Once more, the city gears up for its most cherished pre-Thanksgiving tradition: Drinksgiving. As the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving rolls in, locals gather to sip and speculate over life’s puzzles, arming themselves with witty retorts for the family festivities ahead. To those in the service industry, this night reigns supreme as the ultimate drinking marathon of the year, known infamously as Blackout Wednesday. So, if you’re planning to indulge, catch a ride and don’t drive. Be safe out there.
Now, let’s wade into the world of Richmond’s dive bars – those unassuming, no-frills hangouts where cheap drinks flow, the grub’s decent, and the regulars feel like kin. Whether you’re a seasoned patron or a first-timer, we’ve got the scoop to elevate your bar-hopping experience.
ed. note: Check out our list from a decade ago HERE and our list last year HERE.
2601 Park Avenue
Let’s start with the newcomers on this list. Stanley’s, a gem in The Fan neighborhood, is all about the warm welcome and good pours. Add to that, craving a Philly Cheese Steak? They’ve got one of the best we have ever had in the city. Sports fans, particularly hockey enthusiasts, will find this spot a low-key paradise.
Hot For Pizza
1301 W Leigh Street
In the know locals flock to Hot For Pizza, not just for its top-tier pizza but also for its unique dive bar charm. This cozy spot, with just around 10 barstools, is a hidden gem where good vibes abound and friendly faces are a regular sight. A favorite haunt for many, it’s a bustling little nook on most nights, perfect for those looking for low-key fun in Richmond.
Get Tight Lounge
1104 West Main Street
This Austin-esque bar has quickly climbed the ranks on our list, and it’s easy to see why. With live music setting the tone most nights and a permanent honky-tonk flair, it’s a campus-area favorite. Their happy hour, from 4:20 to 6 pm, is a hit, thanks to bartenders who really know their craft. It’s a must-visit for anyone looking to soak up some local color.
221 W Brookland Park Blvd
The last newcomer to our lineup, Fuzzy Cactus is a standout for its unique good kind weirdness. Situated in one of our favourite neighborhoods Northside, it offers an experience peppered with pinball machines, live music almost nightly, a killer brunch wrapped in a rock ‘n’ roll attitude.
5406 Lakeside Avenue
A bar in a tiny strip mall out in Lakeside that has been around since the seventies with a sign that is super faded where you can barely read it. Pretty good indication that things don’t change around here. Karaoke every Tuesday thru Saturday filled with blue collar locals that sing old country tunes and eighties’ throwbacks. Good fun! The pours are huge and cheap with a bar that seats about 40-50 people with a ‘smoker’s room’ in the far back. Plot twist: They are owned by a nice Korean family that serves halfway decent bulgogi!
2101 W Main Street
For those seeking the ultimate dive-y Sunday Funday brunch spot, Sidewalk Cafe in The Fan is where it’s at. Known for its amiable ambiance, affordable drinks, and consistently decent bar food, it’s a place where dim lighting works its magic, making everyone look just right as the night winds down.
2706 E Main Street
Tucked away on Shockoe Bottom’s infamous sharp turn, Poe’s Pub is a good times Irish pub. It’s a spot where you can enjoy heavy pours, some pretty tasty eats while chain smoking out on the patio. Great place to debate the latest with a group of friends, or complete strangers.
Patrick Henry Pub
2300 E Broad Street
Our favorite haunted bar up in Church Hill with a bar crowd that runs the spectrum. Expect older for happy hour and more creative types aka ‘characters’ later into the night, this place is the best spot for people in the neighbourhood to get a buzz and then wander back to their homes without the drive.
City Dogs In The Fan
1316 E Cary Street
A bar that is filled with locals that graduated VCU sometime in the last 5 years but have yet to move away from the school. You got cheap hot dogs, decent cheese covered fries and a happy hour that runs super cheap.
217 W Clay Street
Take an outrageous alien filled metal band bent on your destruction and put that vibe inside a bar in Jackson Ward. The food is creative, the bartenders are fun and on any night of the week you will find a few good people to strike conversation with. Expect metal music, varied crowd and a nice big patio in the back to mingle in.
