LiquorSnob Presents: America's Best Dive Bars Volume 2
Well, we suppose we've given you enough time since America's Best Dive Bars Volume 1 to keep you wanting more, so here we are with volume two. This series is currently being written by one of our road interns, and while he usually spends his time writing about music festivals we find he knows his way around a bar too, the divier the better.
He rates the bars he hits on his travels on the things we think qualify a good dive bar, both objective (how's the jukebox? how greasy is the food? and most importantly, do they serve PBR?) and subjective (does the bartender have a drink named after him or her? are you slightly afraid you'll get stabbed or catch Hep C there?). Check out how LA's Power House, the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Bozeman, and Seattle's own Night Lite measure up after the jump. And as always, if you know of a great dive bar, make sure to let us know about it in the comments.
1714 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
It has no windows, three dollars PBR on tap, and Spider-Man gets loaded here. This is the Power House bar, our favorite watering hole in Los Angeles when we get tired of hobnobbing with the beautiful people. Dim table lights and a few televisions provide most of the illumination. No pool tables, but they do have plastic darts and a real jukebox (are we the only ones that despise Internet junkboxes?). The back door leads to a respectable smoking patio - if by respectable you mean a skeevy fenced alleyway. The bartender, who poured us a steady stream of stiff drinks all afternoon, could pass for the Stranger from the Big Lebowski; and while he keeps mum on advice about livin', he also doesn't mind if you bring in oversized slices from Greco's Pizza across the way.
Pool Table: No
Serve PBR: On tap
Jukebox: Classic rock
Food: Bring in carryout
The Fraternal Order of the Eagles Club
Take one part dive bar, one part country/classic rock dance hall, mix in a few college kids, cowboys, and local drunks and you're getting close to the magic that is the Eagles Club. The good news is that you don't need a member to join. The even better news is that you can tie one on the loose change floating around your car. Once again, we were introduced to another local bartender's speciality drink (see Marsha at the Nite Lite, below) - this one involved Root Beer Schnapps. And like Marsha, Mike didn't have a name for the drink. It's now called the Mike.
Pool Table: Yes, except on Saturdays when there's dancing
Serve PBR: Yes
Jukebox: Internet junkbox
Food: Free peanuts behind the bar.
Nite Lite Restaurant
1926 2nd Ave
"All I want to listen to is Pink Floyd."
"They don't have any. I can buy you a different song."
"No Floyd? Then I don't want anything at all."
--- Jukebox conversation at the Nite Lite
Ahhh...the Nite Lite of downtown Seattle. One of the seediest/friendliest place we've stumbled onto during our travels. They boast a kitchen that serves exactly what you expect in a dive bar. Greasy and cheap and accompanied with pitchers of PBR. The owner/bouncer told us confidentially that all the hottie waitresses end up here after their shifts. This turned out to be a complete falsehood, at least on that particular Monday night.
On the up side, it's easy to fall in love with the bartender Marsha. For one thing, she's seen every Steven Seagal movie ever made...even the ones released straight to video. She pours drinks nice and heavy. And she even has invented her own drink, which we dubbed the Marsha. It's a shot of something dropped into something else - the details are hazy. Looks like we're heading back for some more research.
Pool Table: Most of the week
Serve PBR: Yes
Jukebox: Classic rock
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at June 10, 2009 4:42 PM