The best dive bars, in the United States and around the world, are a source of inspiration for aspiring dive bar owners. As you write your dive bar business plan and learn how to open a dive bar, learning from the best of the best gives you a solid place to start.
The best dive bars aren’t fancy. They don’t resemble country club culture, and you’re unlikely to find one hosting brunch on a Saturday morning. You will find, however, that the customer experience and overall customer satisfaction at these prime spots is top notch.
From the dive bar ideas they deploy to the place they hold in dive bar history, these best dive bars will guide your efforts to dive bar glory. Not to mention you’ll enjoy greater dive bar profits when you follow these examples. Keep on reading through this blog to discover some of the best dive bars and what they know that can help you along in your dive bar journey.
Where Are the Best Dive Bars?
Given that dive bars started as an American invention it stands to reason that many of them still remain in the United States. There are also many spots around the globe that play host to these cozy locations. The best dive bars can be found in:
- Austin, TX
- Seattle, WA
- Las Vegas, NV
- New York City, NY
- Philadelphia, PA
- New Orleans, LA
- Albany, NY
- San Francisco, CA
- North Port, FL
- Riverside, CA
- Hartford, CT
- Tampa, FL
- New Haven, CT
- Cincinnati, OH
- Cleveland, OH
- St. Louis, MO
- Portland, OR
- Sacramento, CA
- Providence, RI
- Milwaukee, WI
- Miami, FL
- Buffalo, NY
- Prague, Czech Republic
- Moscow, Russia
- Tel Aviv, Israel
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Brussels, Belgium
- Paris, France
- Helsinki, Finland
- Ciudad de México, Mexico
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Bangkok, Thailand
- London, England
- Brisbane, Australia
- Berlin, Germany
- Glasgow, Scotland
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Vancouver, Canada
The best thing about all of these locations is that the dive bars in them reflect the culture of the place. If you’re looking to create a dive bar that fits a specific community, you can lean into the people of the place to find your vibes.
6 Best Dive Bars
These six best dive bars center in the United States. Of course, after reading through that list of the best dive bar locations, you know there are more spots outside of the country. With the tradition of dive bars being steeped in American history, we’ve focused on the states for this list to follow the roots of dive bar history.
6. Harry’s Banana Farm In Lake Worth, FL
Harry’s Banana Farm in Lake Worth, FL has been famous among locals for over 70 years. It’s opened and closed its doors a few times in those decades, but it always comes back as a staple of Florida dive bars.
5. Delux Cafe In Boston, MA
Delux Cafe in Boston, MA has been in business for more than 50 years. That may be a blink of an eye in the history of Boston, but the Delux holds a spot as one of the best dive bars in the area.
4. Heinhold’s: First and Last Chance Saloon In Oakland, CA
Heinhold’s: First and Last Chance Saloon in Oakland, CA has been in business since June of 1884. It still holds the charm of the 1800s, along with all the drinks you want from a dive bar in the 2020s.
3. Jack’s Bar In Pittsburgh, PA
Jack’s Bar in Pittsburgh, PA is known for its basic bar food options and games galore. It’s known as the South Side’s oldest bar and it carries the tradition of all the best bars Pittsburgh is known for as one of the best spots for dives and all types of bars.
2. Santa’s Pub In Nashville, TN
Santa’s Pub in Nashville, TN has been making a name for itself in Nashville culture for almost as long as the legend of Santa Claus has been alive. Ed Sheeran has praised the pub as one of the best places to be in Nashville. His stamp of approval marks this spot as a part of the dive bar hall of fame.
1. The Commodore In Brooklyn, NY
The Commodore in Brooklyn, NY isn’t what you would immediately expect of this particular spot in New York. Where Brooklyn is trendy and hip, The Commodore is low-key and pleasantly grungy. It has a southern atmosphere that brings a home-grown sense to the city.
"Key Takeaway: The best dive bars, in the United States and around the world, are a source of inspiration for aspiring dive bar owners."
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Dive Bars
Diving into the best dive bars is a stellar way to learn how you can make your dive bar even better. Learning from our answers to these frequently asked questions will also help in that regard. Read on to discover the ins and outs of dive bar setups and what makes for the best bars all around the world.
How Do You Know If a Bar Is a Dive Bar?
If you walk in the door of a bar and you’re curious if it’s a dive bar, look out for:
- Worn surfaces and an intentionally shabby design
- A vast menu of cheap dive bar beer, budget-friendly dive bar wine, and easy-to-enjoy dive bar food
- Dim lighting that casts a warm glow over the effects of the dive bar aesthetic
- A scene of customers who look like regulars, who have their places around the bar and a friendly look on their faces
If you spot these elements of a cozy bar, there’s a very good chance you’re in a dive bar! When it comes to designing a dive bar, maintain these elements to create an intentionally divey space.
What Is the Number One Rated Bar In the World?
The number one rated bar in the world is Paradiso in Barcelona, Spain. Paradiso is known for dim light, a flare of the dramatic, and an impressive menu of imaginative cocktails. In some ways, it fits the dive bar theme. In others, it’s a stunning cocktail bar. All around, it’s worth a visit!
What Is the Best Bar Town In the United States?
The best bar town in the United States is widely regarded to be Syracuse, New York. Syracuse won the title through a vast social media contest. Social media marketing for restaurants and bars can lead to intense popularity. Syracuse is a fine example of how that marketing and exposure can lead to gains in guest retention and bar profits all around.
What State Has the Least Bars?
The state with the least amount of bars is Utah. Utah is known to have some of the most complex liquor laws in the country. It can be difficult to obtain a liquor license and maintain a popular bar. This is primarily because of the fact that the Mormon Church is headquartered in Utah, and stakes quite the claim over the state’s community and culture.
The Best Dive Bars: Learning From the Very Best
Learning from the best dive bars gives you an edge over any competition that isn’t looking into these exceptional locations. Of course, after you’ve studied the best of the best, take their tricks and make them your own. The best dive bars, after all, are the ones that do something different from all the rest, all while maintaining the classic dive bar charm.