Apr 18, 2024 - Food and Drink

Boston's dive bars persist as prices climb

Patrons enjoy the last night of Sligo Pub, a dive bar in Davis Square.

Sligo in Davis Square, now closed. Photo: Vincent Alban/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Amid all the gentrification, generic new construction and sky-high cost of living, several of Boston's venerable dive bars still serve affordable booze to the thirsty and the thrifty.

Why it matters: Prices have only risen since Nick Roy started the Best Boston Dive Bars project to map the city's cheapest and most casual watering holes.

Threat level: Roy pointed out a few of the dearly departed dive bars that have closed in the last two years:

Maybe the biggest development in dive bars in the last few years is that a favorite downtown tavern of Roy's (and Deehan's) may have some competition in South Boston.

  • "I finally made it to Shea's in Southie when it was open one night. If I didn't love The Tam so much, I would say Shea's is my favorite dive bar in Boston," Roy told Axios.

Owners across the area are keeping their prices down and barrooms full by hosting events for different communities, making pub trivia a regular feature and going big on holiday promotions like St. Patrick's Day, Roy said.

  • Coogan's by Faneuil Hall even still offers $1 drafts, but they reportedly now come in smaller glasses.

Zoom out: Some classier bars have begun to offer dive-like deals to keep customers coming in as prices spike elsewhere.

  • Roy suggests Elm Taproom (across from the closed Sligo) for $3 Hamms beer or The Porch in Medford for $2 PBRs.

What's next: There are some encouraging openings of bars and restaurants that no one would classify as dives, but convey the spirit of an affordable, no-frills drinking experience.

  • Blasi's, an Italian spot in overly-Irish Adam's Village, recently reopened.
  • "It's not really a dive, but hard to be mad about a bar that has a deli built into it," Roy said.
  • Andrew Square will soon have Small Victories, a spinoff of the popular East Boston bar The Quiet Few, not far from the institutional dive bar The Connection.
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