Ohio is home to some of the best dive bars in the country, with a rich history and unique character that sets them apart from other bars. Whether you’re looking for a laid-back atmosphere, cheap drinks, or a place to catch a game with friends, Ohio has a dive bar to suit your needs. From Cleveland to Columbus, there is no shortage of great dive bars to explore in Ohio.
One of the best dive bars in Ohio is Harbor Inn, located on the West Bank of the Flats in Cleveland. With bragging rights as the oldest continually operating bar in Cleveland, established in 1895, Harbor Inn is near and dear to the heart of locals. TripSavvy named Harbor Inn as the best dive bar in the state, citing its friendly atmosphere, cheap drinks, and live music as some of the reasons why it’s a must-visit spot.
In Columbus, Dick’s Den is a popular dive bar that has been serving up cheap drinks and live music for over 50 years. The bar’s laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With a rotating lineup of local musicians and a pool table in the back, Dick’s Den is the perfect spot to unwind after a long day.
History of The Best Dive Bars in Ohio
Dive bars have been an integral part of Ohio’s drinking culture for over a century. These no-frills establishments are beloved by locals for their cheap drinks, unpretentious atmosphere, and often colorful history. Here’s a brief overview of the history of dive bars in Ohio.
During the Prohibition era in the 1920s and early 1930s, many Ohioans turned to speakeasies and underground bars to get their fix of alcohol. These illicit establishments were often located in basements, back rooms, and other hidden locations, and were operated by bootleggers who smuggled in alcohol from Canada and other nearby countries.
After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Ohio’s drinking culture underwent a major transformation. Many former speakeasies and underground bars became legitimate establishments, but retained their gritty, no-frills atmosphere. These bars, which often catered to working-class patrons, became known as “dives” or “dive bars.”
Today, dive bars continue to thrive in Ohio and are a cherished part of the state’s drinking culture. While some have closed down over the years, many have managed to survive and even thrive despite the rise of craft cocktails and upscale bars. For many Ohioans, there’s nothing quite like grabbing a cheap beer or shot at their favorite dive bar and shooting the breeze with the regulars.
Top Rated Best Dive Bars in Ohio
Ohio has a thriving dive bar scene, with each major city offering unique and exciting options. Here are some of the top-rated dive bars in Ohio, grouped by city:
- Northside Yacht Club: This dive bar in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood offers a laid-back atmosphere, live music, and a menu of creative cocktails and craft beers.
- The Comet: A longtime favorite of Cincinnati locals, The Comet offers a rotating selection of craft beers, delicious food, and a cozy, welcoming atmosphere.
- Harbor Inn: According to TripSavvy, Harbor Inn is the best dive bar in Ohio. As the oldest continually operating bar in Cleveland, this establishment has a special place in the hearts of locals. It offers cheap drinks, live music, and a friendly atmosphere.
- Hoopples: This Cleveland dive bar has been around since 1935 and offers a great selection of beers and bar food. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
- Ace of Cups: This dive bar in Columbus’ Clintonville neighborhood has a retro vibe and offers live music, cheap drinks, and a cozy atmosphere.
- The Tree Bar: The Tree Bar has been a fixture of the Columbus dive bar scene since 1978. It offers a great selection of beers, live music, and a laid-back atmosphere.
- The Trolley Stop: This Dayton dive bar offers a great selection of beers, delicious food, and a cozy atmosphere. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.
- Blind Bob’s: Blind Bob’s is a popular dive bar in Dayton’s Oregon District. It offers live music, a great selection of beers, and a laid-back atmosphere.
- The Ottawa Tavern: This dive bar in Toledo’s historic Old West End neighborhood offers a great selection of beers, live music, and a cozy atmosphere.
- The Bronze Boar: The Bronze Boar is a popular dive bar in Toledo’s downtown area. It offers a great selection of beers, delicious food, and a laid-back atmosphere.
Whether you’re a local or just passing through, these top-rated dive bars in Ohio are worth checking out for a great night out.
Unique Features of Ohio Dive Bars
Ohio dive bars are known for their unique features that set them apart from other bars. These features are what make them popular among locals and tourists alike. Here are some of the unique features of Ohio dive bars:
One of the most appealing features of Ohio dive bars is the cheap drinks. Unlike other bars that charge exorbitant prices for drinks, dive bars in Ohio offer affordable drinks that won’t break the bank. This is one of the reasons why dive bars are popular among college students and young professionals who are on a tight budget.
Ohio dive bars are known for their no-frills atmosphere. They are often small and dimly lit, with a few tables and chairs scattered around. The decor is usually minimal, with little to no artwork or decorations on the walls. This creates a laid-back atmosphere that is perfect for those who want to relax and unwind after a long day.
Many Ohio dive bars feature live music, which is another reason why they are popular among locals and tourists. The music ranges from local bands to national acts, and the genres vary from rock and roll to blues and jazz. This creates a lively atmosphere that is perfect for those who love music and want to have a good time.
