There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned dive bar. Sure, it’s seedy, shabby and filled with wobbly undesirables, but they’re also the beating heart of any true Capetonian boozehound. They’ve been there for us through birthdays and breakups. Greeting us with a cold(ish) beer, a stiff shot, and a handful of reliable drinking buddies and stoned citizens with the munchies. At the end of the day, people are all the same. We just wanna go where everybody knows our name.
Consider this a love letter to the East City’s neighbourhood watering holes that touch our souls and tickle our livers. Grungy, grimy and relentlessly endearing, these are Cape Town’s top dive bars.
This neighborhood go-to on upper Buitenkant has been presiding over locals who stumble in for a beer and smash-worthy burgers made to satisfy your stoner munchies for over a decade. We love everything about the place, from the radical owner and the wicked bar staff to the wire cat art piece behind the bar. Order one of the ridiculously delicious pizzas and enjoy the overall vibe. Narona is the place where everybody will get to know your name, whether you want it to be known or not.
Located on Harringtons Street, Surfarosa is the surfer bar of the Cape Town dive scene. The outside facade is a welcome sight among the east city’s generic office buildings. Cosy, dimly lit, and reliably filled with locals, Surfarosa attracts all kinds, like bees to
Dust & Dynamite
Dust & Dynamite is one of those places that need a little searching to discover. It’s easy to miss and yet this is part of its charm. Decked with batwing doors, the saloon provides you with a taste of the bygone era of the American wild west, adorned with authentic cowboy hats and knick-knacks. As far as drinks are concerned, don’t go in there expecting a proprietary cocktail menu. Local beer and spirits are the only options and are always served by Sheriff Wayne or his Marshell with a big ol’ smile and pistol on the hip.
Time spent at the Kimbo starts wild and ends wild, with plenty of surreal action in the middle. The smokey bar is always packed with interesting characters from all walks of life. Mixology be damned; this is the kind of place where you can catch a good beer buzz for cheap while trying to win over the bartender. And if you’re lucky, you might get to hear one of the many stories that live inside the walls.
Obviously, the greatest selection of punk rock jams in the city comes with a bit of an anti-establishment attitude. But that’s just part of this place’s identity and charm, which is not giving up without a fight. Located on the edge of District Six, The Shack remains a Cape Town classic. Pool tables, cheap beer, and a foosball table attract a young, rowdy bunch that is sure to keep this bar kicking for generations to come.
Claiming to be the first licensed tavern in South Africa, Persevernce dates back to a time where the beers were never cold and the food was always old. Living up to its name, Percies has stood the test of time and even though it might look as if the historic pub has closed it doors, there is still some form of life hiding behind the swinging front door. Situated across the way from the Rust en Vreugd Manor House on Buitenkant street, Perserverce has revived itself once again and serves up some stoner-worthy pub grub to hungry regulars and visitors of the East City.
The Castle Bar
Notorious for its blaring hip-hop tunes and avid football fans, The Castle Bar is the perfect place to kick back with the locals over a couple of cold ones.