According to Chowhound, the term “dive bar” was used as early as 1871 to describe establishments that were typically found below ground in basements (think opium dens). Since much of New Orleans is below sea level, our dives have earned the designation for other reasons.
The best dive bars in New Orleans are in residential neighborhoods and in buildings that could almost pass for abandoned. The decor is in the lowest of low key, and the vibe is rather other-worldly. The jukebox has selections by Fats Domino and Ernie K-Doe. The drinks are strong and often cash only. Someone might be cooking up a pot of jambalaya in the back. True dives are unpretentious, authentic and a little murky. The people tend to be uniformly friendly and welcoming. They’ll offer you whatever’s cooking. Here is a fun list to explore.