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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

17 Essential Detroit Dive Bars

Lovable bars with dim lighting and stiff drinks

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Whiskey in the Jar in Hamtramck.
| Michelle Gerard

What Detroiters need now is a good stiff drink in a dimly lit room, resting their elbows on a well-worn wooden bar top and sharing some trivial gossip.

Detroit’s dive bars run the gamut from cozy, wood-paneled family gathering spots to more edgy punk joints. They’re a celebration of simple pleasures, laid-back vibes, and ice cold beer. Whiling away a Friday afternoon or Tuesday night in any one of these dives counts as time well spent. Relaxed, affordable, and filled with character, here are 17 of Detroit’s classic dive bars.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Did we miss your favorite watering hole? Hit us up at the tipline, Twitter, or Facebook and we’ll check it out.

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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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Abick’s has been owned and operated by the same family since 1907 and has the ancient cash register to prove it. The Southwest Detroit neighborhood hangout is cash-only and doesn’t have an ATM on site, so stock up ahead of time. Summer nights at Abick’s mean backyard BBQ cookouts and firepits in the fenced back lot.

2. Donovan's Pub

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3003 W Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48216
(313) 964-7418
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No windows, no frills, and away from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue, Donovan’s is the perfect retreat for Detroiters looking to relax. It’s tucked into a corner of Vernor Avenue with stellar views of the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan Central Station. Most nights see a mellow crowd of regulars shooting pool, but occasional DJ nights and live bands pop up.

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. 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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A patio revamp a couple of years ago tripled the space at “Detroit’s Oldest Party.” Nancy’s has been holding down an otherwise quiet corner of Corktown since 1902, thanks in large part to its Irish hospitality and large selection of Irish whiskies. Even a devastating 2007 fire couldn’t stop the good times.

5. Bronx Bar

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

The Bronx Bar teeters on the brink of respectability these days, as the Midtown transformations creep into this traditional dive. Once the domain of longtime bartender Charleen, Queen of the Bronx, and her subjects, the Bronx now hosts an eclectic mix of college kids, aging hipsters and locals of all stripes. The burgers remain stellar.

6. Jumbo's Bar

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

Holding firm against waves of change in the Cass Corridor, the green brick cube in the Cass Corridor is an old-school dive. Expect cheap drinks, a solid jukebox and a unique, if not truly weird, cast of characters. 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. Kwicky Bar

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4130 E 8 Mile Rd
Detroit, MI 48234

This concrete bunker of a bar is the perfect platonic ideal of a dive: nondescript, perennially unfussy and full of friendly regulars. Situated on the Detroit-Warren border along a busy strip of 8 Mile Road, Kwicky Bar serves up cheap shots, cheaper bottled beer, and a karaoke night packed with talent.

8. Old Miami

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3930 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 831-3830
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The Old Miami celebrated its 40th anniversary recently, and 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, and record swap nights. The homey interior and relaxed backyard dotted with seating arrangements are perfect for meeting up with old friends.

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

9. 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, and old-school movies playing on the television. Drink a shot of Jezy (Polish blackberry brandy) to become an instant regular.

10. Temple Bar

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2906 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 832-2822
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As one of the city’s longest-serving bartenders, owner George Boukas has seen his fair share of raucousness. He’s been pouring drinks in Cass Corridor for decades at his LGBTQ-friendly bar, and has become a genial mentor to generations of Detroiters — including the cast of Detroiters, where several episodes were filmed.

11. The Painted Lady

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2930 Jacob St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 874-2991
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The Painted Lady is in an ancient Victorian building, and oozes character from its hot pink trim and floor to the gorgeous wooden backbar. It’s pretty full of characters, too, with Hamtramck regulars rubbing elbows with suburbanites on a pilgrimage to one of southeast Michigan’ best whiskey selections.

12. Nick's Gaslight

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441 W Grand River Ave
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 963-9191
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A word of warning: if Savas, the owner, is there and in a good mood, he will regale guests with fabulous stories and might even offer a tot of his homemade ouzo. If he’s not, well, at least there’s the ambiance of this magical time capsule from the 60s. Its white pleather banquettes and wood paneling will transport drinkers to the three-martini lunch days of old downtown.

