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Chowhound-Worthy Dives in Boston Proper

What are some good old-fashioned dives that are in or really close to the downtown area of Boston that also have good food? I honestly can't think of any offhand, mainly because of the food. Some examples of places that don't quite make the cut:

Dives, but with average food:
-- Red Hat, Beacon Hill
-- Beantown Pub, Tremont Street

Good food, but not quite dives:
-- Waterfront Cafe, North End
-- Green Dragon, Faneuil Hall

Not quite a dive, and not quite great food:
-- Elephant and Castle, Financial District

I guess I'm looking for a place like The Alumni in Quincy or Sadie's in Waltham or perhaps even the Newtowne Grill in Cambridge; that is, a place that looks like a bit of a dump, but surprises with a particular dish (or several dishes).

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  1. I can't think of anything offhand either, but I had to ask: what dish or dishes are surprising at Newtowne Grill? I'd given up on consuming anything there that wasn't served in a pitcher or glass.

    2 Replies
    1. re: finlero

      Believe it or not, the pizza at the Newtowne is really good (IMO). It's old-school thin-crust pizza that is one of my favorites in Cambridge.

      1. re: finlero

        I had some angel hair pasta with tomato sauce there that really wasn't bad. If they had served that at Giacomo's North End everyone probably would have raved Mamma Mia! It's not worth a trip, don't get me wrong...

      2. My experiences at those types of places are not at all food-centric, but I here are a few places:

        I don't think I'd consider Peking Tom's to be divey, more kitsch than anything, but they have decent American pupu platters.
        How's the food at 21st Amendment? Not really that divey - more pubby - but sort of looks like a dump.
        Does Weggie's serve food? They are definitely a dive, definitely a bar, and definitely in possession of a pool table.

        1. Sidebar, ok $.10 wings and macrobrews (ie A/B) for $6/pitcher. I wouldn't venture far beyond those two items. Bromfield St. I used to practically live their for Sox games in '03. After the fiasco, we moved onto Clery's which is not divey nor does it have particularly good food but it worked for '04.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dax

            I will second the thumbs up for Sidebar. There is also a dive called Biddie Early's that servers a mean burger over by the Financial District.

            Enjoy!
            Tom

          2. Foley's serves food doesn't it? Have never had it tho.

            1. The Paddock in Somerville (short drive from downtown) is a CH fave that fits your criteria but I haven;t been myself.