Highland Tavern

308 Orlando Ave., Gloucester City, NJ 08030
Hours: 12 PM – 2 AM

It’s pretty shameful how long I have waited to post this review (we went LAST baseball season after a Phillies game). And to be honest, this isn’t going to be the most detailed review, but in the spirit of the Phillies home opener, I think it’s time to get back on track.

It’s easy to see how self-proclaimed “Gloucester City’s Best Kept Secret” would qualify as a secret to most. The Highland Tavern is tucked away in the corner of a neighborhood that has been walled-off from the rest of the city by I-76. The main entrance is in the back of what was once a house, with the wraparound porch now serving as a very convenient storage location for about 15 recycling bins.

 

We rolled in with a sizeable Phillies crowd following the day game that had just ended on the other side of the bridge. There appeared to be few regulars who has also been there all day, at least one of which was drinking O’Douls and whiskey.

We dropped a $20 on the bar (cash only), ordered a round, and took in the atmosphere. The interior of the bar has a classic dive setup — walls covered in a hodgepodge of memorabilia, year-round Christmas lights, and a solid selection of coin-op games for your enjoyment.

We ordered some food and waited for it to come out. It took a while since the cook had to get the kitchen fired up, but we had some decent chicken quesadillas. No frills, but priced right. Disclaimer: another bottom feeder has claimed to have gotten food poisoning from their chicken, but 3 out of 4 surveys gave it a solid review.

 

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A pumpkin AND Christmas lights… in July!

Ratings:
Food: ★★½
Drink: ★★
Price: $
Overall: ★★

Bottom Line

The Highland Tavern was a nice change of pace. It was off the beaten path, super cheap, and extra divey. You’re not gonna find a great selection of fine craft ale, but you will be able to throw back a six pack for under $20.

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Estelle’s Cafe & Lounge

2013 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647
Hours: 5 PM – 4 AM Daily

The Bottom Feeders have had a busy summer and it’s been FAR too long since our last post, but tonight we return with a Nightcap from a hot night in The Windy City. After a solid binge at  Piece Brewery & Pizza, we asked the bouncer to point us to the nearest dive and he sent us here: to Estelle’s Cafe & Lounge.

It was hot as all hell outside, but dark and cool inside. We hobbled up to the bar (I had a boot on my leg) and were greeted with a fine recommendation indeed: “cocktails are half price on Wednesday, try them all!” Now that’s a warm welcome if I’ve ever heard one.

The next two hours were a whirlwind of liquor and laughs. The jukebox was top notch and the cocktails were fantastic. We watched some elephant documentary on Netflix, talked shit with the bartender and the cook, and we even instigated a match vs. coaster fight!

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By the end, we came pretty god damn close to trying all of the signature cocktails. Eight cocktails (out of ten) between two people over about 2 hours. Total bill, tax included: $40. Unreal for Chicago. If you’re headed out west, Estelle’s is a must do, especially on a Wednesday!

 

Nightcap: Keystone Mini-Golf & Arcade

161 Cecil B. Moore Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19122
Hours: Thursday 5-11 PM; Friday 5 PM-1 AM ; Saturday 1 PM-1 AM; Sunday 1-8 PM

We are switching it up a little bit today, and for the first time ever, posting about something that isn’t actually a bar. While they may not have a liquor license, Keystone Mini-Golf is definitely a place to throw back some beers, and this BYOB mini-golfery and arcade sure feels like a genuine dive.

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We went to Keystone on a freezing Friday night earlier this March and pretty much had the place to ourselves for the first hour or so. Half of the holes are outside in some sort of old warehouse courtyard area. With snow on the ground, very little light, and nobody to turn on the space heaters, the need to drink more heavily – and that true divey aura – really came out.

Overall, the hole design and decor is really well done. In one hole, your ball has to roll down the Art Museum steps to make it to the next level. Some of the holes seem damn near impossible at first (especially with an inch of snow on half the greens), but one guy in our group actually made par on the course, all while drinking continuously!

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Arcade basketball, skiball, pinball, deer hunter, air hockey and more

 

Price notes: For $12 you get a round of golf and free reign to walk around and drink as much as you want. There is a $2(?) student discount, and if you just want to hang out without hitting the links, it’s $5. The arcade games are 1 or 2 quarters each. Including the price of a BYO six pack, you can have a great night here for about $25.

