NOLA has no shortage of unique characters and unique bars to meet them in. There are dive bars across New Orleans that locals have been frequenting for decades, and in typical New Orleans fashion, these off-the-beaten-path bars open their doors to visitors as well.
Feel free to make conversation with some of the people you may meet there– a musician, a local chef, or a regular patron from down the block - people from every walk of life in New Orleans frequent these bars, and they’ve all got a story to tell. Just don’t forget to bring your cash – many of these longtime dives have kept it cash-only since they started and have no plans of changing.
We’ve selected a few of the most iconic dive bars in the Crescent City for you to check out on your trip, perhaps before grabbing a late-night snack.
This dive bar is so iconic that Austin City Limits Music Festival has a portable Snake & Jake’s to serve beer to fest attendees. On the exterior, Snake & Jake’s is a shed that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the residential homes on Oak Street. When you walk in, the small bar glows red from the array of Christmas lights that hang year-round. Here you can purchase Schlitz beer for $2 and meet some of the most interesting folks in New Orleans. It’s a great last stop before heading home for the night.
Ms. Mae’s, on the corner of Magazine Street and Napoleon Avenue, is a 24 hour, 7 days a week dive bar. Featuring bar games like air hockey and video games, Ms. Mae’s draws an eclectic crowd at any hour. The bar is cash-only, so be sure to bring your bills to take advantage of drink deals and the jukebox.
The Saint in the Lower Garden District is a local spot that comes alive after midnight. Funky wall decor, a jukebox and a photobooth all make the bar unique. Kick back with your drink on the outdoor patio or dance the night away – no matter your vibe, The Saint has you covered. Expect a laid-back, come-as-you-are crowd, and fun theme nights like Tikioke Tuesdays (tiki drinks + karaoke).
For over forty years, Parasol's has been pleasing customers with cold drinks and hot po-boys. Many say their roast beef po-boy is the best in the city. It's located off-the-beaten-path in the Garden District (and hard to miss come St. Patrick's Day).
This Marigny favorite is known for its nightly karaoke, which draws an extraordinarily diverse group of “singers.” Kajun's has no specific closing time, and the bar’s owners and employees urge everyone to be themselves and let loose. Founder Joann Guidos originally opened Kajun’s as a shelter for neighbors after Hurricane Katrina, a story is featured in the acclaimed book "Nine Lives: Death & Life in New Orleans." Now it’s evolved into a dive spot for everyone: a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community in NOLA, an after-work hang for hospitality workers and a hilarious, fun night out for locals and visitors.
In addition to cheap drinks, you can catch live jazz and blues at Vaughan's on Thursday nights, as well as the occasional drag show. The eclectic character of the city is captured in this Bywater joint–which celebrated 40 years in 2021–and every now and then, you can try their homemade red beans and rice or crawfish.
Pal’s is the epitome of a neighborhood bar in New Orleans. This classic dive is near Bayou St. John, and always has a lively group of locals grabbing beers inside. There’s always a different vendor cooking up delicious food, including hot chicken sandwiches, burgers or barbecue. Inside, take advantage of the drink specials and embrace the 1960s atmosphere.
Just on the edge of the French Quarter on North Rampart, The Black Penny's charming vibe attracts industry workers and neighborhood folks alike, making for a lively and eclectic crowd. Banquet seating and classic French Quarter architecture are added bonuses to their page beer menu, which spans over three pages.
This cash-only dive bar is frequented by tourists and locals wandering the Quarter. The old school jukebox is loved by all and can be heard until their 4 a.m. closing. The bartenders are knowledgeable and love giving tips on how to explore the area.
Located on the historic Algiers Point, this bar has live music Thursday through Sunday night. It's your classic, old school watering hole with tons of friendly locals and cold beer. It's hard to have a bad time here.
These dive bars have become legendary in the New Orleans community and beyond. They’re each unique and offer different experiences, but are all welcoming to visitors. For more dive bars to explore, click here.