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Vaughan’s Lounge in the Bywater
Kathy C./Yelp

20 New Orleans Dive Bars to Avoid Valentine’s Day

Dim lighting, cheap drinks, and friendly regulars

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Vaughan’s Lounge in the Bywater
| Kathy C./Yelp

Ask two New Orleanians to name their favorite dive bar and an epic smackdown might ensue, especially given the incredible amount that exist in the city. Dive bars are personal, intimate spaces often within stumbling distance to home base. They tend to be dark, sometimes cavernous, usually cheap, and never frou-frou. Sure, your feet might stick to the floor, but that’s just another reason it’s tough to get out the door.

These spots are listed by geography, not by ranking. Think we missed one? Email us at nola@eater.com.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Pal's Lounge

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Don’t come to Pal’s expecting a Scene. Instead find locals chilling at this neighborhood bar not far from the Jazz Fest Fairgrounds. The drinks are a step up from most dives, with daily specials (mulled wine? sure!) and a food pop-up to keep the munchies at bay. There’s a buzzer outside, so push it: That’s how to enter the Pal’s portal.

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First and Last Stop Bar

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Miss Carol runs a tight ship at this no-frills 7th Ward bar on the corner of Pauger and Marais. And that’s a good thing in a gritty neighborhood that continues to straddle tradition and see an influx of newcomers and AirBnBers. Cassandra, the bartender welcomes all, the juke box is loaded with soul and R&B tunes, and there’s always some kind of party going on.

Kajun's Pub

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With an extensive 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour, day-drinking inevitably devolves into nightly crooning at this beloved St. Claude karaoke den. The crowd is rabid for karoake, not in a snarky way, they’re full-on supportive to all. It happens every night of the week and it’s a great time.

Saturn Bar

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Before St. Claude Avenue became a happening entertainment scene, Saturn Bar was a thing. This quintessential Bywater dive always looks closed, but don’t let the ratty exterior scare you off. Inside you’ll find feisty bartenders, signed pictures of the Rolling Stones (they partied here back in the day), and — on one Saturday a month — a fab 60s dance party.

Marie's Bar

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This longtime cash-only neighborhood bar is rife with colorful regulars. It’s the kind of place to throw back $2 beers, shoot some pool, and — if opportunity knocks — grab a condom from the fishbowl near the bar. You can add good grub to that list now as well, as Tres Barnard is again serving up Southern-inspired bar food with the brand new Marie’s Kitchen Fridays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to midnight.

The John

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There are gold toilet “seats” at The John, a 24/7 watering hole that is dark, cavernous, and blessedly cool in the summer. Close to Frenchmen Street, there’s a ping pong table, old school video games, a good juke box, and oh yeah, that toilet theme is the best.

Cutter's Bar

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Cutter’s is a sweet quirky neighborhood hole-in-the-wall with a mix of gay, straight, and everyone in between friendly clientele. Tuesday’s trivia night, organized by sometime bartender Marc Paradis, better known for his band Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes, is a hoot. Cutter’s is a gem.

The Friendly Bar

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The Friendly Bar, set on the corner of a gorgeous street in the Marigny, lives up to its name with welcoming bartenders, an always lively crowd of local neighbors, and — on most Wednesdays — there’s meat night. Yes, as in meat, not meet. Bring your own protein and fling it on the grill that’s set up out front, with potluck sides served in the bar and a tip jar to say thanks.

Vaughan's Lounge

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Vaughan’s is a joy, guaranteed to deliver cheap drinks, good music, and the kind of conviviality that you hope for when stumbling into a dive bar. Corey Henry and the Treme Funktet play here every Thursday, offering an additional incentive to ditch typical Valentine’s Day plans this year. If you’re lucky there will be a pot of delicious red beans and rice in the back, which customers are welcome to scoop a bowl of for free.

Bar Redux

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This Bywater dive bar boasts ample seating on the outside patio, where anything from blues to burlesque holds sway. The drinks are strong and cheap and the pub grub surprisingly good. Try the chicken sausage gumbo.

Chart Room

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This dingy spot on the corner of Chartres and Bienville has regulars that date back to the 70s, the days when the French Quarter was a real neighborhood and residents were proud to be called Quarter rats. The drinks are cheap, the bar grungy, the crowd mostly talkative. An ideal place to find solace away from the masses.

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Chuck's Sports Bar

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Nothing fancy going on here, just a hole-in-the-wall with rock bottom prices, generous pours, and a solid jukebox. Bartenders range from smiling to sullen, but nobody seems to mind. Chuck’s always draws a crowd on game days including peeps walking to and from the Dome.

Snake & Jake's Christmas Club Lounge

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Calling Snake & Jake’s a dive bar is an upgrade -- this is basically a shack in a backyard lit up with year-round Christmas lights. There’s a cool outside space, dogs are welcome, and the bar opens late and shuts down in the early hours of the morning so watching the sun rise is always an option.

The Saint Bar & Lounge

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An awesome dive in the LGD with fantastic bartenders, a full bar, daiquiris, a photo booth and a free jukebox on Sundays.

