Our ten best dive bars in the area.
College Hill Sundries
900 Spring Garden St.; 336.370.1372
When I approached the brass bar to ask a few questions of proprietor Jason Paul, I realized the term ‘“dive’” is a bit pejorative for the kinds of drinking establishments like College Hill that are so close to my heart. This is, after all, the first bar in Greensboro where I really felt at home. It is a feeling that has intensified since Paul took over the spot last summer. There are always bicycles parked just inside the threshold ‘— on nights when bands aren’t playing there ‘— and good conversation with locals like Brian Crean of the Flying Anvil, who’s defusing from the opening weekend of his new venture with a couple Budweisers. At one point a couple of regulars waltzed in the lantern light while a westbound driver waited to turn a prohibited-on-red right. I could talk about the Hill all night, but I won’t. I’ll just let you know that they received new patio furniture in time for the high season of outdoor drinking. And that Paul is looking to find a foster dog a home. If you’re interested just stop by, order a drink and start a conversation.
New York Pizza
337 Tate St.; 336.272.8953
Although this bar’s been around for almost 30 years, its location across from UNCG assures a constant transfusion of new blood. After ordering a drink, I sat at a table by myself for just a few minutes before being befriended by a biker/paramedic, an aspiring journalist and their random friend. ‘“Doc’” enthralled with stories from the Durham emergency medical scene (one involved a monkey and another concluded with testicles in a Ziploc bag). ‘“Everyone in here is an aspiring artist or musician,’” said John Lamb, the journalism student. The energy here is abundant, positive and fueled by cigarettes.
328 Tate St. (lower level); 336.691.0413
If you’ve ever played a game of pool at Tate Street Billiards, you’ve shared real estate with this secretive establishment. Spoon’s Bar is a low-ceilinged collection of neon signs, bar tables and high-backed stools. It’s also, unfortunately, closed on Mondays. But Spoon, a man whose body curiously resembles the pool cues he peddles, graciously let me take a look at the place. It’s easy to imagine the room full of intense chess and checkers players, each strategizing in a fog of smoke.
2156 Lawndale Dr.; 336.379.0222
The oldest bar in Greensboro (est. 1947) is also the one where my boyfriend and I went on our first date. That night we talked and drank cheap beer as we shot a game of pool on LDI’s challengingly slanted table. We returned last week to do much of the same. A kindly regular named Jim signed us in as guests. It’s bare bones but friendly here; the draft beer selection consists solely of Bud Ice and darts are always free.
508 Guilford Ave.; 336.274.4410
Old-timers, or anyone who’s lived in Greensboro for longer than ‘… say ‘… seven years, will usually refer to this quiet establishment near the railroad tracks by one of its previous names: On Track or Second Place. Before the new owners took the Dinty Moore beef stew off the shelf and installed unnecessarily harsh lighting, you could (barely) see bands of the Southern Rock ilk playing this joint almost every weekend. On the positive side, the current ownership has instituted free pool every night of the week and the bar boasts some great beer specials to match their selection.
Time Out Saloon
330 Bellemeade St.; 336.272.8108
There’s just something about a bar without windows. Maybe it’s the way those rooms remind me of the out-of-the-way closets and attics that functioned as the clubhouses of my youth. Anyway, this gray-paneled space has been some form of bar for more than 60 years and sells a drink called Pussy Control. Owner Susan is quite a shot with the pool cue as evidenced by the baker’s dozen pool league trophies displayed above the bar. You do need a membership, but once you’ve plunked down five bucks, you will have access to the most riotous karaoke in town on Thursdays and Saturdays.
221 Summit Ave.; 336.272.7774
Those denizens of downtown who find themselves short on the required hair product to pass inspection at one of Elm Street’s glitzier/dancier establishments might want to take the short walk to the Flat. This is no place for metrosexuals, friends, but it does have comfy couches, open mic nights and plenty of diversions for wiling away the hours. My only caveat is the mixed drinks, the assembly of which tends toward the inconsistent.