Hoboken Dive Bars?

10/8/2009:

Hoboken doesn’t really have many…

What is your definition of a “Dive Bar” these days?

I believe to many people, the meaning varies quite a bit. To some, a dive bar can be considered anything other than an upper-class bar/restaurant or night club – in other words “a regular pub.” And to others (like myself) a dive bar essentially means a giant dump that hasn’t been maintained, off the beaten path and has seedy characters and misfits that frequent the establishment.

dive-bar-hoboken-nj-maggies-place

Hoboken411 reader Thomas was curious what you all thought dive bars were – and what in Hoboken might be considered one. He called places such as the Wilton House and DC’s Tavern “flat out dive bars,” and other establishments such as Rogo’s and Nag’s Head “fringe dive bars.”

Frankly, to the distinguished (read: snooty) man – you could essentially call half the bars in Hoboken dive bars. But to me, there are hardly any real dive bars left. Maybe Wilton House because of the clientele, and surely Mario’s Bar for the state it’s in – but I wouldn’t even classify places like Louise & Jerry’s or DC’s dives – just regular watering holes (like many of the Irish Pubs). Heck, two of the real dive bars left us in the past few years: Kelly’s Pub (which is now a high-end wine bar) and the Downtown Pub.

What bars in Hoboken do you consider “dives” and why?

70 Responses

  1. wiskeytango1 says:

    realstuff,u betcha..but u recall the other dives??

  2. wiskeytango1 says:

    Maxies bar on fifth and bloom field st…They use to play darts and throw a few at your head..All in fun…some good dart throwers..In the wilton house u remember to Pos fast drawing on each other over a bimbo??yeah u have a grip on history and dives

    • whineanddineinhob says:

      Was Maxies on bloomfield also known as “the barrel” at one time. I remember a bartender there called Philip.

      In response to wiskeytango1 who said:

      Maxies bar on fifth and bloom field st…They use to play darts and throw a few at your head..All in fun…some good dart throwers..In the wilton house u remember to Pos fast drawing on each other over a bimbo??yeah u have a grip on history and dives

  3. Oz says:

    “Yeah Hawk u have a lock on all the history…”
    You missed his point. Hawk suggested a current day pub crawl route. The only one bragging of their Hoboken history knowledge is you.

  4. escaped68 says:

    Here’s some more ,the victory on 7th & park, radigans on 7th on & clinton, thanes on 6th & willow,now river st. flamigo,johnny’s and connies,the holland house,the patio,the 7 seas,the blue gratto. On river st they were next to each other for 2/3 blocks and all were real dives. And they would serve ANYBODY with money.

  5. SidneyGreenstreet says:

    Hmmm….. Luizzi’s on 2nd, Cloverleaf on 6th and Garden, Bob’s Office Bar where Portofinos was. There are lots of others. My favorite is Rick’s Cafe Americain….whoops that’s in the movie

  6. realstuff says:

    Remember Red Heads on 2nd Street?

  7. SidneyGreenstreet says:

    oh brother…Red Heads was the real deal, a fine bucket of blood. Right across the street was the Grand Hotel.

  8. justaview says:

    Uptown Cafe, Hoboken House & Peppers

  9. realstuff says:

    Yes my dear Sidney, even murder….

  10. wfs says:

    > nags head A Fringe Dive Bar….

    Oh my god – I’m surprised you ever have the nerve to leave your apartment.

    Maybe you’re afraid you’ll get assaulted by all the pansy’s the owner grows in hanging flower baskets outside the bar

    Actually the greatest danger is succuming to the funes caused by bar staff constantly cleaning and polishing the brass bar taps. But that wears off by about 4:30pm, so after that you’re fine.

    The Nags head is a typical american/irish bar. If you go in when a games on it will have the usual sports watching crowd, go in when there’s no game, and it will be a quiet neighbourhood bar (The type you can actually hear youself think in).

    They don’t serve food, so you can bring your own in. They even have a large selection of menu’s behing the bar so you can order delivery.

    So if flowers + spotlessly clean + a 25+ neighbourhood crowd = a dive bar, then maybe I’ll live on the edge one weekend and try a beer at the Elks Lodge. I hear they’re a pretty wild crowd..

  11. BigZ says:

    Wow, there are some angry people. I was in on the original debate on what dive bars were left in Hoboken, and it morphed on the site into what exactly a dive bar is. I don’t think it’s a “giant dump”, but just, well, a bar. A place that isn’t trying to be anything other than a drinking establishment, maybe a little run down, probably doesn’t serve food, no big tv’s. What makes a dive bar is hard to quantify, but I think you know it when you see it.

