A few blocks into Midtown Village, you may see the crosswalks, activist historical markers, and street signs go full rainbow. And that’s not because the city has an obsession with Skittles or the pink Care Bear. The 13th Street corridor includes one of the most fun and liveliest neighborhoods in the city: the LBGTQ+-centric Gayborhood. Within the blocks, you’ll also find the William Way LBGT Community Center, Philly AIDS Thrift, and a really cool Lil Nas X mural that you’ll probably stare at for a long time.
Home to some of the best bars in Center City, it’s become a major area for all kinds of nightlife. And because of the number of spots with deals and DJs, we put together a guide to the best bars in the neighborhood.
Knock is a restaurant and bar with drag performances every Wednesday and piano karaoke on Friday, Saturday, and even Sunday when it's show tunes-themed. The bar here is long and u-shaped, and you should come for Almond Joy martinis, South Beach cosmos, or just a glass of rosé. This is a great spot to kick off your night out in the neighborhood with some fried calamari, salmon cakes, and chicken and mozzarella flatbreads for dinner. They’re always playing great music that you can even hear on their sidewalk seating.
There are no low-key nights at Woody’s. On most weeknights, the bar always has always a DJ blasting a Rihanna remix and on Wednesdays, there’s drag karaoke. It can get crowded with locals who made this their go-to spot, groups of non-queer people who visit gay bars “just for fun,” and some tourists who hear the house music from outside and can’t resist checking it out. There are lots of tables inside so it’s great for any size group you bring here, especially if you’re hungry and want to snack on some sliders, hummus, and tacos. But for the most part, people come here to dance, drink cocktails, and get sucked into a fun time warp where you look up and realize it’s 2am.
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Rosewood is the kind of place where they have Death Becomes Her playing nonstop on the gold-framed TVs while Aaliyah plays in the background. They share a wall with Woody’s, so you can easily transition between both scenes. Rosewood is much more chill than Woody’s, though, with flowing couches, chandeliers, and deep leather booths. The drink menu has things like passion fruit and peach bellinis, Thai chili margaritas, and their version of an Old Fashioned that includes bourbon and cognac. While it might look like just another trendy bar, it’s actually a place where anything can happen—whether that’s staring at Meryl Streep for four hours straight or making a bunch of new friends with people who are doing the same.
Franky Bradley’s is a two-floor bar where almost every night is different. They have things like open mics, drag shows, burlesque performances, and even some live music. The popular dive bar is usually packed with a casual crowd on the first floor sipping on beers and talking about the weather, but on the second floor, you’ll find a bunch of rowdy people dancing under a disco ball to whatever the DJ is spinning that night. When it comes to the menu, they have typical bar food like wings, nachos, burgers, and a few seafood choices like garlicky white wine mussels and shrimp scampi, but it’s best to stick to the simple things like their smoky wings. They’re crispy, drenched in a sweet bourbon BBQ sauce, and come out quickly so you won’t miss your favorite part of whatever Doja Cat track is playing.
You want to come to U Bar on Saturdays—it’s fun, you’ll probably meet some new people, and even though the crowd is pretty energetic, it also somehow just feels like your neighborhood spot. The gay bar is open until 2am, and has plenty of booths, some overhead colorful lighting, high-top tables, and a glowing bar where you’ll probably have to yell extra loudly to order a drink. There’s a pretty lengthy beer menu here in case you’re looking to have a few IPAs and a round of nachos while watching the Locust Street crowd walk by.