Where all the deuces are wild

At Austin’s Lit­tle Longhorn Sa­loon, a chicken takes cen­ter cage

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - BY TIM CARMAN AND FRITZ HAHN tim.carman@wash­post.com | fritz.hahn@wash­post.com

The dive bar’s obit­u­ary prob­a­bly has been writ­ten a thou­sand times, and yet: The ra­tio of dive­bar lis­ti­cles to dive­bar obits must be about 10 to 1. Ei­ther the dive bar’s demise has been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated or the def­i­ni­tion of such wa­ter­ing holes has be­come so un­man­age­able that it en­com­passes just about any place that doesn’t serve a $20 Man­hat­tan. ¶ So how can we char­ac­ter­ize the Amer­i­can dive bar so that ev­ery­one agrees? In short, we can’t. But we needed some guide­lines as we searched for the coun­try’s most au­then­tic dives over the past months. True dives pos­sess a hand­ful of ba­sic at­tributes: They must have his­tory; they must have reg­u­lars; they can­not be ex­pen­sive; they can­not have craft cock­tails. ¶ You might dis­agree with our op­er­at­ing nar­ra­tive, and no doubt you’ll dis­like some of our choices. But this is our point: A dive bar is per­sonal. It’s where friends gather, drink and ar­gue loudly — and still walk away as kin­dred spir­its.

Fourth in an eight-part se­ries.

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