HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Cheap, dive-y, fun with decent food?

Does this exist around town? I'm in the mood for this tonight and seem to be at a loss. Suggestions for anywhere in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area most welcome.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I always like Silvertone for that kind of thing...

    2 Replies
    1. re: k206

      River Gods? (in Cambridge/Central Sq.)

      1. re: Sugar04

        I wouldn't call either of the above divey, but I can't thing of anything divey with decent food either.

    2. O'Callahan's on Beacon St (opposite the small Star Market) - great burgers and fries. Your clothes won't smell of cigarette smoke, but you will smell like the grill. Thirsty Scholar pub down the block (between Kirkland and Inman Sq) is less good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LauraBear

        I think you mean RF O'Sullivans? Edit: never mind!

      2. Burgers 'n' Beer:

        RF O'Sullivans (near Porter Square) - enormous burgers with interesting toppings
        Christophers (Porter Square) - great quality burgers made with hormone-free beef (I actually prefer them to O'Sullivans, but I'm in the minority; the hamburger rolls are admittedly mediocre), impressive beer selection
        The Druid (Inman Square) - I've not tried it, but this pub has earned a rep as having one of the best burgers around town.

        Pizza 'n' Beer:

        The Paddock (Somerville) - another Chowhound favorite, this place turns out some very good American-style pizza. It looks sketchy from the outside, and not exactly un-sketchy from the inside, but the staff is friendly, and the food is terrific. I agree with previous posts that you should start with marinated tomato and garlic as your pizza base, and build from there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: finlero

          I meant O'Sullivan's, not O'Callahan's. Sorry.

        2. Intermission, by the Tam.

          Or come upstairs to Pete's Pub tonight (back entrance is the only one open while they renovate). I have food, and I share. Steak kabobs. And Linda the bartender always brings cheese and Triskets.(How great and divey is that?) Or, you can grab some pretty good pizza at Haymarket Pizza.

          In any case, it doesn't get much more divey. And on Fridays it's especially fun. Johnny Cash on the box, the Sox on the tube, and a lot of people getting Friday drunk.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Bostonbob3

            Triskets and cheese? I give...you win. :)
            Where's Pete's ?

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              It's on Blackstone., right in front of the Haymarket stands (around the corner from Green Dragon, Bell In Hand, etc.)

              It's being renovated, and renamed (Durty Nellie's for God's sake), so only upstairs is open right now. And you can only get in through the back entrance.

              BTW, the cheese is usually pepperjack, and horseradish cheddar.

              My steak kabbobs are first come, first served.

              1. re: Bostonbob3

                Oh, Pete's! Of course...what an awful new name...

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  I don't love the name, but it does make me think of Durty Nelly's near Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare. It's named after an interesting woman:

            2. re: Bostonbob3

              I had the last of the smoked gouda yesterday, and most of the triskets, but there was still an unopen package of Cabot horseradish cheddar when I left. Also got a sneak peak of the downstairs renovation.

              1. re: Pegmeister

                I got the unopen package of Cabor horseradish cheddar last night.

            3. StriperGuy recently posted on the burger at the Cantab Lounge in Central - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/394992

              There's also

              Newtowne Pizza in Porter Square -
              Santarpio's in Eastie - or anything in Eastie for that matter...
              Bukowski's in Inman has ok food -

              Atwood's past Inman is not really divey, but has a neighborhood feel you might enjoy.

              Christopher's is not divey, but you already know that.

              2 Replies
              1. What about The Delux, in the south end? definite divey atmosphere, ok, maybe pseudo-divey, with amazing comfort food that won't break the bank (highest priced entree usually tops out at around $13) One of my favorites.

                5 Replies
                1. re: twentyoystahs

                  That's exactly what I was thinking!

                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    Yes! The Delux(on Clarendon) was my pick too.

                      1. re: twentyoystahs

                        Definitely the Delux, how about the B-Side Lounge in Cambridge?

                        1. re: sflory

                          The B-Side is lots of fun, and pretty decent food too, but decidedly not divey or particularly cheap (not expensive mind you, but not cheap).

                      2. My favorite cheap dive is Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Sq. Food is pretty blah but if you're in a grilled cheese, greasy burger, waffle fries kind of mood it's perfect. They have a great juke box too.

                        Other cheap dives that come to mind:
                        Grendel's Den (Harvard Square)
                        The Druid (Inman Square and I think the place is too cute to be a real dive but could work)
                        The Middle East (Central Square)
                        Forest Cafe - Mexican (between Harvard and Porter)

                        And the biggest fun dive I know, that serves food that I haven't tasted, is absolutely The Courtside on Cambridge St. near Lechemere Station. CHEAP drinks, strangely great service and outstanding karaoke.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: kittychow

                          Charlie's is my favorite too. And if you order a huge glass of blue moon, you get a huge free glass to take home with you.

