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Discover The Best Dive Bars in Pittsburgh

Updated: Oct 11

Pittsburgh's blue-collar heritage, rooted in the steel and coal industries, has left behind a drinking culture that still runs deep. And while some of the rougher watering holes have begun catering to the modern gentrified crowd, there still exists plenty of options for people who go to the bar because they have a problem.

Before we go on, we must note that our definition of a "dive bar" might be controversial. Wikipedia describes dive bars as "adhering to the minimal effort needed to provide guests with drinks. They typically do not advertise, provide parking, or have fancy signage. Dive bars are not known for their food."

However, because many of the bars on our list are known for their food, and do put in more effort than bare minimum, Jagoff Sports will use this very scientific "divey-ness scale" to represent just how close the establishment is to the definition of a true dive:

🍺 = Not very divey

🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺 = Very divey

Dive Bars - South Pittsburgh

Jamison's (Dormont)

3113 W Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: Check The Whiteboard Outside

If you walked into the bar side of Jamison's you might consider the place quite divey at first glance. However the quality of the food, and bartenders' abilities to make fancy cocktails make "JMOS" more of a community bar and restaurant. The company and service is great, and the food is even better, but don't mistake this as a place you can't drink like a champion.

Need something to sober you up? The bacon cheeseburger is worth the price of admission. The juicy patty harmonizes perfectly with the smoky crunch of the extra thick-cut bacon. Every bite is a reminder of why this combination is timeless. A must-try for any burger enthusiast.

Moonlite Cafe (Brookline)

530 Brookline Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15226

Divey-ness: 🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: $3.00 Bud Light Draft (16oz) During Steeler Games

Moonlite Cafe in Brookline offers unmatched quality and authenticity when it comes to Italian food. You're likely to recognize owner Lou Defelice by his Italian accent and welcoming demeanor. Lou bakes homemade focaccia bread daily for the Chicken and Veal Chu-Chu sandwiches (a must order).

The bar entrance is in front under the green awning, but there's a separate entrance on the side for the restaurant. The Moonlite probably wouldn't qualify as a dive at all if it weren't for the two pool tables sitting in the middle of the dining room. It does rank lower on the divey-ness scale because of the restaurant and quality of food, but drinks are relatively cheap, and the bartenders make sure your glass is never empty.

Albert's Lounge (Dormont)

2856, Broadway Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: $2.50 Domestic Beers

Located across the street from Dormont junction on the red line, Albert's Lounge is a true dive bar. Beers are cheap, shots are cheap and everyone is friends with the bartenders by the time they leave. Albert's just has the perfect set-up and it's never insanely crowded. There's an additional room for pool shooters in the back and a dart board against the wall opposite the bar.

This is the type of bar where you "just go for a beer" and end up staying for last call. Insider tip – ask for the secret manicure.

Nikos (Mt. Washington)

212 Shiloh St, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: $3 Yuengling on Monday (50 cent wing night)

Nikos is a great spot for a few reasons, the least of which is that it's located just a short walk away from Grandview Avenue on Mt. Washington. Do you have a hot date that likes to drink? Hit the incline or overlook to wow them with city views then give them the ultimate local treatment by slipping into this local dive for a few beverages. Lonely and never had a date? Even better.

Nikos is also a hangout favorite for the service industry folks of Pittsburgh so expect a lot of people to come in and take the edge off. Trust me, service people know how to party after a long shift.

Dive Bars - North Pittsburgh

Darbea's Tavern (Troy Hill)

1962 Lowrie Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, Smoking Allowed

Best Drink Special: $2.75 Domestic Bottles

You want a dive bar? This is a dive bar. Darbea's Tavern on Troy Hill, standing apart from the other houses on Lowrie Street due to it's black and yellow paint job, is a no frills, belly-up and drink-it-down type of joint. The drinks are cheap, there's cigarette smoke in the air and you better bring cash. Don't bother asking for a menu or beer list.

Have you ever wanted to drink like a true Pittsburgh local? Go to Darbeas. Even if you are a true Pittsburgh local it's worth a visit to Darbea's Tavern just to remind yourself what this city was built on – booze and manual labor.

Monteray Pub (Mexican War Streets)

1227 Monteray St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Divey-ness: 1/2🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Monteray Pub almost doesn't make the list because it's not really a dive bar. It's one of the trendier spots on the list, but I have to write about it because it's one of the best spots in town. This little gem, tucked into the row houses on the Mexican War Streets, is hidden in plain sight. In the daytime, only a single hanging Irish flag indicates that there's anything different about it.

