nails. His son in law runs the place and can be found in there mon-fri from open-close.

It’s a pretty trashy-but-friendly crowd. Since it’s less than a mile from my place, I often stop there for pre-drinks or night-caps. I’ve been going there for nearly 4 years and know all of the regulars. The get their share of bikers and construction workers stopping by at lunch or HH for drinks, but mostly its a neighborhood bar. The most famous regular is “Sarge”. He’s huge, slow and sounds like Tom Waits gargling lava when he speaks, but is friendly to all. You’ll find him on the same corner of the bar daily from noon till 5 (he doesn’t like the HH rush).

On the corner of Cleveland/Shrock. If you’re passin thru, stop in…!

Dang, TUS, you named a bunch of places within driving distance!

Pottstown has nothing but dives, but for some reason they don’t appeal; I have to range further afield for the true dive experience.

My locals are:

Gallagher’s, Rte. 724, Spring City, PA – outside, it looks like a dump. Inside…it’s a dump. Considers itself an Irish pub due to presence of 10-year-old Guiness posters scotch-taped to the walls, which in turn are covered in classic '70’s style plywood paneling. Excellent chicken fingers and decent pool tables, however, and the jukebox has a number of, er, curiosities. And I can walk back to my sister’s place on nights when driving home is inadvisable.

Tom’s, across the river in Royersford – an upscale Gallagher’s. Walls have fewer holes, jukebox less crackly. Decent food as well.

And, I’ve got to name-check Lasorda’s, down the road in Exton, for their 15-cent wing nights and for their wall of fame. Yep, your host: Tommy Lasorda’s brother (Bobby? Johnny? Something like that). The wall’s full of baseball memorabilia and autographed pictures of famous acquaintances. And there’s a lurid, homemade painting of Frank Sinatra that’s got to be seen to be believed.

The Dahlia, in Lynchburg, VA. Aka The Blue Dahlia

It’s a dumpy scrappy little place on a dumpy scrappy street. But it was near the somewhat hoity-toity woman’s college I went to, and we loved it. A good jukebox, a good pinball machine. No food except overly salty popcorn. Only a few beers on tap. A few booths, some broken barstools around the bar, nothing much to look at.

People used to be shocked that we’d go to such a “rough” place but I have to tell you I felt much safer there (once we were known as regulars) than I did at the stupid yuppie bars we went to. If someone tried to harrass us in the trendy bars, no one would give a crap. You’d have to go find a bouncer. In the Dahlia? Anyone messed with us they’d have a pack of trouble from a lot of redneck toughs.

Best part was, one of my girlfriends took her parents in over parents weekend. They loved it, too. Before they left that weekend they set up a big tab for her, and told the owner not to tell her how much it was, just let her know when she was getting close to depleting it. We didn’t abuse it, but she would always put a coupla pitchers on her tab, and it lasted us all year. sighs happily

I think I have a slightly different definition of “dive” than that of the OP. When I think “dive,” I’m thinking:

– dirt cheap prices
– dirt in general
– bartender can use teeth as bottle opener
– pool table is there, but missing the “4” ball
– bathroom is about the same quality as a latrine in a WWII prison camp
– a dog (bonus points if dog is missing an ear or eye)
– friendly regulars who are also a bit on the eccentric side, and/or wanted in 12 states

In other words, the Village Idiot, the site of the January NYC Dopefest.

The Dahlia sounds great … so many dive bars, so little time.

(Hogan’s Run) in Brighton, MA.
$1.00 Drafts(On weekend nights, you either re-use your glass or you’ll be served in plastic cups.)
Golden Tee (I’m starting to think this is a surveillance
device used by the gov’t to keep an eye on everyone. It’s everywhere from the diviest dive to the trendiest night spot.)
Pool table (damned if I can find a straight cue)
Jukebox (always outdated, always being played)

The Royal Albert Arms in Winnipeg, Manitoba (aka The Albert): Haven’t been there for a while (been out of town for the last few years) but during the day it was a hangout for old men, hookers and the unemployed. Very friendly, very tolerant of pretty much anyone. Cheap beer, microwaved food, pool table, foul smelling bathrooms - it had everything. At night it transformed into a “come and see the up and coming bands” bar - mostly pretty ordinary, but every once in a while you’d stumble across a real gem. Plus you could smoke dope at your table in the evenings (not that I ever did, of course.)

