Named after the legendary geographical feature in the Hindu Kush Mountains, this Old City music venue isn't for the faint of heart. Punk and indy acts with names like Oppenheimer, Nashville Pussy, Human Television and Iggy Pop take over the downstairs stage each week, cranking their amps to full volume and whipping into a frenzy the 20-somethings who pack the dark listening room. Upstairs, DJs spin everything from hip-hop to Britrock until well past the witching hour. Sip the beverage that suits your taste, linger and visit with friends for a bit, and enjoy the musical acts that grace the stage here, all worth checking out.
Johnny Brenda's wears many hats. It is at once a bar, restaurant and, most importantly, a showcase for local musical talent. A world-class sound system and a balcony overlooking the stage makes playing at this venue a must for burgeoning indie bands. Johnny Brenda's has played host to the likes of the Walkmen, Tokyo Police Club and Thurston Moore and is constantly putting on shows. Be sure to stop by early to sample some of the surprisingly flavorful dishes whipped up by the kitchen. Concert goers also should be aware that ticket purchases are cash-only and must be made at the bar.
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.
This bar was a 2013 addition to the lauded A. Kitchen. It's an understated and sunny wine bar that 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. Not cheap, the experience is instead a deliverance from the ordinary, with cocktails that take matters a step above the mainstream, watered-down, hum-drum usuals. Up your game with a trip to A Bar.
Hop Sing Laundromat is a bar. It's not meant for everyone to find it, and it's aim is not to be like every other bar. Come knock at the nondescript front door located in the Chinatown section of the city, and prepare to be judged on your appearance and bar-worthiness. You won't want to come in shorts or flip-flops. Dress like you care. Once inside they make a production of letting you know the rules to stay. Don't talk on your phone, don't cause a ruckus, don't bring a group of loudmouths, and don't make noise after you leave so that you wake the neighbors. The place is cash-only, and is mighty enjoyable with the benefit of these great rules. Grab a delicious cocktail and settle in.
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.
Art Bar is located in the Sonesta Hotel and features work by local artists that changes periodically. Live music ups the entertainment factor, and seating is communal with window views for visual stimulation and conversational opportunities. As far as food choices, you have a selection of small plates options, including such gems as lobster mac 'n' cheese or crab cakes. Visit here during happy hour, Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. 7 p.m. for discounts on beer and wine. Art Bar's decor pops with bold colors and modern furnishings. Their rotating art displays keep the bar looking fresh and edgy, while supporting local artistry. Patrons can stop in for a drink, have an appetizer, enjoy some conversation with friends or coworkers, take in some area art or just simply unwind and relax. The vibe here is warm and friendly, and you'll almost always find it bustling with neighborly chatter.
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.
The Twisted Tail is located in Philadelphia's historic Society Hill neighborhood and serves up Southern comfort food, lots of bourbon and live music, too. Inspired by the Juke Joints of yore, today's blues lovers can enjoy an amazing meal, conversation and tunes at this much-loved Philly establishment. The Twisted Tail is a charcoal bistro, serving up all kinds of southern palate pleasers, from appetizers to entrees to desserts. Beverages also feature beer, housemade infused spirits, cocktails, and of course, bourbon. Happy hour specials are worth checking out, as is the incredible musical talent that walks in and out of these doors.
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. Tap into the great local beer flavors of the city through their many offerings on tap, and see why this hotspot offers up a great experience year after year.