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You may ask...

"What makes a great dive?" Well, in our opinion...

A dive is:

  • An individual family owned joint - not a chain (Denny's is NOT a dive)
  • You can meet the owner if you want - to complement or to bitch
  • Housed in it's own separate building - no post-1980s strip malls allowed
  • Would allow smoking if they could (and many do - don't tell anyone)

    A dive from the outside:
  • Neon beer signs (bonus points for neon martini glass)
  • A well worn "Welcome" mat
  • And a stray animal or two hanging out.

    A dive from the Inside:
  • Mismatched chairs
  • Mismached silverware
  • Get your food cooked however you like - special orders are not a problem
  • Beer is a requirement. Hopefully more than just "Bud, Miller and Coors"
  • Oh yeah, the food has gotta be good - otherwise, why bother?

    Dive Etiquette:

    First off, know that the owners are glad to see you.
    Most of these places do reasonable business but any new customer is a good customer. The restaurant business is a service business and they are there to serve both new and existing customers. Welcome!

    Second, have a good attitude.
    So what if the silverware doesn't match or the music isn't to your taste. It doesn't matter. Everyone there is there for the same reason - to enjoy a good meal with good company. Be nice. Don't laugh, point or make jokes if you can help it. The owners and workers take pride in sharing their place of business with you. It's a dive, not a zoo.

    Third, it's OK to ask.
    If you don't understand what the menu contains, everyone there -- customers included are happy to help. Some of the best conversations you'll have are with people who share a common love for the dive experience.

    Fourth, if you're happy - say so.
    If you're not happy, you're welcome to complain - but often its easier just to leave. It's a dive, not the Ritz Carlton. Enjoy the experience for what its worth.

    Click here for our rating system.

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