Mr. Fox’s Book Club: How To Be A Proper Philly Bar Patron


Back in March we posted about Brian McManus’ journey to 100 Philly dive bars and since then, we’ve gotten to know him a bit better (and hold our liquor longer). Over the weeks, we’ve learned a lot about Philly from this sage of sin, and even more about ourselves as bar patrons. Turns out, there is an etiquette to making alcohol-induced mistakes in bars without windows or updated health inspection licenses. Below we’ve compiled our top four list of things we want all our readers to know about being a Philly dive bar patron. (Nakedphilly and its followers are all about class, obviously).

1. Act like you’ve been in a bar before: proceed directly to the bar and sit down, money in hand. Don’t look around too much and don’t ask too many questions. “The first time I went to DiNic’s Tavern (1528 Snyder Avenue) the bartender came over to me and said, “You look nervous.” I told her I wasn’t, but asked if I should be. Her answer: “You ask too many goddamn questions.”

2. In Philly dive bars, you’re not special. There are no VIPs in dives, no velvet ropes. You’re no more important than the guy sitting next to you so don’t act like it. “Playboy columnist Dan Dunn told me a great anecdote about Hinano Cafe in Venice Beach where Jim Morrison scrawled his name on the bar back in the late 60s. Morrison once asked the owner, Maryellen, if she ever considered covering it with something to preserve it. Her reply: “What for? You want another beer?”

3. If you want a real dive bar, head to Fishtown or South Philly.

4. Following No. 3, stay out of Old City. “Society Hill Hotel just closed and the Khyber got nice, and so the only real dive in Old City is Paddy’s. “If I had to open a dive, it would be in Old City just to rub it in the faces of the people that pour into those place on the weekend. We’d have a strict ‘No Ed Hardy’ policy, and would reserve the right to refuse service to anyone living out their Jersey Shore-casting tape or Sex and the City fantasies who might amble in. We’d go belly up in two months, but it would be worth it.”

Catch McManus tonight, April 13, at Oscar’s Tavern at 1524 Sansom Street from 5 – 7pm for his book signing.