The vibe inside, however, ups the ante on the dive bar majesty of Burger Bar’s exterior, somehow taking a blue prison hut and transforming it into the dark, multi-colored living room of your most interesting aunt who happens to be a bit obsessed with Elvis. The main room features a short bar, a zebra print couch, a small table, a built-in wooden booth and the previously mentioned frozen food nook, packing all of that into a room short on square footage. Every surface inside is painted deep green or black, causing light to be basically absorbed by every surface for that nice dim dive bar aura. Christmas lights and rope lights hang off of nearly every vertical surface in this front room.
Decorations are eclectic and thickly distributed throughout the space, a fact that spills over into the secondary room at Burger Bar, one that doubles as overflow seating, live band performance space and karaoke staging area (Saturday nights). Dollar bills are, of course, stapled liberally around the bar area, taking care to avoid the occasional stuffed animal head or purple boa-laden Elvis lamp. A small shrine to Elvis takes up one end of the bar’s short seating area (4-5 stools), Christmas lights framing a guitar and image of the king.
Even the ceiling sees plenty of action, layers of artwork, live band posters and even a few choice photographs (you’ll have to find those on your own). The theme extends to the bathroom where, of course, graffiti reigns supreme, the dim lighting creating a soft green glow that makes for an interesting look when paired with layers of graffiti, stickers and what used to be a mirror. Taken together, all of these features are compelling in the daytime, let alone at night when the ambient lighting provided by about 50 Christmas light strands creates a very cozy, very drinking-in-a-shack vibe in the best possible way. Even the exterior strikes a different character at night, red rope lighting bathing the structure.
Simply put, Burger Bar is this reviewer’s pick for best Asheville dive bar, a few decades worth of history stuffed into a shack-like structure that screams dive bar at first impression. The relentless use of multi-colored Christmas and rope lights both inside and out creates that perfect dive bar glow, accentuated by dark painted walls. And in a town where there’s a compelling place to grab a beer on seemingly every corner, the fact that Burger Bar can standout is a testament to its divey, burgerless glory.