The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
Morgantown is a college town known for its vibrant nightlife, but sometimes the best finds are off the beaten path.
If you’ve hit up all the iconic bars and venues around town, or just want a little more of a local experience, dig a little deeper and explore Morgantown’s under-the-radar scene.
Here are 5 of our favorite low-key Morgantown bars:
1. Mario’s Fishbowl
This place is a local favorite for one fine reason— the frosted "fishbowls" they serve their beer in.
Originally the Richwood Avenue Confectionary, Mario’s Fishbowl got its start way back in 1950 (in its current and original location in Woodburn). The confectionary sold groceries and other necessities, and also had a cafe counter, serving up ice cream and beers on tap in giant Weiss goblets from Morgantown Glass Works, which is now the Seneca Center.
In 1963, the confectionary was sold to the Spinas, who fancied the original large goblets, and called them "fishbowls." They turned the confectionary into a bar, and that’s how the name came to be. The Fishbowl operated for 35 years before switching hands once again in the late 90s, so stop in for a fishbowl of your own.
"If I had to choose a favorite, it would be Mario’s," said Lisa Ledbetter Travis. “People write notes on dollar bills and napkins and tack them to the walls. The food is good. The beers are aplenty.”
2. Gene’s Beer Garden
Remember the show "Cheers"? Set in a typically West Virginian brick storefront, Gene’s Beer Garden’s self-proclaims, “Gene's is like the ‘Cheers’ of Morgantown. It has its own cast of outsiders, insiders and people stopping by. People might even know your name.”
It’s also another local bar that’s been around for generations. Gene’s is like a secret hideout, and you have to try the chili cheese pepperoni rolls. While pepperoni rolls are a staple in West Virginia, their chili cheese variety is a cut above. Trust the locals when they say it’s a secret hideout worth stumbling into.
3. Crockett's Lodge
Crockett’s Lodge is another gem of an unassuming bar in Morgantown. Head to Crockett’s for what the locals call the best wings in town. Employees say they’ve been cooking them the same way for 30 years— always fresh, never frozen, and in a plethora of sauces. And, on Wednesdays, wings are only 60 cents!
Locals make claims like: "Best Philly cheesesteak in West Virginia;" “Coldest beer in town;” “If you squint your eyes, you can still see Charlie by the bar;” “Was there with the love of my life back in the day. Still have the t-shirt. Lost the girl. My fault. But this is a great joint.” And simply, “Real good place.”
4. 123 Pleasant Street
123 Pleasant Street may have the richest history of all the bars (and local businesses) in Morgantown. It was part of a section of rowhouses built to be Morgantown’s first major apartment building in 1891, and eventually the rowhouses were turned into an accordion of businesses.
In 1982, what is now known as 123 Pleasant Street has been devoted to the musical underground, focusing on community and equality, fittingly called "The Underground Railroad." A painting of Harriet Tubman still graces a wall inside. The bar changed names and owners several more times, and was eventually condemned. Fortunately, it was revitalized in 1998 into 123 Pleasant Street, which carries on the historical musical torch with live entertainment every week.
5. Town Hill Tavern
Another fantastic Morgantown bar is Town Hill Tavern. You can’t find very much about this tavern online at all, but the locals say it is a tucked-away place worth the trip for its drool-worthy hot dogs. It’s a cash-only, no-frills establishment with just a couple of booths.
Discover more around Morgantown.
Originally written for West Virginia .