We’re starting a new weekly feature entitled “Lehigh Valley with Love Dive Bar Confidential” where we, or even you, write about the best, or worst, dive bars in the area. Instead of a review, per se, we’re going to give you a basic night inside these establishments.
First up, our buddy Ria hits up the Beef House adjacent to the Westgate Mall at 1358 Catasauqua Road in Bethlehem.
I entered the Beef House not knowing what to expect. I am a roller derby ref, so, dive bars and cheap booze are not unknown to me, so, I wasn’t frightened by the prospect of hitting this particular establishment. But I still didn’t know what to brace myself for.
One of my derby girls comes here regularly, and from what I’ve been told, it’s a nice little place to unwind, especially if you live in the area. The Yelp and Google scores, while sparse, were encouraging—“good place, decent prices on booze, don’t miss it if you’re in a dive bar crawl.”
I got there, with some co-refs of mine, and the aforementioned derby girl. We walked into a fairly well-lit, well-weathered bar that was about the size of a standard Radio Shack. The bar has seen its 30th year come and go, and obviously the years haven’t been kind. There was a stack of various cases along the wall (as I was sure they had no where else to store it), and a large rectangular bar that the rest of the building wrapped around, with smatterings of tables and booths in the back.
We ordered the Pabst Blue Ribbon 16 oz (“Shooters”) that are our forte in our chosen hobby, and took in the surroundings more. The patrons that were there that night were your typical “we come here every few days if not more often, and we have been for 20 years” crowd; i.e. the middle-aged, drinky crowd. I was told that on Tuesday nights they have specials for those who are of the younger persuasion, but this was a Friday. The jukebox went through various songs like Lords of Acid’s “Show Me Your Pussy,” a Busta Rhyme’s song that I don’t remember the title of at the moment, and “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. An eclectic mix for older white folks, but I was amused nonetheless.
The food was interesting. The “menu,” if one can call it that, was the typical fare of a bar that’s more interested in selling you beer. (As an aside—they seem not to be interested in liquor, though. There is a printed sign towards the back of the bar that says there is a 3 shot limit in the bar. I’m still curious as to how that rule was instituted. But, I digress.)
The listing of the chicken fingers, fries, and onion rings was located in a plastic T-sign that other bars just use for promotional materials. We ordered some food, and it was cooked, not in a fryer (since they didn’t have a kitchen), but in a box conveyor-belt oven that they threw all the different items in at once in. How that magical device works I’m not even sure. But it was fine, typical fare for such a place. Though a surprise emerged from the things we ordered—corn nugget things. Imagine T.G.I.Friday’s fried mac and cheese, and instead, cream corn with cheese. Trust me, it’s pretty good, if you like fried things. Oh, and corn, I suppose.
The bathrooms, I was told, had been just “remodeled” (how long ago “just” was, who knows). Though the decor was… Interesting. In order to add some sort of special touch to the interior of the bathrooms, they put plaster up and, I guess, scratched it with forks? I’m not sure. It’s baffling, but something to think about as you take a drunken piss.
All-in-all, a pretty standard experience. Cheap beer, cheaper food, worn interior, not-unfriendly staff, and townie clientele. None of these things are a negative if you know them going in.
All in all, I’d give it three and a half shots out of five.