I feel like my words will be futile in adequately describing my first experience at John and Peter’s in New Hope. I have been coming to this town since I was a child. I cannot tell you how many times I walked past the tiny, bright blue building and wondered what was inside. After a not-so-great experience at a nearby establishment earlier in the day, Justin and I were just looking for something simple: a few drinks in a cool, low-key environment and maybe some pub grub. As we walked up and down the main street in town, we happened upon that blue building. While the outdoor bar seemed lively, we were more in the mood to be hidden away inside.
The atmosphere and character are apparent. As the night progressed, we chatted with the bartender who told us that John and Peter’s fully embraces the “dive bar” moniker. He described his many years behind the bar and also talked about the environment, noting several times how “all walks of life” come here to drink, eat, and have a good time. In New Hope’s endless array of expensive restaurants which can sometimes border on pretentious and snooty, this place perfectly offered what we were looking for: this was a neighborhood bar. This is where the locals drink. This meant we wanted to be there.
The ceilings were low. The light fixtures dim. Names from customers past and present had been carved into tables and walls. When you step down into a basement-like area from the remarkably small, cozy bar room, it reveals a larger room with a stage for bands to perform. It is surrounded by booths, ripped and torn with age. Nothing in the place has been touched since 1972, and that is part of the charm. The cigarette vending machine and row of Jacquin’s spirits on the back of the bar solidified this place’s character.
Justin and I grabbed two seats at the end of the bar. There was only one other person inside, an older man slamming back cans of Pabst. I went with a gin and tonic while he had a Budweiser. On the TV was Jurassic Park. As Justin and I chatted about the movie and how cool it was to be watching it at a bar, the bartender chimed in, “We were showing an original Godzilla marathon all day yesterday”. We moved on to a second round of drinks; another of each. I then noticed they had Jagermeister on tap, meaning it would be chilled. I mentioned it and before I finished my sentence, Justin said, “Shots?” We figured why not. Two shots were ordered. They came served in rocks glasses. A hefty pour, I think they were more than a shot. By this time, we were feeling good and ready for some food.
We asked for a menu and were looking through the appetizers. I said, “How about the onion rings?” He agreed. When we ordered them, the bartender noted that they were great. The basket arrived about 10 minutes later. They were burning hot out of the fryer and crispy as hell. Maybe it was because we had a few, but we thought right then and there that those were the best God-damned onion rings we ever had in our life. When we asked what choices of dipping sauce there were, the bartender suggested their homemade chipotle mayo. That sounded amazing. Another round of drinks and shots and it was time for more food. So impressed with our humble fried appetizer, we thought we would take the chance with meals.
The Italian roast pork hero was calling my name while Justin was craving a burger. A sign out front read, “Best burger in town”. I added tater tots to mine. With the taste of those rings still lingering, Justin added a side of those to his platter. We also asked for additional chipotle mayo. The two baskets soon hit the bar ready to be torn apart. My sandwich was topped with a large portion of roast pork, broccoli rabe, and Provolone cheese. The flavor from all the ingredients and seasonings was robust. I enjoyed it. Counterbalancing the tender pork were those crunchy tots. While all this was going on, Justin did not make a sound and he scarfed down his burger…and more onion rings.
We decided to stop there with drinks as we were now stuffed and wanting time to relax and sober up. A walk around town and by the river was in order. All we kept talking about the entire night was how much we enjoyed John and Peter’s; how we felt right at home with such an awesome atmosphere, laid back vibes, a friendly bartender (I wish I knew his name to give a shout out), surprisingly good food, and great prices. Speaking of prices, my gin and tonics were $4. Coming from New Jersey (and drinking my way through this town) that is unheard of. The Jager shots were $5. It was all worth every penny, including a mound of onion rings for $6. When the bill came, our jaws dropped. The grand total for three beers, three cocktails, four shots, an appetizer, and two meals came to $79. There are restaurants within walking distance where you couldn’t do that for $200. New Hope needs a bar like this. Hell, every town needs a bar like this to hang out and have a good time.
If we lived closer than an hour away, we would be regulars here. I’ll even go so far as to say that as a somewhat regular visitor to this town, there is no reason to drink anywhere else. It is that simple. John and Peter’s is going to get a 4 out of 5 stars for me. That is top-notch for a dive bar right there. All bars should aspire to have what they do here. All of this and I didn’t even get to their music scene, which is quite vibrant from what I hear. Maybe next time.
This establishment is located at 96 South Main Street in New Hope, PA.