Where to Find the Best Dive Bars in Las Vegas
If you know anything about Las Vegas locals, it’s that we rarely frequent the Las Vegas Strip. As a longtime resident of Sin City, I fit in perfectly with this stereotype. Even when I have visitors in town, I’m more likely to show them my favorite local spots for a night out that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own. One of my specialties for an unmatched evening of “who knows where the night will take you” is to visit a dive bar.
Dive bars in Las Vegas tend to provide that unique soiree that you can only get when you combine cheap drinks and familiar faces in a seasoned environment. These lesser-known and out of the way establishments from the traditional tourist path are the kind of places that host karaoke on a Wednesday night or the local punk-rock band. Just my kind of place for a dandy good time!
Stage Door Casino
On Flamingo Road, just east of the Cromwell, you’ll find the Stage Door Casino. Don’t let the name fool you. The Stage Door is more like a gaming bar than a casino. You can play your favorite video poker machine as you sit at the bar and enjoy some of the best drink prices you’ll find just off the Las Vegas Strip. They offer $1 Michelob Ultras, $2 Bud drafts, $3 Coronas, and a wide variety of $5 shots.
If you’re hungry, feast on a couple of $2 all-beef hot dogs which is the only item on the menu. You’ll find an abundance of casino employees unwinding after their shift and the random tourist that meandered just a little too far from the city’s bustling crowd. Stage Door has been family operated since 1976. Look for Mama San! She’s been slinging drinks at Stage Door for many years.
The Double Down Saloon
Less than a 10-minute walk from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, located in the area known as the “Fruit Loop” (named for it’s circular, one-way street, where numerous LGBT nightlife is located), is the legendary Double Down Saloon. This dive bar in Las Vegas was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, as an insider hot spot for live punk rock, metal, and rockabilly shows.
Crazy artwork and graffiti are found throughout the bar. Their signature drinks are the Bacon Martini and Ass Juice which is served in a toilet shaped shot glass. Double Down is a stellar place for people watching! There is no kitchen at the Double Down and honestly, you probably don’t wanna eat there anyhow.
Travel downtown, to the birthplace of Las Vegas and discover the oldest, free-standing bar in the city. Atomic Liquors opened is 1952 and was named so for its flat roof which provided a great place to grab a drink and watch the nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site 60 miles northwest of the city.
There are no pool tables, video poker, or live entertainment of any sort. People visit Atomic to socialize, and on any given day it’s popping with locals and the adventurist tourist. Of all the dive bars in Las Vegas, this is the one travelers mostly seek out because of all of its history.
Granted the first “Tavern License” reading, License #00001, this was the place where celebrities including The Rat Pack, Clint Eastwood, and Barbara Streisand would go to hang out to get away from the Las Vegas Strip.
Atomic boasts a long list of signature cocktails, including my favorite “Senora Dances Calypso.” (Shake, Shake, Shake Senora!) Next door, the Atomic Kitchen (think of the younger, trendier sister), provides patrons with a laid back place to eat featuring gourmet bar food and craft cocktails.
Ellis Island Casino & Brewery
Located one block east of the Las Vegas Strip, behind the Bally’s Hotel and Casino, sits Ellis Island. There is so much to love about Ellis Island. Their freshly tapped award-winning beer is $4 a pint.
Join their player’s club rewards program and you’ll get all sorts of great deals like $15 for a full rack of ribs at Ellis Island Barbecue. This place is also home to one of the best karaoke spots in town (which I talk about in my previous blog post titled The Best Karaoke Bars in Las Vegas)! If you love cheap drinks, good food, craft beer, (and karaoke!), then this is the place for you!
One mile east of the Art’s District on Charleston Blvd., in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Las Vegas, you’ll discover another vintage Vegas gem. The Huntridge Tavern is one of the oldest continuously operating bars in Las Vegas, boasting a genuine old school Vegas vibe. Drinks are some of the cheapest you’ll find in town with a dollar fifty PBR and Hamm’s draft beers.
Besides just the old school locals, Huntridge Tavern attracts a ton of tourist attention ever since it was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Tourists will love the divey atmosphere and fun stories shared by the bartenders and regular patrons. There is not a kitchen on-site, however, there is a 24-hour taco shop nearby and many other late-night quick bites.
Sand Dollar Lounge
One mile west of the TI Hotel and Casino on the corner of Spring Mountain and Polaris Avenue is another iconic 60’s spot known as the Sand Dollar Lounge. Back in the day, this was a popular blues bar that brought in all the great musicians, including B.B. King and Mick Jagger. The bar sadly closed in 2007, but was given a makeover and reopened two years later in 2009.
Today, the Sand Dollar Lounge is where you’ll catch many locals from the food and beverage industry congregating after work. Pizza is the only food served at Sand Dollar, but oh my…this is not your average pizza!
The “Champagne and Reefer” is their version of a supreme and features fennel salami, artichoke hearts, and ricotta cheese. I have cravings if it’s been more than two weeks without my fix!
Hard Hat Lounge
The Hard Hat Lounge is another dive bar in Las Vegas that has been offering cheap food and drinks for decades.
Located on Industrial Road about one mile northwest from the Las Vegas Arts District, the building originally opened in 1958 as a stand-alone diner. Today it is one of Las Vegas’ oldest continuously operating bars. Inside the Hart Hat Lounge, you’ll find a mural behind the bar that was painted in 1963 by L.A. artist, Frank Bower, to pay for his outrageous bar tab.
Hard Hat Lounge features amazing beer and shot specials, including $1 Sol, $2 draft beers (rotating selection), and $3 shots with a regular priced beer purchase. Also on site is Steel City Sandwich, serving up Pittsburgh style steak and sausage sandwiches. Steelers fans will love this spot!
If you’re looking for the down-to-earth Las Vegas where the real locals come out to play, then these are the best dive bars in Las Vegas for you. Of course, they all have their own unique charm so you’ll just have to find out which one you like best. I must mention, please keep in mind that these are DIVE BARS which means that they aren’t located in the nicest parts of town. Please use caution when visiting the area, especially if you aren’t with a local.
If you’ve been to one of these dive bars, make sure to tell me about your experience in the comment section below. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend making one of these a pit stop on your next trip to the city.
Thanks for reading 🙂 Toodles!
Shaun Marcus leads the Downtown Delights Foodie Tour which takes participants to visit local favorite spots in downtown Las Vegas. Try out some of the city’s local eats from the smaller, off-the-beaten-path venues that most tourists walk right on by. Combined with attractions and tidbits of history, this casual, walking food tour is a great way to discover “the original” Las Vegas.