Tom Fischer’s Tavern and Johnny’s Grill
18 W. Cuthbert Blvd., Haddon Township, NJ 08109
Hours: ? – 3 AM
Tom Fischer’s has been a review long in the making. A couple days after our first dive at Tom Fischer’s, I rode by on the PATCO only to see that the place had burned down. I figured it was the end, but the thirst was real for the regulars, and in about 6 months, they were back in business.
After the hiatus, it still took us FOUR trips to conduct a full-bodied review of Tom Fischer’s since we kept showing up when the kitchen was closed. Of course we could still swill sauce on these trips, so it wasn’t a total loss, but it’s still worth noting that Johnny’s Grill basically closes at completely random hours. Our first trip was on a Monday, when we learned that Johnny’s Grill isn’t open on Monday at all (yes – the classic Camden County maneuver of a restaurant within a bar is in effect at Tom Fischer’s). The kitchen apparently closes at some point on Saturday and Sunday too. But a pair of well-placed trips on a Friday and on Thanksgiving Eve got us the grub we needed – and it was worth the wait.
Johnny’s Grill at Tom Fischer’s serves genuine dive nachos drowning in cheese whiz, extra crispy (but not greasy!) buffalo wings, and awesome roast pork sandwiches. But my personal favorite are the buffalo fries – they are basically regular fries, but covered in the wing sauce of your choice. You can’t go wrong with sweet chili or the classic buffalo. They’re simple, but an ideal bar snack. The food (billed separately) is decently priced. Ten wings, on the smaller side, will run you $7.50. They also sell something called fried pizza – it’s basically a small pizza on fried dough – worth a try if you’re not starving, but the sandwiches are worth the investment if you’re looking to binge!
Speaking of binging, the PBR and shots are as cheap as they get. Beer specials are written on the chalkboard, and if you want to know how much liquor costs, there is some sort of sticker-color-code on the bottles that I cannot yet explain. You won’t pay more than $5 for a beer in the Sierra Nevada stratum, and for when you’re really in need, they sell 40’s to go.
Tom Fischer’s is a cash-only establishment – if you need to hit up the ATM ($2.75 fee), you’ll find it in the pool room behind the bar, where you will probably find someone making out on the pool table (seriously, this happened twice!). Need a tobacco binge too? No worries – there is an old-school cigarette vending machine on site. You can smoke on the porch out back. The jukebox is set up to keep playing music, even when nobody is feeding it cash. If you do want to play a song, you’ll find the jukebox next to the six pack fridge, which still has wood paneling in the back of it! I didn’t know that was possible, but it is a beautiful sight as far as dives go.
The fire took away some of the divier traits of Tom Fischer’s – the checkered drop-ceiling is gone, and much of the glorious wood paneling is lost forever. But a true dive is not defined by its decor alone – after all, a dive needs divers. And the divers at Tom Fischer’s were not deterred by a temporary rip current in the ocean of booze. Locals have returned in full force, and the classic dive charm has quickly returned.
Tom Fischer’s is a local landmark. The fire forced them to modernize the decor a bit, but fear not – with the divers comes the depth. And Tom Fischer’s is returning to the deep. Good food, cheap beer, cash only.
Rotating food specials, Tuesday – Friday
Rotating drink specials (check the chalkboard!)
Wednesday – Pasta Night