Since Parade Day weekend is only a week away (March is flying by, no?) I’m going to start my “bars of Pennsylvania” posts (or whatever you’d like to call it, with a roundup of my favorite bars in the Electric City. Feel free to use this as a guide as to where you might want to visit if you do head up there next weekend.
Here’s the slightly embarrassing aspect of this post. Despite having lived in Scranton for four years (and having gone to school there for five), I’m not well acquainted with the bar scene of the town whatsoever. It’s especially embarrassing when you take into consideration the amount of money I’ve spent on alcohol in that town. One of my favorite parts of going to “the U” is that despite being in a somewhat urban setting, there was very much a secular college section of town that for four years, became somewhat of a microcosm that I dwelt in. We had our college bars and our college house parties and most importantly the porches on Taylor Avenue and for the most part, I was quite content to stay in that bubble. It was somewhat rare that we venture downtown to drink and if we did, it was mostly for happy hour at places that are no longer with us (RIP Molly Brannigans and your $3.00 Long Islands) or for a school sponsored downtown event that inevitably would take place at another fallen watering hole (I’m not going to RIP Tink’s because I do not miss you). I’m making my college experience sound a little more idyllic than it was. It wasn’t just that I was having such an extraordinary experience that I didn’t want to leave the hill section, it’s also that my college self was incredibly lazy. I used to complain about going to parties on Monroe (which was a mere 5 blocks away). I’m not proud of this.
Now, there’s something of a nostalgia when I return to Scranton. I like going back to places that have memories attached; I’m a creature of habit in that way and the sad thing is that there really is so much more I could be exploring. I’ve never been anywhere in Greenridge or the Southside. I’ve never been to Andy Gavin’s which I hear great things about and I’ve actually only been to Coopers once, and that was in my post college career.
So without further ado (or excuse), here’s my very stilted list of my favorite Scranton bars.
5) Kildares– Kildares is chainy and franchisey and nothing you haven’t experienced if you’ve been to the West Chester or Manayunk locales, but it’s grown on me since its inception in Scranton. It has a nice central location (across the street from Trax and next door to Rocky’s), I do like any Irish pub and their rooftop deck is one of the best places to be on a nice day. They also do play Irish music and show soccer matches, which is cool.
4) Rocky’s- I know. If you’ve ever been, you’re wondering why the hell I would recommend it, but hear me out. Rocky’s is trashy as hell. I’m almost positive you could smoke inside, the clientele is the type you have to watch (true story: one time somebody tried to take my watch off my wrist when I was ordering a drink) and the men’s restroom is circular and red and straight out of a vintage porn nightmare. Those are the reasons you go. You don’t stay for more than one (or two) drinks but it’s so trashy, it’s fun and I actually associate the neon sign above the door, always wishing a different person “Happy Birthday” with arriving back in town; it’s the first thing you see after exiting the expressway.
3) Backyard Alehouse– The Backyard Alehouse is exactly what downtown Scranton needed. It’s not a dive, it’s not a franchise and yet it’s far from pretentious. It’s a locally owned bar that has an impressive collection of beer, a great setup and the “back porch” is open year round for those of you (like me) who enjoy your beverages in the open air. They’ve added a food menu since I’ve been there last and host fun events (movies, brunches, etc). It’d probably be my go-to downtown bar if I was still living in the area. Bonus points for having a mixed-age crowd that doesn’t automatically make me feel old.
2) Whiskey Dick’s– I’ve never been to Whiskey Dick’s and not felt it’s impact the next day, and I say that in the most complimentary way. It’s small, but the drinks are cheap and for the size of the bar, the alcohol selection is impressive. I also like the crowds it gets. People don’t go to Whiskey Dick’s to be seen. They don’t go to follow the crowd. They don’t go to find the latest microbrew. They go to play the jukebox a little too loud and have a good time.
1) Oscars- Oscars is one of the two University of Scranton bars situated on the corner of Taylor and Mulberry and I honestly wouldn’t recommend visitors check it out, because it’s literally college students only with the occasional alumni scattered around. However, I couldn’t bring myself to make a list of my favorite Scranton bars and not have it be number one. Oscars is my “Glory Days” personified.