You know what we hate? Those people who write listicles and never sat down to have a god damn drink. Instagram this, Flickr that. Fuck those people. We took our livers on a Tour de Pittsburgh and hit 13 bars in two days. Here’s the best Dive Bars that Pittsburgh has to offer.
Dee’s Cafe – South Side
Dee’s Cafe’s is stuck in time. The same cast of characters on a different night. Cheap beer, seven pool tables, and it ranks top 100 for PBR sales world wide. This has been my go-to bar of choice for writing over a pint for years.
Gene’s Place – Oakland
Gene’s Place is the beginner’s dive bar for collegiate newcomers. Some survive the four years to become grad students or, even worse, doctorates. This makes for a brutal trivia night where only the strong survive.
Kelly’s – East Liberty
Kelly’s is the political dive. Notable city and county government officials gravitate towards Kelly’s making it a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The bartender pictured has the right amount of self-hatred that teeters on funny. And if you rate places by it’s foods’ calorie count, Kelly’s Mac’n’Cheese is for you.
Tammy’s – Troy Hill
WOAH! Tammy’s is a level two Pittsburgh secret with unlockable characters like Randy Gilson. This hyper-local dive bar in Troy Hill is where blue collar workers have their breakfast and discuss the day’s projects. You get 2 Eggs, 4 Strips of Bacon, Home Fries, Toast and Coffee for $4.25.
Armand’s – Bloomfield
One of my first purchases in Pittsburgh was two forties from Armands for a house show around the corner. The sign reads, “Armand’s Famous Fish Sandwich” but after all these years I’ve yet to meet one person who’s tried it. Instead you go to Armand’s to watch the season premieres and endings of your favorite shows.
Sonny’s Tavern – Bloomfield
Sonny’s Tavern is a hipster dive in all the right ways. The musicians that play are undiscovered, the menu changes frequently but has the best food, and the customers have meaningful conversations. Look past the mustaches and thick glasses to give Sonny’s a try.
Gooski’s – Polish Hill
Gooski’s is the go-to counter culture bar in the punk retirement community known as Polish Hill. What separates it from the others on this list? This place is sleazy – less class and more crass. Been there a while? Just wander up to the Rock Room, which is basically Gooski’s but with $0.15 Pierogies and $0.50 Pizza Boats.
Red and Irene’s – South Side
Fred and Irene got a divorce. Irene got the bar. She was quite the marketer. She ripped off the ‘F’ and it became Red and Irene’s. That’s what a barfly told me, but like any good bar stool tale – it’s probably a lie. What is true is that Red and Irene’s is a South Side oasis away from the drunken brawl on East Carson Street. If you’re looking a place to sit for the night, or a few years, this place has you.
Blue Moon – Lawrenceville
Let me spell it out, “No Jerks Allowed.” Otherwise, the bar tenders are your best friend. Blue Moon has cheap drinks, drag queens, and karaoke. What else could you ask for?
Nied’s – Lawrenceville
Nied’s Hotel is loved. You have the lawyer turned country musician, Slim Forsythe. He lives above it. He also runs the “Slim Forsythe Living Museum Dedicated to Furthering Humanity Through Country Music“. Then you have an award winning The Nied’s Hotel Band which is one of the best classic rock acts of Pittsburgh. The place is well cared for. On top of all of that, Paul Nied was one hell of a guy.
Howler’s – Bloomfield
Howlers‘s is the Pittsburgh home for many bands on tour. The ceiling is lined with signed t-shirts from touring bands. They give any band a chance as long as the music’s good. The regulars are welcoming and the staff is friendly. Howler’s is a no nonsense dive bar where friends drink. It’s the core of what a dive bar is: The same row of fools on the same row of stools.
P.S. This article exists because because Mary Jo Coll asked, “Who writes these things? Have they ever been here?”.
31st Street Pub – In Memorandum
One of the last photos taken at the 31st Street Pub. It was a great Pittsburgh dive bar. May Joel ride his bike into the desert of Arizona with pride.