The South's Best Dive Bars 2020

The Griffon
Photo: Andrew Cebulka

You know the place: Wooden booths, vintage vinyl stools, $3 cans of beer and classic rock playing on loop over the loudspeaker. There's probably an alcove furnished with well-worn couches, at least one pool table, and ages-old posters on the walls, advertising local music shows or two-for-one shot-and-beer combos. No matter where you grew up, you probably have memories of one of these places: A bar that's funky and weird and unapologetically itself, a place that—against all odds—has nestled a spot for itself deep down in your heart. Maybe it's your go-to college town dive, like Dixie Chicken. Maybe it's a hometown spot for live music, like Green Parrot Bar in sunny Key West. No matter where your beloved, utterly imperfect dive may be, the feeling of down-home comfort remains constant.

Each of these dives are packed full of personality; their regulars may range from beachy Florida locals to grungy college students, but each of these fan-favorite bars channels a common spirit of comfort. So kick back, relax, and crack open a cold one at our top Southern dives.

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10. The Garage (Birmingham, Alabama)

The Garage
courtesy of The Garage

Snag a picnic table on the cool, tree-shaded patio at this tucked-away treasure trove that's known for its build-your-own sandwiches and local beer. Be prepared: It's cash only.

205-322-3220, 2304 10th Terrace South, Birmingham, AL 35205

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9. No Name Pub (Big Pine Key, Florida)

No Name Pub
courtesy of No Name Pub

This Florida landmark planted its roots in the 1930s, when it started out as a general store/bait-and-tackle shop. The legendary pizza recipe, which dates back nearly 60 years, is preserved (scrawled) on the kitchen wall., 305-872-9115, 30813 Watson Boulevard, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

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8. Earnestine & Hazel's (Memphis, Tennessee)

Earnestine & Hazel’s
courtesy of Earnestine & Hazel’s

It has had many past lives— a pharmacy, a beauty salon, and a restaurant, just to name a few. Today Earnestine & Hazel's is one of Memphis' favorite dives, famous for its Soul Burger, a great jukebox, and the ghosts that supposedly haunt the place., 901-523-9754, 531 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103

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7. The Backstreet Pub (Beaufort, North Carolina)

Abundant Sunshine IPA by Waterman’s Brewing
Waterman's Brewing

Housed in a former bakery built in 1881, Backstreet is a fun vintage establishment frequented by locals. On sunny afternoons, enjoy live music on the outdoor patio., 252-728-7108, 124 Middle Lane, Beaufort, NC 28516

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6. Dixie Chicken (College Station, Texas)

Dixie Chicken
courtesy of Dixie Chicken

A hotbed for Texas A&M University students, locals, and alumni, this beloved watering hole is as storied as they get. Its walls are adorned with retro 1970s beer signs, and the Dixie Chicken has seen everything from college reunions to marriage proposals., 979-846-2322, 307 University Drive, College Station, TX 77840

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Check Out The South's Best Dive Bars

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5. Nowhere Bar (Athens, Georgia)

Nowhere Bar
courtesy of Nowhere Bar

Two essentials mark a good dive bar: pool tables and live music. Nowhere Bar has both, drawing in large crowds with a cavernous, red-lit stage, where a tuxedo-clad statue of the Georgia Dawgs mascot, Uga, stands guard.

706-546-4742, 240 North Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30601

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4. The Griffon (Charleston, South Carolina)

The Griffon
Andrew Cebulka

Charleston is probably the last place you'd expect to find a pub where dollar bills are the decor and The Rolling Stones play on repeat, but we promise it's there., 843-723-1700, 18 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401

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3. Port of Call (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Port of Call
courtesy of Port of Call

The French Quarter dive is known for its burger, which Port of Call proudly touts as the best in the city. Have one with Neptune's Monsoon, a specialty drink with two types of rum, tropical juices, and passion fruit., 504-523-0120, 838 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70116

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2. Surf Bar (Folly Beach, South Carolina)

Surf Bar
Eric Swartz

This homey beach bar, just a stone's throw from the shore, is an ideal oasis from the heat. There's a steady rotation of surf movies playing above the wooden bar, where you can unwind with an afternoon tiki cocktail (try Surf Bar's house favorite, a Pain Killer spiked with Gosling's Rum)., 843-588-2009, 103 West Cooper Avenue, Folly Beach, SC 29439

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1. Green Parrot Bar (Key West, Florida)

Green Parrot Bar
Robbie Caponetto

A self-proclaimed "sunny place for shady people," the Green Parrot is a Key West institution. Live music could include anything from a 10-piece Latin-funk group to a band playing hits by The Beatles. You just never know how your visit to this island joint will go—and that's really the fun of it., 305-294-6133, 601 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040

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