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The exterior of a dive bar on the corner of a city street at dusk. Signage reads Silhouette in black cursive, and a colorful mural is painted over one side of the bar’s dark exterior.
The Silhouette is one of Allston’s great dives.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Where to Find Greater Boston’s Essential Dive Bars

Drink cheaply at these fine establishments

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The Silhouette is one of Allston’s great dives.
| Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

There are few things more crucial in this world than the neighborhood dive. Everyone deserves an unpretentious space with bartenders who call themselves bartenders (and not something that sounds like an advanced degree was necessary to secure the gig) and who sling $3 beers and strong drinks that won’t cut into rent budgets. Drinkers aren’t always looking to sip on a finely crafted Sazerac — sometimes a ‘Gansett will do just fine.

Boston has lost quite a few of its best dive bars in recent years, but some of those have returned under new ownership and others are still going strong. Here are 14 of the best dive bars to check out in and near Boston.

See also: Greater Boston’s best Irish pubs and sports bars

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission. Note that as of January 15, 2022, restaurants in the city of Boston are required to check for proof of vaccination for customers dining indoors; Brookline has a similar mandate, but Brookline’s also covers outdoor dining.

This map was originally published on November 29, 2017; it is updated periodically, and the date of the most recent update appears above.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Sligo Pub

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Sligo Pub, open for three quarters of a century under several different names and owners, claims to hold the neighborhood’s oldest liquor license. Drink whiskey or beer — it’s all pretty affordable — and watch some sports or play Big Buck Hunter.

Exterior of a bar. A faded brown sign reads Sligo Pub in white text; it’s on a light brick wall. There’s a strip of forest green wood above the door and large windows, which have white frames.
Sligo Pub in Davis Square.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Paddy's Lunch

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Don’t expect to actually eat lunch at Paddy’s Lunch (unless you count cold beer as lunch); do expect cheap beers and classic old Cambridge hospitality. Paddy’s has been around since 1934, cultivating generations of regulars and sponsoring countless local sports teams along the way.

Eddie C's

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Eddie C’s is a Maverick Square institution. It’s cash only — because of course it is — and the jukebox is analog (and the tunes are killer). The PBR pitchers are cheap, as is Jameson on the rocks. And those Jamesons are strong — they’ve been described as a “townie pour.”

Sullivan's Tap

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Sullivan’s changed ownership in 2019, but it didn’t magically become a non-dive bar when it did. This is the spot to hit before a Celtics game for a cheap lager, pool, and some top-notch townie accents.

Exterior of a dive bar on a city street with a large green sign that says Sullivan’s Tap. There’s a Dunkin’ next door.
Sullivan’s Tap.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Beacon Hill Pub

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This favorite Beacon Hill dive temporarily closed a few years back and returned, mostly unchanged but under new ownership, in 2019. It might not be around forever: Plans have been floated about revamping it into an upscale restaurant. But at least for now, the Beacon Hill Pub lives on, offering dollar hot dogs on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays, free comedy shows on Sundays, and a long list of beer-and-a-shot combos.

Irish Village

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Irish Village is in good company in Brighton, which is lousy with Irish pubs. This one dates back to 1970 and is a particularly good spot to grab a pint of Guinness, play some darts, and snack on a toastie (toasted cheese sandwich).

Dark wooden exterior of a bar with signage that reads Irish Village in gold, in an old-fashioned font
The “IV” has a great old facade.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Biddy Early's

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Biddy Early’s — the self-proclaimed “best damn dive bar in Boston” — is cheap and constantly soaked in beer. It’s also one of a precious few places in the city where townies and slickly dressed finance bros intermingle effortlessly. There’s simple comfort food available on the menu, such as chicken tenders, burgers, mozzarella sticks, and the like.

Model Cafe

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The Model Cafe is one of Allston’s two great dive bars. Musicians and artists and skateboarders and locals occupy the space in sublime concert, sucking back very strong drinks and very cheap beers. The line on weekend nights gets long, so get there early. There’s a bit of food available, including bar pizza and hot dogs.

Bar exterior at night, featuring an elaborate stone facade lit red by the neon signage, which reads Model Cafe in a Medieval-looking font
The Model Cafe has a swanky exterior.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Silhouette Lounge

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Ah, the Silhouette Lounge. What is there to say about the Sil that hasn’t been said already? Pitchers are cheap, drinks are cheap (and massive, and strong), there’s free popcorn, there’s a pool table, there are many dart boards, and there is an internet-connected jukebox. Play any song imaginable, challenge a local to a game of pool (and don’t be surprised when that pool game ends in defeat to one of the many sharks that occupy the space around the Sil’s table), and chat with Irene, who might be the best bartender in the city/country/universe. The Silhouette came under new ownership in late 2021, but no major changes are expected.

