Dive bars are great for so many reasons - citywides are cheaper than a bottle of water, there's often late-night karaoke, and the bartenders know your name after a couple of visits. But the best dives are places that where you can get a cheap beer and a really good meal on a Tuesday night. They’re spots that never get too crowded where you can drink on the cheap and don’t have to spend a ton of money on things like a fried chicken sandwich.
Here are our 11 favorite bars to get some excellent food with a citywide on the side.
For a long time, Jerry’s was just a dive bar - the kind with dollar beers and regulars who were almost exclusively men over the age of 50. But then it was taken over by a chef, and now it’s a little different. It’s still divey, but it also serves some of the better food in Northern Liberties - especially for brunch, when the menu has things like brioche french toast and a brisket omelette. And if you come during dinner hours, you shouldn’t leave without ordering the Jerry burger.
Triangle Tavern is exactly what it sounds like: a triangle-shaped bar on a corner of East Passyunk in South Philly. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to other bars in the area - it has a long draft list and makes for a good place to grab a weeknight beer with an old friend. This bar, though, has excellent Italian food like homemade pasta, polenta fries, and vegan pizzas if meat isn’t your thing.
Murph’s is a dark, cash-only Irish pub in Fishtown where you have to pay for your beers separately from your spaghetti bolognese. If that sentence isn’t the most Philadelphia thing you’ve ever read, we’d like to see you try to beat it. Usually, you have to show up before 6pm to sit at one of the six tables, but the food here is worth waiting for even if you get there later in the night. When you eventually get a table, possibly below a taxidermied goat, order some meatballs and lobster ravioli. Then head to the bar for one more beer and get into an argument with the bartender over the Eagles’ defensive line.
The best thing about Fountain Porter in East Passyunk is that it serves a $5 burger at all times. And while this burger is pretty simple, with a lettuce-tomato-onion combo on a sesame seed bun, it has a perfectly-cooked patty that hits the spot. Besides the burger, you should come here for the long draft list, which changes every night, as well as the affordable wines by the glass and bottle. You’ll need to check their Instagram to know exactly what’s on tap, or you could just go in blind and be surprised - you won’t be disappointed either way.
Interstate is well-known for its alcoholic iced tea mixture that’s so strong they’ll only let you order two of them. But what it should be known for is its seriously good southern-inspired bar food like pecan-panko crusted chicken fingers and catfish tacos. The kitchen switches over to a late-night menu at 11pm, meaning you can still get all of the fried foods you want until they close at 1am.
Kostas looks like your average dive bar, with a bunch of TVs, a guy sitting on a stool outside the nondescript front door checking IDs, and a few pool tables manned by regulars. But along with their draft beers and well cocktails, Kostas has a pretty extensive dinner menu comprised of awesome Greek food. So whether it’s the first stop of the night or the last, order some fries and a gyro for the table. It also has a back patio that doesn’t get as crowded as the one a few doors down at Frankford Hall, which means more room for you and all your friends.
Standard Tap is a Philadelphia staple. It’s been around forever and works for a lot of situations, like drinking beer on their rooftop during the summer or having a Bloody Mary by the outdoor fireplace in January. But what we love most here is the food - which is far more elaborate than you might expect at a neighborhood pub. They have a full raw bar with some of the best oysters in the city, along with larger dishes like chicken pot pie and a great burger. If you come for brunch, don’t miss the pork belly benedict and grilled peach pancakes.
From the half-off-everything Happy Hour to the folding lawn chairs on the patio, American Sardine Bar in Point Breeze is the neighborhood spot you wish you had next door. They mostly serve sandwiches and seafood, but everything on the menu is good - especially the summer shrimp submarine and anything with sardines. The drink list is heavy on craft beer, but they also make solid cocktails that change every few months. Plus, this place is open for brunch and serves burritos, tater tots, and Bloody Marys to get you back on your feet after a long night.
Bardot Cafe might be more of a lounge than a dive bar with its drapey curtains and candles on every table. But it still feels like the kind of place that you could show up to any time, grab an empty table, and get a $6 margarita. While you’re here, you should also order some of their kind of French food, whether that’s some pickled beets and crab frites or larger items like an excellent lamb burger and a quesadilla. If you’re not looking for a full meal, they also have a great Happy Hour that includes half-off draughts and $5 bar snacks.
There aren’t that many places in this city with great cajun food, but Khyber Pass Pub is one of the best. Other than the Khyber gumbo, which is perfectly meaty and just a little spicy, they also have a ton of po’boys on the menu, as well as beignets at brunch that almost live up to the ones at Cafe Du Monde. They have live music in their upstairs venue space as well, so invite all your friends here for dinner and have a less-aggressive version of your college Mardi Gras experience.
The food at The Pub On Passyunk East, a bar that everybody calls POPE, is so good that we understand why it’s nicknamed after the world’s most powerful Catholic dude. Their menu contains stuff like burgers and wings, but it’s a great spot to go if you want bar food in the East Passyunk area. They occasionally have a fried PB&J on the menu, and if they happen to have it while you’re there, it should be on your table.