13. Outer Limits Lounge

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5507 Caniff St
Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 826-0456
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Outer Limits slunk into the Hamtramck music scene in 2017 with little fanfare and a sufficiency of mellow, low-key cool. The bar on the border of Hamtramck and Detroit features record nights and bands from honky tonk to punk.

14. Two Way Inn

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17897 Mount Elliott St
Detroit, MI 48212
(313) 891-4925
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Detroit’s oldest saloon has a “family dive” vibe. Home-cooked meals on Wednesdays and Thursdays regularly sell out, and the 90s-vibing playlists add a nostalgic air to the gleaming wood-paneled saloon. Whenever a guest rings the bell above the bar, it means they’ve just bought a round for everyone there and secured their name on the bar’s VIP chalkboard.

15. Cutter’s Bar & Grill

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2638 Orleans St
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 393-0960
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Go for the burgers, stay for the Bloody Mary and cheap beer. Eastern Market pros know that Cutter’s has some of the best burgers in town. The spot is popular for post-shopping gatherings and happy hour specials.

A burger with two thick patties and three buns, is held together with a steak knife and surrounded by french fries on a plate.
Cutter’s
Gerard + Belevender

16. 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 a family basement — complete with 70s furniture and wood paneling. Tucked into a corner on the far east side, a stop at My Dad’s is the perfect end (or beginning) to a city-wide dive bar crawl. The location is surreptitious — look for the massive “Smile, your Dad’s from Detroit” mural.

17. Marshall's Bar

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

The fancy script on the front wall is a bit of a misnomer because this Jefferson-Chalmers hangout is indeed a classic dive. Drop ceiling tiles? Check. Jukebox full of classic tunes? Check. Bathroom that looks like it might sink into the floor at any moment? Absolutely. The backyard is a hidden gem, featuring a fire pit 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

1. Abick's Bar

3500 Gilbert St, Detroit, MI 48210

Abick’s has been owned and operated by the same family since 1907 and has the ancient cash register to prove it. The Southwest Detroit neighborhood hangout is cash-only and doesn’t have an ATM on site, so stock up ahead of time. Summer nights at Abick’s mean backyard BBQ cookouts and firepits in the fenced back lot.

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

No windows, no frills, and away from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue, Donovan’s is the perfect retreat for Detroiters looking to relax. It’s tucked into a corner of Vernor Avenue with stellar views of the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan Central Station. Most nights see a mellow crowd of regulars shooting pool, but occasional DJ nights and live bands pop up.

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. 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

A patio revamp a couple of years ago tripled the space at “Detroit’s Oldest Party.” Nancy’s has been holding down an otherwise quiet corner of Corktown since 1902, thanks in large part to its Irish hospitality and large selection of Irish whiskies. Even a devastating 2007 fire couldn’t stop the good times.

2644 Harrison St
Detroit, MI 48216

5. Bronx Bar

4476 2nd Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

The Bronx Bar teeters on the brink of respectability these days, as the Midtown transformations creep into this traditional dive. Once the domain of longtime bartender Charleen, Queen of the Bronx, and her subjects, the Bronx now hosts an eclectic mix of college kids, aging hipsters and locals of all stripes. The burgers remain stellar.

4476 2nd 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

Holding firm against waves of change in the Cass Corridor, the green brick cube in the Cass Corridor is an old-school dive. Expect cheap drinks, a solid jukebox and a unique, if not truly weird, cast of characters. Saturdays are typically more rowdy — but almost always a good time.

3736 3rd St
Detroit, MI 48201

7. Kwicky Bar

4130 E 8 Mile Rd, Detroit, MI 48234

This concrete bunker of a bar is the perfect platonic ideal of a dive: nondescript, perennially unfussy and full of friendly regulars. Situated on the Detroit-Warren border along a busy strip of 8 Mile Road, Kwicky Bar serves up cheap shots, cheaper bottled beer, and a karaoke night packed with talent.