  12. TheGreenMan says:

    Wow, there are some angry people.

    BigZ, you want angry people, you’ve come to the right place. You can only take it for so long and then you’ll need a break for awhile.

  13. mooshu says:

    Or, BigZ, you can take great humor in it. That too.

  14. mooshu says:

    I love bars with misfits in ’em. So much more interesting than, say, the ever fruity McSwiggan’s, Stinky’s, Bahama Mama’s, etc.

    • plywood says:

      All bars have misfits in them. The question is are they in on the joke. The difference with a dive bar is there is much less pretense to what the people are doing there.

      In response to mooshu who said:

      I love bars with misfits in ’em. So much more interesting than, say, the ever fruity McSwiggan’s, Stinky’s, Bahama Mama’s, etc.

      • mooshu says:

        Nuh-uh! Not really. I’ve seen more sissies at the aforementioned stops. But maybe that’s just me.

        In response to plywood who said:

        All bars have misfits in them. The question is are they in on the joke. The difference with a dive bar is there is much less pretense to what the people are doing there.

      • plywood says:

        You’re onto something. Not sure if sissies is the term I would use, but I agree about pretentiousness. It’s not whether I can afford it or not, the more the drinks cost the less likely I am to have a good time at a bar. And the more expensive a bar it seems the less likely the clientele can hold their fancy liquor.

        In response to mooshu who said:

        Nuh-uh! Not really. I’ve seen more sissies at the aforementioned stops. But maybe that’s just me.

      • mooshu says:

        Yup. We can hang.

        And I don’t drink often. But if I do, I’d rather not be in the company of the foofies.

        In response to plywood who said:

        You’re onto something. Not sure if sissies is the term I would use, but I agree about pretentiousness. It’s not whether I can afford it or not, the more the drinks cost the less likely I am to have a good time at a bar. And the more expensive a bar it seems the less likely the clientele can hold their fancy liquor.

      • matt_72 says:

        Then you will just love Rudy’s on 9th Ave in NYC. I know it isn’t in Hoboken, but it is a complete dive. Shoot, all the seats are covered in red duct tape to keep them together and the “cheap” pitchers aren’t even “branded” beers. Plus, they pass out the most God awful grey hot dogs for free to patrons to satisfy their cravings for food when they drink. Complete dive, and only a quick ferry ride away.

        In response to plywood who said:

        You’re onto something. Not sure if sissies is the term I would use, but I agree about pretentiousness. It’s not whether I can afford it or not, the more the drinks cost the less likely I am to have a good time at a bar. And the more expensive a bar it seems the less likely the clientele can hold their fancy liquor.

      • plywood says:

        matt_72 let me get this straight. Power drinking mystery beers, wolfing nasty grey hot dogs, followed by a rocky ride in a small boat? Does someone give me a big bowl of chocolate ice cream on the way to the pier to make sure I ralph enroute? WTF, let’s give it a shot, won’t remember any of it in the morning anyway.

        In response to matt_72 who said:

        Then you will just love Rudy’s on 9th Ave in NYC. I know it isn’t in Hoboken, but it is a complete dive. Shoot, all the seats are covered in red duct tape to keep them together and the “cheap” pitchers aren’t even “branded” beers. Plus, they pass out the most God awful grey hot dogs for free to patrons to satisfy their cravings for food when they drink. Complete dive, and only a quick ferry ride away.

      • matt_72 says:

        Well, to truly experience Rudy’s and its interesting cast of characters, you have to stay well past when the last boat leaves for Hoboken. The early crowd is younger, most folks that just want cheap beer. Stay for the late crowd b/c they really make this bar a dive bar. And I promise, you will remember it. It is on 9th near 44th.

        In response to plywood who said:

        matt_72 let me get this straight. Power drinking mystery beers, wolfing nasty grey hot dogs, followed by a rocky ride in a small boat? Does someone give me a big bowl of chocolate ice cream on the way to the pier to make sure I ralph enroute? WTF, let’s give it a shot, won’t remember any of it in the morning anyway.

      • plywood says:

        Same joint. Fortunately / unfortunately, I don’t remember most of it. But I lived to tell the tale. If you want to call this a life. My official position is I have never heard of the place.

