Bars and Brews in the City of Brotherly Love
This year St. Patrick's Day happens to fall on a Sunday which means I will be avoiding any and all bars tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday. I should have remembered this past weekend as I was assaulted with green and white striped leg warmers and goofy leprechaun top hats. To be honest, that whole scene is not for me; I prefer the calm everyday that you get at most local bar scenes. Thankfully, most days of the year I'm able to enjoy a nice drink without bouncers and green beers. Another thing I'm thankful for is living near a city that has a great and varied bar scene along with some awesome breweries. Philadelphia always has something fun going on, even if you don't like to drink, but if you do and you don't turn your nose up to some hops, there's a lot of be said for Philly's beer scene. I mean, come on, it has it's own beer week! If you happen to live around here or planning a visit, here are a few of my recommendations for bars and breweries, good on St. Patty's day or all year 'round.
If you want to visit a brewery...Yards Brewing Company. Yards is the quintessential Philadelphia brewery and according to the people of Philadelphia, their Philly Pale Ale is the best beer around town. Located in an old factory on the Delaware river waterfront, it's a small but awesome operation by beer lovers and you can really tell that on their tour. After a tour (accompanied by a few complimentary samples), spend some time hanging out in their bright and lively bar area. I love their big bar that is made out of a recycled bowling lane. Grab a cheap flight of beers if you're not sure what to get or sip one of their Ales of the Revolution, brews based on recipes perfected by the founding fathers. Watch out too for some stellar seasonal and limited release beers. If you're looking for another authentic Philly brewery to visit post-Yards, check out Philadelphia Brewing Company for a tour and free samples.
If you want to hang out in a beer garden...Frankford Hall. Tickets to Germany for Oktoberfest are super expensive so it works out that there's a German-style beer garden right in Philadelphia. Frankford Hall is located in Philly's Fishtown neighborhood in a reclaimed garage with an indoor industrial space and outdoor enclosed space complete with long tables and two fire pits. It's a perfect hang out for any season, though it's been getting more and more crowded lately. Beers are served in big glass steins along with traditional sausages, sauerkraut, and soft pretzels. But if you're not into German fare, they have other great options for vegetarians, burger lovers, and, well, anybody and everybody. There's a casual atmosphere with a dash of party and you can't beat the make-your-own smore packs, so delicious!
If you want the neighborhood experience...Memphis Taproom. Also located in Fishtown, Memphis Taproom is a hidden gem, tucked back down a neighborhood street right on the corner. It may have been featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives but it's got all the authentic Philly neighborhood goodness. It's tight inside but when the weather warms up, they open up the side lot, back a gourmet hot dog truck into the space and ply you with beers in a can (which are awesome by the way). All year they have great craft brews and down home delicious bar food, so it's a no-brainer to navigate the one way streets all the way to Memphis Taproom. Another great neighborhood bar with a deceptive dive feel is Good Dog Bar, which, though located in the upscale Rittenhouse area, has interesting beer and some of the most delicious food in the city.
If you want a bar with just the right amount of Philly hipster...North Third. You gotta love a Philly hipster but trying to hang with them can be intimidating, despite the fact that they almost always hang out at the coolest places. North Third, which has its home on a corner in the hipster-y Northern Liberties section, has a little bit of hipster flavor without a lot of intimidation. I love how funky it is inside, with a huge papier mache eagle swooping down at you and a whole back room decked out in scantily clad women. Despite the funk, it is not lacking in the food or beer areas at all, plus it has a stellar drinks menu. It's a fun place to scoot up to one of the two short bars or grab a seat and pretend you know who Sleigh Bells is while swaying along to the Black Keys.
If you want a margarita along with your beer...Cantina Los Caballitos. If you're going to hang on a street with some of the coolest bars around, check out East Passyunk Ave down in the South Philly. From P.O.P.E with its dark pub interior to Stateside with its long black bar and windows open to the street, there's a little bit of everything down there. But the place I really like to hang is Cantina Los Caballitos. Not only do they rock it at the authentic Mexican tequila and margarita thing, they also pull some stellar taps. While you're chowing down on a baby-sized burrito, everyone can enjoy their favorite type of drink. While the inside is pretty cool, when the weather warms up you can hang outside and do some people-watching along the avenue.
This is a pretty small list when it comes down to the great beer scene that is Philadelphia. I can't say it enough, get out there, it's a great city!