 

Guiseppi’s Restaurant & Lounge

 

13 S. Black Horse Pike, Mount Ephraim, NJ 08059
Hours: Mon- Sat: 9 AM – 3 AM (?), Sun: 9 AM – Midnight

~ A guest review ~

cropped-shotI wanted to write my first Bottom Feeder review on Guiseppi’s because we have history together.  I grew up in Mount Ephraim, and it was well known around R.W. Kershaw Middle School that when you turned 16 you could get served at “Zepps”.  All kinds of wild stories came from my friends’ high school-aged older brothers who would be out late underage drinking.  It’s fair to say that alcoholism was revered amongst the 6th grade crew – talking about how shit faced we were going to get in like 5 or 6 years was an absolute highlight of my youth.  However, somehow I missed my chance to imbibe here as a minor.  But now as a legal adult, I was ready to embark on this rite of passage.

To get in the door we had to step over some townies sitting outside on the green AstroTurf-covered steps smoking their Newports.  As we crossed the threshold, the floor of the breezeway bows under my feet, which is a HUGE boost for my self-confidence.  We emerge into the surprisingly well-lit bar that is staffed by two bartenders drinking Red Bulls at 11:30 on a Friday night. The bar is mostly empty except for one of my classmates from middle school who introduces us to one of the bartenders, Pooter, who I’m told is one of the owners.  Everyone is perched on the short side of the rectangular bar, eyes glued to one of those enormous square flat TVs from 1997. They’re watching a 30-for-30 on ESPN about the OJ Simpson Trial, discussing what kind of car is ideal for a police chase. I chimed in and asked “Is it just me or does OJ kind of look like a potato?”  I think he does.

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The cute ginger bartender makes her way over to us to take our order. When we ask “What’s on special?” she just kind of looks at us and shrugs.  We follow up with “What’s cheap?” To which she says, “Miller LITE is always $2.50.”  I elect to go with a pour of Old Grandad because the high proof will likely disinfect whatever is growing in my glass.

So we settled in and finished watching the 30-for-30. I get to talking to my middle school bud who fills me in on Giuseppi’s.  Apparently they get really busy after 2AM when all the other bars close. Pooter keeps the bar open until he gets tired, which I’ve been told can be after the sun comes up.  At whatever point the bar does close, everyone just walks home because the town is only one square mile, and because after a night of binge drinking, you know… safety first.

Eventually what seems like my entire high school class shows up to the bar – and maybe I’m drunk by now – but it seems like a fun atmosphere.  While my memory gets a little murky after this, I do know that the entire bar took a shot of Crème De Menthe together.  Everyone seemed to regard it as a fine South Jersey delicacy, and I didn’t have to pay for it.

Guiseppi’s is the shell of what used to be a nice place to get an Italian dinner. There’s a remnant of the old dining room off to the side, and cheesy stone on the walls with archways in between the rooms. The drop ceiling does a weird chicane over the bar and is all sorts of different shades of yellow. Somehow I get the vibe that even in its glory days, Guiseppi’s was the kind of place that you could rip a line of blow right at the table while waiting for your Pasta e Fagioli to show up.

Ratings:
Food: Don’t
Drink: LITE
Price: ¢
Overall: ★★

Bottom Line
Let’s face it: Giuseppi’s is a DEEP dive of a bar. It’s dirty. I wouldn’t dare order food since Black Horse Diner is right across the street. The men’s room had bars on the windows, and no door on the stall. But the people are friendly, the Crème De Menthe was cold, and everybody knew my name.

Dominic’s Tavern

100 E. Browning Rd., Bellmawr, NJ 08031
Hours: 11 AM – 3 AM

It’s been way too long since our last dive, and just when I was starting to get worried that we’d visited every place within reasonable driving distance, we stumbled upon Dominic’s Tavern in Bellmawr. Tucked into a residential neighborhood, the sign prominently displayed the Thursday specials: $4 bourbons and beers, and $5 build-your-own burgers. That was all we needed to be sucked in.

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The Polar Bear

Walking in, we were greeted by a Polar Bear a respectable three weeks after Christmas. Seeing Christmas decorations after New Year’s is personally very comforting to me because it reminds me of Jay’s Elbow Room, so we were off to a good start. Dominic’s is one of those places that seems way bigger on the inside. They have a rectangular island bar, which may be one of the biggest in South Jersey, and the dining room area is even bigger. The place could probably hold 200 divers with room to spare.

We grabbed a table and checked out the burger deal – they are letting you get some premium toppings on your $5 burger! Bacon, portobello, avocado, long hots – it’s all there! You can get some of their many sauces on the burgers too, and the waitress actually brought us over some sauce samples to dip into before ordering.

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The burgers were solid, nothing out of this world, but we definitely got our $5 worth. Impressed with the value of Thursday deals, you know we went back on a Sunday for wing night ($5.50 / 10 wings). Dominic’s actually has wing nights on Wednesday’s too, so there are plenty of chances to dive in. When you do, bring a wet suit, because their wings are swimming in sauce. Look at those trays! Fortunately the wings are served up with wet naps and a stack of napkins.

