This thing was right down the road from Somerdale Bar… We can only assume they are somehow related.
209 N. White Horse Pike, Somerdale, NJ 08083 Hours: Unknown
For a group that has explored as many dives as we have over the course of our drinking years, it truly means something for us to label a bar as ‘depressing’. And make no mistake, the Somerdale Bar is incredibly depressing.With its worn cinder block facade, adorned with a faded mural of a giant lobster, we questioned if they were still in business or if we were in the right spot at all. And our impressions did not improve once inside. We walked in through what appeared to be the front door to be greeted by the faint smell of stale urine and a trio of people playing pool that most certainly did not seem happy to see new faces. But we tried to keep an open mind. After all, plenty of dive bars don’t seem all that welcoming at first and turn out to be gems once you show the locals you aren’t an a-hole.
Squeezing past the group in the small front room, we found ourselves in much more familiar territory. A an old wooden u-shaped bar, a couple of televisions from the late 90’s, and dark walls plastered with beer paraphernalia from bygone days all came together in classic dive style. Clearly Somerdale Bar hasn’t been updated (or cleaned, probably) in the last twenty years. The crowd was small but diverse, ranging from what appeared to be locals drinking and shouting at each other from opposite ends of the bar to a family of four seated at a table ordering a full seafood dinner. As we sat down in the front to soak up the ambiance, we noticed a plaque on the bar on the spot next to us with a name, birthdate and death date. I guess at this bar they put up memorials to honor their fallen drunks. The sole bartender put down the beer she was drinking to come take our order. A pint of Yeungling at 3.50 a piece seems a little steep for a place like this, but at least they were cold and the glasses seemed relatively clean.
The food at Somerdale Bar was a source of some confusion for us. They had a menu of fried dive bar staples you’d expect, like cheesesteaks, burgers, and mozzarella sticks. But they also had a second menu of formal dinner options including a number of upscale seeming seafood and Italian offerings. Almost as if on cue to dissuade us from braving one of these questionable options, a guy eating at the table sitting behind us returned his crab cake and asked for something else, because it “didn’t taste right at all.” At a bar this shady where I would barely trust the beer lines to be clean, I definitely would not trust the seafood. Two cheesesteaks later we were fed but not satisfied, and agreed that they were on par with some Steak-Ums and cheap rolls we could have made at home for a third of the price. And fair warning: if you show up on a weekday before 8, sandwiches are not for sale (they are really trying to push the seafood).
By the time we were finished eating we were the only ones left other than the trio in the front, and outside of taking our order the bartender seemed very uninterested in conversation. Sitting in silence in a dark and musty room next to the memorial plaque of a guy that probably died in the stool next to us, we made a pact that we would never again come back to this place. It was just too run down, too sad. The Somerdale Bar is proof positive that a great dive bar is more than just the sum of its shitty parts. We love dives because of the character present in the good ones, the strange bartenders, the weird people you can’t meet anywhere else, and all of the stories they’ll tell you. And beer specials don’t hurt either.