Parasol's

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This long-time divey hang also has one of the best roast beef po’ boys in the city. Located in the heart of the Irish Channel on the corner of Constance and Third, it also serves as the unofficial epicenter of St. Patrick’s Day revelry, if you can make it through the sea of partiers.

Rendezvous

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A perfect divey stop while perusing tony Magazine Street, the Rendezvous is known for a massive beer program (24 revolving taps, 50-plus bottled beers) and enthusiastic crowds during Saints games. There are 11, count ‘em, 11, flat screens to watch the action. Happy hour two-for-ones are legend between 3 and 8 pm.

Pete’s Out In the Cold

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Despite the disappointing addition of an outside sign, Pete’s is still a hidden gem that’s off the beaten path for most. Get buzzed in by the bartender and slurp cheap drinks at the surprisingly handsome circa-1930s bar. There’s a good jukebox, the game is usually on, and the crowd is friendly, the trifecta for a good neighborhood joint.

Ms. Mae's The Club

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This neighborhood bar at the intersection of Magazine and Napoleon is always open, so stop in for a drink and a game of pool or air hockey any time of day or night. Get too wasted and you might just earn a spot on the Wall Of Shame. Cash only and don’t whine about it. Open 24/7.

Yelp/Edward M

Brothers III Lounge

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Known for its low ceilings, friendly bartenders, and cheap drinks, Mr. Johnny’s Brothers III Lounge, with its bright yellow exterior, stands out some on trendy Magazine Street. Thank goodness, because when its time for shooting pool and listening to a juke box playing 45s, Brothers III beats swank every time.

45 Tchoup

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45 Tchoup is a perfect stop before or after a show at Tipitina’s for those seeking a friendly environment and cheap drinks Uptown (not always easy). Fun, interesting decor, warm bartenders, and a solid selection of beer on tap make it a go-to, especially if you’re a Boston sports fan.

Pal's Lounge

Don’t come to Pal’s expecting a Scene. Instead find locals chilling at this neighborhood bar not far from the Jazz Fest Fairgrounds. The drinks are a step up from most dives, with daily specials (mulled wine? sure!) and a food pop-up to keep the munchies at bay. There’s a buzzer outside, so push it: That’s how to enter the Pal’s portal.

.

First and Last Stop Bar

Miss Carol runs a tight ship at this no-frills 7th Ward bar on the corner of Pauger and Marais. And that’s a good thing in a gritty neighborhood that continues to straddle tradition and see an influx of newcomers and AirBnBers. Cassandra, the bartender welcomes all, the juke box is loaded with soul and R&B tunes, and there’s always some kind of party going on.

Kajun's Pub

With an extensive 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. happy hour, day-drinking inevitably devolves into nightly crooning at this beloved St. Claude karaoke den. The crowd is rabid for karoake, not in a snarky way, they’re full-on supportive to all. It happens every night of the week and it’s a great time.

Saturn Bar

Before St. Claude Avenue became a happening entertainment scene, Saturn Bar was a thing. This quintessential Bywater dive always looks closed, but don’t let the ratty exterior scare you off. Inside you’ll find feisty bartenders, signed pictures of the Rolling Stones (they partied here back in the day), and — on one Saturday a month — a fab 60s dance party.

Marie's Bar

This longtime cash-only neighborhood bar is rife with colorful regulars. It’s the kind of place to throw back $2 beers, shoot some pool, and — if opportunity knocks — grab a condom from the fishbowl near the bar. You can add good grub to that list now as well, as Tres Barnard is again serving up Southern-inspired bar food with the brand new Marie’s Kitchen Fridays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to midnight.

The John

There are gold toilet “seats” at The John, a 24/7 watering hole that is dark, cavernous, and blessedly cool in the summer. Close to Frenchmen Street, there’s a ping pong table, old school video games, a good juke box, and oh yeah, that toilet theme is the best.

Cutter's Bar

Cutter’s is a sweet quirky neighborhood hole-in-the-wall with a mix of gay, straight, and everyone in between friendly clientele. Tuesday’s trivia night, organized by sometime bartender Marc Paradis, better known for his band Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes, is a hoot. Cutter’s is a gem.

The Friendly Bar

The Friendly Bar, set on the corner of a gorgeous street in the Marigny, lives up to its name with welcoming bartenders, an always lively crowd of local neighbors, and — on most Wednesdays — there’s meat night. Yes, as in meat, not meet. Bring your own protein and fling it on the grill that’s set up out front, with potluck sides served in the bar and a tip jar to say thanks.

Vaughan's Lounge

Vaughan’s is a joy, guaranteed to deliver cheap drinks, good music, and the kind of conviviality that you hope for when stumbling into a dive bar. Corey Henry and the Treme Funktet play here every Thursday, offering an additional incentive to ditch typical Valentine’s Day plans this year. If you’re lucky there will be a pot of delicious red beans and rice in the back, which customers are welcome to scoop a bowl of for free.

Bar Redux

This Bywater dive bar boasts ample seating on the outside patio, where anything from blues to burlesque holds sway. The drinks are strong and cheap and the pub grub surprisingly good. Try the chicken sausage gumbo.

Chart Room