Pork Slope's Ode to the Best Dive Bars

By Justine Sterling Posted August 22, 2012
John Bush, Dale Talde & David Massoni

Pork Slope owners John Bush, Dale Talde & David Massoni / © Anne Massoni

Having tackled buzzy Asian fare in Brooklyn with the ultrasuccessful Talde, Dave Massoni, John Bush and Top Chef alum Dale Talde turned their attention to building a neighborhood bar: Pork Slope, which opened over the weekend in Park Slope.

“This is a bar that serves good food, not a restaurant that has a bar,” says Bush. Underscoring his point, the casual spot features 25 beers on tap that range from domestic dive bar standards like Bud Light to craft beer darlings including Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, three tap wines from Gotham Project, whiskeys from American producers like Four Roses and Pappy Van Winkle and only 12 dishes. "A lot of times people have asked, 'Is Dale going to do his twisted version of bar food?' And he’s really not,” Massoni explains. “At the end of the day, Dale wants to do bar food staples that he loves as good as he can do them." That means griddled burgers, Chicago-style hot dogs and no-frills chili con carne.

"I’ve worked at Asian restaurants my entire life, so it’s always been, rice, rice, rice, rice, noodles every day,” Talde says. “Whenever we got done with the shift, we always went to a local bar that looked just like [Pork Slope]." Here, the team delves deeper into the inspiration for Pork Slope by revealing their favorite dive bars in the country.

Corner Bistro

Corner Bistro burger / © A. Naro

Corner Bistro, New York
"I would go across town just to get a burger there,” Bush says. “You walk in, you have a couple beers, you eat a burger, you watch a half hour of Sports Center and you roll." The classic New York saloon serves just nine items—most of which are variations of a burger. “It’s almost like you should already know the menu,” Massoni says. He, like most regulars, opts for beer, a burger and cheese fries.

Chasers Bar & Grill, Chicago
"It's a 4 a.m. bar open 365 days of the year,” Talde says about the Northside Chicago sports bar. “After basketball games, it loads up with football coaches and some parents. There are family aspects, but by 12 it’s going to get rowdy. Their menu is enormous. I was really [drunk] one night, and I said, ‘I’ll get the cheese pizza,’ and then my brother was like, 'Hey, check this out, put gyro meat on top of it and then hit it with the gyro sauce.' We thought we were reinventing the wheel, and the waitress goes, 'Anything else?' She’d already had an order of that."

Blue Bird Tavern

Blue Bird Tavern / © Blake Gumprecht

Bluebird Tavern, Chestertown, MD
"I’ve never been to any of my high school reunions, because when I go home for Christmas or Thanksgiving, there's a [de facto] reunion at one of my two local bars in my town,” Massoni says. “The place with the pool table that is a little bit more down and dirty is called the Blue Bird Tavern. I love their BLT. There's nothing special about it—it's just a good BLT in a bar."

Two 8 Two Burger, Brooklyn, NY
“I live right next to Two 8 Two Burger,” Talde says. “They do a really great burger, and to me that's very important. That's my local." The neighborhood joint sources their signature blend of chuck, brisket and short rib daily from a local Brooklyn meat market, Los Paisanos.

The Poet & Patriot, Santa Cruz, CA
"Every time I go home, the first place I go is the Poet & Patriot. I drop my bags off at the hotel, and then we go to The Poet,” Bush says of the traditional Irish pub. “You get a pint of Guinness, and you either get a meat pie or fish and chips, and there are pictures of me and my crew on the wall from when we were in our twenties, and it's just awesome."

Farrell’s Bar & Grill, Brooklyn, NY
“One of the greatest days ever to me was when I walked into Farrell's and the guy behind the bar recognized me and asked me if I wanted my beer to stay or to go,” Massoni remembers. “Farrell's is it for me. When I need to get away from everything that New York is and I've had a bad day in one of the restaurants or I just need one moment before I go home, Farrell's for one of their big Bud Lights in a big Styrofoam cup is it for me.”


Related: 50 Best Bars in America
America's Best Beer Bars
Delicious Bar Foods

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