4130 E 8 Mile Rd
Detroit, MI 48234

8. 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

The Old Miami celebrated its 40th anniversary recently, and 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, and record swap nights. The homey interior and relaxed backyard dotted with seating arrangements are perfect for meeting up with old friends.

3930 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

9. 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, and old-school movies playing on the television. Drink a shot of Jezy (Polish blackberry brandy) to become an instant regular.

2741 Yemans St
Hamtramck, MI 48212

10. Temple Bar

2906 Cass Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

As one of the city’s longest-serving bartenders, owner George Boukas has seen his fair share of raucousness. He’s been pouring drinks in Cass Corridor for decades at his LGBTQ-friendly bar, and has become a genial mentor to generations of Detroiters — including the cast of Detroiters, where several episodes were filmed.

2906 Cass Ave
Detroit, MI 48201

11. The Painted Lady

2930 Jacob St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

The Painted Lady is in an ancient Victorian building, and oozes character from its hot pink trim and floor to the gorgeous wooden backbar. It’s pretty full of characters, too, with Hamtramck regulars rubbing elbows with suburbanites on a pilgrimage to one of southeast Michigan’ best whiskey selections.

2930 Jacob St
Hamtramck, MI 48212

12. Nick's Gaslight

441 W Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

A word of warning: if Savas, the owner, is there and in a good mood, he will regale guests with fabulous stories and might even offer a tot of his homemade ouzo. If he’s not, well, at least there’s the ambiance of this magical time capsule from the 60s. Its white pleather banquettes and wood paneling will transport drinkers to the three-martini lunch days of old downtown.

441 W Grand River Ave
Detroit, MI 48226

13. Outer Limits Lounge

5507 Caniff St, Hamtramck, MI 48212

Outer Limits slunk into the Hamtramck music scene in 2017 with little fanfare and a sufficiency of mellow, low-key cool. The bar on the border of Hamtramck and Detroit features record nights and bands from honky tonk to punk.

5507 Caniff St
Hamtramck, MI 48212

14. Two Way Inn

17897 Mount Elliott St, Detroit, MI 48212

Detroit’s oldest saloon has a “family dive” vibe. Home-cooked meals on Wednesdays and Thursdays regularly sell out, and the 90s-vibing playlists add a nostalgic air to the gleaming wood-paneled saloon. Whenever a guest rings the bell above the bar, it means they’ve just bought a round for everyone there and secured their name on the bar’s VIP chalkboard.

17897 Mount Elliott St
Detroit, MI 48212

15. Cutter’s Bar & Grill

2638 Orleans St, Detroit, MI 48207
A burger with two thick patties and three buns, is held together with a steak knife and surrounded by french fries on a plate.
Cutter’s
Gerard + Belevender

Go for the burgers, stay for the Bloody Mary and cheap beer. Eastern Market pros know that Cutter’s has some of the best burgers in town. The spot is popular for post-shopping gatherings and happy hour specials.

2638 Orleans St
Detroit, MI 48207

Related Maps

16. My Dad's Bar

14911 Kercheval St, Detroit, MI 48215

Given the name, it’s fitting that this Detroit dive feels like a family basement — complete with 70s furniture and wood paneling. Tucked into a corner on the far east side, a stop at My Dad’s is the perfect end (or beginning) to a city-wide dive bar crawl. The location is surreptitious — look for the massive “Smile, your Dad’s from Detroit” mural.

14911 Kercheval St
Detroit, MI 48215

17. 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

The fancy script on the front wall is a bit of a misnomer because this Jefferson-Chalmers hangout is indeed a classic dive. Drop ceiling tiles? Check. Jukebox full of classic tunes? Check. Bathroom that looks like it might sink into the floor at any moment? Absolutely. The backyard is a hidden gem, featuring a fire pit and a front row seat to the Fox Creek canal.

14716 E Jefferson Ave
Detroit, MI 48215

Related Maps