Open Thread: How Do You Define a Dive Bar?


[Photographs: Wes Rowe]

We've talked a little about dive bars and neighborhood bars here at Serious Eats, but it's a topic that many folks feel mighty passionate about. Some people feel that a true dive bar must be of a certain age, must serve beer or whiskey at a certain price, and must have a certain dingy je-ne-sais-quoi.

As SENY editor Max Falkowitz puts it, a dive bar is "a place where I'm really happy to spend not too much money to make bad decisions."


Do you know a dive bar when you see one? If a corner bar opens in the morning, with the same old men in the same old stools every day, but now they charge $7 for a pint of Guinness, is it still a dive bar? What does it take to qualify? Dark corners with benches and creepy velvet paintings? An ancient jar of pickled eggs? Punk music on the jukebox? Scrappy, smoky carpet on the floor? Is a dive bar defined by smell alone?

And while we're at it, what dive bar has a special place in your heart?