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Davis Square dive bars?

So I just moved to Davis Square from down south and I am very fond of seedy dive bars. I'm talking, greasy food, cheap beer, dimly lit, regulars, you know the drill. Anyway, not that I have anything wrong with going to the occasional trendy bar, but they all seem pretty trendy around here. Are there any good dives near Davis Square?

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  1. Sligo Pub. 237 Elm St. No food though.

    2 Replies
      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

        Yeah other than the food...Sligo is your place. You can always bring your own in though.
        Mostly during the day and early evening...that's when you'll see the regulars. Nights (especially weekend) are packed with Tufts kids and the place loses its charm.

      2. I wouldn't consider Redbones trendy at all - or too much of a dive either. One of my favorite bars in the area due to its non-trendy, comfortable feeling. Beers aren't all that cheap though, unless you like PBR.

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        Redbones
        55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

        6 Replies
        1. re: LStaff

          I brought a friend to Redbones who's lived in Atlanta since he was 5 or so. He absolutely loved the atmosphere in the bar and was calling his friends saying "I'm in a southern bar... in Boston!". We just got a few beers, so I didn't get his reaction to the food.

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          Redbones
          55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

          1. re: jacquesf

            Atlanta isn't southern..even though Atlantans think they are. I have an Atlanta born-and-raised cousin that moved to take a job in Savannah and got called a carpetbagger.

            A southern bar has you sit on tree stumps for chairs and drink out of mason jars.

            I wouldn't consider Redbones a pure local bar or a dive bar - too many "special occasion" or "Hey, lets get some Cue tonight!" groups roll in there.

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            Redbones
            55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

            1. re: grant.cook

              Mason jars, check. They have 'em for lemonade and sweet tea.

              Tree stumps? Well, then I'm glad Redbones isn't a "southern bar". It's a barbecue restaurant, so yeah, I'd expect a lot of people showing up there wanting barbecue. Funny that!

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                But what the original poster was asking for dive bars. Redbones is, as you said, a restaurant serving a specialty cuisine in a comfortable sit-down environment, so you get a lot of non-regulars showing up looking for their quarterly bbq fix, not the predominantly regular crowd the OP was looking for.

                Would you agree that Redbones doesn't really fit the dive bar criteria? I'll admit the food is greasy, but would you recommend it as a "regular place" - I mean, I love BBQ but it is going to get a bit tiring eating it all the time. As a generalization, dive bars serve burgers, pizza, and/or wings.. bar food.

                Redbones has 28 beers on tap.. great for a beer lover, but for a dive bar, a bit much. I like when a local place has some variety in their beer, but I don't really expect a dive bar to allow me to experiment with a variety of Belgian brews.

                I'll give props to Redbones as a BBQ restaurant in a city with little BBQ tradition. But its not a dive bar. Try for example, Lewis' in Norwood Center.. walk into the bar area (dimly lit, of course), order a Lewis Burger and bask in the true feel of a dive bar.

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                Redbones
                55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                1. re: grant.cook

                  It definitely depends what time of day you go. Much like Sligo, if you go during the day or early evening, the bar area will be full of regulars yelling at each other about the Sox or politics or the Big Dig or whatever, munching bar food and drinking cheap beer un-ironically. It's a great dive. But once dinner hits, the regulars take off and are replaced by locals drinking micro-brews and waiting for a table to eat their BBQ. Two very different feels to one bar :)

                  1. re: grant.cook

                    Redbones definitely has its regulars in the upstairs bar. May be hard to notice at dinner time with the crowds waiting for their names to be shouted, but show up when the Sox are playing and they will be there.

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                    Redbones
                    55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

          2. Probably not the best neighborhood for a dive unless you do your drinking at off-hours, as rknrll suggested. The college presence is just too overwhelming.

            Maybe the Newtowne Grill in Porter Square? It's not dimly lit, but it meets the other requirements. I like to go there when I need a break from the trendy/upscale cocktail scene--sometimes you just want a pitcher of Bud or 2 or 5 and a basket of something fried.

