Some people visit dive bars because the drinks are cheap or they want a relaxed environment. Others visit them because of the character of the bar or no-bulls#$% bartenders. We like them because they’re not filled with tourists and you can usually get a good seat. Part of the point in a dive bar is that no one knows about them. By listing our favorite dive bars, we’re kind of going against the dive bar mentality, but hey, you guys deserve to check out all of what Nashville has to offer.
So what are the criteria for making the best dive bars in Nashville list? Obviously, cheap beer, cash only, crappy food and rugged personnel come into play.
Santa’s Pub has made quite a name for itself over the past year. With a bartender that looks like Santa and year-round Christmas decoration, it’s a place to feel jolly. The outside of the building has several different Santa characters painted on it, and with a holiday wreath on the front door, everyone is welcome. The front deck is usually filled with “hipsters” smoking their cigarettes. The inside has low ceilings and someone is always belting out a random karaoke song. You can also smoke inside Santa’s Pub, so be prepared to wash your clothes when you get home. One amazing thing about Santa is he hasn’t raised his beer prices with inflation, so you can still grab a $2 brewski.
Dino’s is located in East Nashville and according to their Facebook page, is the oldest bars on the East side. I know what you’re thinking, dive bars aren’t allowed to have Facebook pages. However, we believe the new dive bar code of conduct seems to be that they can have Facebook pages, but are never, ever allowed to have a website. From comedy nights to bluegrass, you never know what you’ll walk into at Dino’s Bar. We can guarantee a cheap, cold beer. Some people say the food is great and other’s hate it — inconsistency is just another great thing about dive bars.
The Villager Tavern
The Villager Tavern is located in Hillsboro Village, and unlike the other dive bars mentioned, it’s location is prime time. Squeezed between a popular gift shop and cookware supply store, you might pass this place without thinking twice. We peeked in a few times before deciding it was time to experience all that The Villager Tavern had to offer. I believe it was the middle of a weekday, so we definitely got a couple stares from the regulars. We ordered a beer and went straight to the back to play darts. Grab $7 pitchers until 7pm every Monday through Friday.
Bobby’s Idle Hour
Bobby’s Idle Hour is the only bar on Music Row and has been around since 1979. It’s known for the impromptu jam sessions with music industry veterans and the bar’s regulars. They serve beers starting at $2.50, and in true dive bar fashion, their menu is limited. However, it includes items like a bag of funyuns or a moon pie for $1.00.
Springwater Supper Club
We saved the best dive bar or worst regular bar (depending on how you look at it) for last. Springwater is known for being the diveyest dive bar in Nashville. Super dirty inside, filled to the brim with cigarette smoke and very cheap beer. Most nights there will be a band playing, but if there isn’t, you can play pool or darts. The regulars, rugged and drunk, are as much apart of the culture as the place itself. If you love dive bars, this is your dirty, dive bar heaven.
Tell us your favorite Nashville dive bar in the comments!