The Best? Montana Locals Share Their Favorite Montana Dive Bars
Montana dive bars. They're not everyone's cup of tea but they're certainly my cup of tea. Dare I say that dive bars define the locality of a town? Not sure. I just know that I love them as do many a Montanan. A few of the best have left us, but here's a list of what locals had to say when asked about their favorite dive bar in Montana.
When it comes to something like naming the best bars in America, people will never agree. Some prefer full service, modern brew houses. Others prefer the lesser dive bar where they can still play pool for $1 a game and grab a beer on special for a couple of bucks each. Nobody's wrong. It's all about what you like.
But the humble dive bar is a comfortable home turf to so many, and it's often not about the booze. Perhaps starting in college years, a dive bar becomes the home base for a cold drink, a game of pool or darts, and a warm hello from a bartender you may have known for years. Too much to call it a safe space? (For those who don't have a problem with alcohol, of course.)
So many dive bars are so much more than places to get a drink. They really are hubs of the community, hosting fundraisers, organizing projects, and supporting their patrons or members. Local watering holes are perhaps some of the biggest sponsors of worthy events in their towns. In small communities, they often become the meeting place during times of crisis or emergency.
IMPORTANT NOTES: The named dive bars are listed in no particular order. This was also an informal poll - we asked the simple question: "Best dive bar in all of Montana?" That's it. No explanation was needed, although some folks did supply their reasons for their pick. I've been to most of the bars listed, although their are a few I've never even heard of so if you've got beef - be nice. I didn't make this list up.
The Haufbrau (Bozeman, MT): "The Haufbrau is a family owned bar restaurant with a more than 50 year history in Bozeman." It's an institution. Simple. Hyperlocal. Tons of live music. Not very big. Good food. Any real Bozemanite feels perfectly at home at The Hauf. If you don't, you probably don't really like Bozeman much.
Sip 'n Dip (Great Falls, MT): If you know, you know. Although not quite the same without Piano Pat, it's America's best kitschy bar - complete with the mermaid tank. (Don't worry, they still have live music.) This Great Falls bar really is a must-stop when you're in the area. "Named the #1 bar on earth by GQ Magazine."
The Filling Station (Bozeman, MT): Another Bozeman institution, dating back to 1976 and known for it's "decor", live music, and uber casual atmosphere. A great option for music lovers on a budget as most concerts are $10 to $20, with several shows having no cover at all. Just north of downtown Bozeman on North Rouse, The Filler makes you feel like you're out of the riff-raff without being far away.
The Freeway Tavern (Butte, MT): A much-loved Butte bar that gets reviews like this: "Went to the Freeway Tavern yesterday for the first time. Great service and excellent Whop Chop! highly recommend!" "Another great hole in the wall bar with good food in Butte." And by the way, it's technically Muzzy's Famous Wop Chop but you need not use it's full name :-)
Many bars across the state of Montana got shout outs. To be honest, there are probably more fantastic dive bars in Montana than most states. We're just built for them. Their very existence reflects our history. Seriously. Since I'm quite sure our informal poll missed several ideal dive bars, don't hesitate to let me know so I can include them in the next list. This article is screaming for a 'Part 2'. More Montana dive bars that were mentioned include:
- The Silver Dollar Saloon (Butte, MT)
- The Mint Bar and Grill (Livingston, MT) Personally, I'd argue this cool bar is a far cry from a real dive bar. It's a fantastic place, but too nice to be a 'dive bar'.
- Checkerboard Bar & Inn MT (Martinsdale, MT)
- Spectators Bar & Grill (Bozeman, MT)
- Pisser's Palace (Butte, MT)
- Crystal Bar (Bozeman, MT)
- Bison Bar (Miles City, MT)
- Two Dot Bar & Grill (Two Dot, MT)