All hail the dive bar! Although they are considered a dying breed by some, Boston boasts an impressive array of dives where locals haunt the barstools, bartenders serve cheap beer and the occasional dog is drooling in the corner. We celebrate the black swan of the hospitality world with this small, but essential list of some of the greatest and unique dive bars in Boston.
Easily one of the best dive bar names in Boston—and the world—Drinking Fountain is Jamaica Plain’s go to watering hole. The crowd is eclectic, working class locals mix with the swell of hip-folk living next door. If their was a checklist for the essential qualities of a dive bar, just look at Drinking Fountain, the bar boasts a pool table, cheap drinks, seasoned bartenders, the old guy in the corner drinking vodka tonics, oh yeah, and an Aquarium.
Drinking Fountain is located at 3520 Washington St., Boston MA, 02130 (617) 522-7335
If getting your buzz going at eight in the morning sounds like your idea of the early bird getting the worm, then The Tam in the Theater District is your kind of dive. The cash bar serves no food, but it does have a vending machine full of potato chips and pretzels. The Tam— which gets it’s name from Tamworth, a street next to the bar— is a haunt for lovers of huge shots, cheap beer and dog lovers (occasionally you’ll find a dog chilling out at the end of the bar).
The Tam is located at 222 Tremont St., Boston, MA. 02118, (617) 482-9182
The Silhouette attracts the “punks, misfits and locals” from Allston to its doors every night. Silhouette stands still in time, throughout the bar and pool room, streamers saying “Happy New Year” and Christmas lights cover the walls. God only knows how long since the popcorn was last vacuumed from the rug, but that’s what makes The Sil a great dive, you’re here to drink, the rest doesn’t matter.
Fun fact for non-regulars: the murals outside all feature celebrities with the first name Joe because the owners name is Joe.
Silhouette Lounge is located at 200 Brighton Ave., Allston, MA, 02134 (617) 206-4565
Upon walking into Delux Café, three things come to mind: 1) they have a crazy amount of rock albums lining up the wall 2) that Elvis lamp perched on the bar is incredible, and 3) Delux Café isn’t really your token dive bar. This South End haunt just had a major makeover and the food—skirt steak, homemade pasta, tacos de carnitas—don’t have that divey griminess. But don’t be confused by the exterior look of Delux. At its heart, it’s a dive bar and that atmosphere and attitude has stayed since it opened in 1993.
Delux Café is located at 100 Chandler St. Boston, MA 02116 (617) 338-5258
According to the bartender who was dressed as an NFL referee for game day, Cantab is named after Cantabridgia, which was what Cambridge used to be called during the Revolutionary War. This and more questionable fun facts are sure to arise once you hop onto a barstool at the famed Cambridge dive bar. Sure, the nearby Central Square bars are fun but none compare to the stiff drinks at a cheap price that Cantab has to offer. On any given Sunday you’ll see the bar filled up with locals eyeing down the football game. At night, the bar turns into a haven for partygoers and music fans.
Cantab Lounge is located at 738 Mass. Ave. Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 354-2685
Although Wally’s Café is technically a jazz club, it has all the amenities of a dive bar plus awesome live music every night. Nestled by the corner of Mass. Ave and Columbus Ave. in the South End, you’ll be stuck to your seat listening to music from local bands and students from Berklee. It’s quite a sight to see the rush of people towards the bar in between sets. Since it’s opening in 1947, the bar has served as a melting pot of locals, students, and tourists.
Wally’s Café is located at 427 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, MA 02118, (617) 424-1408