Our ten best places in Philly to grab a pint and feel the brotherly love.
By Tara Nurin
If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, then our Philadelphia guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Philadelphia for hanging out and kicking back in. From long-lived mainstays like Standard Tap to busy places like North 3rd Bar & Restaurant that get lots of 10Best reader approval, we present the top bars in town and offer details about them all. What's the energy like? How do the bartenders pour? Are most bars located in the Center City area? No fear - we share all the facts!
10 Brauhaus Schmitz
The expansion of this almost authentic German bier hall couldn't have come sooner. With its dirndl-clad servers, rare German beers, and a nearly constant rotation of soccer games on the TV, the once-narrow space was too small to accommodate its crowds starting from day one. Brauhaus was the first in a wave of bier halls and gardens to open in the modern era, and it stands out in part because of acclaimed Chef Jeremy Nolen's full German menu and the owners' true passion for bringing the spirit of the Fatherland to Philadelphia. (267.909.8814)
9 A Bar
A 2013 addition to the lauded A. Kitchen, this understated and sunny wine bar provides a more spacious space to suck down $1.50 oysters and boutique wines. The wines, poured in 3 or 5 ounce servings, focus on minerally whites and sherries that pair with the seafood and small plates coming out of the kitchen. The interior, designed by New York architect Edward Asfour, combines warm natural woods with clean lines and floor-to-ceiling windows. (215.825.7030)
8 Local 44
The third property brought to once remote pockets of the city by the power beer-bar duo Brendan Hartranft and Leigh Maida, this one -- located in West Philadelphia -- wins a spot on this list for two reasons: the annual Russian River brunch in June and the finely curated bottle shop the couple owns next door. Conducting all of their business with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and an insistence on hiring only the best people to serve only the best beers, Hartranft and Maida pour from 18 taps and two beer engines and cook comfort food that pairs well with their libations. ((215) 222-2337)
7 Pub on Passyunk East
There's hardly any air conditioning and the small windows look like they haven't been cleaned in years, yet the P.O.P.E., as the locals call it, still draws some of the most discerning beer bar patrons in the city. One of the first bars to pour craft beer in South Philly, it continues to distinguish itself with 14 rotating taps gushing forth rarities from the likes of Russian River, Bell's and Avery. (215-755-5125)
6 Standard Tap
On the corner of 2nd and Poplar stands the Standard Tap, the tavern that essentially brought craft beer to Philadelphia and literally coined the term "gastropub." The Northern Liberties neighborhood gentrified around the Tap, with hipsters and laid-back parents bringing their dogs and kids for mussels, one of the best burgers in the city, and an all-local, all-draft beer list. Owner Will Reed, who's a fixture in the local beer scene, has renovated the upstairs seating area, all the better to keep serving locally sourced dishes. (215-238-0630)
A perfect fit for Rittenhouse Square, this snazzy cafe has just the right touches of big city panache to appeal to trend-conscious folks who like their beverages served by meticulously trained staff who can recite the finer points of every item on the menu. Tria caters to these sophisticated palates by specializing in a unique array of artisanal beers, cheeses, and wines -- the so-called "Fermentation Trio." And while the attitude of the place is quite laid back and not at all pretentious (the dress code simply states, "Come as you are ... if you are wearing a shirt and shoes"), you'll feel a bit out of place if you don't dress up just a little. While there are now two other Trias in the city, this is the original, and in our opinion, the classic. (215-972-8742, 215-972-5585)
4 The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co
From the moment you approach the black door of this literally underground establishment, you get the feeling that you're entering the private lair of a 1920s starlet or politician, where alcohol flowed secretly out of sight of enforcement agents. Taking its name from the largest Prohibition-era alcohol ring in the country, The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is everything you want it to be: hushed, dark, elegant, low-ceilinged, exclusively pricey and captained by some of the most decorated cocktail creators in the business. The narrow space features classic cocktails and modern interpretations thereof, a handful of conversation tables and just enough seating to accommodate people who know people. (267-467-3277)
3 1 Tippling Place
More like a parlour or the living room in a slightly eccentric rich person's house, 1 Tippling Place is the bar you wish your grandparents had in their basement. This isn't to say that it's stuffy. Au contraire. Bartenders here mix up some of the most innovative, fresh and labor-intensive cocktails in the city, and if you're not in the mood to sip quietly on a plush banquette, you can sit in the intimate -- and more traditional-looking -- bar area with all the other youngsters. ((215) 665-0456)
2 Monk's Cafe
An oldie but a goodie. While dozens of newer craft-beer bars have opened since this one, you can't argue with a destination that's still considered the beer mecca of Philadelphia. Called "One of the Top Ten Places to Drink a Beer Before You Die" by All About Beer magazine, Monk's pours several hundred of the world's best beers and almost single-handedly originated the Belgian beer craze in America. If you can tear yourself away from the beer, there's also food: European dishes cooked in beer, eight different preparations of mussels and seven burger topping combinations, each named after something related to Belgium. (215-545-7005)
1 The Farmer's Cabinet
Candle-lit, deeply wooded and retro-funky, this Rittenhouse Square staple has something for everyone. Between its serious fresh-cocktail bar, a separate bar pouring some of the rarest craft European beers around, and its dedication to local and sustainable peasant-style food, there's little reason to venture outside. Ever. In the dining room, long communal tables invite discourse between strangers. In the beer bar, barrels masquerade as high-top tables, and in the vintage-y private room, speakers play the guitar while regaling students with personal stories of the rise and fall and rise again of the nation's fascination with the mixed drink. ((215) 923-1113)
About Tara Nurin
Tara Nurin is a veteran freelance journalist based just outside Philadelphia. The former TV reporter specializes in craft beer, dining and destination coverage and writes regularly about her three passions -- Philly, food, drink -- for local and national pubs. Tara, who grew up speaking Spanish and French, spent childhood holidays on a Puerto Rican beach and bummed around Paris for her junior year of college. She’s lived in more than a dozen American cities and still travels globally in search of a plate of local food, an artisanal beer and a hearty laugh with the countrymen.
Read more about Tara Nurin here.