The Oregon coast offers some of the world’s most scenic vistas. But everything in moderation, right? You can’t spend your whole vacation looking at picturesque lighthouses. For true coastal culture, belly up to the bar with the locals at the local dive.
Arcade Tavern, 135 Alabama Street Bandon, OR 97411
The Arcade Tavern has a lot of windows and is scrupulously clean, which could almost disqualify it from dive bar status. Luckily, it’s cash only, video poker dominates, the bar sells home-canned tuna, and Jameson is by far the fanciest liquor available. At 11 AM on a Monday, the tavern has already attracted a healthy selection of locals in waders, who are shooting pool, playing video poker, and gossiping over beer. The menu is limited to standard burgers, dogs, and grilled cheese, and they don’t have a fryer. Fortunately, outside food is welcome.
Jerry’s Place Bar & Grill, 8274 Rhododendron Drive Florence OR, 97439
Again with the windows and the cleanliness, but Jerry’s makes up for it with personality. At 3 PM on a Monday, the out-of-the-way watering hole is full of regulars. The woman on the bar stool next to us knocks back a shot of Sauza, tells me that tequila reminds her of the desert and The Eagles, and then proceeds to belt out “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” Luckily, she’s got a decent voice. Meanwhile an older gentleman arrives, carrying his pool cue in a special case; his enormous handlebar mustache is dyed red-white-and blue. Everyone knows each other, and the wood-paneled room is cozy as a coastal storm rattles the windows.
Beachcombers Pub, 1355 Bay Stree Florence, OR 97439
Beachcombers has an excellent selection of beer, sells growlers to go, and serves decent food, but still hasn’t lost its divey ambiance, including weird murals, plenty of beer paraphernalia, plus a random and entertaining mix of locals, retirees, tourists, and bikers.
The Bridge Tender, 554 Broadway Street, Seaside, OR 97138
Located on Seaside’s touristy main drag, The Bridge Tender is a welcome refuge from chowder houses, salt water taffy shops, and vacationing families in matching Von Dutch gear. With a view of the river and an old school jukebox, this bar is the kind of place that gives me a wild urge to consume a large quantity of whisky and make friends with the old guy at the bar. At 3 PM on a Sunday, a mustachioed Sam Elliot lookalike is waltzing with a Stevie Nicks lookalike to the tune of Roy Orbison. Good times.
The Salty Dawg Bar & Grill, 375 NE Port Street Waldport, OR 97394
A beloved local watering hole, The Salty Dog is tucked away down by the Waldport docks. The attached restaurant serves greasy yet tasty food. Consider the biscuits and gravy or the fish and chips as you admire the bar’s notable tables, which have amazing treasures shellacked into the tops: geodes, glitter, sea stars, and bottle caps. Each tabletop has a theme. My personal favorite is decorated with Redrum bottles.
The Barge Inn, 358 SW Bay Blvd., Newport, OR 97365
The pub opens at 7 AM to accommodate fishermen and there’s a sign above the door that reads “Home of Winos, Dingbats, and Riff-Raff.” That should tell you everything you need to know about the place.