Let's begin by explaining what a dive bar is. To some, the word “dive” may have negative connotations, as if a “dive” is somehow dangerous or seedy. That’s not the case with the places on this list. Rather, “dive bar” is a compliment. A “dive bar” is the kind of local pub you can go to with friends without feeling the need to dress to the nines. It’s simply the kind of place you can unwind at while (naturally) consuming copious amounts of reasonably-priced alcohol. The following Plateau neighbourhood bars are the perfect antidote to the area’s trendier drinkeries and are a guaranteed good time.
Photo - Patrick Shanks
A barfly is usually defined as a person who spends lots of time drinking in bars. One step into Barfly, and you’ll understand why this joint has lots of regulars, with it being a perennial Plateau favorite. This no-frills dive has everything you need for a fun night: cheap pints, good music, friendly service and a pool table. There’s also free live music almost every night – check out their upcoming shows here.
Photo - Casa del Popolo
2. Casa del Popolo
Casa Del Popolo is many things. It's part-bar, part vegan-resto bar, part café, and most notably, part venue for everything from live music to slam poetry. The shows are always great, with prices ranging from free to about $15 on the high end. Check out their website for a list of shows and a gander at some of their vegan dishes. For more of the same, check out their sister restaurant La Sala Rosa right across the street.
Photo - Martin New
Well known to Plateau foodies, Else’s pub has been a Plateau institution for decades now, with the story of the original Else Smith being a good read you can catch up on when you visit the pub for the first time. The updated menu is an eclectic mix of old favourites (hot wings!) and new (quinoa burgers). If you’re in the neighborhood and you stumble by the sky-blue exterior on Roy Street, you’ve got to pop in for some sliders and a drink. It’s a must any time of the day.
Photo - Justin Blasi
4. La Rockette
In my opinion, La Rockette has the best music in the plateau. Their DJ’s always spinning something good, from classic rock to soul to whatever else strikes their fancy. Maybe the only bummer is that Rockette gets very crowded towards the end of the night on weekends, but hey – that’s a great way to make friends!
Photo - Owain Harris Photography
5. Bar Korova
Korova is just a great place to be any night of the week. The lack of pretentiousness, the awesome DJs and dance floor make it a local favourite. The décor is tacky awesomeness, with a moose head over the bar, a foosball table if you want to pretend you’re Joey & Chandler, and even some vintage games if you want to get your Jenga on (if you were born in the nineties you might not know what this is, but it’s a game that drove many eighties children insane). There’s always something fun going on.
Photo - Divan Orange
6. Divan Orange
During my days living in the McGill Ghetto, whenever I walked up to the Plateau I would always pop into Divan Orange to see what was going on, and more often than not, it was something cool. One of the best places to watch low-key live music in the city, Divan Orange’s reputation has grown a lot over the years and it’s a great, intimate place to catch up-and-coming artists.
Photo - Les Torchés Taverne
7. Les Torchés Taverne
Of the places on this list, Les Torchés is one of the newer additions to the Plateau. With its tasty, reasonably priced menu, Torchés is the ideal place for a Plateau cinq à sept - with lots of drink specials. During hockey season you can also come catch a Habs game while guzzling down some beers. And if their Facebook page is to be believed, they’ve got Das Boot going, which – if you’re seen the movie Beerfest, you’ll understand (chugging beer from a huge glass shaped as a boot).
Photo - L'Esprit Simple
8. Bar La Remise
Sometimes all you want to do is sing, sing, sing; Bar La Remise has one of the best karaoke song books in the city. And what’s karaoke without lots (LOTS) of booze?! La Remise has got you covered and then some. Heck, even if karaoke’s not your thing, La Remise is still worth checking out for a good low-key bar-vibe. But really, who doesn’t want to unleash their inner Bruce Springsteen (or Win Butler for you millennials)?