If you love Detroit, you might just love a good dive bar. There is nothing more quintessentially Detroit then some windowless joint on the corner with only a High Life sign and a blinking light beckoning passersby to see if there is anyone inside.
Detroit may be poor in some areas, but it is rich in dive bars. The very layout of Detroit begs
to be covered with saloons. Going back to the days where auto factories dominated the landscape, the neighborhoods are laid out in a fashion that craves a tavern at the end of every few blocks. Many of those watering holes have since fallen to decay, disappearance, and gone the way of the Packard Plant, but what about those that haven’t?
Those proud survivors. The ones bravely serving up ice cold High Life and $2 dollar shots while so many bars and restaurants simply want to shake down their patrons with $14 martinis and $8 drafts.
To some outside of the Motor City when they hear the phrase “Detroit dive bar” they most likely flip through a quick reel of pistol whippings, stabbings, or waiting for an ambulance after being shot in a parking lot. We on the other hand have found a fantastic array of watering holes offering up endless septuagenarian bar tenders, eclectic juke boxes, two dollar Stroh’s, and gut-tightening laughter.
We here at Hell Yeah are no strangers to a dive bar. It is the kind of place where you can rub elbows with a local attorney, journalist, poet, performer or the borderline derelict (like ourselves), and if you remember it, be all the better for it. We have been compiling a list of our favorites the last couple of years. This list is by no means definite or one to end the discussion. We invite you, the reader, the drinker, to write us and agree or disagree, offer us up your suggestions. We’ll have to hoist a glass in your favorite dive to decide, but it will be our absolute pleasure.
The Two Way Inn
17897 Mt Elliott St, Detroit, MI
The oldest bar in Detroit. Proudly serving since the 1840’s. It is Not only fun, cheap, and bizarre, but also haunted. A must stop on Mt. Elliot. The owner is almost always there grilling up something tasty and with $2 Stroh’s, PBR and Fireball shots, this is our favorite place to take a ride on the dive bar train.
2644 Harrison St, Detroit, MI
Located in North Corktown, this bar is in one of the up and coming neighborhoods in Detroit. This is where they drink. It’s half city, half country out this way, and you might find a pheasant or two to share your brew with you. It’s also home to a wild St. Patrick’s Day Party every year. Fun fact: It is the birthplace of this site, spawned over some cheap beers and Tullamore Dew. Forget a hospital, this baby was born on a picnic table.
3930 Cass Ave., Detroit, MI
No matter how hard we tried to scratch the Old Miami from this list, it kept making its way back in. So many silly, saucy and strange memories of this place. Has to be part of any dive bar list from Detroit. Originally set up for Vietnam vets this saloon is a must stop on any Detroit bar crawl.
My Dad’s Place
14911 Kercheval Ave, Detroit, MI
An east side staple. Comfortable like your grandparents’ basement if it had 40 seats and every liquor you could imagine. All the dive bar staples, fun bartenders, good jukebox and great, quick food to help you enjoy all the good drinks.
130 Cadillac Square, Detroit, MI
Located right in the heart of downtown, a few blocks from Campus Martius this is a long time favorite of journalists and businessmen alike and is home to great cheeseburgers and the hands down the strongest Long Island in Motown.
2932 Caniff, Hamtramck, MI
4130 E 8 Mile Rd, Detroit, MI
One of our absolute personal favorites. Extremely nice bartenders, High Life on tap, mixed, exciting crowd, live entertainment and playfully located on 8 Mile.
14716 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI
Been told a time or two to avoid Marshall’s. Couldn’t do it. This place is your quintessential Dive Bar. Dark, somewhat creepy, $2 cans of Milwaukee’s Best. Jukebox. Love this place.
3736 3rd St, Detroit, MI
Located on 3rd street, just outside of the Cass Corridor. From the outside Jumbo’s looks like a large cement shoe box and may turn the weak-hearted away. But inside you’ll find kind barkeeps, cheap drinks and reasonable snacks.
The Painted Lady
2930 Jacob St, Hamtramck, MI
A Hamtramck staple. A one time speak easy. Home to retro arcade games. Killer drink specials. Gets a bit rowdy after midnight, and like any legendary dive bar has residents upstairs.
