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An old fashioned at R&D Cocktail Bar in Fishtown
Stephen Recchia

22 Essential Philadelphia Bars

From dives to cocktail bars, here’s where to drink in Philly

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An old fashioned at R&D Cocktail Bar in Fishtown
| Stephen Recchia

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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Frankford Hall

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1210 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 634-3338
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Walking into Frankford Hall in Fishtown feels like walking into a party — a party with liters of German drafts, ping-pong tables, and fire pits under string lights. Picnic tables, both inside and outdoors, make it a perfect spot for groups. Split a Bavarian pretzel with cheese dip or get a full meal from the menu of sausages, burgers, and schnitzel.

2. R&D Cocktail Bar

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1206 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 515-3452
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Aaron Deary — who is also behind the drinks list at Suraya — runs the show at R&D Cocktail Bar (formerly Root). 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.

Stephen Recchia

3. Johnny Brenda's

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1201 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 739-9684
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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.

Johnny Brenda’s [official]

4. Philadelphia Distilling

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25 E Allen St
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 671-0346
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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.

5. Standard Tap

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901 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 238-0630
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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.

Standard Tap [official]

6. South

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600 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

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.

7. The Trestle Inn

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339 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA
(267) 239-0290
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Set in a space that’s been serving drinks to working folk and travelers for over 100 years, Trestle Inn is a place for a good time. It’s Philly’s only spot with go go dancers shimmying and shaking every weekend. On the turntable, DJs spin vinyl soul, funk and disco from the ’60s and ’70s. The bar is known for its classic whiskey sour — plus a bunch more cocktails, 70-plus whiskeys, and rotating craft beers. Along with a generous 5-8 p.m. happy hour Wednesday-Saturday, get there for late-night drink specials at 10 p.m.

8. Hop Sing Laundromat

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1029 Race St
Philadelphia, PA

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.

Robert Neroni

9. Fiume

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229 S 45th St
Philadelphia, PA

This thimble-sized dive manages to be both totally unexpected and perfectly situated in its little nook upstairs from the laid-back Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia in West Philly. It has a much, much bigger — and more interesting — beer selection than a bar of its size should be able to handle, plus an impressive whiskey list.

 

10. Ranstead Room

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2013 Ranstead St
Philadelphia, PA
(267) 475-4812

When Stephen Starr is involved, one thing is pretty much guaranteed: Everything is going to be on theme. 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. Expect a wait to get in. When all the seats are filled, the host will take down your name and text you when something opens up.

11. The Franklin Bar

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112 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA
(267) 467-3277
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Craft cocktails are the name of the game at the Franklin Bar, also known as Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company. A Prohibition-era bootlegging operation provides the name and inspiration for this bi-level, half-subterranean, speakeasy-style spot just off Rittenhouse Square. Downstairs is dimly lit; upstairs has a tiki theme.

12. McGillin's Olde Ale House

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1310 Drury St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 735-5562
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Philly’s oldest continuously operating tavern has been going strong since 1860. Open from lunchtime until late night, McGillin’s welcomes all comers looking for a bite, a beer, and a good time. No holiday goes unnoticed here: In addition to the what have become the standard drinking celebrations (Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, Mardi Gras), the tavern celebrates Flag Day (with a red, white, and blue cocktail), Bloomsday (with an annual reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses), and Tax Day (with $2 beers). It’s also great spot to meet a special someone. The bar has played a role in so many relationships that the owners keep a guest book of every happy couple who met or had a first date there.

13. Friday Saturday Sunday

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261 S 21st St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 546-4232
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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.

14. Good Dog Bar

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224 S 15th St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 985-9600
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Center City staple Good Dog always feels welcoming, with multiple levels for grabbing a seat, ordering a local beer, and digging into the house burger, which is stuffed with roquefort cheese and piled with caramelized onions.

