The Dive Bar & Grille in the Pine Tree Shoppes off Perry Highway in Wexford is almost invisible, which is a shame because its menu and atmosphere scream, "Notice me!"
The menu is extensive, and the food is interesting, well-prepared, and reasonably priced. The Dive is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday. It has a terrific seven-day-a-week happy hour, with food and drink specials. Frequent diners enjoy 10 percent off with the "Very Important Regular" card.
The interior reflects the great-room concept. The bar, eating area by the bar, and restaurant area are open to each other. The big fireplace has a large couch in front of it.
Along the perimeter are comfy banquette-style booths and a couple of cozy, intimate rooms with couches and tables. No wonder my family decided to bring me here for my birthday. It was like having a private, catered party. Despite the open atmosphere, it is not overly noisy, one of my pet peeves in a restaurant.
Full disclaimer: I have been to The Dive several times. The first time I was doing an article on happy hours and was so impressed I've come back twice after football games. It's my current favorite place for meals or just drinks and snacks. It has been busy every time I've been there, so it's not just me.
The Dive has a full wine list, a full bar menu and beer. There were six in our party, only one underage, and we had wine, mixed drinks and beer. I enjoyed the La Terre Chardonnay, and the beer drinkers were swooning over the Yuengling Oktoberfest on draft. The alcohol prices are very reasonable, compared with many other comparable and not-so-comparable restaurants.
If you can't find something you like in this 23-item section, you're too picky. Appetizers are priced at $6 to $10 [not including add-ins], and many of them could be meals in themselves. We have had the Calamari, Buffalo Calamari, Bar Wings [buffalo style -- they come in six flavors], Carnitas Egg Roll, Nachooooo! and the Grilled Bella. My favorite? It's a close call, but I'm going with the Grilled Bella, a large portabella mushroom cap marinated, grilled and served on a bed of wilted spinach with artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. I'm drooling just writing that.
The entrée selection is huge. I'm not even going to try to cover everything, but the menu has sections for salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, sliders and entrees. The full menu can be viewed on the Dive's website. Our party enjoyed the Mahi Tacos [$15], Fish and Chips [$12], Citrus Glazed Salmon, Pesto Cream Pasta with Scallops [$13 plus $4 for scallops] and the BYOB [$6 plus extra for add-ons].
The BYOB is the opportunity to build your own burger from anything you can find on the menu. My daughter, who could live on macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, chose to build a burger from those two items. The waitress double-checked a couple of times, "Was she sure?" Yes, she was. Wende loved the burger, and two different people came from the kitchen to our table, wanting to meet the person who had ordered such an impressive burger. They were even more impressed when they met the tiny girl with the big appetite. She is now legend at the Dive Bar.
We were way too stuffed for dessert. We had collectively eaten enough food to feed a small nation, but The Dive has a selection of desserts that changes daily. I'm sure they're as good as everything else on the menu.
This is what I really love about this place -- we've been there four times, we've had four different servers, and each has been knowledgeable, efficient, friendly and everything you could want in a server. One even took a birthday picture for us. Now that's service.
An Interesting Tidbit:
The owners, Gordon Judge and Clint Kuskie, are former elephant trainers and weight guessers, respectively. Now that's a story in itself.
Cost: $ to $$
Address: 2017 Perry Highway, Wexford, 724-719-2060.