Cheap bars aka dives
When I was working in Norwood, there was this great dive called the "American Lunch". I was told that the owner and his wife had the same menu posted for 10 years: Monday was meatloaf, Tuesday was turkey, Wednesday was baked chicken, etc. The lunches were all $3.99, with a couple of thick slices of whatever loaf or meat was being served that day, and the plate overflowed with, invariably, gravy, mashed potatoes and some sort of boiled vegetable - usually peas or carrots. The menu was deceiving, because at first glance, it looked like a variety of dishes was available, but on closer inspection, was simply a number of variations off the day's meal. So on Turkey day, you could expect turkey soup, turkey sandwich, turkey plate (i.e. without the sides), etc.
That, plus the $1.10 draft Budweisers, made it a great place to go for lunch. The atmosphere was very friendly and congenial (smoky, unfortunately), and it was nice being a regular there. The televisions were tuned to the news most days that I went there, and friendly arguments would erupt whenever something particularly interesting happened (although the entire bar was pretty much in agreement on the (low) opinion of politicians, and how the country was going down the tubes :-)
So when I started working downtown in Boston, I thought I would have to say goodbye to all that, on the assumption that no dive could afford the astronomical rents. Luckily I found "My Brother's Place" on Columbus between Arlington and Berkeley, which comes close. Food-wise, it's more limited. There are about a dozen different subs that you can get, all nice 12 inch subs and a good deal in the 3 to 4 dollar range. Bud drafts are only $1.50. Luckily, the atmosphere is the same. It's a real-life Cheers. Everyone is a regular there (the place has a good showing of postal workers), and it's a very friendly place - the bartenders (father and daughter team), know 90% of the people there by name.
Does anyone have their favorite Joe/Jane Six-Pack places?
Mine aren't that cheap and I know at least one person here thinks they're scary, but the Galway House on Centre St. JP and Triple D's on the corner of Centre and So. Huntington serve the purpose. Not sure about beer prices, better than most but not $1.50. Burger and fries are $3.95 at the Galway. Haven't been to Triple D's in a while. And the Chopping Block in Brigham Circle is the same type of place.
The Trap at Woodmans, Essex. If you can live through one night there (or morning for that matter) you can will survive anything. The foods good but talk about a rough crowd. They love to beat on anyone they never saw before. Like maybe...you!! Or better yet, House of Mitch in Gloucester. There's a place that should be packed with DEA. ATF and FBI; very colorful. Or Pratty's in Gloucester. You can't get more dive-y than Pratty's. You can try, but it ain't been done. Plus, the food really is good after 14.5 beers. Tell Jimmy I said hello.