Monteray offers a delightful breakfast menu brimming with traditional Irish fare, from shepherd's pie to bangers and mash. The real charm, however, is in the pub's dedication to soccer enthusiasts. Early risers are greeted with live soccer matches from across the pond, the atmosphere alive with the energetic chatter of fans from different corners of the world. The worn wooden barstools and vintage memorabilia on the walls only add to the authentic experience. On a Sunday morning, Monteray is a unique blend of the traditions of two worlds - a place where one can enjoy the thrill of European soccer before the all-American ritual of a Steelers Sunday kickoff.

Tom and Tud's (Aspinwall)

353 Freeport Road, Aspinwall, PA 15215

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, Smoking Allowed

Best Drink Special: $7 Domestic + Shot during Happy Hour (8pm-10pm)

The Original Tom and Tud's, which first graced Aspinwall in 1960, holds fond memories for many of its patrons. Fast forward to 2021, and this beloved watering hole got a fresh lease on life with new ownership – brothers Mike (21) and Luke (24). Although the bar has new energy, there very much remains a key part of Tom and Tud's legacy from years past.

The heart of this legacy beats strongly in the form of Kathy, their star bartender in her 24th year. Customer testimonials are a testament to her unmatched skills and dedication to the craft.

"Kathy is the best bartender hands down. Never a long wait for drinks and always stiff with her at the helm" - Collin Lisowski

"Kathy is AMAZING!!! If you haven't been here you NEED to go!" - Matt Fratarcangeli

"Kathy is the best bartender ever" -Bob Digiacomo

Verdetto's (North Side)

814 Madison Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, No Smoking

Nestled in the heart of North Side, Vedetto's Bar is the epitome of a local gem. The first thing that strikes you before entering is outside wall adorned with a large mural paying tribute to Roberto Clemente. For opposing baseball fans visiting from out of town, it's a great photo opportunity.

The bar seamlessly melds the classic with the contemporary, boasting vintage pinball machines that harken back to yesteryears while serving up drinks that are easy on the wallet, yet generous in spirit. The drink selection is impressive, but what truly sets Vedetto's apart is its killer food menu. Each dish is thoughtfully crafted, presenting bar food with a gourmet twist that's sure to satiate any palate. Whether you're dropping in to catch the big game, indulge in some pinball nostalgia, or simply enjoy a laid-back evening with friends, this bar is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Good Time Bar (Millvale)

1304 Evergreen Avenue, Millvale, PA 15209

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, Smoking Allowed

Best Drink Special: $2 Domestics 5-7pm

For over three decades, Good Time Bar has lived up to its name. What began as a popular spot for workers getting off the bus at the Millvale loop, the bar continues to serve up good times and stiff drinks for locals. The bar revels in its unpretentious charm, being situated in a basement with low ceilings that adds to its vintage "divey" ambiance. If you're after that old-school vibe, this might just be your haven.

Apart from its unique environment, the Good Time Bar stands out for its events. Whether you're looking to belt out some tunes on a karaoke night or enjoy some live blues, this is the place to be. Regular patrons can't stop raving about the wings and Dave's special steak sandwich. Speaking of Dave, the hands-on owner ensures a warm and personalized experience for every guest, often being on-site to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Dive Bars - Central Pittsburgh

Jack's Bar (South Side)

1117 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, No Smoking

You don't talk about dive bars in this town without mentioning Jack's Bar on East Carson Street. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of Jack's is its operating hours. It's known to open early in the morning and can be a favorite spot for third-shift workers, early risers, or those who need some hair of the dog from a rough night before.

Jack's is unapologetically a dive bar. The decor is eclectic, with various pieces of memorabilia and signs adorning the walls. It's got a relaxed, come-as-you-are vibe that welcomes patrons from all walks of life. However relaxed it might be in the morning or afternoon, be warned – Jack's can get intensely crowded during evenings on Fridays and Saturdays. If you're just trying to have a drink and relax, I would avoid Jack's during late nights on the weekend.

Dee's Cafe (South Side)

1314 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, Smoking Allowed

Best Drink Special: $2.75 Beer of the Month

South Side as a whole caters to a younger party crowd; where college students wait in long lines to overpay for drinks while loud music blares and tough guys on Adderall wait in the wings to test their rizz on Pittsburgh 9's (6's elsewhere). But much like Jack's Bar, Dee's unpretentious feel provides a contrast to many of the other establishments in South Side.

One of the bar's standout features is its pool tables. A large room adjacent to the bar is dedicated to 5 or 6 tables with a quick service window to grab drinks. Many patrons come to Dee's specifically to shoot pool, making it a popular spot for both casual players and those more serious about the game. In essence, Dee's Cafe captures what many people seek in a dive bar: a relaxed environment, affordable drinks, and a touch of local character.

