WHEN A.P. “PETE” PELLOLIO sat down for a game of poker at one of his favorite watering holes at 881 Fourth Street back in 1951, he wasn’t expecting to win not only the game, but a family business that would span three generations and counting. But he did. Today at the helm is grandson John Pellolio, just back from time spent in Europe as a gemologist. Now located at 721 Lincoln in San Rafael, this spacious one-room (plus an outdoor patio) saloon is possibly more sports bar than actual dive, but it still made our list. Secret to the longevity? It could be that it’s the only legal gambling spot in Marin with a daily Texas hold ’em game or that the kitchen stays open until 1 a.m. or that there are 10 TVs constantly broadcasting sports games. However, most would agree it’s the warmth of the Pellolio family — patrons love to order Grandpa Pete’s Chicken Anselmo — that keep folks coming back for more.
WHAT THEY SAY
John Pellolio, owner
Is Pete’s 881 a dive bar? By definition, yes.
Your definition? Beer, booze, sports, pool table, darts, strong local clientele.
Define Pete’s 881? Patrons are like family. Great place to watch a game, have a cheap cocktail and enjoy great food.
DIVE BAR CHECKLIST
Games? Four poker tables, one pool table, two dart boards.
Celebrity photos? Yes, autographed Joe Montana, Mr. Miyagi and Seabiscuit.
TV is always on? Yes, all 10. PBR available? Yes, on tap.
Muddled cocktails? Only for old-fashioneds.
Fake fireplace? No.
Food is served in bags? No — chef on site.
Pete’s 881 T-shirts? Yes.
Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.