Who Has The Best Dive Bars In The Nation?

by Steven Doyle

Recently the web site The Best Colleges ran a list of the best dive bars in the country. You will be pleased to know Texas was represented twice, once in Austin for Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon, and the second is Dixie Chicken in College Station. By the way, Ginny’s wins our award for the worst web site design ever.

I haven’t been to either bar mentioned, but spent most of my time checking out the list of criteria to be on the list of the best dive bars. As one who takes great pride in hoisting a marginal beer in shady bars I took particular interest in what this web site felt made up a dive. I extracted some of the criteria from their list. Let’s hear what you think.     

First the website lists a set of Ten Commandments which includes such demands as the bar must “have bar seating” and the bar must have “at least one television – not necessarily operational”. These commandments could apply to many spots in and around the Dallas area. I needed better clarification on how they chose these spots, and they happily complied.

There are hardly ever hot women in a dive, but if there are they love to tease the old men

The following are not required, but gave the bars selected extra points. These are just a sampling:

The bar has video games located somewhere in or on the bar. I love these devices. I spend hours sometimes enthralled with Word Dojo or Photo Match. I suck at the latter, but you can get aggressive if you have several playing at once.

The bar serves some form of pickled food displayed in a large glass jar on or around the bar. I have actually owned a bar and yet to see anyone buy, or much less consume a pickled pig’s foot or a pickled red hot. These are probably more decorative, but I do know you can buy these massive jars of floating pickled meat at Sam’s rather inexpensively.

The majority of employees have at least one tattoo. This cannot possibly be criteria in this decade where most people I know have a tat, or ten. The bar usually opens before noon. One of my favorite dive’s in Dallas is called Step Up Lounge and it opens its doors at 7am. The only time I was actually at the bar at 7am was to pick my car up the next morning after a particularly rough evening of shots and bad beer. I was surprised to see my attorney there along with a group of extreme senior citizens.

A real dive never admits to being a dive 

The bar has a sign welcoming bikers. This is ridiculous. No self-respecting biker would dare enter a bar that had a sign that actually welcomed them.

The bar has a trough for a men’s urinal – extra bonus if it has ice in it and it is an old bathtub. This is now reserved for the kitschy new restaurants looking for atmosphere. I couldn’t say for sure, but chances are Cracker Barrel has this arrangement.

The bar serves some form of fried foods. Most self-respecting Dive Bars do not have a kitchen. A few hall passes distributed to Lakewood Landing (damn you midnight corn dog) and Club Schmitz (frozen fried crap and a damned good burger).

What is your criteria for a dive, and which are your favorites?


Filed under Dallas, Dive Bars, Drink Dallas, Steven Doyle

3 responses to “Who Has The Best Dive Bars In The Nation?

  1. Michael

    For true dive bar, I vote Ships and the Goat. Ships lets you bring in your own drinks! You can bring in a bottle of liquor and pay $3 for some glasses, ice, and a mixer that’ll last you the whole bottle.

  2. Phaz

    Joe’s Lounge at The Riverfront/Market Center split is the perfect, true dive. It’s got cheap beer, good humble people, and they barbecue on the back patio during holidays and special events.

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