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Fat Daddy wings in the front and honey BBQ in the back. The Fat Daddy sauce is good, but the honey BBQ is fantastic.

Overall, Dominic’s is a solid neighborhood bar and a good place to watch a game. They have at least 10 TVs, and as a bonus, free popcorn! Since I have no self-control, I spent at least 5 minutes dipping popcorn into leftover wing sauce before a waitress came by and relieved me of my shameful ways. I highly suggest that you ask for extra napkins, and then do the same thing as me.

Ratings:
Food: ★★★½
Drink: ★★★
Price: $$
Overall: ★★★½

Bottom Line
Dominic’s Tavern is somewhat of a hidden gem – it’s a solid all-around dive. They have good wings and great specials. With ample seating, it’s a great place to watch a game. Don’t forget the free popcorn!

Specials

Dominic’s regular specials list is below – you can find their rotating specials here!
Happy Hour: (Mon-Sat, 4-7)$2 Draft & Bottle Specials, $2 House drinks
Monday : $5.00 Mussels, $5.95 U-Peel Shrimp$2.50 23 oz. Coors Lt. Drafts
Tuesday: $2.50 23 oz. Miller Lite Drafts
Wednesday: $5.99 Wings, $2.50 Coors Light Bottles
Thursday: $2.50 Bud Light Bottles
Friday: $3 Heineken and Heineken Light Bottles
Saturday: $3 23oz Yuengling Drafts, $2.50 Yuengling Light Bottles
Sunday:$5.99 Wings All Day, $2.50 23 oz. Bud & Bud Light Drafts

PUBLIC DRINKING ANNOUNCEMENT

The snow is coming. The store shelves are soon to be emptied, and the weather forecast is your new god. BE PREPARED and PRACTICE GOOD SNOW DRINKING by reviewing this essential guide.

1. STOCK UP. Get a case. Stash away at least a fifth of whiskey. Fill multiple growlers at these South Jersey Breweries:

2. USE KOOZIES whenever drinking outside. A brightly colored koozie will help prevent frostbite and help you not lose your beer in the snow.

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3. STAY WARM. In addition to your standard hats and gloves, drinking small quantities of liquor multiple times throughout the day can help with this.

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4. GET WEIRD. Getting snowed in is a great opportunity to get weird. You could even create insane works of art like this one:

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GOOD LUCK DIVERS.

McGlinchey’s

259 S. 15th St., Philadelphia, PA 19102
Hours: Mon- Sat: 10:30 AM – 2 AM. Sun Noon – 2 AM.

Cross the threshold, and let the haze embrace you. It’s hot, it’s dark, it’s loud… but it’s safe. I promise. No, it’s not Hell. It’s McGlinchey’s.

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Inside, you’ll find an ancient dive. A rectangular center bar dominates the neon-lit space. Recluse drunkards occupy low-lying tables around the perimeter. Before you lose yourself in the darkness, find a seat and settle in.

McGlinchey’s is a quintessential Philly dive with a well-documented history. They sling cheap liquor at prices you won’t find anywhere else on the block, and they do it with some serious attitude. Casual drinkers might even be put off by the crudeness of the servers, the the dirty water dogs, or the bathrooms that personify death itself. But when you walk in and fill your lungs with second-hand smoke, you – a true diver of the deep – will instantly know that you’re in for a night of rabid drinking and fun.

When I say McGlinchey’s sells cheap beer, I mean it. Giant $9 pitchers of Yuengling Porter are guaranteed to hit the spot (oddly they didn’t have normal Yuengling on tap). If you’re feeling classy, they have a decent craft selection too. Best of all: 75¢ hot dogs! You really can’t go wrong.

After enough binge drinking, you’ll eventually find yourself in a bathroom. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Those things are hilariously fucked up. The best feature is the Euro-style reusable hand towels, which are supposed to get pulled back into the machine after use. But when the machine is broken… well just look at the picture.

Side note: plastic isn’t accepted, so don’t forget to bring cash and coins. It’s pay-as-you-go, even at the tables, which is a good policy considering that you and your server will probably both be hammered.

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The men’s room sink.

Ratings:
Food: ★★
Drink: ★★★
Price: $
Overall: ★★★½

Bottom Line
McGlinchey’s is perfect for those nights when you decide in advance that you’re done with sanity and you just need to lose your god damn mind. Gather a group, take advantage of the smoking policy (if that’s your thing), and empty your piggy bank on cheap booze and hot dogs.