08/27/2012 12:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Best U.S. Bars on a Budget


In this economy, you don't have to be a starving student to be on a strict ramen noodle type budget. It seems like everyone is trying to save a few bucks, and wining and dining can be the first indulgence to fall off the list. Never fear, we've got some of the best bars on a budget no matter where you are in the country, because you gotta live, even if it's just a little.

Los Angeles


Cha Cha Lounge is the perfect place to enjoy some drinks without breaking the bank. OK, so the décor is a little less than matching, and it's definitely a fight to get the attention of the bartender, but if you're short on cash, it's the place to be. Instead of cramped, think of it as cozy and hip, because that's exactly what it is. Sitting in the heart of Silver Lake, you're sure to be in hipster heaven as you bond with other patrons over sell out musicians, high rent, and $3 PBRs.

San Francisco


If the cash flow is tight, but you still want to treat yourself and/or your significant other right, check out Amélie. It's a swanky wine bar with just enough spunk to keep it from being dull and parental. With a happy hour from 5:30-7 p.m., you can score a pretty good deal on some appetizers and $5 glasses of wine. It's usually crowded with young professionals and casual trendsetters alike, and is the perfect after-work dinner spot.



For a cultural budget dining experience, try Resi's Bierstube, located in the former German immigrant inhabited Lakeview. You don't need to know much about meteorology to understand that the Windy City can get pretty chilly, which is why so many Chicago dwellers, from older men to hipsters, love Resi's traditional Bavarian cabin atmosphere and hearty menu. Like any respectable bar, the beer list is extensive and inexpensive, with prices hovering around $5. Even though schnitzel and bratwurst taste especially good on a snowy evening, this is a great place to fill you up on the cheap any time of the year.

Washington, D.C.


The place to go for cheap drinks, even cheaper food, and wild nights, is most definitely Lucky Bar. With a long happy hour from 3-8 p.m., you can get down on $3 drinks and 25 cent food specials. If you're a sports fan, this is the right place for you, especially if you like soccer. It can get a little crazy on Friday nights with Top 40 DJs and frat kids, but if you're not in the mood for the raucousness, head upstairs for a chiller vibe.

New York


Smack dab in the East Village you will find the diviest of the dives, International Bar. With a happy hour that goes from 1-8pm, you know they mean business. Though it's decorated with a smattering of mismatched year-round holiday décor and odd furniture, patrons hardly seem to care as this is the place to go for a cheap and easy drink. Roll up in your pajamas or suit; no one will mind as you blast tunes no one has ever heard of from the jukebox. There is a back patio for warmer weather, and you can often find all walks of life setting up camp outside. For $2-$5 beers, who cares?



The Cambridge classic, Grendel's Den, stays true to its Beowulf character namesake, with brick archways in a dark tavern setting. Harvard students and their slightly older professional counterparts, flock to this favorite bar for the $4.95 weekday lunch express specials and the great half priced menu from 5-7:30 p.m. Come for the cheap food and drinks, stay for the fun atmosphere, and chill out on the patio to people-watch passersby in Winthrop Square.

No matter what city you reside in or visit, there are options for those less fortunate souls. If you do enough research you could potentially save a ton of money staking out the best happy hours and drink specials in your city. So quit bugging your friends to spot you this time around, and find the best bars on a budget in your area.

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