“This is a total dive” is a compliment in the mouths of those who recognize dive bars’ fabulous je ne sais quoi that turns a so-so evening into “Vegas baby” without emptying your pockets. These neighborhood spots offer a genuine experience where you’re likely to see some familiar faces. It’s where locals and hospitality workers go after the touristy places shut down. These dive bars are all about the drink and the fun, no finery required. No pretentiousness or posing here — you can be your authentic self.
Here are a few suggested dive bars to get you started. Got a fave dive already in mind? We welcome your feedback on expanding this list.
Open from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, Tryst is the ideal spot to drink your way through giant Jenga, darts, pinball, or air hockey while selecting your favorite songs on the jukebox. Only snacks are available here, so make sure you eat beforehand. While it is on the periphery of LGBT nightlife haven on Arenas Road, Tryst is neither gay nor straight; they have open arms for everyone over 21, and drinks are reasonably priced. The inside is smoke-free, but they do have an old fashioned cigarette machine for outdoor smoke breaks. You never know what local stars (think innovative chefs and crowd-favorite musicians) might end up here on any given night. There’s plenty of parking in back.
188 S Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-832-6046; Facebook page.
Crazy Mel's Burgers
This unassuming downtown joint slings bargain burgers and booze six days a week (closed Tuesdays) from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The bar is a small half-horseshoe, but it’s still a great place to grab a beer and a nosh — the french fries are outstanding. It’s also got a laid-back, unadorned patio that’s great for day drinking and people-watching. No games to play, but they do have jello shots. Free parking is behind the Rowan complex, about a two-block walk.
166 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, 760-656-7563; Facebook page.
Located just down from the Sunset Center on the south end of Palm Springs, Pete’s isn’t as much of a dive bar as it is a local hangout. Family owned and operated, they have a healthy following of Coachella Valley residents who value good entertainment and decent food. During the cooler months they have entertainment every night, but understandably cut back during the summer.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PETE'S HIDEAWAY
Pete's Hideaway has space for nightly entertainment.
Rat Pack (and Rat Pack–adjacent) celebrities grace the walls in photos and artist renderings. Weekdays, stop by anytime between 3 and 11 p.m.; weekends at Pete’s begin at 11 a.m. and end at midnight (Wednesdays also get the extended 12 p.m. close time). Lots of parking is available behind Allen’s Tires.
665 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, 760-322-6500; peteshideawayps.com
Current and former Chicagoans longing for the nearly endless stretch of Cicero bar hours, take note: This terrific dive bar keeps its doors open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Between the friendly locals and games — think standards like pool and shuffleboard — a lot of fun is ready to be had. Given the hours, it’s also a haunt for entertainers and hospitality workers. Parking is a only on the street, but the endless search for a spot you would experience downtown is rare here. Everyone is welcome to karaoke, and many of the valley’s best singers also participate. The bathrooms are not air-conditioned, so get in and get outta there during summer months.
696 S Oleander Rd, Palm Springs, 760-327-1700; facebook.com/FiresideLoungePalm Springs
Though it’s relatively new to the area, this barebones sports bar still has what you’re looking for in a dive — namely, friendly staff, pool, darts, and karaoke. They occasionally have live entertainment that tends to exceed the environment. Live music is a random bag, with past gigs ranging from Latin singers to rock ‘n’ roll, but you can count on a consistently nice pour.
68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City, 760-699-7090; Facebook page.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHELE MCMANMON
The Hood attracts a healthy lineup of musical acts, but it's also a sit-down bar to hangout at.
The Hood was named Best Dive Bar and Best Billiards 2018/2019 by CV Independent readers. They have pool, bingo, eats (housemade pizza!), and entertainment from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Prepare to get your drink on with a fun, energetic crowd.
74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert, 760-636-5220; hoodbarandpizza.com.
Red Barn was a runnerup in CV Independent’s 2018/2019 best dive bars, and looks like...well, a red barn, inside and out. They have a jukebox, two pool tables, shuffleboard, live entertainment, and outdoor seating. Patrons rave about the generous pours, as well. Doors open at 8 a.m. (yep, you read that right) and close at 2 a.m. daily.
73290 Highway 111, Palm Desert, 760-346-0191; redbarnbar.com.
The owner refers to his club as a sophisticated dive, and we whole-heartedly agree. It’s cozy; it’s eclectic; it’s perfectly decorated and often has entertainment. Suave bartenders (we said it’s sophisticated, didn’t we?) concoct modestly-priced cocktails from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
44750 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, 760-895-4385; desertfoxbar.com.
Also on the runnerup list for CV Independent’s best dive bars, Neil’s has karaoke every night, pool tables with tournaments, and friendly bartenders and patrons, as well as funky and fun aesthetics. It definitely has a sense of humor. It’s a big bar, so bring all your friends and take over the space to sing your hearts out. It’s open 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
80956 Highway 111, Indio, 760-347-1522; Facebook page.