Sometimes dive bars are the hidden gems to be found in cities that might slip under the radar, a place where the entertainment options may not be obvious and the local institutions a bit obscured from view. Las Vegas is not that place. The city is flush with dive bars, high end cocktail bars and every possible alcohol environment in between. But still, there are a few icons that stand out in a city full of them.
is the logical place to start, the oldest free-standing bar in the city and holder of Las Vegas liquor permit No. 1. Opened as a café in 1945, Atomic Liquors was christened under its current name in 1952, a symptom of the growing revenue from alcohol. A haunt for local celebrities over the years, crowds initially formed thanks to the convenient rooftop view of mushroom clouds thanks to atomic testing at the Nevada Test Site 65 miles away.
On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Double Down Saloon
, a punk rock dive bar home to live music, an absolute explosion of graffiti and a signature shot called Ass Juice served in a small porcelain toilet bowl shot glass. Development has grown in the direction of Double Down Saloon, making it less of an outpost than it once was, but the desolate, edge-of-the-city vibe is still alive and well.
And somewhere in between sits Frankie’s Tiki Room
, sharing an owner with the Double Down Saloon and currently holding the flag for tiki bars in Vegas. The love story between Las Vegas and its tiki bars has seen ups and downs over the years, but Frankie’s upholds the tradition well, a white building with a half moon entrance that bursts into grass hut & carving-infused life inside.
Dive bars compete with countless other options in Las Vegas, but a good dose of reality somewhere away from the Strip is always a good idea when in town. These dive bars provide a bit of that reality check, even if it too is wrapped in a bit of Vegas bubble wrap, from the 24/7 hours to the marquee often out front to the video poker machines at the bar (not a bad thing).