15. Barclay Prime

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237 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 732-7564
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With one of Philly’s best happy hours and a location on Rittenhouse Square, Barclay Prime attracts a swanky crowd from early to late. The restaurant is an occasion spot, serving some of the best steaks in the city. But there’s no need to be craving a wagyu ribeye to head here: The classy front bar, with its leather arm chairs, dark wood paneling, and black-and-white checked floor, is perfect for sipping a Manhattan or glass of wine.

16. Franky Bradley's

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1320 Chancellor St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 735-0735
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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.

17. Knock Restaurant & Bar

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225 S 12th St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 925-1166
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Knock isn’t just one of Philly’s best LGBTQ bars, it’s one of the best bars in town. The drink menu is full of classy cocktails, high-end whiskeys, and after-dinner sipping liqueurs. Hang out in the bar area, enjoy dinner from the large menu at intimate tables, and then croon along in the piano lounge until closing time.

Knock [official]

18. Monk's Cafe

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264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 545-7005
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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 (also the owner of Fergie’s, another Center City institution) 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. When it comes to food, go for the mussels, which have beer in the broth.

19. Bob & Barbara's Cocktail Lounge

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1509 South St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 545-4511
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As the story goes, South Street dive Bob & Barbara’s invented that ubiquitous Philly combo called the Citywide, the Citywide Special, or simply the Special back in 1994, when the bar began selling a shot and a beer for $3. Now you can order a Citywide at dozens of local watering holes, but it’s worth heading here to throw back the original in a bar that hasn’t changed much since 1969. Today it’s also known for having some of the city’s best drag shows.

20. Tattooed Mom

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530 South St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 238-9880
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South Street is weird, but fun. 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 inexpensive fried snacks and sandwiches, including a very good vegan selection. Cocktail-wise, try a pickletini.

Tattooed Mom [official]

21. American Sardine Bar

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1800 Federal St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 334-2337
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The famed home of the $2 sardine sandwich, American Sardine Bar is a local favorite in Point Breeze. Its 16 taps and 50-plus 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.

22. Triangle Tavern

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1338 S 10th St
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 800-1992
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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.

1. Frankford Hall

1210 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA

Walking into Frankford Hall in Fishtown feels like walking into a party — a party with liters of German drafts, ping-pong tables, and fire pits under string lights. Picnic tables, both inside and outdoors, make it a perfect spot for groups. Split a Bavarian pretzel with cheese dip or get a full meal from the menu of sausages, burgers, and schnitzel.

1210 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA

2. R&D Cocktail Bar

1206 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
Stephen Recchia

Aaron Deary — who is also behind the drinks list at Suraya — runs the show at R&D Cocktail Bar (formerly Root). 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.

1206 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125

3. Johnny Brenda's

1201 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Johnny Brenda’s [official]

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.

1201 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA

4. Philadelphia Distilling

25 E Allen St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

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.

25 E Allen St
Philadelphia, PA 19123

5. Standard Tap

901 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA
Standard Tap [official]

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.

901 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA

6. South

600 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19130

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.

600 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

7. The Trestle Inn

339 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA

Set in a space that’s been serving drinks to working folk and travelers for over 100 years, Trestle Inn is a place for a good time. It’s Philly’s only spot with go go dancers shimmying and shaking every weekend. On the turntable, DJs spin vinyl soul, funk and disco from the ’60s and ’70s. The bar is known for its classic whiskey sour — plus a bunch more cocktails, 70-plus whiskeys, and rotating craft beers. Along with a generous 5-8 p.m. happy hour Wednesday-Saturday, get there for late-night drink specials at 10 p.m.

339 N 11th St
Philadelphia, PA

8. Hop Sing Laundromat

1029 Race St, Philadelphia, PA
Robert Neroni

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.

1029 Race St
Philadelphia, PA

9. Fiume

229 S 45th St, Philadelphia, PA

This thimble-sized dive manages to be both totally unexpected and perfectly situated in its little nook upstairs from the laid-back Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia in West Philly. It has a much, much bigger — and more interesting — beer selection than a bar of its size should be able to handle, plus an impressive whiskey list.