Brewski's (South Side)

801 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Located on the corner of 8th Street away from (some of) the riff-raff in South Side, Brewski's is an iconic dive bar that has been serving its community for a decade. Frequented by locals and students alike, the establishment boasts a rich tapestry of memories, from a memorable witnessing of the OJ Simpson Ford Bronco chase on TV to patrons penning their names on the walls.

The bar's classic charm is evident through its offering of cheap drinks, an array of games including pool, darts, foosball, and shuffleboard, and a jukebox that provides a soundtrack for countless unforgettable nights. What sets Brewski's apart is its warm, welcoming atmosphere— bartenders who've become legends, a crowd that ditches drama for camaraderie, and a dog-friendly policy that makes it stand out in Pittsburgh's bustling bar scene. Whether you're a regular who calls it their second home, a former student reminiscing about the golden years, or a newcomer seeking an authentic dive experience, Brewski's promises a good time.

Gooski's (Polish Hill)

3117 Brereton Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, Smoking Allowed

Of all the dive bars in Pittsburgh, this one is a sight to behold. Tucked into the hillside of Polish Hill, a traditionally blue-collar and artistic neighborhood, Gooski's embodies the spirit of its surroundings. The neighborhood itself has an interesting blend of old-world charm and new energy, with its steep streets, historic churches, and a growing community of artists and musicians.

Gooski's is renowned for punk rock, but beyond just the tunes on the jukebox, the venue has been a longstanding supporter of live music. Over the years, many local and touring punk rock, indie, and alternative bands have played in the back room of Gooski's, making it a staple in the local music scene. With dim lighting, graffiti-laden walls, and an unpretentious vibe, Gooski's isn't about being fancy or overly modern; it's about good music, good company, and an authentic Pittsburgh experience.

Lefty's (Strip District)

2021 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, Smoking Allowed

Best Drink Special: $3 Domestics, $4 Strong Island Iced Tea

The Strip District, with its rich history and buzzing commerce, provides an unparalleled backdrop for a dive bar. If there's one bar location better than the rest, it's Lefty's. Known for its vivacious ambiance in the middle of the day, especially during local sporting events, it's not uncommon to see every person in the place wearing black and gold. The bar is lauded for the famed "Strong Island Iced Tea" which will knock you on your ass for a good price.

Lefty's, however, is not just about the party. With the charm of an old-school bar, they offer steadfast classics like the "Old German Lager" and, much to the delight of patrons, permit smoking indoors. While it may lack in food offerings, its unique touch of serving a homey "cup of noodles" and its proximity to numerous eateries in the district ensures that you're never left hungry. Whether you're a sports enthusiast, a music lover, or simply seeking an authentic dive bar experience, Lefty's in the Strip District delivers, making it an indispensable part of the Pittsburgh bar tapestry.

Dive Bars - Eastern Pittsburgh

Bob's Garage (Blawnox)

1372 Freeport Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15238

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Bob's Garage is a must-see, holiday-themed dive bar that many local Pittsburgh people might not even be aware of. Depending on the season, guests walking into Bob's are immediately greeted by a whimsical display of Halloween decorations, Christmas lights, or tiki decor festooning the walls. A small train can be seen journeying atop the bar during certain times of the year, offering patrons a sight as unique as the bar itself.

By contrast, there's an over-priced, lame-as-shit, pop-up bar downtown every year around Christmas that attracts Instagram's most miserable show-offs. Bob's Garage is 1000x better than that. It's genuine, and it's year round.

Karaoke nights on Fridays and Saturdays transform the place, drawing in a diverse crowd of patrons—from seasoned regulars to first-timers—all converging for a night of spectacular performances. Beyond just the guests, one of the bartenders showcases impressive vocal prowess, adding to the roster of talented singers who grace the stage. And for those seeking a modest bite, the bar offers complimentary popcorn, often touted to rival even movie theater standards.

Kelly's Bar and Lounge (Shadyside)

6012 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15206

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Kelly's Bar and Lounge in Pittsburgh's upscale Shadyside neighborhood offers patrons a delightful blend of retro charm and modern touches. The establishment boasts a distinct mid-century ambiance, immediately transporting guests to a bygone era of classic American lounges. Their crafted cocktails, many of which have a nostalgic twist, stand out as a highlight, providing a refreshing change from typical bar drinks. Additionally, their food menu, especially the much-raved-about mac 'n' cheese, promises a delectable treat for those seeking both libations and sustenance.

Kelly's presents an intriguing contrast with its vintage vibe. The outdoor patio, popular during warm weather, offers an ideal space for relaxation and casual conversations. Drawing a diverse crowd from young professionals to seasoned residents, the bar continually adapts, hosting various themed nights and drink specials. Overall, Kelly's Bar and Lounge is a captivating blend of old-school allure and contemporary offerings, making it a must-visit for both locals and visitors to Pittsburgh.

