Dive bars are great for so many reasons - cans of Rainier are cheaper than a bottle of water, there’s often late-night karaoke, and the bartenders know your name after a couple of visits. But the best dives are places where you can get a cheap beer and a really good meal on a Tuesday night. They’re spots that never get too crowded where you can drink on the cheap and don’t have to spend a ton of money on things like a fried chicken sandwich.
Here are our 11 favorite bars to get some excellent food with a pint on the side.
Fish and chips is a dive-bar staple in Seattle, and nobody does it better than Pacific Inn. It’s a Fremont bar with a diner-style counter, patio, and the tiniest kitchen we’ve ever seen. The panko breading on the fish is perfectly crunchy and the crispy fries were practically designed for their pickle-y tartar sauce. Plus, if you’re not feeling fried food, the grilled salmon pesto sandwich is also terrific.
“But what about Bait Shop’s fried fish?” This divey Cap Hill spot also makes an excellent version, but you’re here for more than some beer-battered cod and potatoes. You should come here for the incredible double cheeseburger, made with meat from Bateau, aka Seattle beef royalty. Grab a box of Uno, cut some burgers in half, and order some extra ranch to dip your fries in.
Dino’s is a pizzeria that a lot of people forget is also a total dive, full of big booths, frozen rum cocktails, and moody darkness. It works just as well for a plate of garlic knots at 3pm after day drinking around Pike/Pine as it does for a full pizza dinner. Speaking of, they make the best pizza within city limits - get the vodka-sauced Mr. Pink square pie.
The burger from Loretta’s is like the result of what would happen if you were visited by a genie, and you blacked out and decided to wish for an enchanted grill on your apartment balcony. This burger is magnificent, and while it tastes like one your dad made in the backyard, it also tastes impossible to recreate. There’s a perfect char, melty American cheese, and a squishy toasted white bun. If you aren’t feeling like a burger, you can also find other tasty things like Iowa-style pork tenderloin sandwiches and even a $16 steak frites.
If you want Loretta’s burger but don’t want to travel to South Park, go to Star Brass Lounge in Georgetown and get the same exact one. It’s Loretta’s sister bar, and has a little more space and a larger menu with things like parmesan-crusted grilled cheese, steak and blue cheese salad, and a terrific pretzel plate with apples, grapes, a grilled brat, and beer cheese. They also have hand-shuffleboard, which is a fun activity for you and your tipsy friends.
Twilight On Rainier’s fried stuff is delicious, whether you get massive cubes of melted mozzarella, chicken tenders, or button mushrooms. Spend some time drinking cheap beer and snacking on crispy bites from the fryer, but don’t miss the burger or the daily homemade sausage.
Olaf’s is so much more than somewhere to wait to get into Rupee Bar next door. It’s also a place to drink, play pinball, and eat some great food. They have the usual suspects, like pretzels with beer cheese, hot wings, and burgers, along with some exciting surprises like clams steamed in a coconut red curry sauce, and corn dogs with a cilantro-jalapeño-infused cornbread batter. If you’re with friends who want to hang out at a dive but don’t necessarily want something fried, bring them here.
Dottie’s Double Wide resembles a ’70’s trailer park garage sale with twinkly lights and portraits of naked women, only it’s entirely indoors. This is a dive we could spend hours in, listening to vinyl and drinking horchata white Russians or pints of their homemade beer. The crowd is fun without getting too rowdy, and the snacks are like what would happen if combination KFC/Taco Bells were run by wacky chefs. We’re talking about things like Mexican chopped salads with avocado cream, hot dogs dressed like elote, tacos filled with fried chicken, and baskets of curly fries.
This dog-friendly, UW alumni bar with billiards and darts is a great spot for a last-minute hang with your friends. Hot wings and burgers take up most of the menu, but we’re particularly fans of their pizzas, crispy little shoestring fries, and buffalo-coated chicken fingers that are way better than their bone-in wings.
A lot goes on at Clock-Out Lounge. There’s Monday night karaoke, live music, trivia, vinyl record sale pop-ups, and more. The crown jewel of Clock-Out, however, has to be the pizza. This dive bar is the official location for Breezy Town Pizza, the sister spot to Windy City Pie (the best Chicago-style deep dish in town). Breezy Town’s pies are more like thick-crust pan pizza, with caramelized edges and toppings like Beecher’s curds and extra-crispy pepperoni. Always add an order of cheddar and vanilla bourbon butterscotch popcorn.
Tu Cantinas is a tiny and dark Georgetown bar that’s one of our favorite places to drink tequila. But it’d be a mistake not to order tacos while you’re drinking here. The flavorful fillings range from spicy shrimp to cochinita pibil, and the corn tortillas are pressed and grilled to-order. Make sure you use some of their housemade salsas - the avocado is the best one.