Although the population of dive bars in Charlotte is dwindling due to the rise of more upscale bars in the Uptown, a select few remain. These dives are trademarked with NASCAR memorabilia, locals warming the stools, and bar games. Most reside in the ‘hipster’ neighborhood of Plaza Midwood and are popular with a much younger crowd. Check out these dive bars for a casual, affordable night on the town.
The Thirsty Beaver is the epitome of a dive bar. This tiny brick box off the highway is marked clearly by a giant beaver character painted on a bright orange wall. Framed pictures of Burt Reynolds, gag posters, and bras hanging from the ceiling are just a few of the unique items at ‘The Beav.’ The drinks are cheap and pours are never stingy – 24-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon ‘tallboys’ are discounted during live music shows, and there are two pool tables in the back room. The Thirsty Beaver is an authentic dive without the pretension of the Plaza Midwood bar scene.
Tommy’s Pub is a neighborhood watering hole that attracts locals looking to escape the crowds of the Uptown and central Plaza Midwood. The bar resembles an old garage, covered in NASCAR bumper stickers, sports paraphernalia, and framed photos of guests and music acts. Cold canned beer and a wide range of spirits flow late into the night, and live music is on daily. When the music is over, the owners often screen old black-and-white movies, which adds to the welcoming family atmosphere at Tommy’s.
Hattie’s Mural / Courtesy of Hattie’s Tap and Tavern
Hattie’s Tap and Tavern
The welcoming atmosphere of Hattie’s Tap and Tavern is just about unbeatable in Charlotte. Large for a dive bar, Hattie’s exterior consists of an outdoor patio with a cornhole course next to a beautiful hand-painted mural. The interior is spacious, with a full bar, live music stage, and a plethora of bar/video games. Between matches of giant Jenga, sample over 20 tap beers, and an even broader selection of bottles and cans of the craft variety. Some unusual choices are the ‘Unknown Ginger Wheat’ and the ‘Triple C Baby Maker.’ Live music and open mics are on most evenings, and the bar is dog-friendly!
Although it’s not much to look at from the outside, Smokey Joe’s is a dive dream with live music, a relaxed atmosphere, and bargain drinks. The outdoor patio has bench seating by rustic fire pits, and a ping pong table rests on an artificial sand box in front of a palm tree mural. The entire bar runs with this kitschy, tropical getaway theme – on top of the ping pong set-up, there is also an indoor waterfall in the rafters! The interior has a live music stage with open mics every Tuesday and an enormous full bar serving up tap beer and spirits. Don’t miss the pool table and vintage beer signs cluttering the walls.
The Sanctuary is the locals’ spot in NoDa that offers cheap drinks every night of the week, all year-round. The walls are covered in graffiti drawn by staff and bar-goers, and a colorful mural decorates the main bar. There is a multitude of TV screens to get your sports fix and the pool table is free until 9 PM. An internet jukebox, bar games, and live music are also staples at The Sanctuary. Swing by after a show at the nearby Neighborhood Theater and enjoy fantastic drinks and even better company.