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An IPA in a pint glass and a plastic cup with purple jezynowka sitting on the edge of a pool table
Whiskey in the Jar in Hamtramck.
Michelle Gerard

14 Essential Detroit Dive Bars

Lovable bars with dim lighting and stiff drinks

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Whiskey in the Jar in Hamtramck.
| Michelle Gerard

There’s something special about a dive bar, especially as high-end cocktail drinking flourish in Detroit. Sometimes all that’s necessary at the end of the day is a $2 beer and a dark bar. That’s not to say every dive is the same. Each one takes on its own personality, built up with age and a bit of grizzled credibility. The scratched wood and walls covered with wood paneling and memorabilia tell stories and keeps your mind wandering as you sip.

In the past few years the city has lost some of its most storied dives from Tom’s Tavern to the Stonehouse Bar (a trend seen across the country) while welcoming a crop of bars attempting to imitate the aesthetic. That makes it all the more important to celebrate and patronize the beloved local hangouts that are still pouring stiff drinks. Relaxed, affordable, and filled with character, here are 14 of Detroit’s classic dive bars.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Abick's Bar

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3500 Gilbert St
Detroit, MI 48210
(313) 894-9329
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A seven generation family-owned fixture on Gilbert Street, this Southwest Detroit cash-only institution pours cheap drinks for regulars seven days a week. Alongside shiny framed Budweiser signs, the brown paneled walls pay tribute to the founders and friends that make Abick's a neighborhood essential.

2. Donovan's Pub

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3003 W Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 964-7418
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For an inexpensive drink without the wait, look no further than Donovan’s. This Southwest watering hole offers great prices on booze and bar grub and occasional live music. No windows, no frills, and away from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue, it’s the perfect retreat for Detroiters looking to relax.

The exterior of Donovan’s features a brick building with the bar’s name written in white Olde English style lettering across a dark green awning on a sunny day with clear blue skies. Brenna Houck

3. LJ's Lounge

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2114 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 962-0013

While upscale cocktail bars and restaurants abound on Michigan Avenue, this Corktown hangout keeps the visitors to the neighborhood supplied with affordable drinks and no-frills charm. Wood paneling and a red awning gives way to even more ‘70s paneling in the interior with a mirrored back bar. The drink selection here is relatively simple with shots (including Jello shots) and domestic beers — the perfect recipe for a boilermaker and a good time.

4. Nancy Whiskey's Pub

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2644 Harrison St
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 962-4247
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Detroit’s oldest party has been serving spirits and good times to Corktown neighborhood regulars since 1902 despite being gutted by a vicious fire back in 2009. Today the bar plays host to a variety of local pop-up restaurants and live music acts, but regulars rely on Nancy Whiskey’s for the affordable beers, shots of Tullamore Dew, and expansive patio.

5. Temple Bar

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2906 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-2822
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This LGBTQ-friendly bar has been pouring drinks in Cass Corridor for decades. These days the crowd at Temple Bar is skews younger — attracted by a rotating lineup of DJs and parties. Fortunately, prices of live shows are still relatively affordable — only $5 most nights.

6. Jumbo's Bar

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3736 3rd St
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 831-8949

This green bunker-style brick cube in Cass Corridor is one of the oldest bars in Detroit, dating back to the 1940s. A true dive known for its cheap drinks and great group of regulars, stop in during the week for pool, pinball, and plenty of elbow room. Saturdays are typically more rowdy — but almost always a good time.

The exterior of Jumbo’s Bar on a sunny day. Jumbo’s is painted bright green with a mural featuring roses being tied together by a hand with red manicured nails Brenna Houck

7. Old Miami

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3930 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 831-3830
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Cass Corridor may have changed a bit over the last few years, but the Old Miami has thankfully stayed relatively the same. Beyond the massive backyard, cheap drinks, and homey interior, the bar touts a rich history. Founded as a haven for Vietnam veterans in the 1970s, the spot has become legendary as a music venue, hosting live DJs and bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Look for the iconic green awning.

