Midwestern cities are dive bar havens, a collection of old downtown cores and historical neighborhoods tied together by a a well-developed love for drinking (this is a good thing). Indianapolis fits the bill with a downtown that has seen its share of urban development over the years but has still managed to preserve a string of dive bars throughout the city left largely untouched.
Working class havens like the appropriately named Workingman’s Friend Tavern keep the vintage vibe of diner turned dive alive. The city’s east side has proven particular fertile ground, J Clyde’s Pub
perhaps the purest neighborhood dive bar in the city just a few blocks away from equally potent Shi-Kay Lounge. Downtown’s Chatterbox Jazz Club
has resisted the gentrification that has come to its Mass Ave neighborhood, keeping the divey jazz club vibe authentic.
A handful of Indianapolis suburbs carry the mantle well, hidden spots nestled into forgotten stretches of otherwise well-developed areas. Melody Inn, Red Key Tavern, Alley Cat Lounge
and others stretch north of downtown, a string of hidden gems with the kind of variety that comes from occupying neighborhood corner bar status in a series of distinct neighborhoods. Add on top that places like Dorman Street Saloon
offer that kind of layered experience in a building erected circa 1870 that has been operating as a bar since the 1910s.
Put together, Indianapolis represents everything great about dive bar hopping through the Midwest. Authentic, unpretentious dive bars mix with welcoming, inviting people, offering varied, history-rich drinking opportunities throughout a relentlessly developing city.