            2 Replies
            1. re: LeoLioness

              Yeah Newtowne is also great.
              Like every bar...avoid trivia night (Wednesdays maybe, I forget.)
              Also a pitcher and greasy pizza deal...food isn't bad for bar food.

              1. re: LeoLioness

                Even newtowne is gentrifying a bit with college students & hipsters (hard to believe that those crowds constitute gentrification). Those two groups have decided that townie "dive" bars are the in thing so they're repopulating them all and leaving a mess in their wake.

                That said, I still love it. It's just far less dive-y, and way more crowded these days.

              2. A short walk from Davis Square is the Newtowne Grill on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. Very dive-y, and the pizza is good.

                1. A couple of other suggestions not in Davis but in Somerville -

                  The Pub in Ball Square (within walking distance of Davis) is a old school bar - have not been myself. Yelp suggests good buffalo wings.

                  Definitely seek out the Paddock - excellent pizza, and caught in a time warp - this is probably as good as you will find.

                  Also if you walk into Cambridge down Walden Street, Paddy's Lunch is a classic - no food as far as I know -

                  A bit further afield and not to open up to all other areas of the city, but you may find intriguing Virgilio's Echo Bridge Restaurant in the Newton Upper Falls section of Newton (not particularly T-accessible) has really cheap, really very good Italian food and there are the cast of regulars.

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                  Paddy's Lunch
                  260 Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    If you make it to Echo Bridge - bring your cash... :) I retied to pay with plastic one night, and was summarily shot down.

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                    Echo Bridge Restrnt
                    1068 Chestnut St, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464

                    1. re: okra

                      Very good point, and one I always forget when I go there! I invariably fish the "emergency check" out of my wallet at Echo Bridge.

                  2. Not exactly a dive, but Joe Sent Me on Mass Ave just outside of Davis Square is a neighborhoody place, with friendly bartendars, edible food, and a small group of regulars.

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                    Joe Sent Me
                    2388 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dea

                      Joe's is a good local's bar.. they serve a mean burger, they have dual dartboards, and the crowd can take a strange turn sometimes.. and I will say, if you wanted a beer during the most recent snowstorm, Joe's was going strong..

                      1. re: grant.cook

                        No doubt - didn't mean to imply any dissatisfaction. It's my go-to for a local bar when I just want to have a drink and chat a bit.

                    2. You have to avoid it on Thurs-Sat, when it becomes a kareoke place, but a quick trip on the 88 or 87 bus to Lechmere brings you to the Courtside, which is not seedy (honestly, it's tough to find what you are really looking for around here anymore) but is hardly trendy.

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                      Courtside Cafe
                      175 Plaistow Rd, Plaistow, NH 03865

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: LeoLioness

                        Maybe a bit far from Davis, but has anyone been to Joey Mac's on Warren Street in East Cambridge? The place looks like a classic dive.

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          I haven't been there in nearly 10 years, and don't know if they had food, but if it hasn't changed (and it probably has), that's something I'd certainly call a dive.

                          1. re: jgg13

                            Bottled beer, no food. I would say no hipsters, but that was about 3 years ago and a lot has changed in that neighborhood.

                            1. re: itaunas

                              Most of the other divier spots around there (e.g. courtside) have started to transition. I've heard similar things about JM from acquaintances over time - that it's standing firm. Maybe it's because it is a bit more out of the way? I mean, I used to live right in that 'hood and still often forget it exists.

                              As you say though, that area is a'changin'

                        2. re: LeoLioness

                          Except Joey Mac's not too far away is closer to what they are looking for. BTW, after 25 some + years Paddy's Lunch did try serving food (microwaved dogs?) and they let a bit more light in but not certain if those experiments stayed.

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                          Paddy's Lunch
                          260 Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                          1. re: itaunas

                            I think you're right about Paddy's serving some kind of dog. Not sure if they are still doing so, but it's still a dive.

