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The 19 Best Dive Bars In America

With help from readers like you, and an industrial-size tub of hand sanitizer, we scoured the nation for the sleaziest, seediest, stickiest places to drink. Stumble along with us, wont you?

Illustrated for Maxim by Radio | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013

Santa’s Pub
Nashville, TN

Photographed for Maxim by Kat Robinson| Licensed to Alpha Media Group 201

What do you get when you combine Christmas, a mobile home, and a whole bunch of booze? Usually a triple homicide, but in this case, you get Santa’s Pub. Owned by a guy resembling what St. Nick would look like had he done a dime in the clink, this trailer turned watering hole, with its assortment of creepy Christmas decorations, is nothing short of pure alcohol-inspired magic. With $2 beers, an old pool table, and karaoke every single night, Santa’s Pub should earn a spot on the list of places to visit the next time you and your buddies feel like waking up with a gift-wrapped hangover under the tree.
One-star Yelp review: “I’ve never been to a place where you can get kicked out because you’re not drinking fast enough and some low-life karaoke attendant blacklists you for loitering.”

Phil’s New York Deli & Tavern
Charlotte, NC
Phil’s claims to have an “authentic New York atmosphere,” which is true, we suppose, if they’re basing it on the fact that it’s dirty, old, and overcrowded. While the sandwiches don’t hold a candle to those you get in the Big Apple, the nightly drink specials (including $3 well drinks on Fridays and $2.50 Bud Lights on Saturdays) are a New York City bum’s dream come true.
One-star Yelp review: “Looks and feels as greasy and grimy as it smells.”

The Big Hunt
Washington, D.C.
If you miss the beer-stained floors from your college frat house, welcome home. This Dupont Circle dive lives up to its name with big-game décor and a meat-markety scene of millennials on the prowl. Come on Tuesdays for 15¢ wings and $2.50 PBRs. There’s also a rooftop patio for those who want to jump after tanking at Monday night trivia.
One-star Yelp review: “I would not shed a tear if a meteor turned that awful excuse for a bar into a smoldering crater.”

‘Reel M’ Inn Tavern
Portland, OR

Neon signs on the walls keep this windowless bar just bright enough to see the $2 PBR tallboy before you—and just dark enough to hide the excessive built-up oil on its single fryer.
One-star Yelp review: “I saw a crackhead lady nearly getting it on with a patron on the pool table.”

Matt’s Bar & Grill
Minneapolis, MN

Built in 1954, Matt’s is considered a “landmark,” which is what polite Midwesterners call decrepit old bars that look like your grandma’s basement. Between the wood-paneled walls, locals sit on cracked vinyl barstools and down Grain Belt Pre­miums after biting into a Jucy Lucy, the bar’s signature misspelled burger—molten American cheese crimped between two beef patties.
One-star Yelp review: “I was not warned about the Jucy Lucy’s explosive nature, and burned myself. They were lucky I didn’t pull a McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit.”

Dolphin Lounge
Columbus, OH
It’s unclear why, 500 miles from the sea, dolphins cover the walls, but during winter, this aquatic-themed shithole feels like paradise. Provided paradise is where townies head-bang to live music.
One-star Yelp review: “The regulars at this place give out­siders the stank eye.”