Best Bars in Philadelphia

Philly's Best Places to Grab a Drink and Feel the Brotherly Love

If your idea of nightlife includes hitting a bar for drinks and socializing, our Philadelphia guide is just what you want. Capitalizing on first-hand experience and extensive research, we've located the best bars in Philadelphia from a variety of neighborhoods for hanging out and kicking back. From long-lived mainstays such as Standard Tap to busy places like Johnny Brenda's 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! Settle in and take a look to see if that place you like to venture into with buddies is on here. Perhaps there's a new place nearby where you work, live, like to visit, or have friends that you'll want to put on your list of places to check out. No doubt Philadelphia has a lot of bars, and this is just a few of the good ones, but certainly ones that have made other city goers happy to return again and again. Whether you're happiest with standard beers, craft beer, cocktails, wine or a combination of these offerings, there's sure to be a hotspot that fits your needs.


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.

Recommended for Bars because: A hub of local talent, this Philadelphia haunt brings out the best in both drinks and talented musicians.

Sharon's expert tip: Popular (and enormous) Irish pub draws big crowds with its great live music, scrumptious eats and amazing selection of draught beer.

Read more about Khyber Pass →

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.

Recommended for Bars because: Like it s popular older sibling, Standard Tap, this great local venue really delivers on home grown food, beer and atmosphere.

Sharon's expert tip: Notice that the food is mainly locally-sourced here, as they have a lot of local pride in the neighborhood, and also feature local craft beers as well.

Read more about Johnny Brenda's →

Monk's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Jason Smith for GPTMC Visit Philly

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.

Recommended for Bars because: When they call it The Soul of Belgium in the Heart of Philadelphia, it's hard to turn this happening beer spot down.

Sharon's expert tip: Monk's bartenders are among the most knowledgeable in the business, and they expect patrons to have many, many questions about the leather-bound beer menu. As long as you don't make a pest of yourself, you should feel comfortable asking questions and asking for samples.

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A Bar
Photo courtesy of Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock

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.

Recommended for Bars because: This is a great place to linger should you favor a cocktail experience ever wine or beer, as A Bar really delivers in this area.

Sharon's expert tip: Not into wine? With an impressive draft and bottle list, plus a serious nod to whiskey, there's no reason to skip A. Bar.

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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.

Recommended for Bars because: When it comes to unique bar experiences, this place fits the bill in a fun and entertaining way.

Sharon's expert tip: Come here prepared to abide by the rules and have fun anyway.

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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.

Recommended for Bars because: When you can have wine, cheese and beer together in one great establishment, why would you not go there?

Sharon's expert tip: Sunday school was never as much fun as it is here, where Sunday School Tria-style means a deeply discounted wine, beer and cheese every Sunday.

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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.

Recommended for Bars because: Fun art and a great atmosphere make this a great place to hang with almost anyone.

Sharon's expert tip: Don't forget to check out the art work featured here for a revolving little gallery of talent.

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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.

Recommended for Bars because: An underground bar with a great reputation as being one of the best bars in town deserves a visit by anyone who's anyone.

Sharon's expert tip: Don't be offended if you're asked to wait outside until space clears: bouncers only allow in as many people as there are seats.

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The Twisted Tail
Photo courtesy of Zoonar/Thinkstock

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.

Recommended for Bars because: Coming here offers you the chance to sit at the wooden bar, or venture upstairs to enjoy great tunes. It's the best of everything.

Sharon's expert tip: If you're a whiskey or bourbon drinker, come here to sample their variety.

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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.

Recommended for Bars because: Standard Tap is anything but standard, serving not-so-typical pub fare and a huge number of local brews on tap.

Sharon's expert tip: When it comes to local beers, Standard features a variety on tap to make it easy to drink locally.

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Meet Sharon Nolan

Sharon is a native to the Philadelphia area, but loves to wander from its familiar borders. She has traveled to more than 30 countries, trekked five continents, ventured out with family,...  More About Sharon