The exterior of a dive bar on the corner of a city street at dusk. Signage reads Silhouette in black cursive, and a colorful mural is painted over one side of the bar’s dark exterior.
The Silhouette at dusk.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Tam

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Like Sullivan’s Tap and Beacon Hill Pub (see both above), Theatre District dive bar the Tam closed a few years back but came back to life, mostly the same, under new ownership — a group of investors going by the name Greater Boston Bar Co. has been reviving a bunch of local bars. (One or more members of that same group are separately involved in the Silhouette in Allston and the reopening of Somerville’s Thirsty Scholar, too.) The Tam is just the right combination of no frills and cheap beer that you’d expect from a proper dive.

Corner Pub

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The food at the Corner Pub isn’t half bad for a dive bar; try one of a dozen deep-fried egg roll varieties, stuffed with fillings like mac and cheese or chicken pot pie. The draft list is also pretty great, too, especially for the drinker who likes local craft brew.

Overhead view of a long white plate with four diagonally cut, large pieces of deep-fried egg roll stuffed with meat, with a white-ish-pink dipping sauce to the side
Egg rolls, anyone?
Corner Pub

Delux Cafe

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Most dive bars don’t offer very good food, or any food at all. Delux Cafe breaks that mold. Grab a Miller High Life, and also try the half chicken with potato hash.

Exterior of a bar with the word DeLux in large white letters on a black background. The exterior wall is brick, and there’s a barred window with black shutters on it. A red interior peeks through the front door.
Delux Cafe is the rare dive bar with great food.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Croke Park (aka Whitey’s)

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It’s cheap; the drinks are strong; one guy featured on the bar’s now-defunct website “can say with 100% certainty that this place is, by far, the worst bar in Boston” and “at no point did [he] feel like [he] wasn’t about to be stabbed by the locals”; and the head bartender was in Mystic River as Sean Penn’s body double. “Is that my cheap domestic lager in there?!” Note: Outside food is welcome.

A line of people in green clothing and St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia are lined up down the sidewalk in front of a bar
A St. Patrick’s Day line outside of Croke Park.
Croke Park

Shannon Tavern

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Patrons can play pool and drink cheaply at this pub that dates back to the 1960s, but Shannon Tavern’s big selling point as one of the city’s finest dive bars is that it has one of the only bubble hockey tables in Boston. Game over.

Sligo Pub

Exterior of a bar. A faded brown sign reads Sligo Pub in white text; it’s on a light brick wall. There’s a strip of forest green wood above the door and large windows, which have white frames.
Sligo Pub in Davis Square.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Sligo Pub, open for three quarters of a century under several different names and owners, claims to hold the neighborhood’s oldest liquor license. Drink whiskey or beer — it’s all pretty affordable — and watch some sports or play Big Buck Hunter.

Exterior of a bar. A faded brown sign reads Sligo Pub in white text; it’s on a light brick wall. There’s a strip of forest green wood above the door and large windows, which have white frames.
Sligo Pub in Davis Square.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Paddy's Lunch

Don’t expect to actually eat lunch at Paddy’s Lunch (unless you count cold beer as lunch); do expect cheap beers and classic old Cambridge hospitality. Paddy’s has been around since 1934, cultivating generations of regulars and sponsoring countless local sports teams along the way.

Eddie C's

Eddie C’s is a Maverick Square institution. It’s cash only — because of course it is — and the jukebox is analog (and the tunes are killer). The PBR pitchers are cheap, as is Jameson on the rocks. And those Jamesons are strong — they’ve been described as a “townie pour.”

Sullivan's Tap

Exterior of a dive bar on a city street with a large green sign that says Sullivan’s Tap. There’s a Dunkin’ next door.
Sullivan’s Tap.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Sullivan’s changed ownership in 2019, but it didn’t magically become a non-dive bar when it did. This is the spot to hit before a Celtics game for a cheap lager, pool, and some top-notch townie accents.

Exterior of a dive bar on a city street with a large green sign that says Sullivan’s Tap. There’s a Dunkin’ next door.
Sullivan’s Tap.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Beacon Hill Pub

This favorite Beacon Hill dive temporarily closed a few years back and returned, mostly unchanged but under new ownership, in 2019. It might not be around forever: Plans have been floated about revamping it into an upscale restaurant. But at least for now, the Beacon Hill Pub lives on, offering dollar hot dogs on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays, free comedy shows on Sundays, and a long list of beer-and-a-shot combos.

Irish Village

Dark wooden exterior of a bar with signage that reads Irish Village in gold, in an old-fashioned font
The “IV” has a great old facade.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Irish Village is in good company in Brighton, which is lousy with Irish pubs. This one dates back to 1970 and is a particularly good spot to grab a pint of Guinness, play some darts, and snack on a toastie (toasted cheese sandwich).

