14 Dive Bar Musts - And the Local Joints Than Have Them

Categories: Dive Bomber

In its continuing dive-bar special, Chow.com recently listed the fourteen elements you need to have a proper dive bar, along with nationwide examples of bars that exemplify these qualities.

Not surprisingly, St. Louis has its own shining examples of each quality.

1. Come Up With a Cool Name Keegan Hamilton covered this territory in January, with his Ten Best Bar Names in St. Louis. Example: Mary's Blue Ribbon Lounge.

2. Choose an Old Building There's no shortage of bars in old buildings in this town, but 1 Nite Stand is by far the best. Classic south-city style with a high ceiling and old wooden bar back. Last year the owner built a cozy patio surrounded by a privacy fence. Victorian elegance without the riff-raff.

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Robin Wheeler
3. Piggyback on Another Draw Watson's Bar and Grill is located next door to Happy Joe's Pizza and Ice Cream. Had enough of the family pizza party frenzy? Sneak next door for a beer in peace.

4. Be Nook-Smart In other words, make sure your bar is near an outdoor space that isn't your responsibility. The Cat and Fiddle's large gravel parking lot next to a vacant lot on the edge of town's the perfect space for covert activity that as an owner, you don't want to know about.

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Robin Wheeler
Claudia's Pub. Don't be fooled by the sign.
5. Operate Under the Radar Claudia's Pub, which has been owned by a woman named Claudia since the late '80s, still bears the sign from the previous owner. She also doesn't take kindly to being mentioned in publications, as we learned via several angry phone calls to Gut Check Central. (Ruh-roh. Here we go again...)

6. Open Before 8 a.m. Because 24-hour bars aren't legal in the St. Louis metro area, it helps to open as early as possible. Not just for drinkers who like to get an early start, but for third shifters who would like happy hour when others are reaching for a different kind of morning brew. Foley's in Belleville boasted a 6 a.m. customer on St. Patrick's Day, and there's rarely a day when the lot isn't half-full at coffee time.

7. Don't Clean too Often Are you kidding? All St. Louis-area dive bars are so clean you could eat a pickled egg off the floor.

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Robin Wheeler
The Sappington Lounge: It's dark in there!
8. Keep it Dark. Despite being located in a well-illuminated strip mall, Sappington Lounge's heavy blinds ensure that not a drop of bright autumn sunset leaks into the bar.

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