Tom’s Tavern, Detroit, Michigan
You might say that Tom’s has nine lives. Open since the 1920s, this ramshackle shanty is one of the oldest bars in Detroit, having weathered Prohibition, burglary, fire and more than one vehicle crashing through its walls. Despite all that hardship, this little lean-to refuses to go down quietly, mostly due to the loyalty of its regulars. The floors slope, the bar is crooked and the open hours are anything but reliable. But the patrons who remember the original owner Tom are so dedicated to the joint that they would serve themselves drinks and clean up at the end of the night when Tom would fall asleep at the bar. Though the tavern isn’t licensed to sell food, people eat here anyway. The current owner treats the bar as an extension of his home, serving up big pots of homemade chili to anyone who’s hungry. Tom’s may not have beer taps, or even sturdy walls, but that hasn’t stopped it from trudging on for over 80 years despite all odds—in true dive bar form.
(Photo courtesy Yelp)
Dan’s Cafe, Washington, D.C.
You might walk right past this Adams Morgan hideout without realizing what lies behind the shutter-shrouded windows and barred door. The only evidence of the bar inside is a worn sign bearing the name—which is fitting considering the rest of Dan’s no-frills style. Blinking neon signs and dust-ridden fake plants are the only decorations, and if you have a question about drink prices, consult the scrap of paper that’s nailed to the wall. Air conditioning? Don’t be silly. But, if you’re looking to get drunk quickly and efficiently, Dan’s is the place to do it. The dive provides all the essentials for making your own drink: liquor, a mixer, ice and their signature mixing vehicle—a large squeezable condiment bottle. Dole the booze out, squeeze by squeeze, into shot glasses or straight down the hatch. Tastes just like college.
(Photo courtesy Gallivant)