Dive bars are just a great part of Americana. We've all been inside one whether it was on accident or intentional.

My parents were in a bowling league most of my childhood.  The bowling alley was in the same building as the diner my mom worked at during the day and the bar my dad drank at during the night.

I Grew Up in a Dive Bar

Right in between was the arcade where I spent many quarters on everything from pool and pinball to Excite Bike and of course, the jukebox.

Maybe that's why I tend to be more attracted to "holes in the walls."  Many of them are moments frozen in time. Their clientele enjoys things the way they are and don't enjoy change.
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Bars I used to frequent in my 20's included Stickman's in Davenport and Sassy's in Bettendorf.  As soon as new owners came in to make the joint classy, I can tell you that this patron wasn't happy.

Who doesn't like a good dive bar?

In fact, when I travel it's one of the first things I look for. Not only will you find plenty of local color, but you can also learn a lot about the area and the best places to eat while you toss back a cold pint of brew.

Photo by Pen Tsai on Unsplash
Photo by Pen Tsai on Unsplash

What does it mean to be a Dive Bar or Hole in the Wall?

In the late 1800s, the term "dive bar" was a derogatory term for a place, often a basement, where someone "dives below" high society in order to get drunk and gamble and do God knows what else.

These days, either title is used as a term of endearment.

  • Dive Bar: "A dive bar is typically a small, unglamorous, eclectic, old-style bar with inexpensive drinks, which may feature dim lighting, shabby or dated decor, neon beer signs, packaged beer sales, cash-only service, and a local clientele."
  • hole-in-the-wall  ˈhōl-in-ṯẖə-ˈwȯl  "A small and often unpretentious out-of-the-way place"

We asked you which were your favorite "dive bars" in eastern Iowa and Western Illinois

Here are some "holes in the walls" where the locals love it just the way it is, and we hope they never change.

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