The green awning for Old Miami is lit up at night with a motorcycle parked out front. Brenna Houck

8. Bronx Bar

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4476 2nd Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-8464

A no-BS establishment known for its burgers and familiar bartenders, the Bronx is a Cass Corridor institution. It’s a beer and a shot kind of place with pool tables, efficient service, and a small smoking patio that’s seemingly always brimming with people.

9. Marshall's Bar

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14716 E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48215
(313) 821-0610

Jefferson-Chalmer’s hangout Marshall’s Bar serves stiff drinks in a character-filled space with decorated drop ceiling tiles, a jukebox, and a bathroom that looks like it might sink into the floor at any moment. In nicer weather customers gather out in the backyard, which features a firepit and a front row seat to the Fox Creek canal.

The front of Marshall’s Bar at night features signs for Miller Lite and the Detroit Tigers as well as a neon open sign and the sign for the bar written in cursive script. Brenna Houck

10. My Dad's Bar

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14911 Kercheval St
Detroit, MI 48215
(313) 331-3237
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Given the name, it’s fitting that this Detroit dive feels like family basement — complete with 70s furniture and wood paneling. Forewarning to those who’d like to avoid cigarettes, the interior is admittedly pretty smoky. However, the bargain prices and friendly bartenders keep customers coming back for more. The location is surreptitious — look for the massive “Smile, your Dad’s from Detroit” mural.

11. The Painted Lady

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2930 Jacob St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 874-2991
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An old Victorian building frequented by a steady group of regulars with no-nonsense bartenders pouring drinks, the Painted Lady has character written all over it. Expect strong cocktails and occasional smoking indoors. Insider tip: Regular patrons use the unmarked door along the side of the building.

12. Whiskey In The Jar

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2741 Yemans St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 873-4154
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Whiskey in the Jar may have craft beers and a Detroit City FC banner, but it maintains a quintessential Hamtramck dive bar feel with a pool table, plenty of mirrored beer signs, old-school movies playing on the television.

13. Trixie's Bar

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2656 Carpenter Ave
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 316-5376
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This chill neighborhood bar and music venue features a pool table and a spacious backyard. Drop in for regular comedy and karaoke nights. The best part: There are bar cats.

14. Two Way Inn

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17897 Mount Elliott St
Detroit, MI 48212
(313) 891-4925
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One of the area's oldest bars, Two Way has been serving up spirits since 1876. Now many decades post-Prohibition, the Inn still has that speakeasy feeling — complete with a secret room and buzzer. Sit down and strike up a conversation with a bartender for some Detroit history.

1. Abick's Bar

3500 Gilbert St, Detroit, MI 48210

A seven generation family-owned fixture on Gilbert Street, this Southwest Detroit cash-only institution pours cheap drinks for regulars seven days a week. Alongside shiny framed Budweiser signs, the brown paneled walls pay tribute to the founders and friends that make Abick's a neighborhood essential.

3500 Gilbert St
Detroit, MI 48210

2. Donovan's Pub

3003 W Vernor Hwy, Detroit, MI 48216
The exterior of Donovan’s features a brick building with the bar’s name written in white Olde English style lettering across a dark green awning on a sunny day with clear blue skies. Brenna Houck

For an inexpensive drink without the wait, look no further than Donovan’s. This Southwest watering hole offers great prices on booze and bar grub and occasional live music. No windows, no frills, and away from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue, it’s the perfect retreat for Detroiters looking to relax.

3003 W Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48216

3. LJ's Lounge

2114 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216

While upscale cocktail bars and restaurants abound on Michigan Avenue, this Corktown hangout keeps the visitors to the neighborhood supplied with affordable drinks and no-frills charm. Wood paneling and a red awning gives way to even more ‘70s paneling in the interior with a mirrored back bar. The drink selection here is relatively simple with shots (including Jello shots) and domestic beers — the perfect recipe for a boilermaker and a good time.

2114 Michigan Ave
Detroit, MI 48216

4. Nancy Whiskey's Pub

2644 Harrison St, Detroit, MI 48216

Detroit’s oldest party has been serving spirits and good times to Corktown neighborhood regulars since 1902 despite being gutted by a vicious fire back in 2009. Today the bar plays host to a variety of local pop-up restaurants and live music acts, but regulars rely on Nancy Whiskey’s for the affordable beers, shots of Tullamore Dew, and expansive patio.