                        3. Old Magoun's Saloon may not be as divey as you are looking for. But, the food can be interesting. I've only been post run (they host Thursday night fun runs) and it's probably less divey with a bunch of sweaty, panting runners seeking beer.

                          ETA: they are outside of Davis in Magoun Square. Just shoot straight up Broadway and turn right on Medford Street. They're on the right hand side.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: beetlebug

                            Without getting into another "what constitutes a dive" conversation....I wouldn't call Old Magoun's divey at all.

                            1. re: LeoLioness

                              To me, any bar that accepts sweaty runners without blinking, is a little divey. And, I love them for it. Bc, who doesn't beer and comfort food, post run, esp on a cold night/day. ;-)

                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                On The Hill Tavern just down the street would, I imagine.

                              2. re: beetlebug

                                Agree about Old Magoun's being a great (if not quite divey) place. Pretty friendly regulars, beers on tap, good to very good food. In the same vein is PJ Ryan's in Teele Square.

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                                PJ Ryan's
                                239 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                              3. As long as we're making suggestions a bit far afield from Davis Square, I nominate La Hacienda over by Twin City. It's plenty divey and has good bar pizza.

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                                La Hacienda
                                46 Medford St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Tonality666

                                  Does La Hacienda close early, like 10-ish? I've never made it there for some reason--I guess I don't think of it at dinner time, and I have it in my head that they are more of a daytime place.

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                                  La Hacienda
                                  46 Medford St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                    You're right. Web site says Mon-Sat 11a-10:30p.

                                2. Not really a dive, but the Rosebud is right in Davis. They have a few taps, more bottles, greasy food, and regulars. Might fit the bill.

                                  1. The Somerville dives keep closing (Khoury's), or changing ownership and becoming non-dives (Olde Magoun).

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: djd

                                      Though also not in Davis - but in Somerville - Casey's in Winter Hill definitely fits the bill. Cheap beer, good pizza, full of regulars. And Winter Hill is a different world than Davis...

                                      1. re: AmbigEthnic

                                        I was going to chime in with the same comment. Check out Winter Hill.

                                        In agreement with previous posters, it all depends on the hour you show up and to me, a dive bar doesn't serve food but lets you bring it in. Joe Sent Me can, at times, feel divey. Sligo is a given. I love both Magoun's and PJ Ryan's, but they are decidedly not dives. Like Bob Dob, I was going to suggest On the Hill. The Paddock and Hacienda and at times, Newtowne (although they have spiffed up the outside).

                                        How about Union Sq? Razzie's closed, right? PA's at off-hours?

                                        Welcome to the 'ville!

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                                        PJ Ryan's
                                        239 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                        Joe Sent Me
                                        2388 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                        1. re: digga

                                          PA's now has a few different craft brews on tap (Goose Island even) and there is now food, so maybe gone are the days of getting a stamp then walking down to Red House for some crab rangoon to bring back to the bar. The place is still pretty basic, but in a good way if you ask me.

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                                          The Red House Restaurant
                                          98 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                    2. I met my wife at the Burren. Does that still exist? We've been married for three years now! Yay Davis Square.

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                                      Burren
                                      247 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: tamerlanenj

                                        The Burren absolutely still exists, still has quite above-par food and the best Guinness pour in Davis Square.

                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                          The Burren is above-par only on a course where the Joshua Tree is par (and for service the two are stuck in stroke play). I enjoy their fish and chips (well steak fries), the Irish breakfast sandwich is good (it was better when you could get both meats and on the service side, sometimes the kitchen will refuse to fry an egg -- I'm sorry after 3pm we cannot fry eggs), and the burger is better than the 99. They do pour a good pint, have Black Bush, and are lively (except the staff, unless you encounter them next door at the Sligo). Its a great place, but its not a dive bar and the food has never been tops.

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                                          Burren
                                          247 Elm St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                          Joshua Tree
                                          1314 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                                            Most expensive Guinness pour in Davis Square (and anywhere around here, really.)

                                        2. charlie's in harvard square. fries are $3, burger and fries is $5. math wins.