Philadelphia’s Best Dive Bars

Buzz Bissinger, one of Philly’s most famous authors, once wrote that Philadelphia “is a city that wears a chip on its shoulder with such warrior fierceness I sometimes think we’re all equipped with spears.” Beneath this tough as leather exterior, however, there’s a softer side, a humanity, or an earnestness if you will. A less than sober combination of these dual qualities can be found in the city’s dive bars, where rough and tumble lunch pail carrying blue collar types mix with lawyers and scholars for cheap suds, colorful conversation and general bad behavior.

Sponsored by the Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia’s Best Dive Bars is the ultimate guide to the city’s old booze-soaked Valhallas. If you want to discover the city’s true character—fragmented, sometimes hypocritical, never pandering, rough as sandpaper—and meet some of its true characters, then this is the book for you. Or, as Bissinger also once wrote about Philly, “beautiful, blown-out, bucolic, bereft, bountiful, bare, buoyant, brutal, booming, bust.” Yeah, that says it all.

Brian McManus is the music editor and a contributing food writer at Philadelphia Weekly. He’s written for Houston Press, San Francisco Weekly, Chicago Reader, Cleveland Scene, and Spin. His drinking and diving began while on tour with his garage punk band, continued during his years as a chef in Houston, and hasn’t slowed, much to the eternal dismay of his wife.