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Diving Deeper Into The Best (Of The Worst) Vegas Dive Bars

January 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM | by | ()

Inside the hotel-casinos that line Las Vegas Boulevard are bars of all types and sizes. But, most won't make you question the sanity of entering. And, their cleanliness. And, none will make you forget you're on The Strip. (Unless, you're completely bombed out of your mind.)

For a true old school dive experience -- one that, upon entering, makes you lose all perception of place or time -- you need to head off Strip. Today, we continue our journey into the underbelly of Las Vegas’ bar culture with two more of our favorite dives. Find our first two recommendations, here.

Frankie’s Tiki Room (1712 West Charleston Boulevard)

Frankie’s is still a hidden gem of Vegas. We almost don’t want to tell you about the place for fear of ruining our own little secret. A traditional tiki bar in every sense of the word, Frankie’s serves up high-potency tropical drinks in a super-dark, island-themed room. Most of the place looks hand-carved. The lights are made from blowfish. Surf music plays lightly from the speakers while all manners of strange things play on the TVs over the bar.

Drink: Frankie’s drink menu is awesome. It is full of over-the-top, rum-heavy libations. Under every drink is a series of skulls. The more skulls, the more booze. Try the Fink Bomb. It is the local’s favorite, and yes, it has five skulls.

Oddity: This place is DARK. We visited Frankie’s once during the day and, every time the front door opened, the sun would blind us for a few minutes. It's a great place to continue your bender after the sun comes up.

Signature: The experience. There are not too many true tiki bars left here in the states. Frankie's was designed and hand-carved by some of the last true tiki masters. Some of these artists also designed signature glassware. For an added fee, you can get any of Frankie’s drinks in the coolest take-home glass you have ever seen.

Secret Tip: The only way to know which bathroom is the women’s is that the tiki god on the door is wearing lipstick.

Secret Tip #2: Frankie’s is also owned by P. Moss, proprietor of the Double Down and author of short story collection, Blue Vegas.

Champagnes Café (3557 South Maryland Parkway)

Now THIS is a dive bar. Pay no attention to the sign that promises fine food. You won’t find that here. What you will find is your grandmother’s basement, in bar form. Vinyl chairs, velvet walls, and the ghosts of a million cigarettes fill this room. It's perfect. This is the perfect place to come on the last day of a Vegas trip. Pockets nearly empty? Tired of the Strip? Fill up a round vinyl booth with a few friends. A few bucks will do you just fine.

Drink: Whatever is cheap. Face it, you are not coming here for top shelf drinks or an impeccable wine list. Order whatever is on draft. It is probably $2 bucks.

Oddity: Weekend karaoke. Yes, another karaoke place made the list. Of all the karaoke bars we have been at in this fine country of ours, we have never seen one quite like this one. We saw a leather-clad, long-haired gentlemen gently crooning a Smiths song. That is dive bar gold.

Signature: The velvet. This place is covered in gold and scarlet velvet. It is the perfect background to document your drunken Las Vegas dive bar adventure in an Instagram snapshot.

We know that we are just scratching the surface of this town's gin joints and hooch houses. Tell us your favorites in the comments!

Archived Comments:

Frankie's Tiki Room

Frankie's is the best. It's a must stop every time I go to Vegas. The Lapu Lapu is so delicious.