In order to help you figure out which new restaurants are worth going to, we created The Hit List, our guide to recently-opened spots that are actually worth your time and money. As always, we made our way through the city and ate, drank, and couldn’t wait to tell you why we love them.
And now, we’re doing the same thing for bars. After drinking at some of Philadelphia's newest spots, we’ve made a list of wine bars, breweries, and casual bars where you should grab a drink.
Inside The Mulberry, a cozy pub on Arch Street, you’ll find a bit of everything. They have a William Penn sketch hanging up, Ben Franklin chewing bubble gum on the wallpapers, and even a few paintings that could belong in the colonial gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You’re not coming here to look at throwback watercolors, though. During Happy Hour (4-6pm), you can sip on $5 beers and $8 wines and sit behind one of their two fireplaces while you decide between which sauce to drench your smoked wings with (go cilantro lime-habanero). They also have a long 26-seat bar, plenty of seating, and a menu that includes some things like Thai coconut mussels, juicy burgers, pizzas, and large racks of lamb that you can split with friends.
Other Half Brewing Co.
Fishtown’s Other Half Brewing Co., which is where Goose Island Brewery used to be before they closed, has a large 150-seat taproom, a u-shaped bar, and a massive yard where you’ll probably see people playing a round of super-sized Jenga on a summer day. The menu includes a few things like curry cauliflower, wings, pizzas, and pulled pork sandwiches that are great when your group of friends wants to kick back in the easygoing space with a few drinks. While we couldn’t tell you everything that goes into making a good beer, we’re happy to watch the magic happen while biting into a cheesy burger and watching the Eagles score touchdowns on the TV.
Blind Barber already exists in a bunch of other cities, but this is the first location in Philly. The Center City spot is a barbershop during the day, but turns into a speakeasy at night, with bars on two floors that serve cocktails and snacks like grilled cheese. It might sound kitschy, but it’s also really fun—especially on a night when you want to go out out. It’s a club without the sticky floors and strobe lights, and as much as you want to hate it, you’ll find yourself here often when it gets late.
Le Caveau is the wine bar you’ve always wanted in your neighborhood. It’s somewhere you can walk in unannounced on a Thursday night with a date and immediately impress them just by knowing it exists. The dark, moody spot sits right above another of our favorite places, The Good King Tavern, and is like its sophisticated, cigarette-smoking sister who only dates older Italian men. Their wine list is primarily made up of natural bottles, divided between “France” and “Not France.” There’s also a short menu of bar snacks with things like a hot dog wrapped in a baguette and salted chocolate mousse. You could probably order enough food to eat a full dinner, but you should really come here for a glass of wine when you want to feel like you’re cooler than you actually are.
photo credit: Pixel Lab
El Techo is 11 floors up from Condesa, one of our favorite new restaurants in 2019, and it’s run by the same people. The rooftop bar looks like it was airlifted in from Miami, with tropical plants, bright tiles, and lounge furniture everywhere. It also has a retractable roof, which means it even feels kind of like Miami, if you can ignore the bleak gray winterscape happening outside. Since Condesa does all the drinks and food at El Techo, you can expect to see a lot of agave-based cocktails and tacos with homemade masa tortillas. It also means that everything’s delicious, which isn’t something you can say about most Philly rooftop bars.
Bloomsday is a natural wine bar in Headhouse Square, and it’s one of the first places in Philly to focus on interesting, local wine producers since Philly changed its alcohol laws. If you don’t have any idea what you want to drink, their staff is really good at helping you choose something—even if you have to try a bunch of samples. As for the food, the menu is mostly made up of small plates like garlic hummus and spicy crab dip. While most of it will do just fine for a first date at the bar, you don’t need to go out of your way to eat here.
Lunar Inn might look like your average dive, but this Port Richmond bar has great food, an even better selection of local beers, ciders, and wines, and they also really like playing vinyl (and have a huge collection of it). But maybe the coolest thing about Lunar Inn is their onsite wine store, Tiny’s Bottle Shop. It’s right behind the bar in a space that’s essentially a garage, and it’s got everything they sell in the bar, plus additional bottles depending on the season.