The Best Dive Bars in Philadelphia

The dive bar category is where Philly really excels. Tip for outsiders: If you want a bottle of Yuengling, the dominant local brand, simply ask for a “lager.” They’ll know what you mean. Every neighborhood in town has worthy options, so plentiful that not all fit on this list. Also consider Atlantis: The Lost Bar (greater Fishtown area); Dirty Frank’s, Locust Bar and Doobies (Center City); and Bonnie’s Capistrano Bar and the P.O.P.E. (South Philly).

  • 1

    12 Steps Down

    A dozen concrete steps below the Italian Market sidewalk lies this “group therapy bar,” so focused on quality drinking that it openly mocks the principles of AA. They have all the requisite macro brews, plus a surprisingly expansive take on spirits and craft beer. The bar also plays regular host to irregular events, like “Yacht Rock Bingo,” a spin on the blue-hair VFW diversion scored by smooth adult tunes.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • karaoke
    • cheap date
    • live music
    • bar food
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
    • sports
    • games
  • 2

    Bob & Barbara’s

    Bob & Barb’s, a fixture on the quieter half of iconic South Street, features what might be the biggest collection of displayable Pabst Blue Ribbon memorabilia in the country. It also carries a timeless my-first-dive vibe that’s endeared it to pretty much everyone who’s pounded a pint here since it opened in 1969. Stop in on weekends for live music from The Crowd Pleasers.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
    • live music
    • historic
  • 3

    Donna’s Bar

    The northern enclave of Port Richmond has long been Philadelphia’s Little Poland, and Donna’s might be the neighborhood’s best entrée into the community. Big bottles of ice-cold Żywiec beer and even colder shots of vodka, along with a formidable kitchen that cranks out classic belly-fillers like pierogi, golabki and bigos, await all comers at the bar, which opens before noon every day. It’s also home to one of the most intense/hilarious karaoke nights in town, every Friday.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • karaoke
    • cheap date
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • day drinking
  • 4

    El Bar

    The “El” in the name of this quintessential Kensington dive is not a Spanish article, but a reference to the elevated Market-Frankford trains that rattle overhead. The no-nonsense drinkers here—a weird mix of hardscrabble billiards players, whiskey-swilling women and jean-jacketed boys—don’t seem to mind the noise.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
  • 5

    Las Vegas Lounge

    As Center City Philadelphia swank-ifies, the downtown dive bar is a sadly fading breed—that’s why it’s so heartening that places like LVL are still around to set us straight. Deceptively large inside based on its unassuming exterior, this is the place to grab a few pints, spread out and shoot pool with a well-mingled mix of fresh-off-shift industry types, loosened-tie office workers and curious tourists.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • cheap date
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • craft beer
    • day drinking
  • 6

    Lucky 13 Pub

    It certainly ain’t fancy compared to some of the soigné fine-dining options along the East Passyunk Avenue drag, but this approachability is what makes Lucky 13 such a comfortable place. The small-but-thoughtful craft beer and spirits selection becomes that much more appealing when they’re shepherded by a solid staff, including owner Clark Newman, one of the most reliably friendly publicans in town.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • full menu
    • bar food
  • 7

    Oscar's Tavern

    An old-timey holdout on a Center City street dominated by nouveau-riche destinations, Oscar’s is a classic. Quite simply, Philly would be crappier without this bar, from décor on down. Dive bar connoisseurs will appreciate the crimson lighting and mismatched drop ceiling, antiquated paper placemats dictating circa-’60s drink options (when’s the last time you had an Alexander?) and greasy, jeans-as-your-napkin food.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • bar food
    • full menu
    • day drinking
    • sports
  • 8

    Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar

    Adjacent to “Cheesesteak Vegas”—the searing neon tourist-trappy block featuring Pat’s and Geno’s—Ray’s caters to all facets of South Philly. That includes early risers. The bar, which, true to form, offers everyone a free drink on their birthday, opens at 7 a.m. six days a week (9 a.m. on Sundays, to give the guys a little break). Double Canadian Club for breakfast? Yes, indeed.

    MORE INFO →

    KNOWN FOR

    • karaoke
    • live music
    • cheap date
    • historic

Related Articles

More Stories you may like

FROM AROUND THE WEB