Dark wooden exterior of a bar with signage that reads Irish Village in gold, in an old-fashioned font
The “IV” has a great old facade.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Biddy Early's

Biddy Early’s — the self-proclaimed “best damn dive bar in Boston” — is cheap and constantly soaked in beer. It’s also one of a precious few places in the city where townies and slickly dressed finance bros intermingle effortlessly. There’s simple comfort food available on the menu, such as chicken tenders, burgers, mozzarella sticks, and the like.

Model Cafe

Bar exterior at night, featuring an elaborate stone facade lit red by the neon signage, which reads Model Cafe in a Medieval-looking font
The Model Cafe has a swanky exterior.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

The Model Cafe is one of Allston’s two great dive bars. Musicians and artists and skateboarders and locals occupy the space in sublime concert, sucking back very strong drinks and very cheap beers. The line on weekend nights gets long, so get there early. There’s a bit of food available, including bar pizza and hot dogs.

Bar exterior at night, featuring an elaborate stone facade lit red by the neon signage, which reads Model Cafe in a Medieval-looking font
The Model Cafe has a swanky exterior.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal/Eater

Silhouette Lounge

The exterior of a dive bar on the corner of a city street at dusk. Signage reads Silhouette in black cursive, and a colorful mural is painted over one side of the bar’s dark exterior.
The Silhouette at dusk.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Ah, the Silhouette Lounge. What is there to say about the Sil that hasn’t been said already? Pitchers are cheap, drinks are cheap (and massive, and strong), there’s free popcorn, there’s a pool table, there are many dart boards, and there is an internet-connected jukebox. Play any song imaginable, challenge a local to a game of pool (and don’t be surprised when that pool game ends in defeat to one of the many sharks that occupy the space around the Sil’s table), and chat with Irene, who might be the best bartender in the city/country/universe. The Silhouette came under new ownership in late 2021, but no major changes are expected.

The exterior of a dive bar on the corner of a city street at dusk. Signage reads Silhouette in black cursive, and a colorful mural is painted over one side of the bar’s dark exterior.
The Silhouette at dusk.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

The Tam

Like Sullivan’s Tap and Beacon Hill Pub (see both above), Theatre District dive bar the Tam closed a few years back but came back to life, mostly the same, under new ownership — a group of investors going by the name Greater Boston Bar Co. has been reviving a bunch of local bars. (One or more members of that same group are separately involved in the Silhouette in Allston and the reopening of Somerville’s Thirsty Scholar, too.) The Tam is just the right combination of no frills and cheap beer that you’d expect from a proper dive.

Corner Pub

Overhead view of a long white plate with four diagonally cut, large pieces of deep-fried egg roll stuffed with meat, with a white-ish-pink dipping sauce to the side
Egg rolls, anyone?
Corner Pub

The food at the Corner Pub isn’t half bad for a dive bar; try one of a dozen deep-fried egg roll varieties, stuffed with fillings like mac and cheese or chicken pot pie. The draft list is also pretty great, too, especially for the drinker who likes local craft brew.

Overhead view of a long white plate with four diagonally cut, large pieces of deep-fried egg roll stuffed with meat, with a white-ish-pink dipping sauce to the side
Egg rolls, anyone?
Corner Pub

Delux Cafe

Exterior of a bar with the word DeLux in large white letters on a black background. The exterior wall is brick, and there’s a barred window with black shutters on it. A red interior peeks through the front door.
Delux Cafe is the rare dive bar with great food.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Most dive bars don’t offer very good food, or any food at all. Delux Cafe breaks that mold. Grab a Miller High Life, and also try the half chicken with potato hash.

Exterior of a bar with the word DeLux in large white letters on a black background. The exterior wall is brick, and there’s a barred window with black shutters on it. A red interior peeks through the front door.
Delux Cafe is the rare dive bar with great food.
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

Croke Park (aka Whitey’s)

A line of people in green clothing and St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia are lined up down the sidewalk in front of a bar
A St. Patrick’s Day line outside of Croke Park.
Croke Park

It’s cheap; the drinks are strong; one guy featured on the bar’s now-defunct website “can say with 100% certainty that this place is, by far, the worst bar in Boston” and “at no point did [he] feel like [he] wasn’t about to be stabbed by the locals”; and the head bartender was in Mystic River as Sean Penn’s body double. “Is that my cheap domestic lager in there?!” Note: Outside food is welcome.

A line of people in green clothing and St. Patrick’s Day paraphernalia are lined up down the sidewalk in front of a bar
A St. Patrick’s Day line outside of Croke Park.
Croke Park

Shannon Tavern

Patrons can play pool and drink cheaply at this pub that dates back to the 1960s, but Shannon Tavern’s big selling point as one of the city’s finest dive bars is that it has one of the only bubble hockey tables in Boston. Game over.

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