5 must-visit dive bars across the Southeast

No-frills institutions that set the bar high for cheap beer and good times
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Barry Richman Band jams out at Flora-Bama

Photo courtesy of barryrichman.com

Flora-Bama
Perdido-Key, Flora, and Orange Beach, Alabama

This rowdy beachside watering hole, a favorite of Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett, opened in 1964 as a small bar and package store straddling the state line. It quickly grew a reputation for its honky-tonk vibe—and among Alabamans, for serving alcohol, which was out- lawed in their state. Today, chow down on fresh Gulf oysters and fried shrimp baskets underneath the colorful collection of bras dangling from the ceiling. Stop by on a Sunday for a particularly memorable service—church service, that is; Central Church Flora-Bama meets at the bar and on the beach weekly.

 

Earnestine & Hazel’s
Memphis

Get your fill of blues, brews, and back stories: Since the late 1800s, this dimly lit haunt has been a church, a pharmacy, a cafe, even a brothel. Today, it’s a bona fide dive. Queue up some of your favorite tunes—or let the resident ghosts pick their own—on the famously haunted jukebox known to play songs out of the blue. Order something strong upstairs from Mr. Nate, who has poured here for nearly 30 years. Then soak up all the booze with a greasy and delicious Soul Burger, the only item on the menu.

 

The White Water Tavern
Little Rock, Arkansas

This nondescript, cabin-esque shack comes with all the quirky history you could want in a dive. Since opening in 1977, it has caught fire four times (twice ignited by the same arsonist) and served as the bar of choice for Bill Clinton during his stint as attorney general. The ashes of a former owner’s best friend are stowed in a Busch bottle above the bar, and the wall decor includes graffiti and a painting of a nude, accordion- playing matador. 

The cabin-esque interior of The White Water Tavern

Photo courtesy of The White Water Tavern

 

Northside Tavern
Atlanta

Surrounded by sparkling new condos and trendy restaurants in West Midtown, this one-story hole-in-the-wall stands tall—figuratively speaking—as one of the city’s most venerated bars. Open since 1972, the build- ing itself was erected in the ’40s as a grocery store and gas station, but today it’s beloved for live blues music seven days a week, cheap canned beer, and pool tables. Its well-worn appearance has earned it a place in numerous movies and shows, including Ozark, Fast & Furious 8, and Anchorman 2.

 

The Club Ms. Mae
New Orleans

The beer never stops flowing at this cash-only institution in NOLA’s Garden District/Uptown neighborhood, the city’s cheapest 24-hour bar. At all times, you’re apt to hear heavy met- al on the jukebox and the clash of air-hockey pucks knocking back and forth within the confines of the bright-purple-painted saloon. Gulp down one drink per hour for 24 hours to win a T-shirt and dubious bragging rights. 

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This article appears in the Fall/Winter 22 issue of Southbound

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