The best dive bars are products of deep roots, buildings with decades of history baked into every wall and every never-replaced floorboard. Cleveland provides fertile ground with its own rich past, a city of vintage residential neighborhoods perfect for neighborhood bars as old as the city itself. A dive like Hotz Café
in Cleveland’s Lincoln Park neighborhood serves as maybe the best example, opened in 1919 and home to original stools that have held both Babe Ruth and FDR. It’s that kind of town.
And Cleveland’s footprint sprawls, an interconnected but wildly disparate fabric of towns and cities that engulf northeast Ohio. The kind of diversity that comes with that amount of square footage creates dive bars of all shapes and sizes, from urban back rooms like Johnny’s Little Bar
to cinder block karaoke shoeboxes like Tina’s Nite Club
Throughout these reviews, the word “Midwestern” is used in only a positive light, a term that encompasses the ingredients of a great dive bar, from decades of working-class regulars to a relentlessly unassuming and unpretentious attitude that makes every dive on this list a welcoming environment. A dive bar like Parkview Nite Club
embodies everything Midwestern about the dive scene in Cleveland, a one-stop shop that feels like some kind of food hall, dive bar, neighborhood meeting place combination.
Cleveland is an amazing city and its dive bar scene is rich in the longevity and uniqueness that makes for a dive bar worth visiting. The recommendations here only scratch the surface of a very deep roster of potential destinations, all built on top of the unassuming and Midwestern-in-a-great-way nature of the city that surrounds them.