A great dive bar obeys a number of principles, walking a fine line between a standing health code violation and the place you want to be on any given night. It's time to elucidate some of those principles in this space, so you can know if your favorite spot can be classified as a dive.
A dive bar always has a shot and a beer special, but that never includes top shelf liquor or beer on tap.
A dive bar is never a place you go to eat, but always has one food item that you look forward to eating after a few drinks -- be this a packaged snack or a square pizza.
A dive bar always possesses a leisure activity, which is either never in use or not working exactly right -- such as a pool table that leans or trivia machine that eats your quarters.
A dive bar always has a few seats open, but not necessarily next to the person you want to sit beside.
A dive bar never has glasses that match, though you've never noticed.
A dive bar is where beer is spilled on your date, but that never leads to a fight.
A dive bar always has a sign that is slightly malfunctioning, but in a way that gives it character rather than suggesting the establishment has closed.
A dive bar is never the first place you think to stop, but is likely to be the place where you end the night.
[Image via Flickr: skandopics]