Detroit Dive Bar Nancy Whiskey

10 Detroit Dive Bars You’ll Love

July 30, 2013
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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 peppered 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.

Two Way Inn Detroit

Photo Credit: Metro Times

The Two Way Inn

17897 Mt Elliott St, Detroit, MI

The oldest bar in Detroit. 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.

Detroit Dive Bar Nancy Whiskey

Nancy Whiskey

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 here site over some cheap beers and Tullamore Dew. Forget a hospital, this baby was born on a picnic table.

Old Miami Detroit

Photo Credit: Detroit Moxie

 

 

Old Miami

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 Bar Detroit

Photo Credit: Pure Detroit

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.

Greenwich Time Pub

Greenwich Time

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.

Kwicky Bar Detroit

Kwicky Bar

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.

marshalls bar detroit

Marshall’s Bar

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.

Jumbo’s

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.

Comet Bar

128 Henry St, Detroit, MI

The Comet Bar provides some of the best people watching in the Motor City. Not to mention some of the best damn blues outside of New Orleans. If you like $2 Black Label beer, this place may just become your home away from home.

The Painted Lady Detroit

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.

So after reading this list.. what places would you add? Here are ten more we wrote about.

 

100 Comments

  1. Tom’s Tavern
    7 Mike just west of Wyoming

    • tom’s tavern is the Best ever! had such a blast there!

    • Is Tom’s still open? Used to go there in the late 70’s / early 80’s!!! Loved the slanted floor, old Up North look and Tom, who usually fell asleep, resting his head on the bar, by midnight….
      .

    • +1

    • Without Tom’s this list is not quite legit

  2. i like ‘em all in one form or another. Most of my favorites are all gone. You know, the ones located in the middle of the block that you can walk to in the old neighborhoods. Hamtramck and the Michigan ave and Lonyo/Central cor adore were full of them.

  3. Two Way Inn rocks!!!

    • agree 1000&1%

  4. So you’ve never been to Abick’s in SWDetroit or it would be on this list….?

  5. Temple.

    Little rough but good people there.

    • I second that for Temple. Great for Pre- Masonic buzz.

  6. NORWALK BAR in Hamtramck

    • The Norwalk and the Arcade Bar are both closed. Norwalk’s been closed for over a decade.

    • yes w/Eddie PRICELESSxo

      line’m up

      :P

    • loved the Norwalk… was sitting at the bar when Princess Dianas death came trailing across the TV screen. Great juke box.

      • I was also at the Norwalk when Princess Diana died, so strange. It was the first time ever saw Eddie the bartender look up from the bar. He yelled at everyone to pipe down as it came on.

      • I was at the Zoo Bar in Lincoln, NE when Princess Diana died, also a great hole-in-the-wall bar with great live music!

    • I so miss the Norwalk! Pam and I used to go there all the time. Put some Johnny cash or Patsy on the jukebox! $1.00 drafts and wells! Great place.

  7. I miss the Arcade Bar and the Bat Lounge…

    • Arcade reopened as the Bathtub Pub. Great place. Only bar I know of with it’s own public garden

    • Anyone remember Vic and Marge tending bar at the Arcade in the 70’s?
      “Bum!, Bum!, you’re a Bum!” Vic always yelled at everyone.

  8. Abick’s and the Bronx should be on that list.

    • My friend, the Bronx lost ‘dive bar’ status about 10 years ago

  9. Circa 1890 on Cass under the ugliest awning in Detroit (the “white octopus” on Cass near Ferry). Although a lifelong Detroiter and moved to Midtown in 2003, never went in there until last summer. Sat next to an older gentleman at the bar who eventually started telling us stories of living near Olympia, and beating members of the Red Wings “Production Line” at pool. “I didn’t know they was famous.” True or not, this is the best part of hanging out in dives. Meeting history.

  10. you forgot Toms Tavern on 7 mile between livernois and wyoming

  11. Oh! You forgot the Stonehouse. Longest continuously operating bar in Detroit and once the hangout of the Purple Gang.

    • Not true at all

  12. #11 STEVE’s PLACE!!!!!

    • WOW I used to go there all the time. Often wondered if Steve & Sophia were still around. Does anyone know?

      • I want to love Steve’s Place so bad and I have been a bunch of times but I was in there just last weekend…… and those two seriously need to call it quits on running a bar. The place is in shambles, they can barely move and Steve whispered a barely coherent racist rant to me when we came in. (It doesnt even need to be repeated) The place had a bates motel vibe to it as well. Seriously creepy.

        They are a product of a time long gone and the place just needs to close and make room for something else. It could be such a prime location for an awesome bar. Plus, they need to enjoy their retirement with the obviously little time they have left. There is no way they can handle that place now.

    • Tom’s Tav and Steve’s Place should be way up on this list.

  13. BATHTUB PUB, has the best burgers downtown by far. the community garden attached that you can eat in is beautiful! it’s a newer pub spot in Detroit, but is already gaining a following and will continue to!

    • Bathtub pub has awful bartenders. They tried to charge us for drink we did not have. It wasnt a mistake, the place was empty.

  14. 7 Brothers Hamtramck

  15. Marshalls bar ROCKS! Iv been there quite a few times and the people r nice . Even if u never been there before they make u feel very conforable and welcomed.

  16. Cadieux Cafe!!!

    • Cadieux Cafe is where it is at!

  17. What about the Bronx Bar?
    http://www.realdetroitweekly.com/detroit/the-bronx-bar/Content?oid=1203191

    • Article is about dive bars, not trendy hipster bars.

  18. how ABOUT jUMBOS ON 2ED

  19. Casey’s, on Michigan Ave just west of the Old stadium.

  20. caseys bar, next to the old tiger stadium

    • There is no more old tigers stadium. So sad, My childhood in ruins.