Another unique feature of Ohio dive bars is that they often only accept cash. This may seem inconvenient, but it actually adds to the charm of the bar. It creates a sense of authenticity and tradition that is often missing from other bars that accept credit cards and other forms of payment.
Ohio dive bars are also known for their friendly staff. The bartenders and servers are often locals who have been working at the bar for years. They are knowledgeable about the drinks and the atmosphere, and they are always happy to chat with customers and make them feel welcome. This creates a sense of community that is often missing from other bars.
Overall, Ohio dive bars offer a unique experience that is hard to find elsewhere. From the cheap drinks to the no-frills atmosphere, these bars are perfect for those who want to relax and have a good time without breaking the bank.
Ohio Dive Bar Etiquette
Ohio is home to some of the best dive bars in the country. These bars are known for their laid-back atmosphere, cheap drinks, and friendly regulars. However, if you’re new to the dive bar scene, it’s important to know the unwritten rules of Ohio dive bar etiquette. Here are a few tips to help you fit in and have a good time:
Cash is King
Most dive bars in Ohio are cash-only establishments. Make sure you bring enough cash to cover your drinks and any food you may order. Don’t assume that the bar has an ATM, as many dive bars do not. If you’re not sure how much to tip, a good rule of thumb is to leave a dollar per drink.
Respect the Regulars
Dive bars are often frequented by regulars who have been coming to the bar for years. They may have their own seats, their own drinks, and their own rituals. It’s important to respect these regulars and not disrupt their routines. If you’re new to the bar, introduce yourself and be friendly. You never know, you may make a new friend.
Don’t be a Jerk
Ohio dive bars are known for their friendly atmosphere, so don’t ruin it by being a jerk. Don’t start fights, don’t insult the staff or other patrons, and don’t be overly loud or obnoxious. If you’re not sure how to behave, just follow the lead of the regulars.
Don’t Expect Craft Cocktails
Dive bars are not known for their fancy cocktails or extensive wine lists. If you’re looking for a craft cocktail, you’re better off going to a different type of bar. Dive bars are all about cheap beer, shots, and simple mixed drinks. Don’t expect the bartender to know how to make a fancy cocktail, and don’t be surprised if they don’t have any fancy garnishes.
No Cell Phones
Many dive bars in Ohio have a strict no cell phone policy. This is because they want to encourage conversation and socializing among patrons. If you need to make a call or send a text, step outside the bar. Don’t be that person who’s always on their phone and not engaging with the people around them.
By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to enjoy all that Ohio dive bars have to offer. Remember, dive bars are all about having a good time and making new friends, so relax, have a drink, and enjoy the company of your fellow patrons.
Safety Tips for Visiting Dive Bars
Visiting a dive bar can be a fun and unique experience, but it’s important to keep safety in mind. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe and enjoyable time at Ohio’s best dive bars:
1. Know Your Limits
It’s important to know your limits when it comes to alcohol consumption. Set a limit for yourself before you start drinking and stick to it. Pace yourself and alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
2. Stay Alert
Dive bars can sometimes attract a rough crowd, so it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your drink at all times and never leave it unattended. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, don’t hesitate to leave.
3. Plan Ahead
Before heading out to a dive bar, make sure you have a plan in place for getting home safely. Designate a sober driver or arrange for a ride-sharing service. Don’t drink and drive.
4. Dress Appropriately
Dive bars can have a more relaxed dress code, but it’s still important to dress appropriately. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or flashy clothing that could attract unwanted attention.
5. Be Respectful
Dive bars can have a unique atmosphere and culture, so it’s important to be respectful of the establishment and its patrons. Avoid starting fights or causing disruptions, and always treat others with kindness and respect.
By following these safety tips, visitors to Ohio’s best dive bars can have a fun and memorable experience while staying safe and responsible.
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Ohio is home to some of the best dive bars in the country, offering a unique and authentic experience for those looking for a break from the typical bar scene. From Columbus to Cleveland, there are plenty of options for those looking to grab a cheap drink and enjoy the company of locals.
Dick’s Den in Columbus has been named the best dive bar in Ohio by MSN, and for good reason. This iconic hole-in-the-wall has been serving up Stroh’s and PBRs for over 50 years, and its no-nonsense atmosphere is the perfect place to unwind after a long day.
For those in Cleveland, the Harbor Inn is a must-visit. This classic dive bar has been a staple of the city’s bar scene for over 70 years, and its cheap drinks and friendly regulars make it a favorite among locals.
But Ohio’s dive bars aren’t just limited to its major cities. Johnnie’s Tavern in Columbus is a classic neighborhood dive bar, while Lisska Bar & Grill offers a glimpse into the blue-collar post-shift stops of the past.
No matter where you go in Ohio, you’re sure to find a dive bar that fits your style. So grab a cold beer, strike up a conversation with a stranger, and enjoy the unique experience that only a dive bar can offer.