When the professional drink-slingers in New Orleans want to have a beer, they stay far away from the “go-cup” toting amateurs on Bourbon Street. Instead, they head straight to the seedy dives. And as any experienced Big Easy imbiber will tell you, the best of these cash-only drinking establishments are in residential neighborhoods, passing as suburban homes or abandoned buildings (save for the neon glow of beer signs through their windows).

Many of the city’s dives are open 24 hours, “so there are always people in there, for better or for worse,” Liam Deegan, bar manager of Barrel Proof, says. Enter at 6am and you’re likely to run into people both getting off work and those pre-gaming for the day ahead. Erin Rose bar even sells its famous frozen Irish coffee at a discount for the breakfast crowd. But as Nathan Dalton, bar director of Tiki Tolteca puts it, “You don’t go to a dive bar to be seen; you go to see friends.”

We asked 11 of New Orleans’ top bartenders where they drink when they want cold pints of Abita and warm shots of rum. You’ll probably find them bellying up to these watering holes when they’re off the clock, watching LSU games, playing foosball, and listening to Fats Domino on the jukebox.


Head bartender of Arnaud’s French 75
Favorite dive bar: The Saint Bar & Lounge (961 St. Mary St; 504-523-0050, facebook.com/The-Saint-Bar-Lounge)

Hannah says: “The Saint doesn’t have windows and it has a bad jukebox—but that doesn’t matter because I’m there for the conversation. It’s open until 6am-ish, and every time I walk in I promise the doorman I’m only going there for one drink. But no one ever goes to The Saint for only one drink…” (Photo: foursquare/Christopher)


Co-owner of Cure, Cane & Table, and Bellocq
Favorite dive bar: The Crown and Anchor English Pub (200 Pelican Ave; 504-227-1007, crownandanchor.pub)

Estopinal says: “I like Crown and Anchor because of its proximity to my house in the Historic Algiers Point neighborhood of New Orleans. It has a great selection of beers, a weird selection of British potato chips (I like Monster Munch), and they can make a pretty good cocktail too—not that I’m drinking one with that beer selection though. The icing on the cake is that they have benches outside so you can bring your child along for an afternoon drink if you are so inclined. Everything is just right about it.” (Photos: Kevin O’Mara, Facebook/The Crown and Anchor)


Bartender at The Chart Room
Favorite dive bar: Pete’s Out In The Cold (701 Sixth St, 504-895-8993)

Lacoste says: “My favorite ‘lil dive bar in the city besides the Chart Room (and not just because I work there…) is a shack in the Irish Channel neighborhood called Pete’s Out in the Cold. Better known as Pete’s, this cash-only gem at the corner of Sixth and Chippewa Streets is for the people who don’t give a shit about any bells or whistles. This is an old-school drinking establishment that’s rougher than most on the edges. This bar is nothing glamorous. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty hard to find unless you know exactly where it is. From the outside, it looks like an abandoned building, with only the frame of the sign still remaining. If the neon Miller Light helmet in the window is glowing, that’s a signal that the bar is open for business.

You get buzzed in, so you have to wait patiently outside of what resembles a front door. There are not many bars left in New Orleans that still use this procedure. I dig it. It feels like you are up to no good, and nine times out of 10, you are. You won’t find many if any tourists in here. Just the neighborhood cats.” (Photo: Yelp/Eddie C.)


Beverage director of Angeline
Favorite dive bar: Molly’s at the Market (1107 Decatur St; 504-525-5169, mollysatthemarket.net)

Grdinich says: “Molly’s at the Market has a friendly staff and is my go-to for a Guinness. The building has a lot of history, and there’s a local pop-up out back serving great vegetarian snacks.” (Photos: Denny Culbert, Yelp/CH)


Bar manager and managing partner of Barrel Proof
Favorite dive bar: The Club Ms. Mae’s (4336 Magazine St; 504-218-8035, msmaeswallofshame.blogspot.com)

Deegan says: “I have found myself stopping into Ms. Mae’s on Magazine for a beer during the day if I am walking around with friends who are visiting. It’s one of the more well-known dives in the city, and for good reason: it’s amazingly cheap, and since it’s open 24 hours, and is across from a police station and close enough to the universities, there are always people in there—for better or worse.” (Photo: Yelp/Peter D.)