2644 Harrison St
Detroit, MI 48216

5. Temple Bar

2906 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

This LGBTQ-friendly bar has been pouring drinks in Cass Corridor for decades. These days the crowd at Temple Bar is skews younger — attracted by a rotating lineup of DJs and parties. Fortunately, prices of live shows are still relatively affordable — only $5 most nights.

2906 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

6. Jumbo's Bar

3736 3rd St, Detroit, MI 48201
The exterior of Jumbo’s Bar on a sunny day. Jumbo’s is painted bright green with a mural featuring roses being tied together by a hand with red manicured nails Brenna Houck

This green bunker-style brick cube in Cass Corridor is one of the oldest bars in Detroit, dating back to the 1940s. A true dive known for its cheap drinks and great group of regulars, stop in during the week for pool, pinball, and plenty of elbow room. Saturdays are typically more rowdy — but almost always a good time.

3736 3rd St
Detroit, MI 48201

7. Old Miami

3930 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
The green awning for Old Miami is lit up at night with a motorcycle parked out front. Brenna Houck

Cass Corridor may have changed a bit over the last few years, but the Old Miami has thankfully stayed relatively the same. Beyond the massive backyard, cheap drinks, and homey interior, the bar touts a rich history. Founded as a haven for Vietnam veterans in the 1970s, the spot has become legendary as a music venue, hosting live DJs and bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Look for the iconic green awning.

3930 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

8. Bronx Bar

4476 2nd Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

A no-BS establishment known for its burgers and familiar bartenders, the Bronx is a Cass Corridor institution. It’s a beer and a shot kind of place with pool tables, efficient service, and a small smoking patio that’s seemingly always brimming with people.

4476 2nd Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

9. Marshall's Bar

14716 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48215
The front of Marshall’s Bar at night features signs for Miller Lite and the Detroit Tigers as well as a neon open sign and the sign for the bar written in cursive script. Brenna Houck

Jefferson-Chalmer’s hangout Marshall’s Bar serves stiff drinks in a character-filled space with decorated drop ceiling tiles, a jukebox, and a bathroom that looks like it might sink into the floor at any moment. In nicer weather customers gather out in the backyard, which features a firepit and a front row seat to the Fox Creek canal.

14716 E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48215

10. My Dad's Bar

14911 Kercheval St, Detroit, MI 48215

Given the name, it’s fitting that this Detroit dive feels like family basement — complete with 70s furniture and wood paneling. Forewarning to those who’d like to avoid cigarettes, the interior is admittedly pretty smoky. However, the bargain prices and friendly bartenders keep customers coming back for more. The location is surreptitious — look for the massive “Smile, your Dad’s from Detroit” mural.

14911 Kercheval St
Detroit, MI 48215

11. The Painted Lady

2930 Jacob St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

An old Victorian building frequented by a steady group of regulars with no-nonsense bartenders pouring drinks, the Painted Lady has character written all over it. Expect strong cocktails and occasional smoking indoors. Insider tip: Regular patrons use the unmarked door along the side of the building.

2930 Jacob St
Hamtramck, MI 48212

12. Whiskey In The Jar

2741 Yemans St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

Whiskey in the Jar may have craft beers and a Detroit City FC banner, but it maintains a quintessential Hamtramck dive bar feel with a pool table, plenty of mirrored beer signs, old-school movies playing on the television.

2741 Yemans St
Hamtramck, MI 48212

13. Trixie's Bar

2656 Carpenter Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212

This chill neighborhood bar and music venue features a pool table and a spacious backyard. Drop in for regular comedy and karaoke nights. The best part: There are bar cats.

2656 Carpenter Ave
Hamtramck, MI 48212

14. Two Way Inn

17897 Mount Elliott St, Detroit, MI 48212

One of the area's oldest bars, Two Way has been serving up spirits since 1876. Now many decades post-Prohibition, the Inn still has that speakeasy feeling — complete with a secret room and buzzer. Sit down and strike up a conversation with a bartender for some Detroit history.

17897 Mount Elliott St
Detroit, MI 48212

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