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A red-painted exterior of a bar with “Bukowski Tavern” in large letters running over the top and down the side of the building.
Bukowski Tavern in Back Bay.
Via Google Maps

Boston’s Essential Dive Bars

Drink cheaply at these fine establishments

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Bukowski Tavern in Back Bay.
| Via Google Maps

Nothing makes a neighborhood like the local dive, where people can gather for a few drinks, chat with their friends and fellow locals, and not spend their rent check. And, as Boston is a city of neighborhoods, many of them are littered with places to do just that.

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: Boston’s best Irish pubs and sports bars.

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Paddy's Lunch

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This dive doesn’t actually serve lunch (that would make too much sense), but they’ve got cheap beers and classic old Cambridge hospitality in spades. 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, and the whole town was nervous the new owners would make changes and raise the prices. Thankfully, Sullivan’s hasn’t changed a bit. This is the spot to grab a cheap lager and play pool. It’s also the bar of choice to pregame hitting Celtics and Bruins games at the Garden, because stadium drink prices are honestly rude.

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 Boston

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 Boston

Biddy Early's

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Biddy Early’s is the self-proclaimed “best damn dive bar in Boston,” and who are we to argue? It’s absolutely the best option downtown. 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 great dive bars. Musicians, artists, skateboarders, and locals occupy the space, 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 Boston

Silhouette Lounge

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There are few Boston-area dive bars more beloved than the Silhouette Lounge. 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, very importantly, there are free hot dogs for life for anyone who devotes a tattoo to the bar.

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 Boston

The Tam

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Like Sullivan’s Tap, 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 — and they’re not fixing what isn’t broken. The Tam is just the right combination of no-frills and cheap beer that you’d expect from a proper dive, and a great stop to while away an hour before a comedy show or concert on Theater Row. 

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 at the family-owned dive is also pretty great, too, especially for the drinker who likes local craft brew.

Bukowski Tavern

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One of the most reliable spots for a beer under $10 (yes, it’s come to that) in Boston, Bukowski’s also serves wine, but they don’t have the hard stuff. It’s usually crowded with interesting people, they won’t take Amex (cash is preferred, but they do take Mastercard) and it’s appropriately shabby. What they do have is a kitchen that turns out surprisingly good bar food, like chili cheese dogs, poutine tater tots and big, messy burgers.

Croke Park (aka Whitey’s)

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The drinks are cheap and strong, there aren’t really any windows, and the room is kind of busted. There’s a pool table, of course, and it’s one of the most welcoming pubs around. Esquire named Croke Park one of the best bars in America back in 2016. Important note: Outside food is welcome.

The Clock Tavern

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The Clock has been a Southie classic since 1934, with reasonable drinks, a long bar of regulars, and a pool table. It’s a great spot to start a night out in Southie. They’ve recently done a little bit of a revamp to spruce up with place, adding sports memorabilia (who doesn’t love a classic photo of Larry Bird), classic album art, and some new lighting, but it remains a friendly spot for locals.

Shannon Tavern

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Patrons can play pool and drink cheaply at Shannon Tavern, a well-worn watering hole with drop ceilings, friendly bartenders, and Irish flags to spare, that dates back to the 1960s.

Twelve Ben's

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When people not from here think of a Boston dive bar, Twelve Ben’s is probably what they’re picturing. No website, bartenders who don’t have time for you to dither over your order, and cheap drinks — what more do you want? How about wood paneling, darts, and a 10 a.m. open time? Like we said, this dive has it all.

Paddy's Lunch

This dive doesn’t actually serve lunch (that would make too much sense), but they’ve got cheap beers and classic old Cambridge hospitality in spades. 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

Sullivan’s changed ownership in 2019, and the whole town was nervous the new owners would make changes and raise the prices. Thankfully, Sullivan’s hasn’t changed a bit. This is the spot to grab a cheap lager and play pool. It’s also the bar of choice to pregame hitting Celtics and Bruins games at the Garden, because stadium drink prices are honestly rude.

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 Boston

Irish Village

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 Boston

Biddy Early's

Biddy Early’s is the self-proclaimed “best damn dive bar in Boston,” and who are we to argue? It’s absolutely the best option downtown. 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

The Model Cafe is one of Allston’s great dive bars. Musicians, artists, skateboarders, and locals occupy the space, 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 Boston

Silhouette Lounge

There are few Boston-area dive bars more beloved than the Silhouette Lounge. 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, very importantly, there are free hot dogs for life for anyone who devotes a tattoo to the bar.

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 Boston

The Tam

Like Sullivan’s Tap, 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 — and they’re not fixing what isn’t broken. The Tam is just the right combination of no-frills and cheap beer that you’d expect from a proper dive, and a great stop to while away an hour before a comedy show or concert on Theater Row. 

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 at the family-owned dive is also pretty great, too, especially for the drinker who likes local craft brew.

Bukowski Tavern

One of the most reliable spots for a beer under $10 (yes, it’s come to that) in Boston, Bukowski’s also serves wine, but they don’t have the hard stuff. It’s usually crowded with interesting people, they won’t take Amex (cash is preferred, but they do take Mastercard) and it’s appropriately shabby. What they do have is a kitchen that turns out surprisingly good bar food, like chili cheese dogs, poutine tater tots and big, messy burgers.

Croke Park (aka Whitey’s)

The drinks are cheap and strong, there aren’t really any windows, and the room is kind of busted. There’s a pool table, of course, and it’s one of the most welcoming pubs around. Esquire named Croke Park one of the best bars in America back in 2016. Important note: Outside food is welcome.

The Clock Tavern

The Clock has been a Southie classic since 1934, with reasonable drinks, a long bar of regulars, and a pool table. It’s a great spot to start a night out in Southie. They’ve recently done a little bit of a revamp to spruce up with place, adding sports memorabilia (who doesn’t love a classic photo of Larry Bird), classic album art, and some new lighting, but it remains a friendly spot for locals.

Shannon Tavern

Patrons can play pool and drink cheaply at Shannon Tavern, a well-worn watering hole with drop ceilings, friendly bartenders, and Irish flags to spare, that dates back to the 1960s.

Twelve Ben's

When people not from here think of a Boston dive bar, Twelve Ben’s is probably what they’re picturing. No website, bartenders who don’t have time for you to dither over your order, and cheap drinks — what more do you want? How about wood paneling, darts, and a 10 a.m. open time? Like we said, this dive has it all.

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