Restaurants + Bars

Dive Bars We Love

The air is thick with smoke and the walls are soft from suffering decades of dart pecks, lit cigarettes and drunken brawls. Three or four red-faced patrons slouch over Budweisers at the old wood-top bar, telling a smiling barkeep their tales of Nascar races, Harley rides, or bar fights. Suddenly, the door creaks open and, after their eyes adjust to the lights of the outside, the barflies cry out in unison, "Hey, Tony!" The newcomer joins them at the bar, where the drinking and storytelling resume between fits of guffawing. This scene is the norm at places called "dives" -- the dimly lit watering holes that have seen generations of booze hounds through rough nights. The term comes from England, where undesirable clientele would dive into underground pubs. Another, unconfirmed explanation claims the places were so named because guests had to dive under tables to avoid stray bullets from Western-style fights. Whatever its origins, the dive bar has evolved into a neighborhood joint where the beer is cold, and usually cheap; the bartender is your friend; and, at the more traditional spots, the music is country. South Florida has plenty to choose from, but we've narrowed it down to 15 of our most beloved neighborhood dives to help you find your happy place, whether it's in West Palm Beach or Florida City. Make sure to bring cash, because these joints will rarely take American Express. -- Maria Murriel by Maria Murriel, Sun Sentinel
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