Living in Tacoma for most of my life, I have found the restaurant/city life to be particularly exciting. Want lobster? No problem. Looking to try an elk slider? Yes, we’ve got that too.

As I turned that whopping 21 years of age, I found it even more enticing to go into the bars and taverns of Tacoma in search of that perfect spot that I’d end up claiming as my sanctuary.

As a scrappy college student, I ball on an obviously small budget. But just like in the restaurant scene, living in Tacoma gives us options. My boyfriend and I can still explore new places, experience different drinks and meet new people “on the cheap”. So, after a bit of in-person sampling, here are the top 5 dive bars Tacoma has to offer:

1.) Bob’s Java-Jive

Price Range: $

Location: 2102 S Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA 98409

If you’ve spent any time in the area, chances are you’ve seen the giant coffee pot in South Tacoma. Built in 1927, it has served many functions, but now operates as a dive/karaoke/go-go bar. With live music, as well as some strangely hilarious guests, you’ll undoubtedly make a night of it in this surprisingly affordable bar. Bonus: You get to party in a giant coffee pot that just so happens to be a historic figure in Tacoma!

 

2.) Knapp’s restaurant

Price Range: $$

Location: 707 N Proctor St, Tacoma, WA 98406

Right in the heart of Proctor, Knapp’s serves not only as an especially yummy breakfast diner, but also as a dive bar/cocktail lounge. In the spacious restaurant & bar, you are greeted with wonderful service, as well as the best old-school American food you can think of. Although I personally have never drunk at the bar, rumor around town is that it is a fun place to drink socially with friends, and even strangers, as it provides welcoming guests and service alike!

 

3.) The Camp Bar

Price Range: $$

Location: 1906, 1310 Tacoma Ave S, Tacoma, WA 98402

Ever miss your camp days? This is the dive bar for you! Located in Downtown Tacoma, this bar gives you the full-fledged camping experience- they even went so far as to name their food after camping activities and experiences! And the bar food? AMAZING. You definitely get a bang for your buck, and pair it with a beer- you’re set for a good night!

 

4.) The Unicorn Sports Bar

Price Range: $

Location: 5302 N 49th St, Ruston, WA 98407

Do you like pool tables & dartboards, old-fashioned décor, and taco-specials? Then the Unicorn Sports Bar is your next stop! Hidden in Ruston, it truly makes you feel right at home as soon as you step foot through the door. This is definitely an awesome place for college students, as the costs don’t break the bank, and it’s a chill environment to drink a couple of beers, and play darts with some friends!

 

5.) Terry’s Office Tavern

Price Range: $$

Location: 3410 N Proctor St, Tacoma, WA 98407

Another Proctor bar, Terry’s Office Tavern is by far, one of Tacoma’s favorites. With the slogan, “Tell ‘em I’m at the office”, Terry’s holds a warm, neighborhood feel that welcomes its guests with open arms. They have a wide assortment of ciders, beers, and wines, that you need to take the edge off of a busy day. As the food is affordable and yummy (try the burger dip, you won’t be disappointed), with daily specials to help you ball on a budget, you will leave “the office” feeling good.

Written by: Ella Lucente