A dive is a dive and everyone needs to deal with that. It’s not an insult. It’s not really a badge of honor. But it’s a mantle that means a rougher clientele and the occasional Joe mom jeans who wanders in and tries not to make eye contact. That said, this is Vegas and even our dive bars are fabulous. So before you cave to stereotypes or worry about getting hepatitis from glancing at the pool table, remember that even the dingiest dirt in this town is at least 10 percent glitter. So without further a-don’t-touch-that, here are the best dive bars in Las Vegas.
Diviness: An abandoned strip mall bought out by hipsters
The strip mall thing wasn’t even part of the joke. Huntridge Tavern actually is in a strip mall. It’s not abandoned or, to our knowledge, owned by hipsters. But it is a one of those Vegas spots that you don’t get to see a lot of on the Strip. On the side of a pharmacy that unironically says “Drugs” and “Liquor” on the front, Huntridge Tavern is one of those Las Vegas locals’ hangouts that tourists occasionally end up when they’re stumbling around in a daze looking for a drink and/or their anxiety medication. However you end up there, whether you remember the journey or not, Huntridge Tavern is one of those bars where bikers and bicyclists can bump arms and only get into a fight over how much Jameson they can drink.
Divitude: A punk rocker’s fever dream
We’ve heard the argument recently that Double Down Saloon has become so divey that it’s transcended divitude and become almost a parody of a dive bar with the same bite. We respectfully disagree, but can understand the sentiment. Double Down is the place you’d picture if someone told you the Misfits’ logo threw up on their black Vans at the bar last night. There’s a wall that says “Shut up and drink” among many, many other things. The bathroom is filthy. They serve disgusting drinks that we don’t like to think about but actually taste pretty good. And the wall art is something to behold then drink until you forget. But the real attractions here are the shows. Punk rock in all its varieties and many more forms of hard and fast and kickass music can be found. So down a bacon martini and mosh your heart out. What more could you want from a place that dubs itself the “happiest place on earth”? Eat that, Portia de Rossi’s underwear drawer.
Hogs and Heifers
Divacity: Biker gang who are really into the movie “Roadhouse”
This is another one of those entries that seems obvious. The line of Harleys out front definitely gets it list cred. And the bras on the back of the bar give it a sort of homey vibe, like a casual Sunday afternoon in the country hanging laundry and watching clouds. Yeah, we don’t believe that either. Hogs and Heifers is a bar where losing your bra is a bonus, albeit an unsupportive one. Some of the bras even belong to celebrities, though it’s unlikely that they’ll let you guess the celebrity based on smell. But if you’ve ever wanted to follow in the footsteps of Julia Roberts, and the whole acting thing never worked out, you can always throw your bra into the mix. Of course, if you’re boobly challenged and don’t wear a bra, you can still enjoy a biker/country/divey/underweary vibe at this Las Vegas institution.
Divology: Graffiti of a post-apocalyptic future that never happened
Atomic Liquors is a throwback to the nuclear age, if the nuclear age threw out all its awesome, divey bar stuff before buying all those ugly, lime green kitchen appliances. Reigning as the oldest bar in Las Vegas (it did close for a time but they like the title so we’ll let them have it) and holding the first package liquor license and off-sales permit (which is legal stuff that just means they can give us booze), Atomic Liquors has become one of Las Vegas’ most iconic acknowledgements of how many explosions irradiated this state. In the good old days, you know when radiation was fun and new, people even sat on the roof of the bar to watch the bomb tests – or so the story goes. We couldn’t reach any of those people for comment due to their current status as mutants. But we’ll take the bar’s word for it. This is a dive bar that knows its roots and is a place for the alcoholic history buff in all of us.
Divality: What’s left of the mob after Liam Neeson gets through with them
At Dino’s, they know how to take care of family. Seriously, we’re not making a mafia reference. It’s actually a legacy bar. Started by Dino in 1962, the bar is now run by his granddaughters and remains a pure spot in Vegas to drink to the old days. The history isn’t all about gangsters, but it’s definitely an interesting note. While the city has turned into megaresorts and the mob has realized they can’t compete for villainy with internet trolls, Dino’s has stuck around to form a dive bar that dives deep for its ambiance. If you ever wanted to pretend you were planning a heist, or you just need a stiff drink after a long day of taking “protection” money via PayPal, let Dino’s make you feel like family.
Diversity (See what we did there?): A parking lot party under a rainbow roof
This just wouldn’t be a Vegas dive bar list without a gay bar. Sure, we’ve got the higher end gay clubs. But we’ve also got a truly inspiring level of gay dive bars, because even gay people need a break from the glitter once in a while. When you just want to drink and dance and watch drag queens drink and dance, there’s no better place in town than FreeZone. The cocktails are dirt cheap. The go-go dancers are scantily clad. And the pole in the middle of the mirror-lined dance floor practically calls to you when you’re trashed at 4 a.m. after a PRIDE event. Our bum still hurts from falling off that thing. Being located in the Fruit Loop, the party can occasionally spill out into the FreeZone parking lot as people move back and forth from Piranha across the street. Everyone’s welcome. Everyone can dance together. And everyone can belt out their favorite karaoke hits while everyone else laughs.