        In response to matt_72 who said:

        Well, to truly experience Rudy’s and its interesting cast of characters, you have to stay well past when the last boat leaves for Hoboken. The early crowd is younger, most folks that just want cheap beer. Stay for the late crowd b/c they really make this bar a dive bar. And I promise, you will remember it. It is on 9th near 44th.

      • patssoxrevscelts says:

        but they do have that sweet outside space if you want to get away from the gray hotdogs…

        In response to plywood who said:

        Same joint. Fortunately / unfortunately, I don’t remember most of it. But I lived to tell the tale. If you want to call this a life. My official position is I have never heard of the place.

      • patssoxrevscelts says:

        but they do have that sweet outside space if you want to get away from the gray hotdogs…I haven’t been there for years, but I’m sure it’s the same.

        In response to plywood who said:

        Same joint. Fortunately / unfortunately, I don’t remember most of it. But I lived to tell the tale. If you want to call this a life. My official position is I have never heard of the place.

  15. plywood says:

    BTW are you referring to the Rudy’s that has a country sensibility and has “quart o’ Bud” on the bill of fare? Awesome.

  16. nbm3 says:

    Tempest Bar on 8th Ave and 31 St. Now thats my favorite dive bar.

  17. ahobokenguy says:

    Similar but not the same.

    I think if a bar can truly embrace 4 out of the 2-6 below it can be considered a true dive. Rule #1 is a must.

    1) Cheap Booze, not just a ‘special’. Buy backs are not necessary if a domestic pint is $2.50 all day every day. But a good tip should get you a shot of the bartender’s choice. Also if you are in a bar and they ran out of a high volume drink, say Bud Light on a Friday at 5pm you know you are in a dive bar. But if you are not a regular and want to use your credit card don’t be surprised if you somehow get charged for the guy’s beers next to you and they each cost $7 bucks. You don’t buy a round at a dive bar unless you really know the bartender or don’t care. The only exception is if that guy with one tooth bought you a drink you better back him up. Above all if you asked a bartender, “what kind of place is this” They would say, “A beer and a shot place”

    2) Cheap/Bad bar Food or non at all. With menu items served on paper plates or in small plastic baskets and the only reason there is food is so you can/will keep drinking. I think the free hotdogs at Rudys as that Je ne sais quoi that makes you want to come back and bring a friend

    3) Dirty is not a prerequisite but dark is. If your feet stick to the floor when the sun is still out and you can hardly read the newspaper at noon, you are in the right place.

    4) Same goes with an odor not a prerequisite but most have one. Weather it’s the faint smell of puke at the corner of the bar or the heavy odor of disinfectants coming from the bathroom. I think Rudy’s smelled better when they allowed smoking.

    5) People are always important. There are always a cast of characters who keep coming back, regulars. This can vary from place to place and could be either a positive or a negative. There are the good, think the lyrics from Piano Man, and I would say these are in the minority. The bad like when the needle scratches on the juke box when someone walks in. You know when you walked into a place you don’t belong and you truly fear for your well being. And of course the ugly, this has two forms patron and/or proprietor usually either a bartender or owner (few true dive bars have anything that could be remotely considered a manager). One type is the toothless, unkempt, hobo paying with change or even better on ‘the tab’ not the bar tab you pay when you leave but the kind you run for a month and owe to the house. The other bartender/owner type is typically a drunk or addict and they can vary from giving the bar away to being the meanest crotchetiest bastard to the nicest in 30 seconds.

    6) Finally, there are what could be the intangibles or miscellaneous item that everyone always remembers. For example, free hotdogs. Other examples could be the leaking ceiling or the broken toilet. But there needs to be that one definable thing broken lights, back alley where the bartender was smoking ________ (fill in the blank), pool table where they were playing cards on, Asain guy selling porn. You get the idea something you would never expect at a bar.

  18. plywood says:

    I nominate “ahobokenguy’ for two college equivalency credits for generating that post. Spot on. Extensive research evident in attention to detail.

  19. plywood says:

    Clearly demonstrates having the chops to write the nightlife column in “Weird NJ”.

  20. KenOn10 says:

    7) A dive bar doesn’t have a special theme. Even if it has an Irish name, you will not find any leprechauns and if there is a shamrock it will smell of beer. It is not a “singles bar” or a “couples bar” or a “college bar”. A dive bar is an alcohol-themed bar.

    8) A dove bar is vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate on a stick. You will not find these at a dive bar.

    Quitting time!

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