Gene's Place (Oakland)

3616 Louisa Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: Insanely cheap specials usually announced on Gene's Twitter

A true college dive, Gene's Place is just a stone's throw from the University of Pittsburgh's campus. With an ambiance that's both cozy and unpretentious, this establishment offers a refreshing escape from the more commercialized joints that dot the college scene. But perhaps its most defining feature, and a major draw for students and locals alike, is the remarkable affordability of their daily drink specials. Well drinks for a buck, IC Light pounders for a buck, $6 pitchers – the kids might be able to afford tuition after all!

Beyond the unbeatable drink prices, Gene's Place boasts a rich history, having stood the test of time in a neighborhood teeming with fleeting trends. While its location near Pitt ensures a steady flow of college students, the bar also sees its fair share of alumni and locals, creating a unique blend of patrons and a myriad of shared stories over drinks.

Chief's Cafe (North Oakland)

307 North Craig Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Chief's Cafe in North Oakland stands out as a tribute to the firefighting community. Decked out in firefighter memorabilia—from equipment to photographs—the dive bar offers patrons a nostalgic journey, capturing the spirit and history of those who've served. With its unique atmosphere, Chief's provides more than just a drinking experience; it's a celebration of a noble profession, blending a neighborhood bar's coziness with poignant reminders of brave firefighters.

The relaxed and unpretentious vibe typical of dive bars is evident, but what truly sets Chief's apart is its affordability and distinct theme. Drawing a diverse crowd, from the college-going population to those deeply connected to firefighting, the bar remains a testament to Pittsburgh's rich history and the community's appreciation for its heroes. Whether you're dropping in for a cold beer or seeking a place with character, Chief's Cafe promises an experience steeped in tradition and camaraderie.

Dive Bars - West Pittsburgh

Smitty's (Sheraden)

3106 Chartiers Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15204

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺🍺

Cash Only, Smoking Allowed

Best Drink Special: 16oz Drafts on Sunday - $3

The Cheers of Sheraden, Smitty's stands as a testament to the classic American dive bar. Beloved by locals for its inviting atmosphere, it's a spot where patrons can expect a warm welcome and a cold beer. The bar is situated in what looks like any other house in the neighborhood – the telltale sign of a genuine dive.

What else gives it that local dive charm? The occasional flooding during heavy rains and indoor smoking make Smitty's an absolute beauty, and a cornerstone in the Sheraden community, upholding the very definition of a neighborhood bar. Whether you're dropping by for a casual evening or reminiscing about the good old days, Smitty's promises an experience that's as comforting as its iconic fish sandwich.

Jackman Inn (Avalon)

918 Jackman Ave #2808 Pittsburgh, PA 15202

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: Daily Specials

The best thing about The Jackman is that it's on the corner of the most unsuspecting street in Pittsburgh. The bar bridges the gap between a traditional watering hole and a suburban home. The ambiance of the Jackman Inn is complemented by its amenities, which include a pool table, a dedicated music system, and a cozy outdoor deck catering to smokers.

Whether it's a regular weekday evening, a post-work drink session, or the passionate Sunday afternoon Steeler games, the bar pulses with infectious energy and camaraderie. Behind this seamless experience is a staff that's not only efficient but brings warmth and personal attention to each patron, enhancing the overall experience. Whether it's a recommendation from a local or a spontaneous drop-in, Jackman Inn promises an atmosphere of relaxation, fun, and some of the best wings in town, making it an indispensable gem in Pittsburgh's bar tapestry.

Alexion's (Carnegie)

141 Hawthorne St, Pittsburgh, PA 15226

Divey-ness: 🍺🍺

Cards Accepted, No Smoking

Best Drink Special: Tuesday - Yuengling Pints $2.50 & Thursday - Miller Lite Bottles $2.50

Celebrating its 70th birthday this year, Alexion's is one of the best bars in Pittsburgh, full stop. Regarding the service, it's the kind of place you've been to twice and they've already remembered your name, your drink order and have the cadence down for how fast to bring you a new cold one. It's the perfect mix of a young and old crowd from the local area where the blue-collar drunks who show up at 1pm will happily mingle with the family of 4 who just sat down for wing night.

Order literally anything on the menu and you won't be disappointed. Try the handcrafted sandwiches served on fresh-cut Italian bread and the unique "Wedgies" – a delightful fusion of pizza dough and classic sandwich ingredients. Coupled with a robust selection of regional beers and an ambiance set for sports enthusiasts, Alexion's ensures that every patron departs with a satiated palate and the intention of a return visit.

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