From dives to neighborhood taverns to spiffy cocktail bars, Philadelphia has plenty of drinking options, whether you’re looking for a local beer or an inventive mix of liquors. Philly already knows the best dive bars, cocktail bars, margarita spots, rooftop and patio bars, beer gardens, sports bars, happy hours, and bars with alcohol-free cocktails. Now, here are the 22 essential Philadelphia bars — the tried and true for every occasion.Read More
18 Essential Philadelphia Bars
From dives to cocktail bars, here’s where to drink in Philly
R&D Cocktail Bar
Aaron Deary — who is also behind the drinks list at Suraya — runs the show at R&D Cocktail Bar, with excellent drinks specialist Resa Mueller behind the bar. Featuring a mid-century aesthetic and small bites on the food menu, the moody bar has a cocktail list that changes regularly, with themes like 1950s and tiki.
A Fishtown institution since 2005, Johnny Brenda’s leads the live music pack in showcasing independent bands. It’s home to several shows a day — upstairs and down — that feature local and visiting musicians. The kitchen is open late, so music fans can order burgers, salads, sandwiches, and snacks from the gastropub menu after the band’s done. When the weather’s nice, expect the patio to be bustling.
An Irish pub serving Italian food sounds like the set up to a joke, but no one is laughing at the menu at Murph’s Bar. Chef Francesco Bellastelli is sharing his Italian heritage with anyone who is craving a homemade lasagna with Bolognese or lobster ravioli in a blush sauce – as long as you can pay in cash. It’s a little startling how incredible the food can be at an eclectic dive bar, but it’s a match that can only be made in Philadelphia.
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The distillery behind popular craft gin Bluecoat (and a number of other boozy products) has a 13,000-square-foot home in an 1800s-era Fishtown warehouse. It’s open to the public not just for tours, but with a full bar, a patio, and a spacious lounge outfitted with leather furniture. Bartenders shake up and stir creative cocktails that feature Philadelphia Distilling’s signature spirits.
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Standard Tap in Northern Liberties takes being a local favorite seriously. It sources much of its menu from local farms and growers, and serves draft beers exclusively from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Plus, it’s got one of Philly’s best outdoor seating areas on the covered upper deck. Take a look at the chalkboards around the bar to see what’s for dinner.
Part bar, part restaurant, and part jazz club, South is a whole night out in one venue. Head to the farmhouse chic destination on North Broad Street for a bourbon punch in the bar/lounge or get tickets for a performance — the full food and drink menus are available in the jazz club too.
Hop Sing Laundromat
Put away the cell phone, please. This speakeasy has rules. Respect them for a chance to enjoy some of the city’s very best cocktails inside a candlelit spot national magazines have ranked among the greatest bars in the country. Legend has it owner Lê took a trip through 48 states, where he visited dozens of bars in search of the best one. Not finding it, he returned to Philly and opened his own.
When Stephen Starr is involved, one thing is pretty much guaranteed: There is going to be a concept. Swing around the corner from his lively Mexican restaurant El Rey and down an alley to find the speakeasy-style Ranstead Room. Inside the intimate spot, choose a drink from a focused menu that takes its cues from spirit-forward, classic cocktails, including throwbacks like smashes and flips.
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For wine lovers, a.bar is a destination. It was named a 2022 semi-finalist for James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine Program and The Rittenhouse bar is modern in both the decor and the menu, serving up innovative cocktails and featuring outstanding new organic and natural wines by winemakers making waves in the industry.
Friday Saturday Sunday
Follow bartender Paul MacDonald on Instagram to see what he’s mixing up behind the Friday Saturday Sunday bar. He’s always got something new that’s seasonal, tasty, and photogenic. Dinner service happens upstairs, but the light-filled downstairs is a cocktail and wine oasis — a place where spending a couple of hours at a white marble bar feels just right.
With its burlesque shows, DJs spinning vinyl downstairs, dance parties upstairs, and food served until midnight, Franky Bradley’s in the Gayborhood knows how to draw a crowd. The downstairs bar’s walls are covered in conversation-starting tchotchkes, sexy posters, and medieval paraphernalia. It’s got a ’70s basement feel — in a cool way. With the drink menu running the gamut from Bud to cava, everyone is covered.
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Monk's Cafe is the place for beer nerds in Philly. With 25 Belgian brews on tap and over 200 beers — often rare — in bottles, this always-buzzing spot is frequently recognized as one of the best beer bars nationwide. Monk’s is the OG: Founders Tom Peters and Fergus Carey opened it more than 20 years ago, before beer bars were cool. Grab one of the Beer Bibles and ask the bartender for ordering advice.
With its green walls full of art and tchotchkes, vintage furniture, candy on the tables, and punk-leaning crowd, Tattooed Mom has fit right into its neighborhood since it opened two decades ago. Beer offerings — in bottles and on tap — are plentiful and the food menu is full of delicious fried snacks and sandwiches, including a very good vegan selection. Cocktail-wise, try a pickletini.
Located above The Good King Tavern is a wine bar for folks who love to nerd out about wine. Le Caveau offers a wine list loaded with unique vintages and natural wines that pair well with their small but might snack menu featuring chips and roe as well as a daily selection of cheese and charcuterie. For an extra flavorful expedition for your taste buds, stop by on Tuesday nights for Night Class and try their monthly themed menu.
American Sardine Bar
The famed home of the $3 sardine sandwich, American Sardine Bar is a local favorite in Point Breeze. Its 16 taps and immense number of beers in cans change regularly, so there’s always something new. The picnic tables and lawn chairs in the backyard are a big draw, as is the ever-changing food menu, which is short but makes sure to include something to please everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.
Save a handful of hipsters and some quality vegan options, the new incarnation of Triangle Tavern, opened in 2015, isn't that much different than the 1930s version. Sit at the bar, surrounded by memorabilia-adorned walls, order off the list of negronis, and enjoy the crowd, which on most nights is a rare mix of old-timers and East Passyunk newcomers. If you’re hungry, you can order off the Italian menu at the bar or in the dining room.
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Burgers at a neighborhood bar just hit different. At Fountain Porter, burgers are simply patties topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion stacked on a sesame seed bun, but when paired with one of the nearly 20 draft beers they’ve got on tap and glasses of natural wine, it’s perfection. Best of all, the burgers are $6. Fountain Porter is a solid choice if you’re in the mood for a no-frills corner bar.
Middle Child Clubhouse
Like many of Philadelphia’s best bars, Middle Child Clubhouse is more than just a great list of beers, wines, and cocktails — it’s a very fun hangout spot with an eclectic dinner menu and extremely friendly serving staff. The cocktails just hit different, though. The menu is ever-changing and developed by cocktail impresario Brandon Thrash, and everything from seawater margaritas to classic negronis to seasonal special drinks will satisfy any imbiber.