Tell someone that you don’t consider their favorite watering hole a “dive bar” and you might have a fight on your hands. Why is there so much power in the word “dive”? Is it really that much cooler to brag about hanging out in a dive instead of enjoying a solid neighborhood bar with good food and affordable drinks?
Here are some local bars that are frequently called dive bars, along with our justifications for why they’re not, in fact, dives. Yet.
The Big Hunt : More than 30 beers on tap, none of them Bud or Miller. 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Bravo Bar: It has the soul of a dive, but not the age (it opened in 2014) or thin veneer of grease. 2917 Georgia Ave. NW.
Lyman’s Tavern : Pinball machines and a great jukebox are dive staples, but having them doesn’t make you a dive. 3720 14th St. NW.
The Post Pub : A dive bar does not serve a New York strip steak. 1422 L St. NW.
The Pug : Probably the closest thing to a classic dive, thanks to cheap beers, year-round Christmas lights and deplorable bathrooms, but the H Street NE staple loses points for its youth (opened in 2007) and because you can buy iPhone cables and high-end pork rinds from its fancy vending machine. 1234 H St. NE.
The Red Derby : Two words: roof deck. 3718 14th St. NW.
Showtime Lounge : A cash-only policy, $5 beer-and-a-shot combos, a CD jukebox, Redskins wallpaper in the bathroom, a house band fronted by an octogenarian — Showtime’s getting there, but the Bloomingdale bar is barely four years old. Be patient. 113 Rhode Island Ave. NW.
Stained Glass Pub: All that pizza attracts all those kids. Plus, points docked for having two locations. 12510 Layhill Rd., Silver Spring; 6751 Dorsey Rd., Elkridge.
Stan’s Restaurant and Lounge : The place takes its food offerings too seriously, supplementing its fried fare with black Angus prime rib and grilled salmon stuffed with crab imperial. 1029 Vermont Ave. NW.
Vienna Inn : Last time we visited Vienna Inn, there were enough Little Leaguers in uniform to play a round-robin tournament. If you have to watch your language, it’s not a dive. 120 E. Maple Ave., Vienna.
Wonderland Ballroom: This Columbia Heights spot, with its Ms. Pac-Man machine and collection of vintage signs, is just a little too self-aware of its hipness — its house beer is the Belgian Delirium Tremens and it hosts an annual Sundress Fest block party — to count as a true dive. 1101 Kenyon St. NW.