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Pubs we love: Pint-sized bars

These itty-bitty spots make a big impact where it counts: the beer list.
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Proletariat beer bar in New York City

Proletariat in New York City

Philadelphia // FIUME
229 S. 45th St., facebook.com/Fiume- 30269194207

A footprint that’s roughly the size of your childhood bedroom hasn’t kept this charmingly divey West Philly bar from becoming a locals’ favorite—probably because it boasts one of the city’s best bottle programs despite its diminutive size. Two handles and a whopping 150 bottles rotate constantly; owner Kevin James Holland suggests keeping your eyes peeled for Red Swingline, a tangerine-laced wild IPA from Colorado’s Trinity Brewing Co. Tip: An unexpected location above an Ethiopian restaurant and an unmarked entrance make finding the bar a bit challenging for first-timers, so head through the restaurant’s side door and up the stairs.

Chicago // THE MATCHBOX
768 N. Milwaukee Ave., thesilverpalmrestaurant.com

At the widest point of this Chicago classic (max capacity: 29), you can just about touch the exterior wall from your barstool. It only gets narrower from there, giving a trip to the rear bathroom an Alice-in-Wonderland quality. If your fellow patrons threaten your personal space, establish your dominance with an Apex Predator, local outfit Off Color’s crisp, delicious farmhouse ale. When hunger strikes, order up some grub from The Silver Palm, the adjacent rail car-turned-diner; foodie hero Anthony Bourdain once proclaimed its Three Little Piggy sandwich the best in America.

New York City // PROLETARIAT
102 St. Mark’s Place, proletariatny.com

Despite a 2012 expansion that doubled the capacity at this mini mecca for unusual and hard-to-find brews, we probably wouldn’t recommend rolling in with your full crew on Saturday night. With only 22 seats, the bar remains best suited to intimate tête-à-têtes. Look for the latest quirky offerings from New York’s finest breweries, as well as regular tappings of coveted Hill Farmstead Double Citra imperial IPA. Bonus points for the slick TEKU glassware from RASTAL. Curious about the tattoo parlor motif that dominates the decor? It’s a reference to the historically rebellious hood’s legacy of defying a ban on inking laid down by the city in 1961—and enforced until 1997. (Proletariat is also one of our 100 Best Beer Bars.)

St. Louis // TINY BAR
1008 Locust St., tinybarstl.com

The snuggest pub on our list certainly earns its moniker, clocking in at just nine seats. The 250-square-foot spot was conceived by co-owner Aaron Perlut as a clever way to utilize idle lobby space in the downtown building that houses his office. Five draft lines favor homegrown suds like American Brown from Civil Life, a roasty ale that delivers notes of caramel and nuts. No Napoleon complex here: The bar embraces its petite size with a huge dose of humor, hosting tongue-in-cheek events like the world’s tiniest parade, an 1/8th-block procession with a one-man band, a tiny parade float, a Smart car and the world’s smallest horse, held for the grand opening.

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