Pillbox

Bar Buddies: Gooski's

Part of becoming part of the over-twenty-one world is finding your bar aesthetic. Are you a classy wine bar person? A clubbing kind of person? Me, I’m a dive bar person. Give me cheap drinks, smokey air, and a pool table, and I’m a happy camper

This week we trekked out to Polish Hill for what Pittsburgh Magazine has labeled the best dive bar in the city, Gooski’s.

The location: The location was my least favorite part of this bar. What looks like a long but doable trip on two busses from campus during the day turns into an odyssey at night when busses run less regularly. Also, the trip there was a little nerve wracking as a girl traveling alone. Once in Polish Hill, Gooski’s is tucked away on an otherwise unassuming street.

There’s not much else going on in the area, but that gives the bar a “hidden gem” feel. It’s a smokey hole in the wall with graffitied walls illuminated with dusky red lights. A chalkboard behind the bar reads, “Southside called, they want their douchebags back.”

The drinks: They’re cheap, they’re strong, and they’re served by a no nonsense bartender with a dry sense of humor. What more could you want?

This is not the place for fruity cocktails with a dozen ingredients. The bar is fully stocked but the only menus (written on the walls) are for their plethora of microbrews, so this isn’t really the place for exploring drinks. Go in knowing your go-to cocktail. This bar is cash only, so that’s another way you’ll need to come prepared.

The vibe: We were at Gooski’s on a Thursday, so the crowd was mostly from the neighborhood and pretty relaxed. Gooski’s is divided into two rooms, a slightly cramped front room with the bar, and a larger back room with ping pong and a pool table, as well as a stage for music acts on the weekends. As the night wore on, the front room filled up and became more boisterous, though the back room remained pretty empty and quiet. On a weekend, the place seems like it would get pretty rowdy.

The music is all jams from the ‘80s, the walls are covered in sassy commentary, and the bathroom graffiti is downright hilarious.

At the end of the day, Gooski’s is a classic dive bar, with all it entails. You’re gonna be around some fun and eccentric folks, might play pool with some new friends, and you’re definitely going to reek of smoke by the time you get home.

Lit or Nah: We’re going to go with Lit. It’s got a very clear vibe, and it does it well. If you want a no-nonsense dive, this is it. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too out of the way to justify the trip. If you happen to be out the way in Polish Hill, it’s 100 percent worth hitting up. But, alas, it’s not the convenient neighborhood dive I’ve been dreaming of.