Great Philly Dives, Courtesy of Dive Expert Brian McManus

Brian McManus’ book, Philadelphia’s Best Dive Bars hits stores this week. While we here at Foobooz are more than familiar with the Center City dive bar scene, we thought we’d ask McManus for his more off-the-beaten path suggestions elsewhere in town. Anyone up for a (cheap) drink?

Fishtown: Luke’s is great. It’s the longest single family owned bar in Fishtown—they just celebrated their 40th anniversary. They’ve got a piano, a pool table, and $7 buckets of ponies. One time, a guy got up and played ‘Strawberry Fields’ and spontaneously, the entire bar just starts singing along. It was really beautiful.
2434 Cedar Street, 215-634-2106.

South Philly: Cookie’s Tavern. It’s a Marine bar opened by a guy named Daddy Wags who earned a purple heart in ’Nam. The bartender, Big Mike, is deaf, and he tells you how he loves to get manicures. Every 10th of November, they have one of the biggest Marine gatherings in the country. There’s a sign behind the bar that reads, ‘We Don’t Call 911.’
2654 South Alder Street, 215-271-9487.

West Philly: I take a lot of friends to Cousin Danny’s Exotic Haven. When we’re smashed already, it’s pretty great. There’s a dancer, Big Kim. She’s got a Rolling Stones logo tattooed on her, and she’s probably 300 pounds, but she can really swing on that pole. They even have their own Twitter account.
320 South 52nd Street.

Northeast Philly: I’d have to say the Beefseekers Inn—best named bar ever. I asked about the origin of it. They flatly told me that a guy once came in and said he was sick of his wife’s spaghetti. ‘He wanted a steak. So we made him one.’ You’ll hear the word ‘faggot’ a lot in this place. A tip I would give for dive bar survival: sometimes you can hear off colored language that’s uncomfortable, but it’s probably good to wipe the concern off your face. Don’t seem shocked. Just leave.
3234 Red Lion Road, 215-637-1444.

For more dive bar survival tips, check out this article from the magazine.


  • Ryan

    How does Locust Rendezvous not get any love?

  • Snake

    Or Oscars. I was intersted in the article, but it only refers to dive bars in parts of town where I’d be pretty surprised NOT to find a dive bar. If I’m on S. 52nd St, I’m not going into a bar with expectations of anything BUT a dive.

  • chuck e.

    The Dolphin Bar featured on the cover of this Book was The Hangout for sailors from the Navy Base when back in the day, they had the corner on tattoos in this town.
    The locals knew it as a Blood Pit,when the motorcycle gangs tried to make it a Clubhouse and run the drugs and slutwalkers concession.
    The most fun was watching the owner,old school Italian bartender, who financed his way to owning a bust out joint after being a Manager on Locust Street when all there was were strip joints.
    Today, its Gayborhood.More profit and you don’t have to pay off the cops for morals violations, just get out the vote for the Demonrat Party.
    .