There is nothing better than a dive bar. Rather than getting all dressed up and spending extra money to journey across town, wouldn’t you rather just walk to the corner looking however you want with the few bucks you already have in your pocket?
Here are some of the best dive bars in Philadelphia, listed in no particular order.
Bob & Barbara
1509 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Bob & Barbara’s Cocktail Lounge is more of a gritty dive than the name suggests. It’s been serving the thirsty Philly community since 1969, and its cheap and dirty brand of fun hasn’t lost its charm. Pocket pleasing specials, like a nearly free shot of Jim Beam with a can of PBR keep the floors sticky, while a diverse crowd packs into the tight space for weekly live performances, from punk to jazz. No night is more wild than Thursday, as lineups of lip-synching drag hit the bar, presided over by the beloved local trans icon Miss Lisa. Bring singles for tipping.
Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
At Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar, everybody might not know your name, but they will give you a free birthday-cake shot on your birthday, complete with a candle. On days when it isn’t the anniversary of the hardest day of your mom’s life, Ray’s is your typical South Philly dive. You can even still smoke at Ray’s, which is either the greatest thing on Earth or a serious annoyance (where you fall on the scale is, not surprisingly, tied to your alcohol consumption).
347 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Dirty Frank’s got everything you need to get the job done, cheap pitchers, darts and Mrs. Pac Man.
259 S 15th St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Mcglitchey’s is an old school, grimy, friendly, smoking bar. It has a huge beer list and great food. So what could make McGlinchey’s any better? How about the face that $3.25 buys you whiskey and $2.95 gets you a beer.
Bonnie’s Capistrano Bar
1503 S 15th St
Gotta respect Bonnie’s — outside of mussel night (and maybe a pizza night if you’re lucky), they don’t serve any food. So if you’re hungry, eat before you go. Because at Bonnie’s, you’re there to drink some cheap beer or cocktails. It’s simple, but that’s the way we like it.
2601 S 17th St
Look up ‘neighborhood bar’ in the dictionary (Wiktionary, let’s be real) and you would probably find a picture of a bar that looks pretty similar to McCuskers. The South Philly tavern, owned by two brothers, is your quintessential neighborhood drinking establishment — the menu’s got burgers, sandwiches, and wings, domestics are cheap, and they have a dart board. Pretty much all you need in a bar.
530 S 17th St
Looks intimidating, but the people are friendly! Regular prices might be a little higher than some other dives, but luckily, most nights they’re offering a food or drink special, including half-priced drinks every day from 5-7pm and 10-11pm.
Black Cat Tavern on 12th
2654 S 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Opened by owners Marlise Tkaczuk and Tom Ball in the location formerly occupied by Cheech’s Beef & Ale, Black Cat Tavern serves Polish inspired food and has six beer taps featuring mostly craft beers.
2500 S 3rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Wander Inn is a Whitman neighborhood gastropub featuring homemade comfort food, draught beer, wine, and cocktails. This little spot features a jukebox, dining room and pool table, brunch, and seasonal outdoor seating.
1524 Sansom St
Just a few blocks from City Hall, Oscar’s is in the perfect location for anyone who works in the heart of town. The 23-ounce Yuenglings for $3.25, good bar food, and year-round Christmas lights make this cash-only bar look like a scene from that weird Ryan Gosling movie. Be sure to build up that liquid courage before braving the bathrooms.