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The lively bar at R&D.
R&D

15 Essential Philadelphia Bars

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

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The lively bar at R&D.
| R&D

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 15 essential Philadelphia bars — the tried and true for every occasion.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Friday Saturday Sunday

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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.

Ranstead Room

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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.

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.

Superfolie

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One of the newest bars in Rittenhouse is serving up rare wines in a sophisticated manner. Come to this fancy hole-in-a-wall for freezer martinis, white wine from Macedonia, and Victorine de Chastenay bubbly, and more memorable libations.

Monk's Cafe

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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.

Lou & Choos Lounge

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Hunting Park has been the home of this Black-owned bar for years. Lou & Choos is more than just a place to grab a beer or impressive $12 cocktails — it’s a diverse institution for fun, friends, and cheers.

Fountain Porter

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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.

Hop Sing Laundromat

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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.

Le Caveau

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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.

Tattooed Mom

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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.

Southwark

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This Queen Village mainstay has something for everyone at a bar that serves the most classic cocktails and imaginary libations simultaneously. With drinks called “chaos & Mondays,” “what do witches do,” and “get off your horse,” it’s not hard to imagine why both neighbors and tourists love this spot.

Middle Child Clubhouse

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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.

Philadelphia Distilling

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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.

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.

Johnny Brenda's

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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.

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.

Ranstead Room

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.

a.bar

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.

Superfolie

One of the newest bars in Rittenhouse is serving up rare wines in a sophisticated manner. Come to this fancy hole-in-a-wall for freezer martinis, white wine from Macedonia, and Victorine de Chastenay bubbly, and more memorable libations.

Monk's Cafe

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.

Lou & Choos Lounge

Hunting Park has been the home of this Black-owned bar for years. Lou & Choos is more than just a place to grab a beer or impressive $12 cocktails — it’s a diverse institution for fun, friends, and cheers.

Fountain Porter

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.

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.

Le Caveau

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.

Tattooed Mom

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.

Southwark

This Queen Village mainstay has something for everyone at a bar that serves the most classic cocktails and imaginary libations simultaneously. With drinks called “chaos & Mondays,” “what do witches do,” and “get off your horse,” it’s not hard to imagine why both neighbors and tourists love this spot.

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.

Philadelphia Distilling

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.

R&D

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.

Johnny Brenda's

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.

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