Indianapolis Dive Bar Guide

The Best Kind of Midwest

Midwestern cities are dive bar havens, a collection of old downtown cores and historical neighborhoods tied together by a a well-developed love for drinking (this is a good thing). Indianapolis fits the bill with a downtown that has seen its share of urban development over the years but has still managed to preserve a string of dive bars throughout the city left largely untouched.

Working class havens like the appropriately named Workingman’s Friend Tavern keep the vintage vibe of diner turned dive alive. The city’s east side has proven particular fertile ground, J Clyde’s Pub perhaps the purest neighborhood dive bar in the city just a few blocks away from equally potent Shi-Kay Lounge. Downtown’s Chatterbox Jazz Club has resisted the gentrification that has come to its Mass Ave neighborhood, keeping the divey jazz club vibe authentic.

A handful of Indianapolis suburbs carry the mantle well, hidden spots nestled into forgotten stretches of otherwise well-developed areas. Melody Inn, Red Key Tavern, Alley Cat Lounge and others stretch north of downtown, a string of hidden gems with the kind of variety that comes from occupying neighborhood corner bar status in a series of distinct neighborhoods. Add on top that places like Dorman Street Saloon offer that kind of layered experience in a building erected circa 1870 that has been operating as a bar since the 1910s.

Put together, Indianapolis represents everything great about dive bar hopping through the Midwest. Authentic, unpretentious dive bars mix with welcoming, inviting people, offering varied, history-rich drinking opportunities throughout a relentlessly developing city.

Indianapolis Dive Bar Reviews

Ranked Order

Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

J Clyde's Pub

Home to more than one mannequin limb, inexpensive draft High Life and some great dive bar neon.
Review Rating: 9 of 10
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Chatterbox Jazz Club

Despite the development of Mass Ave around it, Chatterbox remains an authentic, jazz-filled dive.
Review Rating: 8 of 10
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Alley Cat Lounge

The real dive bar experience can be found down an alley and through a back door, naturally.
Review Rating: 8 of 10
Johnnie's Glenn Avenue Grill - Columbus Dive Bar Exterior

Dorman Street Saloon

The inside has seen modernization but this is an 1870s building with a deep, boozy history.
Review Rating: 7 of 10

Indianapolis Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Broad Ripple

Connor's Pub

6331 Ferguson St
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Google Map

Butler-Tarkington

Melody Inn

3826 N Illinois St
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Google Map

Englewood

McGinley's Golden Ace Inn

2533 E Washington St
Indianapolis, IN 46201
Google Map

Fountain Square

Sam's Silver Circle

1102 Fletcher Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Google Map

Hawthorne

The Workingman's Friend Tavern

234 N Belmont Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Google Map

Meridian

Red Key Tavern

5170 N College Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Google Map

Other Dive Bar Options

Checkered Flag Tavern

5725 W Morris St
Indianapolis, IN 46241
Google Map

Colonial Inn Tavern

4343 Madison Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46227
Google Map

Dugout Bar

621 Virginia Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Google Map

Hilltop Tavern

6500 E 10th St
Indianapolis, IN 46219
Google Map

Keystone Sports Review

5602 N Keystone Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Google Map

Kip's Pub

9546 Allisonville Rd Suite 110
Indianapolis, IN 46250
Google Map

Linebacker

2631 W Michigan St
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Google Map

Living Room Lounge

934 N Pennsylvania St
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Google Map

Mike's Speedway Lounge

3701 W 16th St
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Google Map

Old Town Tavern

29 W Main St
Carmel, IN 46032
Google Map

One More Lounge

7143 Southeastern Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46239
Google Map

Pawn Shop Pub

2222 E 54th St
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Google Map

Raceway Pub

9104 Crawfordsville Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46234
Google Map

Shi-Kay Lounge

1514 N Emerson Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46219
Google Map

Si Greene's Pub

5109 E 10th St
Indianapolis, IN 46219
Google Map

Syd's Fine Food

808 Logan St
Noblesville, IN 46060
Google Map

The AVG Pub

3520 W 16th St
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Google Map

The Rook

2450 E 71st St
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Google Map

Time Out Lounge

6243 Allisonville Rd
Indianapolis, IN 46220
Google Map

Whistle Stop Inn

375 Illinois St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
Google Map

What Did We Miss?

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