SIPS is sort of like one of those music festivals where the lineup is stacked—and as a bonus, the tickets are half-off. It’s basically a citywide Happy Hour at some of your favorite spots in Center City, where everything from the drinks to the small plates gets discounted. This sounds amazing, right? Well, we guarantee that everyone else in the city agrees with you. So to help you sift through the hype, and to not waste your time standing in a 30-minute line for a spot that only has $3 pretzels, we put together this guide.
We’ll be updating this list all summer as each spot continues to drop their discounts and continues to not suck.
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The liveliest spot on Wednesdays during the summer is Uptown Beer Garden. If you want a chance of getting in without waiting 30 minutes, we suggest you come here as soon as SIPS starts at 4:30pm. When you get inside, you can order their signature $6 Siptown Sangria that blends tequila, peach and lemon juice, and riesling from any of the four bars inside. There’s always a DJ there blasting the latest top 40 hits, and, unlike other laid-back beer gardens, this one has everything from cabanas to bottle service.
Before SIPS, Prunella already had people lining the block during Happy Hour. Now with $6 Honey Fitzgerald cocktails with gin, honey grappa, and lemon juice, and $9 pepperoni pizzas, the Wednesday crowds at this Midtown Village spot feel like a small music festival. Sit at their long marble bar inside while sipping on a $5 glass of wine or head outside to the cafe seats—the latter of which are great for SIPS people-watching.
You can find Graffiti Bar in the back of Sampan. This small bar, full of vibrant and street art-filled walls, has plenty of TVs if you were hoping to catch the Phillies game, too. The SIPS deals are just like the ones at Sampan with things like Korean BBQ beef satay, edamame dumpling, chicken katsu bao, and a sweet rum punch with lychee. Plus, with a retractable roof, it’s somewhere you can head to even on a rainy Wednesday.
1225 Raw Sushi has one of the largest SIPS menus. They have four $6 cocktails to choose from, like the Haku Soda which has lavender sake, lemon juice, and club soda, shumai and other small plates, and half-priced spicy tuna and salmon avocado rolls. You can eat inside at the red neon-lit bar, but the back patio is where you want to be. There are massive umbrellas to give you some shade and lots of large tables where your friends can pass around sake-blended drinks and complain about why it’s not Friday yet.
We know this spot is on the edge of Old City, but we're still including it on this guide. That's mainly because of the long tables where you can play Jenga with a few friends and the fact that it's one of the best SIPS open-air spaces. Since it's one of the bigger beer gardens in the area, expect a big crowd ordering things like half-priced wings, french fries, and quesadillas. Between corn hole sessions, you can eat a cheeseburger and sip on $6 cocktails like the Down the Shore, which mixes vodka, raspberry, and lemon juice. They even have $5 glasses of wine that rotate between a house red or white.
photo credit: Peggy Baud Woolsey
With a mix of indoor and outdoor seating, a long wine list, and good French food, Gabi is somewhere you can spend a whole evening. But when you come during the discount hours, they have $6 cocktails like watermelon margaritas and refreshing cucumber gimlets, $5 wine, and $4 beer that go well with a few of their small plates. The escargot, which usually runs $12, costs $6 and comes with buttery and garlicky sauce that you’ll want to dip your bread in. They also have two kinds of pâtés that you should snack on during your Broad Street people-watching sessions.
Good Luck Pizza Co.
During SIPS, Good Luck Pizza Co. has $6 basil punch with tequila, limonada, and earthy basil syrup, not to mention a bunch of square, blistery pizzas with crunchy crusts. The deals here include things like $10 for a slice of pizza and beer, $6 calamari with garlic aioli, and $7 sweet and spicy jumbo wings. And with a laid-back setup full of striped picnic tablecloths and a long bar with cushioned seats, it’s a perfect spot to unwind with a $5 pinot grigio after sitting through a few meetings that could’ve been shorter if people knew how to work Excel.
Dim Sum House By Jane G's
Dim Sum House has a few spots in town, and we love them because they’re open every day at noon and have a ton of dumpling options. Another reason they have a spot in our heart: their SIPS deals of $6 cocktails, $4 Heineken, and $5 pinot grigio. Bring a group of friends after work, order some half-priced options like scallion pancake, steamed edamame buns, and pan-fried chicken dumplings, and post up at their massively long wooden tables while watching whatever they put on TV.
We usually don’t need an excuse to sit on a balcony and take in a view, but with $5 wines, $4 beers, and things like $8 serrano ham montidito with manchego and a guindilla aioli, The Balcony Bar at the Kimmel Center makes an elevated view extra appealing. Since they’re only open on Wednesdays, though, there’s usually an added crowd of people who simply need to experience that view of Broad Street. You'll find a lot of $6 and under options like a chorizo brochette and a refreshing compressed melon salad, and it's the only place that offers dessert (a pistachio shortbread with a dulce de leche center) during the cocktail-heavy hours.
This Chestnut Street barbecue spot typically serves all sorts of smoked meats and small plates. So it’s no surprise that they have things like beef sliders, crispy arancini with marinara sauce, and baby back ribs on their SIPS food lineup. They also have a few sidewalks tables and large open floor-to-ceiling windows where you can take in the sun. So whether you’re between bites of some of the juiciest ribs in town or sipping on a $5 rosé, you'll almost feel like you're at a real backyard BBQ.