(NEXSTAR) – If you are like most Californians that enjoy a night out, you’ve probably had your fill of $18 cocktail menus and pricy craft “bar bites.” Sometimes you just want a casual, cheap drink. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name (is that copyright infringement?).
While you’re unlikely to pull up a barstool anywhere in the state and find Norm and Cliff from “Cheers” sitting next to you, you can find plenty of bars meant for regular folks who want an unpretentious atmosphere. We wanted to know which of those spots are considered the best by reviewers, so we asked for data.
Yelp gave us numbers on the best single dive bar in each state as rated by their users. They also drilled down specifically into California to label 10 top affordable watering holes. Obviously, not every bar is a dive, and some owners don’t even want the label. So we asked Yelp how they define the category.
According to a Yelp spokesperson, dive bars are “typically well-worn bars that offer an inexpensive, simple selection of drinks and are often considered ‘hole-in-the-walls.’”
Yelp allows operators of these establishments to self-identify as “dive bars” on their own Yelp accounts — at which point Yelp’s moderators will conduct a review to ensure the bar meets their criteria — or Yelp’s own users can submit suggestions to the moderators, if they feel a specific bar should be recategorized as a dive.
The top 10 list in Texas is filled with big city bars. In New York, Brooklyn dominates the best dives. But in California, it appears the quality of dive bars improves as you near the border with Mexico, and most of the best spots aren’t easily accessible to the corporate big city crowds.
San Diego is the only big city to make the list from California, landing both Pop’s Liquor Cabinet and Sidecar on the top 10.
Torrance Brew Yard was the top overall dive, one of two Los Angeles County entries.
“I think some of their food is better then some of the local specialized restaurants,” one Long Beach Yelper said of the Brew Yard.
Orange and Imperial Counties also landed multiple top picks from Yelpers. E’s Locker Room in Red Bluff – south of Redding – was the lone Northern California entry on the list.
|1||Torrance Brew Yard||Torrance|
|2||E’s Locker Room||Red Bluff|
|4||Mission Bar||Santa Ana|
|5||Pop’s Liquor Cabinet||San Diego|
|6||OC Boardroom||Fountain Valley|
|9||The Blue Door Bar||Fullerton|
Unfortunately, the ownership of E’s reports a recent fire is likely to keep Northern California’s top pick closed until summer.
If you don’t see your favorite dive on the list, maybe you should consider that a good thing. Do you really want crowds to find out about your secret hideout?