The Best Bars in Philadelphia

You’ll find great brew pubs, fine cocktail lounges, and corner locals in this City of Brotherly Love. Great hotel bars and hot rooftop spots offer great things to do in the evenings during your visit to Philly whether it’s in search of craft beer and comfort food or locally distilled spirits and tapas.

901 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, USA
Standard Tap in Northern Liberties has been pouring locally brewed craft beers since 1999, earning it the title of the first gastropub in Philly. Its large and comfortable corner location offers seating on the first two floors as well as on a roof-deck. Standard Tap’s drink and food menus change daily, and the kitchen works with regionally sourced ingredients when possible. This is the perfect destination for hops fans who enjoy trying small-batch and seasonal beers on draft. Standard Tap is also a very popular spot for weekend brunch, which is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
131 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
Dark and atmospheric, yet as cozy as any neighborhood bar, Charlie Was a Sinner offers up small plates and unique cocktails. Everything is vegan and delicious; even the pickiest meat eater would enjoy the creative meat-free sliders and the faux meatballs. A favorite of many locals, “Charlie Was” is often listed as one of Philly’s best eclectic restaurants. Happy hour is a great time to try featured menu items at a discounted price. Reservations are highly recommended. PS – You can ask, but nobody will reveal who Charlie is or what he (or she) did!
1840 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA
With a rooftop lounge, it’s all about the view. This intimate and elegant spot at the Logan Hotel on the Ben Franklin Parkway offers a deck with extraordinary vistas, as well as cozy indoor and outdoor seating and fire pits for when the nights get chilly. The menu features champagne by the bottle or glass, craft cocktails, and savory small bites. The lounge’s capacity is only about 200 people, so arrive early to avoid a line; on busy evenings, a waiting list will be maintained. Hours vary by season.
4120 Main St, Philadelphia, PA 19127, USA
Many places in Philadelphia have names derived from Native American words. Manayunk, Philly’s trendy riverfront neighborhood in the northwestern part of the city, literally means “where we go to drink”. Which is a good way to segue into this highlight... I’d recommend spending the day in Manayunk, especially in the warm weather months, when the outdoor cafes on Main Street are thriving and people watching is at its peak. But regardless of the season, the Manayunk Brewery is a worthwhile pit stop for great food and craft beer. Housed in an idyllic spot in a former textile mill along the Manayunk Canal, the restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating and some of the best craft beer in Philadelphia. The beer choices change with the seasons and can be purchased in cans or growlers to go. There is a diverse wine and cocktail menu for those who don’t drink beer. The brewery is currently expanding in order to increase its beer production; however, the restaurant will remain open.
1029 Race Street
There is much mystery surrounding Hop Sing Laundromat, an intimate take on the secret speakeasy. No sign marks the entrance, on Race Street in Philly’s Chinatown, only a locked gate and a doorbell. This craft cocktail lounge is brimming with dark atmosphere, wonderful music, and a menu of mind-bendingly creative libations. My drink of choice is the Hotel Nacional, a tropical tribute to the legendary hotel in Havana. Mixed with 15-year special reserve rum, apricot liqueur, fresh pineapple juice, and more, its sublime deliciousness quickly erases the list of ingredients from memory. Drinks range from $12 to $14, and some of the other creative concoctions include the Hemingway Daiquiri, Philly Colada, General Tso’s Chocolate Shake, Memphis Mystery Train, and Captain Kirk. This is not just a bar, it’s an experience, and worthwhile to sit at the bar and watch the talented bartenders in action. Key details to know in advance: bring ID and cash (no credit cards), and dress presentably (the dress code prohibits flip flops, sandals, sneakers, shorts, hats). Don’t arrive hungry, since no food or snacks are served. And be warned: the house rules do not allow chatting on cell phones or taking pictures. Those who violate the dress code will be turned away at the door and those who don’t follow the rules will be asked to leave. Good to know the rules in advance, because this is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. Open 5 pm to 2 am.
1214 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
Great pub, great food, and super-friendly atmosphere. What more could you ask for? You’ll find an extensive beer selection here, and an excellent menu featuring traditional pub fare. The fried dill pickles are a treat. Fergie’s hosts an open mic night on Mondays and often features traditional Irish music sessions.
264 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
Monk’s Cafe bills itself as “the soul of Belgium in the heart of Philadelphia.” My description of this neighborhood bar would be a crazy, packed joint that happens to offer the best beer selection around. In fact, the back bar has one of the best selections of Belgian beers on draught in the U.S. Those who feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options can use the famous “Beer Bible” to choose just the right brew. The food is also very good, and Monk’s has received dozens of “Best of Philly” awards, including the best fries in the city. I can attest that they truly are the best: They’re served with bourbon mayonnaise, the perfect accompaniment. In true Belgian fashion, the mussels are a popular item. The menu also has a few vegetarian options, including an excellent veggie burger.
1 Boathouse Row, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
Tucked in between Boathouse Row and the Fairmount Water Works, and just a short walk from the Art Museum, the Cosmic Cafe at Lloyd Hall is a great place to enjoy breakfast, which is served all day. The cafe also serves excellent coffee and baked goods, creative sandwiches and wraps, yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, and more. This is a wonderful spot to get an inexpensive meal and the cafe offers many options for vegetarians. The idyllic location on the river at Kelly Drive attracts bicyclists, joggers, rowers, and dog walkers. It’s open year-round, but the best time to visit is spring through fall, when the weather permits outdoor dining. This is one of my favorite spots for people watching. (Muscled men in spandex, oh my!)
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