  21. I heard that the Comet Bar is closing soon since they didn’t pay their lease.

    • I actually think it has more to do with the development of the new Red Wings arena.

      • The cab company owns all that land that is now being sold in a package. The Comet is waiting for a proper offer for the business from the lawyers handling the new Hockey Arena Entertainment Complex that will mow down 18+ square city blocks in that area. Go to the Comet while it is still there – Terry Okee on Friday and Saturday nights is a blast. Fab back yard too.

      • The sold the buildings for millions to Illitch. Dont feel bad for them. It is a super bummer it is closing though. Seriously the best people watching/ Karaoke in town.

  22. what about paychecks lounge?!?

    https://www.facebook.com/paychecks

    http://www.paycheckslounge.com/

  23. two way has always been # 1 in my book !

  24. Why would you even think of taking The Old Miami off the list? From the barber’s chair to the pond, it’s got so many hidden pleasures all in one place.

  25. Honest John’s!

  26. Nancy Whiskey is a fun place to go.

  27. Green Dot Stables. New place. Awesome food and a dive bar.

    • if green dot is a dive bar, then so is red robin. they have terrible photoshop on the walls and occasionally serve kangaroo.

  28. What about Jolly Old Timers on Forest? That place is great, and the drinks are STRONG.

    • SHHHHH. Dont ruin the secret.

  29. Bathtub Pub and Honest John’s get my vote.

  30. Charlie’s on spring wells
    Black horse on Jefferson
    Stonehouse
    Abick’s
    Ljs

  31. Red’s Park-Inn, off Michigan Ave on Central St

  32. Great post. One to add to your list of must check out is The Dakota Inn Rathskeller. I went to high school with the owner who has kept this beautiful, unique and authentic German pub going and viable since his grandfather opened the doors in 1933. http://www.dakota-inn.com/

  33. Stonehouse Bar Detroit’s oldest continously operating bar. Located in an 1860 Victorian house at 19803 Ralston St — off of State Fair. Biker friendly.

  34. Tom’s Tavern and Abicks!

  35. What about the golden Greek on 8 mile

  36. I would have put Small’s on this list way before the Painted Lady. But that’s just my personal opinion! The Belmont is also a good choice.

    • The Belmont closed.

  37. That Tom’s Tavern is not on this list is a travesty

    • agreed.

  38. Great people !

  39. Sherrys On Vernor great bar in the hood. Reasonable prices on beer & shots

  40. The bathtub pub is the best hidden gem. Bartenders r the best and food is amazing

  41. Love Jumbo’s!! My friend’s family owns it and are awesome people!! I drive from Plymouth,mi to go there cause the atmosphere is so relaxing. (No I don’t get free drinks :)

  42. Instead of Painted Lady, Suzy’s on Evaline!!!

  43. I stumbled on Motor City Bar in Hamtramack, right on Joseph Campau,next to McDonalds, of all things The bartender girls are all friendly, had their burger voted No 1 in Detroit a couple of years back. There are lots of interesting and friendly people there, including the owner, tell him Art suggested the place and see how he reacts.

  44. Polish Sea League on the corner of Edwin and Brombach in Hamtramck. They treat you like family. Belmont is closed, again. Choose Suzy’s or Baker’s Streetcar before going to the Painted Lady in Hamtown. I also like Honest Johns in the Corridor. Checker Bar used to be ok but haven’t been there in a decade.

  45. Re: Steve’s Place- believe it or not, Steve and Sophie are still alive and “working”!

  46. Whiskey in the Jar in Hamtramck. Friendly atmosphere and great jukebox.

    • Hell Yes

  47. Great article, and great additional listings in the comments. Would love addresses or cross streets though.

  48. Blue Diamond Lounge on Campbell in SW Detroit

  49. Wow…I can’t believe Jumbo’s is still around. I remember that from when I was a kid and lived in the Corridor.

  50. Steves next to Saint Andrews?

    I love the Miami and am a regular but its just not a dive anymore. Temple bar should take its place.

  51. Head Coach in Hamtown is a great dive bar! Green Dot is very nice; great drinks, neat little sammiches — but it’s not a dive bar. Green Dot is a restaurant.

  52. Gusoline alley <3

    • Gusoline Alley is the antithesis of a dive bar. Its not in Detroit, and its biggest problem is it trying to be a dive bar, thats a moniker that is earned not made.

  53. Tom’s Tavern @ 7 mile and Wyoming is a must

  54. Texas Bar! grew up in that bar & it’s right down the street from My Dads Bar the old City Limits.

  55. How about Kelly’s in Hamtramck on Holbrook! Always had a good time….

    • Excellent choice!

  56. The Old Miami=EPIC Backyard including coy pond with waterfall

  57. Suzy’s in Hamtramck.

  58. Cutter’s up in by Eastern Market. Best burgers you’ll find

  59. Is anybody familiar with the Dew Drop Inn on Woodward at Six – You had to go in thru the back – you couldn’t even tell it was there

  60. Bronx Bar and Cadieux Cafe.

  61. Anyone remember Vic and Marge at the Arcade in the ’70s?

  62. Anybody remember Memory Lane on Jefferson right downtown by the law school?

    Post Bar downtown isn’t “dive”? Eh, could go either way I guess.

  63. zs villa

  64. How can you not mention Cadieux Cafe?!?!? So much history there! Not to mention the first feather bowling bar in the country…

  65. Ty’s Place on 7 Mile near Gratiot, closed now or Suzie’s on 8 Mile

  66. Sherry’s On Vernor!
    Hands Down!!
    Great and friendly staff
    Like Cheers Everybody knows your name.

  67. Kuch ‘s Korner in Hamtramck. Anyone remember this one?

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