2416 W Cary Street
Is taking a beach bar and putting it in the city seen as trendy? Not sure, but to us this is a huge dive bar that’s a great place to meet up with a bunch of your friends while still having ample room to move around. Live music some nights, sports all the time, bar food and cheap booze. Near Buck Hunter and that virtual golf game is where you will find us milling around.
Rose Marie Inn
8923 Patterson Avenue
A no frills hole in the wall inside a small strip mall out on Patterson with great pours, a bunch of regulars with a smattering of hipsters that decide to make the drive on the weekends.
901 W Marshall Street
Honestly, the food is too good to be in the dive bar category but the actual bar sure feels like a dive bar — cheap beer, eclectic crowd and 70-80s decor inspired by movies like Heavy Metal and Conan The Barbarian. The patio out back has live music on occasion and don’t worry about the motorcycles usually out front, everyone here is super friendly and like they say, no jerks.
McCormack’s Irish Pub
12 N 18th Street
This used to be big part of the Shockoe Bottom scene back in the day, and if you’ve been around that long your picture might be on their wall of fame leading upstairs. We are here to tell you it is still super fun with an off beat crowd of goths, punks, loners, losers, and everything in-between. If you are looking for a walk on the Richmond’s weird side — your night should start, or end, here.
2813 Hathaway Road
Big room pool hall that specialises in — darts. If you had an urge to get in the dart game, this is your ticket into that world. Good selection of beers, decent bar food and plenty of room to wander around — if you live in and around Stratford Hills you should check it out.
Dug Out Bar & Grille
1510 Mountain Road
This is a little outside the city but for people living out there this is their dive bar watering hole. Karaoke several times a week, locals, cheap booze and a dope little pool room off to the side. Friendly patrons that might give you side-eye to city folk but the drinks make up for it. Every time we went, and we went several times, its been a blast but if you live in the city, don’t drive there if you dont have to.
Home Sweet Home
3433 W Cary Street
This tiny place at the end of Carytown makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich. Expect a great vibe, super small bar, with a sweet patio to people to look down on the shoppers wandering by. Feels a bit like going over to your friend’s house. Also, if you love hockey, you can prob catch a Caps games here.
Sheppard Street Tavern
2922 Park Avenue
Live in the Museum District, or what used to be called the Devil’s Triangle, and want a decent spot to get a drink? It is nothing fancy but another friendly bar where you can get to know the locals that make up the area and have a few smokes on the patio. Relaxed atmosphere, the food is decent, good brunch menu but really its a spot to catch a buzz that is light on the wallet.
1 S. Mulberry Street
Rich in history, Bamboo Cafe, named after the famous rolling papers, was once a hot spot for rock shows. Today, it remains a favorite for its welcoming atmosphere and friendly bartenders. It’s a Cheers-like establishment for its regulars which we have maybe mentioned too much cause now we can’t get a seat anymore — the secret is out!
1727 East Main Street
Sometimes you need to look beyond the cover to find a great book. For those of you not used to being out of your element but looking for a good time, Wonderland is like a great book. Once you get in there, you will see that the bar is filled to the brim with horror punk decor, 80s themed pop culture, and a bunch of people dressed in dark clothes — the place is a trip to hang out in but we always have a great time. Also, they have some killer shows from time to time, its worth a visit to Shockoe Bottom.
The Locker Room
5035 Forest Hill Avenue
The grand daddy of them all and a hold over to what Richmond bars used to be like. The pours are stupid huge and the bar is old and cheap looking as hell. You can get drunk playing shuffleboard or picking out songs on the jukebox. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the whole place is smoking except for a small room in the back. Any night of the week, there are the blue collar locals and a bunch of across the Nickel Bridge city types, aka us, coming in to get blasted. Not going to lie, its always fun — just expect to get wasted and call a Lyft to and from.
That’s the lowdown on Richmond’s dive bar scene! If there’s a hidden gem we missed, let us know.