10093 W. 7 Mile Rd .Detroit, MI
You can’t help but holler out in joy when your car tires roll onto the crushed gravel behind Tom’s Tavern. This place is truly epic. A slanted floor, a true ‘dive bar junkie’ jukebox, ice cold beer from the floor cooler and a kitchen that wouldn’t look out of place in Breaking Bad. It’s been around for a long time and if you hang around late enough Ron will show you the recent attempts by hooligans to break in and steal their hooch.
The Stonehouse Bar
19803 Ralston St. Detroit, MI
No list discussing Detroit’s saloon options is complete without The Stonehouse. Carved out of an original farmhouse by the State Fairgrounds. The Stonehouse encapsulates the dive bar concept in a western outpost sort of way. Straight out of Tombstone, it was the haunt of the famous Prohibition era mobsters The Purple Gang, owned by a retired Detroit Detective and has been voted Michigan’s Best Biker Bar countless years in a row. Don’t let a throng of bikers drinking a Sunday away dissuade you from stopping in. It’s a friendly melting pot of people from the suburbs and the city.
3500 Gilbert St, Detroit, MI
A long and storied past intermingles with the warm air, cold beer and the smell of cigars lightly seeping out of their homemade cigar lounge. Great place to watch a game, tip back a highlife and unwind. A bar that has been proudly serving Detroit since 1907 and where Manya the 90 year old owner was born, worked and partied her entire life. If you play your cards right Debbie will let you have some cheetos and Manya will give you a hug on the way out. This place should be on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. As of this update, Manya has sadly passed. She will be missed by a lot of folks, but going to Abick’s and having a good time is a great way to say thanks.
The Motor City Sports Bar
9122 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck MI
Do not let the words “sports bar” fool you. This is not Buffalo Wild Wings. The beer is much cheaper and the food much better. This is a dive with televisions, not a sports bar. This place has dollar Labatts and Molsons on draft and damn near the best burger in Detroit. Also try the killer eastern european sausages called “Chevapis” served up with tomato salad and feta. Hold down a bar stool and quickly get lost in the dollar beers and digital juke box.
1503 Springwells, Detroit MI
Another Southwest Detroit bar that was left out before. This is a must stop on any tour of Southwest. Pool table, buckets of beer, televisions placed right into the woodwork behind the booze. Definitely a locals place, with super cool bartenders and cheap drinks. Our favorite feature: a defunct hot dog maker right below the projector TV. Excellent.
Midway Sports Bar & Grill
24080 Schoenherr Rd, Warren, MI
Some of the greatest dive bars come in box form. A brick and mortar approach that creates just enough space for a great time. The Midway Sports Bar & Grill in Warren, just outside of the city limits is a serious contender for best drink in the Metro Area. Iconic bartenders rife with wisdom are no strangers to a stiff drink. Ask for a shot and prepare to sip four inches of whiskey from a rocks glass. Beer is cold. Has all the bar games a patron can ask for. From Keno to pull tabs, to a great jukebox the Midway is a great stop before a night out, or a destination for a relaxing afternoon.
Sherry’s on Vernor
7631 W. Vernor Hwy Detroit, MI
Right across the street from the famous restaurant La Nuestra Familia in Southwest Detroit, Sherry’s on Vernor will not disappoint any dive bar aficionado. You can sit with the owner and hear every brand of Motor City tale, while the bartenders roll their eyes. So stop by and drain cheap beers, pour dollars into the jukebox or play a tune on the piano. If you are lucky you can saddle up next to the 90-year old lady who pushes her walker over to Sherry’s each afternoon for a couple of pitchers.
Whiskey In The Jar
2741 Yemans St. Hamtramck, MI
Mention dive Bars anywhere near Hamtramck and somebody will be advocating for this place. Indiscreet on the outside, warm and friendly on the inside, Whiskey in the Jar will win you over with it’s warm party time atmosphere. Drink for cheap, laugh at the bumper stickers covering the beer coolers, and soak up some of that crisp Motor City air while hanging out on the back patio.
7677 Dix St. Detroit, MI
Before we even finished explaining who we were the bartender opened a couple of High Lifes and said the next one was on her. A family atmosphere of regulars makes anyone feel instantly at home. You can play pool, catch a game on of their big TV’s or just relax and sip cold beers. A must do on the Southwest Detroit Gringo Trail.