 

229 S 45th St
Philadelphia, PA

10. Ranstead Room

2013 Ranstead St, Philadelphia, PA

When Stephen Starr is involved, one thing is pretty much guaranteed: Everything is going to be on theme. 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. Expect a wait to get in. When all the seats are filled, the host will take down your name and text you when something opens up.

2013 Ranstead St
Philadelphia, PA

11. The Franklin Bar

112 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA

Craft cocktails are the name of the game at the Franklin Bar, also known as Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company. A Prohibition-era bootlegging operation provides the name and inspiration for this bi-level, half-subterranean, speakeasy-style spot just off Rittenhouse Square. Downstairs is dimly lit; upstairs has a tiki theme.

112 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA

12. McGillin's Olde Ale House

1310 Drury St, Philadelphia, PA

Philly’s oldest continuously operating tavern has been going strong since 1860. Open from lunchtime until late night, McGillin’s welcomes all comers looking for a bite, a beer, and a good time. No holiday goes unnoticed here: In addition to the what have become the standard drinking celebrations (Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, Mardi Gras), the tavern celebrates Flag Day (with a red, white, and blue cocktail), Bloomsday (with an annual reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses), and Tax Day (with $2 beers). It’s also great spot to meet a special someone. The bar has played a role in so many relationships that the owners keep a guest book of every happy couple who met or had a first date there.

1310 Drury St
Philadelphia, PA

13. Friday Saturday Sunday

261 S 21st St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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.

261 S 21st St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

14. Good Dog Bar

224 S 15th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Center City staple Good Dog always feels welcoming, with multiple levels for grabbing a seat, ordering a local beer, and digging into the house burger, which is stuffed with roquefort cheese and piled with caramelized onions.

224 S 15th St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

15. Barclay Prime

237 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA

With one of Philly’s best happy hours and a location on Rittenhouse Square, Barclay Prime attracts a swanky crowd from early to late. The restaurant is an occasion spot, serving some of the best steaks in the city. But there’s no need to be craving a wagyu ribeye to head here: The classy front bar, with its leather arm chairs, dark wood paneling, and black-and-white checked floor, is perfect for sipping a Manhattan or glass of wine.

237 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA

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16. Franky Bradley's

1320 Chancellor St, Philadelphia, PA

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.

1320 Chancellor St
Philadelphia, PA

17. Knock Restaurant & Bar

225 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA
Knock [official]

Knock isn’t just one of Philly’s best LGBTQ bars, it’s one of the best bars in town. The drink menu is full of classy cocktails, high-end whiskeys, and after-dinner sipping liqueurs. Hang out in the bar area, enjoy dinner from the large menu at intimate tables, and then croon along in the piano lounge until closing time.

225 S 12th St
Philadelphia, PA

18. Monk's Cafe

264 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA

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 (also the owner of Fergie’s, another Center City institution) 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. When it comes to food, go for the mussels, which have beer in the broth.

264 S 16th St
Philadelphia, PA

19. Bob & Barbara's Cocktail Lounge

1509 South St, Philadelphia, PA

As the story goes, South Street dive Bob & Barbara’s invented that ubiquitous Philly combo called the Citywide, the Citywide Special, or simply the Special back in 1994, when the bar began selling a shot and a beer for $3. Now you can order a Citywide at dozens of local watering holes, but it’s worth heading here to throw back the original in a bar that hasn’t changed much since 1969. Today it’s also known for having some of the city’s best drag shows.

1509 South St
Philadelphia, PA

20. Tattooed Mom

530 South St, Philadelphia, PA
Tattooed Mom [official]

South Street is weird, but fun. 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 inexpensive fried snacks and sandwiches, including a very good vegan selection. Cocktail-wise, try a pickletini.

530 South St
Philadelphia, PA

21. American Sardine Bar

1800 Federal St, Philadelphia, PA

The famed home of the $2 sardine sandwich, American Sardine Bar is a local favorite in Point Breeze. Its 16 taps and 50-plus 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.

1800 Federal St
Philadelphia, PA

22. Triangle Tavern

1338 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA

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.

1338 S 10th St
Philadelphia, PA

Related Maps