California Dive Bars

Talk about longevity, when was Would You Believe a pop show?

Growing up in Silverlake I was always fascinated by this bar in Atwater, Club Tee Gee… We used to go to the bakery on that block and I wondered what was going on inside. This is a LONGTIME ago and I wonder if it’s still there. Also I guess Dresden Room isn’t a dive bar but it’s a great piano bar. In Santa Barbara I used to go to some great dive bars in college. We moved back many decades later and some still remain. Sportsman Lodge and the bar at Arnoldi’s (unchanged in 40 years) are both going strong. I play in a bocce league at Arnoldis and the same guys pretty much inhabit the bar stools every night.


This makes me want to learn more.

Shots don’t need to be mixed or too carefully measured

mesh outfits and glitter yes please

I didn’t mention Annie’s because I don’t want anyone to know!

Now, the Hearth is another one that good a slight update and looks great!


Back in the late '80s there was a really good Cambodian restaurant that set up in a dive bar in downtown Oakland. So for a while my favorite Cambodian place had the unlikely name of The Mint Julep.


Rossoti’s Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.


La Rocca’s Corner, North Beach, SF !!!


We have a couple up here . Nothing like King Eddy’s in Los Angeles. I hear it changed . I’ll never forget my nephew dropping me off at 730 in the morning. It was my day off working for him . Hmm this looks like a start to walking down town Los Angeles. Upon entering I saw the food menu posted on the Pepsi sign . Typical hot dogs and canned chili. I’m completely in . Sitting down . I’ll have a bottle of Bud . Ok . Noticed a plexiglass glass barrier for smoking . There was a man behind it with a flannel shirt. With bright white dentures smoking. Looked straight out of Terminator . Took a sip of beer and what caught my eye was two men in those so called wife beater shirts . Looked liked they haven’t bathed in days . Ready to fight each other . Not only that they were both on handicap walkers
You can’t write this stuff . After that I walked Hollywood boulevard. What a day.


It’s become kind of upscale. And very crowded. Still great spot out on that huge patio. Have to go during the week because the weekends get jammed.

The Gold Room, 1558 W Sunset Blvd, LA, cheap beer and shot specials, peanuts.

Well said.

Underground tunnels are a plus in my book too

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So glad I got to see it before it became hipster.

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There are still a lot of dives in SF but not sure you can get drinks under $5 (like almost nothing is $5 here anymore).

Besides what’s been mentioned:

  • Emperor Nortons
  • Casanova
  • Kilowatt
  • Delirium (as divey as you can get — I heard they redid the bathrooms but back when I was young and living in the mission, we made a site to rank bathrooms at bars in the mission and delirium was the overwhelming “winner”)
  • Phone Booth
  • El Farolito Bar (you can skip the lines for a burrito next door and order one from the bartenders)
  • Pop’s
  • Aunt Charlies
  • Ha Ra (they remodeled a couple years ago so it’s nicer looking but still the same divey feel and people. Good pool games. Get a burrito from Los Hermanos across the street inside the liquor store)
  • Columbus Cafe (can’t count how many Golden Boy slices I’ve had there)
  • Gino & Carlo (along with Vesuvio they’re the NB bars that open early in the morning)
  • Specs
  • Molotov’s
  • The Cinch
  • Riptide
  • Aces

Definitely some more but those are off the top of my head/ones I (used to?) frequent.


Excellent choices. Haven’t been to Ha Ra in ages, but I remember it fondly. In the general vicinity, I’d add Jonell’s, with a classic horseshoe bar setup.

Specs has been one of my favorites since the early '80s. Was last there a few years ago, but I don’t think it had changed appreciably since I first started going there.

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Does Gino and Carlo still put out a tray of food during happy hour from time to time ?

I don’t know now, but you asking that does make me think I remember randomly seeing trays of food in there a couple times in the past.

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Ha, funny you mention Jonell’s. I’ve only ever been in there once but we walked by it the other day on the way back from Pinecrest and my gf asked if I’d ever been.

But that reminds me of a real dive which I somehow forgot on my original list — Geary Club. One of the diviest of dives up there with The Brown Jug and 21 Club (RIP to both).

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Nice additions there for SF - I see there’s a spot called Dalva where the Albion used to rot on 16th St. Guessing not a dive bar?

Correction - it’s Delirium - thanks chiel

Free food to prolong extended bouts of drinking is a nice dive bar tradition. Few places down this way still give u a hot dog or taco from time to time all a step up from peanuts and popcorn.

Well, the Albion wasn’t around for me but looking online it seems to be where Delirium is. Was it on the corner (Delirium) or next to the Roxie (Dalva).

Not really relevant to this thread but Dalva actually used to be my favorite bar in the city and one I’d meet my then gf at after work regularly. Not really a dive though, and they just re-opened after a remodel, and definitely not a dive now. I was just there for a birthday a couple weeks ago and still like it in its current form. The owner Erik is a super person and they make good drinks. He’s also involved in ABV across the street (RIP Tokyo Go Go’s happy hour hand rolls).

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