Missing the Northeast: Favorite so-called ‘dive’ bars

I am not what one would consider a bar aficionado. Nor would anybody even dare to call me a bar frequenter. Furthermore, I highly doubt anybody would ever confuse me with even an alcoholic’s second cousin.

That being said, occasional imbibing happens – mostly, I find – whenever I come back to the Northeast to visit. I’m not necessarily always keen on spending too much money to drink; however, if I have to accept a friend’s plan that involves throwing down some money for alcohol, I prefer the location to be either a dive bar or a place that is relatively low-key.

When I was younger, the term “dive bar” always stuck with me as a negative term, representative of a dark, seedy establishment often exaggerated in movies as run-down and filled with burly motorcyclists.

However, when I eventually started frequenting bars and began differentiate between different types of bars, dive bars and those with a little less of a “scene” ended up taking their places as some of my more favorite locations.

The Rhawnhurst

Sometimes a good bar is more than simply drinking. As somebody who is not a big fan of drinking on principle, I appreciate any place that supplies its fair amount of seating or opportunities to do something more than simply consuming alcohol.

Located on Rhawn and Castor Avenues, The Rhawnhurst, which I have been to a number of times with friends, offers both of those things. There is enough seating, televisions playing all of the big Philadelphia sports games and a pretty decent shuffleboard table to keep the night from getting monotonous.

Of course, there has not been a single time I’ve been to this bar where there hasn’t been a middle-aged woman three sheets to the wind who has either a) hit on me or b) forced me to present my ID to prove I am not a teenager. But if that is what helps keep a place like The Rhawnhurst low-key, I will gladly take this bar over most others any day of the week.

Brick House Bar & Grille

I fully realize that karaoke can be a polarizing event. I, for one, am completely in favor of it and am completely in favor of any bar that has the resources to do it well. Brick House on Grant Avenue does this pretty nicely.

Similar to The Rhawnhurst, Brick House features clientele that varies widely from young to old. When you couple that with a good karaoke environment – think middle-aged women dancing along as you and a friend perform Boston’s “Long Time” – it is an enjoyable experience.

Paddy Whacks

The site of my 21st birthday, this bar – at least the one on Comly Road – will have a special place in my heart. Of course, out of the three bars I’ve mentioned, Paddy Whacks is probably the one least likely to be considered low-key. However, the experiences have always been enjoyable enough to remember fondly.

Missing the Northeast is a column written by Stephen Wilson, a former Northeast resident who moved to New Jersey for work. You can read his column on the last Monday of every month.


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