                          1. re: gini

                            really?? this just start? hate to admit that i'm there pretty often...

                            1. re: kittychow

                              Was there last Wednesday and netted myself two of those glasses.

                            2. re: gini

                              If anyone is looking for a Pilsner Urquell glass that's the special this week.

                            3. re: kittychow

                              I am sad to report I have never been to Charlie's Kitchen. I would really like to make it there sometime soon. What would you recommend to a first-timer? I've heard pretty good things about the burger, is it decent?

                              1. re: twentyoystahs

                                The burger is.....sort of a fast food burger. I like a double bacon cheeseburger from them with waffle fries. Any of the double cheeseburgers are good, and one of my cohorts really likes the triple decker served club-style. Don't try their lobster roll. It will make you sad.

                                I like the upstairs better than down, but both floors have excellent booths, bars, and tvs.

                                1. re: gini

                                  I'm with Gini - the double burgers are pretty good in a fast-food sense. I prefer the waffle fries to the regular fries. I know a lot of fans of the grilled cheese. They had decent dive bar clam chowder for a while last winter. I wouldn't recommend anything off the specials menu (although I love how badly named the monthly themes are like, "A Taste of Culture").

                                  Sit upstairs, it's MUCH better people watching and that's where the juke box is.

                                  Think I'll pop this afternoon to snag myself a Blue Moon glass or two. Thanks for the tip Gini!

                                  1. re: gini

                                    I've enjoyed the lobster rolls when I've been, and the price is rock-bottom low (about $10.00 for two of them with fries). If it's a toasted bun one requires, I'd ask the waitress to have it done that way.

                                    1. re: bachslunch

                                      It's not the untoasted roll - it's the jar of mayonaise - I wish they'd be a little lighter of hand there. But you're right - it's the best price in town.

                                      1. re: gini

                                        The lobster meat seemed soggy and grey when I ordered the lobster rolls, maybe that's partly my active imagination - but I have ordered other things since that time (Charlie's had some pretty good game dishes last winter).

                              2. Pretty much everything has been covered here - would just add:

                                People's Republik in Central Square
                                Shay's in Harvard Square
                                PJ Ryan's in Teele Square
                                Joe Sent me in North Cambridge

                                My favorites are:
                                River Gods
                                The Druid

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: gini

                                  I second Joe Sent Me -- the fried pickles are ghetto-fabulous!

                                2. Charlies' and Shay's in Cambridge, the Field and Plow and Stars in Central Square, Bukowski's and the Salty Dog downtown.

                                  1. Perhaps not what you had in mind, but Taqueria la Mexicana, in Union square, along with a some of the Taquerias on Broadway in East Somerville are certainly divey and cheap, although in a very different way; food is great too. Rincon Limeno and a bunch of other divey places in East Boston as well...

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: DavisSquare

                                      I would suggest Amrheins in South Boston. The bar is rather "divey" and the food is overall pretty good.

                                      1. re: RoyRon

                                        Wow. If you consider Amrheins divey, just walking by Pete's (or the Tam, etc.) would send you into a grand mal seizure. :))

                                        1. re: RoyRon

                                          You might be thinking of the old Amrheins - not divey since the renovation

                                        2. re: DavisSquare

                                          Oh yeah, I second the Taqueria too! Get some tamales, then head next door to the Indo for more good bar grub and excellent drinks. (Preferably on a Friday night that features the DJ Mash-Up stylings of the Mash Ave guys!)

                                        3. Sorry this is late but for future - On Friday nights go to Jacob Wirth's to sing along with Mel Stiller at the piano. Fun fun night from 8-12 and NO cover charge. Food is great - German and American. Pitchers of beer and a large book with all the words to the songs. Where did you end up going?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: taxi

                                            I like the ronnie burger at the miracle of science. The lunch menu at the plow and stars is always super tasty and on the afforable side.

                                          2. Looking at these responses, I think "dive-y" is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Most of these places are not necessarily nice per se, but they're no where close to dive-y. Cheap and dive-y places go together great and are easy to find. Decent food is a little harder to come by at cheap, dive-y (is that how you spell dive-y? I have no idea) places. Fun, well it depends on the places. Fun to me can be a bunch of beers, some decent food and playing darts or pool or watching the bouncers toss people out - depends on your mood I guess. When I think "cheap, dive-y, fun with decent food" I agree with Charlies, People's Republic, Santarpio's, Sully's (borderline, it's sometimes too clean to be dive-y), PJ Ryan's, the Plough, and Bukowskis, and the Cantab.