Bar director of Tiki Tolteca
Favorite dive bar: Twelve Mile Limit (500 S Telemachus St; 504-488-8114, facebook.com/twelve.mile.limit)

Dalton says: “Dive bars are usually dark. The chairs don’t always match, the bartenders aren’t dressed up, and there’s graffiti in the bathrooms. In a dive bar, the bartender is the boss in the room—the one in control. Oftentimes you can find good beer, but ordering a cocktail is risky business. And last but not least, it’s where friends hang out. You don’t go to a dive bar to be seen, but rather to see friends. Twelve Mile Limit has all of this, but the thing that makes them different in my eyes is the importance they put on the drinks. They know the classics and they’re skilled enough to create something just for you.” (Photo: Facebook/Twelve Mile Limit)


Co-owner of Cure, Cane & Table, and Bellocq
Favorite dive bar: The Chart Room (300 Chartres St; 504-522-1708, facebook.com/thechartroomneworleans)

Bodenheimer says: “When it comes to New Orleans dive bars, I love the Chart Room. The big secret is they keep ice chests behind the bar full of the coldest $1.50, 10-ounce Budweiser cans I’ve ever had. The bar holds a special place in my heart because it was the after-work hangout for my first restaurant job. I achieved a lot of milestones there, like burning my face on a flaming shot and, more importantly, taking my first shot of Green Chartreuse. The Chart Room is a classic dive for tons of New Orleanians, but it’s also a bit of living history for me.” (Photos: Kevin O’Mara, Yelp/Susan C.)


Head bartender of Loa
Favorite dive bar: Lou & Bob’s Lounge (249 Nursery Ave, Metairie; 504-835-9258, facebook.com/pages/Lou-Bobs-Lounge)

Walter says: “Tucked away in the blue-ish collar neighborhoods of Old Metairie are a baker’s dozen of tiny drinking establishments that might pass for residences at first were it not for the proprietary neon glow of beer signs among the curtains—the beers that “craft beer” came to conquer. One of them is Lou & Bob’s, literally a wing of a suburban house. The jukebox is old-school loaded. A crockpot along the back wall often bubbles with free victuals, and a cat will strut down the bar trolling for affection. Usually behind the bar are fresh citrus or vegetables for sale from someone’s yard nearby, or homemade strawberry wine. The clientele ranges from near-destitute to thirsty, and the place is a smoker’s oasis and a dry-cleaner’s pipe dream. The before-work crowd is as punchy as the later bunch. One morning around 10am I overheard from the sidewalk a burst of gamesome enthusiasm: ‘Spin the wheel, you f*cking bitch!’” (Photo: Yelp/Shannon S.)


Bar manager of Sylvain
Favorite dive bar: Aunt Tiki’s (1207 Decatur St, 504-680-8454)
Ylisto says: “Aunt Tiki’s is a 24-hour bar on lower Decatur Street in the French Quarter.  It delivers everything you might expect from a 24-hour bar in this part of town, including tons of people getting off of work at 6am and plenty of others who just can’t go to bed yet. Another one I love is Pal’s Lounge. Located just two blocks off the Bayou St. John, Pal’s is everybody’s neighborhood bar…even if you live across town.” (Photos: Rush Jagoe, Yelp/Traci B.)


Head bartender of Carousel Bar
Favorite dive bar: Superior Grill (3636 St Charles Ave; 504-899-4200, neworleans.superiorgrill.com)

Allen says: “When I go out, I don’t want to be on. I just want to relax and drink margaritas at Superior Grill. To me, a dive bar is a place where you can go and forget about your work and life in general. It’s also a place where you go and the staff knows you by name and already has your cocktail ready. Plus, Superior has a great patio on the side that you can sit on and watch the streetcars go by.” (Photo: Yelp/Rhona W.)


Bar manager of The Franklin
Favorite dive bar: Parasol’s Bar and Restaurant (2533 Constance St; 504-302-1543, facebook.com/ParasolsNewOrleans)

Bruist says: “For a city like NOLA, which embraces dive bars, choosing a favorite is difficult. Factors include the mood of the day, whether you’re solo or with your posse, and your current location. So I’ll keep it within my neighborhood and nominate Parasol’s. It’s perfectly intimate and real. It’s a professional drinking bar and each visit there has its own vintage date. There’s never a dull moment, and you have a wide range of characters. If Billy is ‘tending when I walk in, I fasten my seatbelt and put on a safety helmet!” (Photo: Yelp/Junelle L.)