Some cities are just built a little more friendly to dive bars and Philadelphia is one such city. The city’s historic architecture, the communal nature of its inhabitants, the area’s love affair with cold beverages, it all adds up to an environment that over the decades created and continues to cultivate some of the East Coast’s best dive bars.
On one end of the spectrum, take Dirty Frank’s
, a Philadelphia institution opened in 1933 that the Philadelphia Inquirer once called a “crossroads for errant individuals.” That phrase may be the highest honor a dive bar can achieve, especially considering one such errant individual is rumored to be Bob Dylan who was supposedly thrown out the bar by the unaware owner at the time.
On another end of the spectrum, McGillin’s Olde Ale House
, a dive bar crossed with a classic urban tavern that happens to be located down an alley. Or Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar
, obviously one of the best named dive bars in the city where original owner Ray Capozzoli started saying “happy birthday” in place of “hello” and the rest is history. Visit on your birthday and receive a Birthday Cake shot (naturally) served in a custom contraption complete with candle.
Compelling offers don’t stop there, Bob & Barbara’s
coining “The Special,” a $4 combination of PBR and Jim Beam shot that has served regulars consistently since 1969. Bob & Barbara’s resembles Moe’s from The Simpsons on the outside and hosts the city’s longest running drag show inside, a mixture only a dive bar could produce.
The options swirl from there, of course, including Center City’s Oscar’s Tavern
, a dive bar with a red brick exterior, red lights, red booths and red lamps that shows an impressive commitment to a theme. And throughout Philadelphia, more gems are ready to be found, the city the perfect breeding ground for niche, native, enduring dive bar staples.