The Best Dive Bars in New Orleans

While other cities are seeing dive bars relegated to extinction one by one, New Orleans’ favorite (slightly sketchy) neighborhood haunts are going strong, fueled by a steady flow of regulars, newcomers and incredibly flexible hours of operation (most are open into the wee hours of the night, if not 24 hours). It’s here in these dive bars that one can get a glimpse of the true character of a neighborhood’s core clientele, often stocked with novels, dartboards, famous musicians, knick-knacks and a substantial selection of bottom-shelf beer. Settle into a seat, strike up a conversation with a stranger and prepare to become immersed in a world that’s simultaneously familiar and incredibly bizarre. —Sarah Baird

  • 1

    Brothers III

    A jukebox full of country classics and a roster of the city’s most impressive barflies and colorful characters make Brothers III perfect to stumble into almost any time of day. If you’re feeling up to it, shoot a quick game of pool and a chat with one of several (charmingly grumpy) bartenders. In operation for almost 50 years, Brothers III has been doing something right—smoky air, low ceilings and all.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • lots of rum
    • games
  • 2

    Bud Rip's Old Ninth Ward

    A rollicking 9th Ward spot that looks something like a covered school cafeteria, Bud Rip’s is a perfectly inelegant space full of ground-in dirt and show flyers. From weekly rock ‘n' roll dance parties to octogenarian regulars, Bud Rip’s is a spot to end—not begin—one’s night out.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • games
    • dancing
  • 3

    Lamplighter Lounge

    It might be a bit of a haul to get to this joint, but the suburban dive bar is worth it. Sandwiched between a Best Buy and a Panera Bread, the Lamplighter draws in patrons with a giant, scripted neon blue sign that’s almost as large as the building itself. This is a true regulars bar, so be prepared for some stares and (potentially) the third degree. However, patrons quickly warm up and welcome you into the club, whether you’re interested in doing your laundry or playing chess.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • sports
    • games
    • historic
  • 4

    Saturn Bar

    With its intergalactic theme and throwback vibe, The Saturn Bar’s hours can be determined by the light outside: If their neon sign is on, they’re open. An ancient building in several different stages of disrepair, photos of past events and knick knacks are tacked up all over the walls, with the party often spilling out the front door into St. Claude Avenue. A longtime haunt for hipsters and cool kids, Saturn Bar hosts a “mod dance party” once a week.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • live music
    • dancing
  • 5

    Snake and Jake's

    New Orleans's most famous and nationally celebrated dive bar (read: Anthony Bourdain is a fan) is forever dripping in Christmas lights and full of a mixed bag of regulars and Tulane college kids. While it may look like a slightly dilapidated shack from the outside, Snake and Jake’s is a graffiti-covered love letter to the city.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • games
    • late night
    • singles scene
  • 6

    The Club Ms. Mae's

    This classic Uptown dive received a new wave of attention when New Orleans’ Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (and his flowing locks of hair) made a pilgrimage to the bar after a Saints win to buy a round for everyone. Cavernous, dark and sticky, Ms. Mae’s—open 24-hours—is cash-only and the kind of place where drinks are simple and cheap. (Seriously, don’t ask for a cocktail.)

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • sports
    • games
    • singles scene
  • 7

    The Saint

    Tucked away in the Lower Garden District, The Saint is an underground paradise for brooding twenty-somethings and those looking for the kind of night where one is either drinking to remember or drinking to forget. A steady rotation of electronic DJs, punk bands and a stellar jukebox means that a night at The Saint is an ever-changing game of boozy roulette.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • jukebox
    • live music
    • tiki
    • craft cocktails
    • sports
    • games
    • singles scene
    • outdoors / patio
  • 8

    Verret's Lounge

    Recently reopened in the middle of Central City, Verret’s has transformed from an all-but-shuttered space into a location with both neighborhood bar and destination location potential. Second Line gear dots the walls, a patio is in development and a chatty, warm host of bartenders ensure everyone feels comfortable and welcome. The bar is lined in a phenomenal red naugahyde and a black-and-white checkered dance floor is there for the taking, if you feel so inclined.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft cocktails
    • outdoor / patio
    • dancing

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