The Country Squire in Moosomin, Saskatchewan (aka The Squire): this place had the most amazing juke box I’ve ever run across. Mixed in with the Shania Twain and Dolly Parton, you’d find Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, The Clash, Talking Heads, etc. They’ve since yanked the old juke box out and replaced it with a more mainstream one, but man… Also, very friendly waitresses who knew our names and would drive us home after too much beer, two pool tables, and decent food in big farmer-sized servings.

Here in Columbus, Ohio, one such bar comes to mind.

Bernie’s Distillery & Bagel Shop

The bar is underneath a bank on the main strip of High Street on Ohio State University campus. It looks like a basement and there are no windows. As you come down the stairs, the bagel shop is to the left and the bar is to the right. Lots of regular visitors have their spots at the bar. They have a wide beer selection and they serve a mean Reuben, too.

Most important, though, is the bands that play there. The Bernie’s bands are a strange breed. Mostly punk and rock-a-billy, the bathroom is the most digusting I’ve ever seen, and the most decorated with “<enter band name here> sucks” and “<enter lead singer name here> blows donkeys”, etc.

My band has played there many times, and it’s one of our favorite venues.

My favorite dive is 7th Street Saloon & Cafe in Bristol, VA. They have live bands on the weekends, and my brother-in-law’s band plays there regularly. My husband’s best friend’s band has been playing there recently too. They serve food, although I’ve never seen anyone eating any. Good selection of beer on tap (except that one night, when the deliveries didn’t come and it was Southpaw Light for everyone). I feel safe there because my husband usually bounces if a band we know is playing.

My second favorite dive is New Beginnings, a gay bar in Johnson City, TN. Low-rent transvestites, stinky bathrooms, alternative-style hillbillies in their J.C. Penny’s finery, and $4 bottled water. Can’t beat that, if only for people-watching.

Scapegoat, we have an O’Malley’s in Bristol, TN, too, but not a nice one like yours. It’s attached to (but a completely seperate business from) a bowling alley. I wouldn’t go in there for anything. Once a year or so they have a shooting, and several times a night they have bar brawls. I wish our was Irish instead of just redneck.

The Green Parrot in Key West, Florida. It’s only one block from the tourist glurge of Duval St., but it’s the real thing. The kind of bar you can bring your dog to. Skeeball machine in the corner. Hellacious jukebox, with quality live music on weekends. Lots of bikers, lots of people with no shoes and open shirts, lots of people trying to drink something away.

You can buy beer in a can if you want to preserve the full dive experience, and they will provide a beer cozy for it. However, they also have Newcastle and Bass on draft for $2.50. They won’t let you smell the Bud Light tap for $2.50 on Duval.

I intend to someday become a regular.

Dr. J

The Stone Cellar, Ellicott City, MD. As the name suggests, it’s located in a basement, under a reputable restaurant called the Hunter’s Lodge. I’m biased, though, as I’ve never paid full price for a drink (“Just put it on the band’s tab…”)

No problem. Not to hype the place too much, but whenever I go to AC I try to get a casino hotel room so I can hang out there without having to worry about driving 2 hours home. The food is NOT that good though, just cheap burgers and stuff. Wings are OK though . . .but the atmosphere is the best. Don’t stay at the hotel upstairs, whatever you do.

I’ve been the Seaside and remember the name . . . is this the place on the boardwalk with all the pool tables? It’s a real long, deep bar.

If it’s the place I’m thinking of, there’s a lot of fights there.

Here in Richmond it used to be The Texas-Wisconsin Border Cafe. Don’t even think about taking a seat at the bar - they’re all reserved for the regulars. Terrific chili and Lone Star Beer. May it rest in peace.

All time favorite - The Hog’s Breath Inn in Fort Walton Beach, FL. Anyplace that has this quote from a Commander Cody album over the wall is OK by me: “There’s a whole lotta things that I’ve never done, but I ain’t never had too much fun.”