PHLGuide

The Most Fun Bars In Philly Right Now

More than bar peanuts, sugary cocktails, and awkward silence.
This is a food spread from Royal Tavern.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

When you want to have one of those nights out, a bar with the energy of a library just isn't going to cut it. You need somewhere that feels alive—somewhere you can sit with friends for hours, possibly order a Jell-O shot, or do an air guitar riff while rare records spin. These are our picks for fun drinking spots in Philly right now, from non-pretentious wine bars to crowded neighborhood hangs and dives where you can marathon through Long Island Iced Teas with someone who accepts your chaos.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: GAB BONGHI

Bar

Old City

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good CocktailsDrinking Good WineWalk-Ins
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48 Record Bar is a cocktail bar and vinyl listening room that just opened above Sassafras in Old City. The two spots are run by the same team, but the experiences feel distinct. Downstairs, you’ll find people drinking penicillins and flirting like their midlife crises depend on it. Upstairs is like a friend’s swanky house party. Everyone's lounging on a velvet couch near a fireplace and listening to Wu-Tang Clan or Lou Reed. Come see what they have playing and drink a well-made cocktail (we like the Bond Girl and Red Ink).

This Fishtown spot makes good cocktails without taking itself too seriously (no pyrotechnics, no speakeasy rules). Come with a date or a few friends and drink a banana daiquiri or a penicillin good enough to chug like water. They're open late so you can stop by after dinner in the neighborhood or make Next Of Kin your new 1am destination. They have velvet skull designs in the bathroom, but don't think about it too hard.

photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

We didn't expect to have this much fun at an Olde Richmond tavern serving turkey clubs and Guinness. But we were hooked after trying to guess the mystery wine and talking to a stranger about who would be on a hypothetical cheesesteak Mount Rushmore. Meetinghouse feels like a true neighborhood spot. People gossip at the bar, the team works with a brewery in New Jersey to make their beer, and the food leans simple, British, and very good. Even if you don't live nearby, get here on a Saturday night and leave in a great mood.

If aliens arrived in Philly and needed to make a copy of a dive bar to send out into the universe, we’d submit Oscars. You’re not coming to this Center City spot to drink the best cocktails in Philly or to even think highly of yourself. You’re coming here as soon as exes start calling or after sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-76. The bar and booths will be full of regulars who haven't left their seats since Ed Rendell's mayoral term, or maybe a tourist couple who looked up “Philly dive bars.” Bring cash and order one of their famous, potent Long Island Iced Teas.

Anyone who likes good cocktails, a noisy scene, and Japanese food either already knows about Royal's bar or should visit immediately. It's usually as packed as PennDOT, and you might overhear someone talking about a celebrity hookup while Dragon Ball Z is projected on the wall. In addition to the menu of smart, interesting drinks, this Queen Village restaurant has one of the largest sake collections in the city. Order something from their "unique" section to celebrate the three emails you sent today or have a frozen Tokyo Mule-induced fantasy about quitting and never sending one again.

Poison Heart's opening was a necessary addition to the Philly experience, like seeing the Boner 4ever building or watching the musicians outside of RTM. This is officially the best place to get a drink after a show on Spring Garden. It feels like an '80s pop-punk band got a hold of a dark room and filled it with glowing neon lights, rum cocktails, and free, herbs de Provence-covered popcorn.

Le Caveau is the wine bar you wish existed on your block: the staff knows their sh*t, glasses never stay empty for long, and the room is busy without rattling your eardrums. To get in, look for the door next to their sister spot The Good King Tavern on 7th and Kater, and walk up a flight of stairs. Expect a (primarily) natural wine list that highlights (primarily) French producers. They also stuff a wiener and some mustard in a hollowed-out baguette and call it a French hot dog. Get one.

Philadelphia may be the birthplace of America, and Silicon Valley may be the birthplace of technology that’s stripped us of our last bits of personal privacy. But, maybe more importantly, this South Street dive is the birthplace of the Citywide. It won't be obvious what year it is inside, what with the metal Blue Ribbon signs, painted glass lamps, and black leather stools. Just in case $6 drinks don't sell you on the place, the live music and Thursday night drag shows will.

The first-floor bar at Friday Saturday Sunday has a magnetic energy. It's fancy with globe lights and marble everything, but never stiff. And if you’re like us, you’ll run into an uncle you haven’t seen in a decade and he'll be carrying $600 in cash. The drinks will impress even your friend who’s reached their craft cocktail limit in life. (We always order the Assassin’s Handbook, which combines averna, Jamaican rum, cognac, spicy habaero, and a mulled wine shrub.) There might be a wait for a seat, but stick around by the bar rail and you'll eventually win the game of Rittenhouse musical chairs.

Solar Myth on South Broad feels like a wine bar met a venue, and lived happily ever after with their vinyl shop baby. During the day, you can come with a laptop for coffee and tomato pie from Mighty Bread Co. Then, at night, the vinyl gets cranked up and groups of friends split nice bottles of cinsault. Come at midnight and there's a chance you'll see two people making out on a banquette in the corner. Solar Myth also has regularly scheduled experimental jazz shows, which require tickets.

Philly has its share of neon-lit spots trying to be cool. And then there’s Grace and Proper in Bella Vista, a Portuguese-ish corner bar with paint-chipped ceilings, chalkboard menus, and a space so tiny that it feels like everyone inside is sharing one mega conversation. You're bound to graze elbows with a stranger or someone you haven’t seen in years. That tightness, plus the cava and piles of potato chips with salami draped on top, makes Grace and Proper fun. The later you drop by, the rowdier the crowd gets.

At the reopened version of this Queen Village standby, old regulars mix with new ones. A classic movie might be playing on one TV and a Sixers game on the other. The kitchen, which closes at 1am, is a saving grace for anyone who deserves more than a Wawa hoagie after midnight. There’s a long draft and wine list, dim lighting, reliably good wings and a spicy burger. Spend a couple of hours here when you're hungry and don't want to go home yet.

The first thing to know about this Italian social club in East Passyunk is that you need a membership to get inside. And if you don't have one of those, you can either glom onto a friend who does or try emailing the team to ask how to procure one. Picture a Catholic uncle's basement from the 1950s where South Philly elders talk about their stressful nephews—except with thoughtfully made drinks and food. There's a slightly salty espresso martini made with brown butter-washed amaro, and a spaghetti and blue crab dish we're constantly chasing. Also, Palizzi can stay open until 3am because they're licensed as a private club.

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