Bring your stickers, buy a PBR.
No different than throwing the term ‘gastropub’ into an overpriced Applebee’s rip-off’s name, the presence of the term ‘dive bar’ in the name of a bar is usually a bad sign. Too often, ‘dive bar’ is added to a new concept’s name to add the illusion of authenticity on top of something very clearly manufactured. Thankfully, The Dive Bar Las Vegas bucks the trend, the name a holdover from previous ownership but in this case an accurate depiction of the vibe within, very much a good thing for our purposes.
Traveling a few blocks in any direction from the Las Vegas Strip has a pretty transformative effect on people and places and while The Dive Bar sits on the same street as the Bellagio, the two spaces could not be more spiritually removed. The Dive Bar Las Vegas sits in a strip mall just off the northeast tip of UNLV’s campus, easily found thanks to huge, bright orange letters above the door that simply read “Dive Bar.” The intersection here is a busy one, one of the city’s better all-you-can-eat sushi spots, Sakana, located diagonally across the street for those hoping for a sushi-dive bar combo stop.
Luckily, this reviewer’s visit to always-open The Dive Bar included a run-in with the owner, who took issue with anyone proclaiming themselves worthy of rating dive bars, a difficult position to argue. Despite my best efforts to offer my credentials, my assertions were ignored but a round of free shots was offered to keep the vibe a positive one. I will admit to the mistake of ordering a draft craft beer here, my two rounds each met with the phrase “do we even sell that?”
A white and orange striped pattern runs along The Dive Bar Las Vegas’ exterior windows proclaiming the many compelling amenities inside, including “Live Music” and “Hot Slots.” Though the windows do let in a fair amount of Las Vegas sun, the interior surroundings of The Dive Bar feel pleasantly dim no matter the hour, the bar’s dark surfaces absorbing any stray illumination. A large stage sits at the front of the space, home to mostly weekend live music nights that tend to feature punk and occasional metal bands, though other genres are no doubt represented. On rare occasion, the music spills out into the strip mall parking lot for signature events.
The balance of space within The Dive Bar Las Vegas is filled with a bar, an open pool room and what feels like thousands of stickers attached to every possible surface. A pool table sits in an interior alcove of sorts, marked by a pair of pillars and a lower roof than the rest of The Dive Bar, PBR decorations above, around and leading to this quasi-secluded space. Though a variety of domestic beer brands grace the walls of The Dive Bar Las Vegas, PBR does seem to be the bar’s first love with an array of artwork that includes what looks like a hand-painted ode to PBR-sourced friendship just left of the stage.
A wraparound, 360-degree bar anchors the space to the left of the entryway, holding a handful of gambling terminals as well as extensive stool seating that makes use of the bar counter. Music posters, bar mirrors, framed photos and a Jägermeister-themed surfboard all surround the island of a bar among countless other pieces mounted to the walls. Of course, stickers dot every surface here as well, from the structure behind the bar that holds The Dive Bar’s liquor supply to the wood paneling that runs halfway up the bar’s walls.
As one might expect from the rest of the space’s decorations, the bathrooms are not to be missed. Creative terms are used to differentiate the men’s and women’s restrooms at The Dive Bar Las Vegas (check the pictures) and the graffiti game inside is predictably intense. Paint and sticker layers cake every inch of the space here, from the urinal to the mirror above the sink.