Stale, contaminated nuts and pretzels served in a culture dish are standard fare in most bars.
But some establishments across the country aren't only taking their countertop cuisine to new levels -- bomboloni, gougères, croque monsieur! -- they've decided to give it patrons on the house.
Gratis bar food may be a dying tradition in some quarters, but we found a number of joints that don't care about cost or mess, opting to dry your whistle before they wet it. Here are ten of the finest, for starters. Serve us up your own favorites.
1. Crunch-fried hominy
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, Miami
While fried chicken is the star at this James Beard-recognized Southern indulgery, the crunch-fried hominy is the snack that keeps drinkers sated, free of charge.
Chef Jeff McInnis provides a menu packed with other cuisine beloved by ladies and gents who are more than picky when it comes to Southern food.
1600 Lenox Ave.; 305-538-5220; www.runchickenrun.com
No. 9 Park, Boston
If you haven't tried a gougères, yet -- a baked savory choux pastry of dough and
cheese -- it's time you started.
You can test your taste buds for free at No. 9 Park in Boston They're so good you'd gladly pay for them -- except you don't have to.
9 Park St.; 617-742-9991; www.no9park.com
Cucina di Pesce, New York
Free nuts and popcorn tell you you're in a dive bar, but free mussels? That's classy.
Cucina di Pesce has been serving them up with the purchase of a beverage for more than 20 years, and with restaurants suspending their free-food deals left and right, those mussels taste all the sweeter. (Well, saltier. You know what we mean.)
87 E. Fourth St.; 212-260-6800; www.cucinadipesce.com
4. Truffle arancini
Dovetail, New York
Guests at Dovetail's bar are served a complimentary snack trio consisting of a truffle arancini, a whole wheat rosemary cracker and house-made white cheddar cornbread. Dainty and delicious, it's served on a wooden cheese board from chef John Fraser.
103 West 77th St.; 212-362-3800; www.dovetailnyc.com
5. Bomboloni with vanilla ice cream, pasta, mortadella focaccia
SD26, New York