                                            JJ Foley's in the South End is definitely a great dive bar and maybe when the kitchen is up and running the food will be decent to good.

                                            Tim's was definitely my favorite dive bar with great burgers (I never ordered anything else there).

                                            I do not think the Miracle of Science, Silvertone, River Gods, Intermission Tavern, Christopher's, or the B-Side are anywhere near dive bars. Clientelle makes a differece for a good time (present company included) at a dive bar. Plus they're too clean.

                                            I don't think I ever had the courage to eat at the Tam, a true dive bar. Similarly, Flan O'Briens has food? I love the bar, but had no idea people ate there.

                                            I also admit that the wings, sometimes burgers and a couple other things are decent (plus cheap beer) at the Sidebar and sometimes the Hub Pub (not a lot, but some things are ok).

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: Dax

                                              I don't think the Tam serves any food, nor does most of the clientele want any.
                                              Intermission is anything but divey and not cheap either. Now Charlie Flynn's, which Intermission replaced, was a dive
                                              Since we haven't found a real dive bar w/ decent food I'll have to suggest the Quiet Man in Southie.
                                              Not quite a dive but not upscale either.
                                              Good old school pub fare, especially the tips.
                                              Not sure if Id call it fun either, probably have to BYOF for that.
                                              I will second Bukowski's in Inman Sq.
                                              Fun place and aspires to be divey, which is kind of crazy.
                                              (A real dive bar doesn't have 50+ beers.)
                                              Food isn't bad.

                                              1. re: highnoon

                                                The original Bukowskis on Dalton is more dive-y. Didn't the Inman Buk replace Jae's?

                                                I thought I saw people eating at the Tam, but I could be wrong. Maybe they were just gumming their cocktail ice.

                                                1. re: Dax

                                                  Inman Buk's is in the old Jae's space. I agree the Dalton Street location is rates higher on the dive scale.

                                                  1. re: Dax

                                                    Yeah, the Dalton St is more divey but the Inman Sq is more fun to me. Dalton used to have burgers for a buck to on weekdays in the afternoon.
                                                    Not world class but can't beat the price.
                                                    No food at the Tam. I'm sure. Liquid lunch only.
                                                    My friend used to call it the Star Wars bar becaue it was like the cantina scene with all the freaks.
                                                    It's better now with all the Emerson kids.

                                                  2. re: highnoon

                                                    How could we have forgotten the Quiet Man!!! Incredible prime rib on Wednesday nights that we thought was going to be lost forever when they closed. Now the sale seems to have fallen through and we can still enjoy sitting there looking out at the people in the 6 House across the street!!!

                                                  3. re: Dax

                                                    Flan's has quite good burgers, or did a while ago when I went.

                                                    1. re: Dax

                                                      Dax, what about The Delux? Did you agree with that?
                                                      Cheap, dive-y, fun with decent food. I think it fits. Maybe a little too "hip" to be truly "divey," like, for instance, Tim's was, but...close.

                                                      1. re: twentyoystahs

                                                        I put Delux more in the Silvertone category as the hipness factor of the place plus the customers pushes it past dive-y. Love the food, drinks, etc. but just don't think of it as dirty enough to be a dive.

                                                    2. The Rosebud in Davis Sq. but some would argue about the "decent food".

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Sal Monella

                                                        Pocket a cheeseburger from the Rosebud and slide down to the Sligo, for a true dive bar experience - carry-in!

                                                        Another divey carry-in place - Sky Bar on Somerville Ave. has a loose affiliation with the low-to-average Chinese take-out place adjacent. You can order a lo mein and sit and eat it at the bar along with your High Life.

                                                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                          Good call Bob...I forgot to mention another notoriously divey joint down the street...Mike's. I don't think I've ever had a good tasting meal there...plus the # of menu items gives me a headache.

                                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                            Yes, take-in may be a requisite for dive bars.
                                                            I think Dax said he saw people eating in the Tam.
                                                            Probably takeout from NY Pizza next door.
                                                            It used to be OK despite serious hygiene concerns.
                                                            New management now so Im not sure.

                                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                              Ahh Sligo! A true dive! Last time I was there, over St. Pat's weekend, the men's room toilette was no longer connected to the drain in the floor... Staff, in an attempt to discontinue use of the toilette, kept the bathroom door open and the stink wafted mightily throughout the bar. I'll admit that it didn't keep me from ordering a second beer.