Philadelphia’s Best Bars

Our 85 favorite places to start a tab


A tiny little whiskey bar set atop an Ethiopian restaurant in West Philly. Absolutely beloved by serious drinkers, whiskey freaks and cocktail hunters. Not bad for the beer drinkers, either. Absolutely ignored by everyone else. 229 South 45th Street, second floor.

Friday Saturday Sunday
Only the upstairs Tank Bar, where the glowing marine fish tank, the claustrophobic proportions of the place, and the crowd of middle-aged solo-drinkers make you feel like you’ve slipped out of reality and walked into some late-’90s music video.

Molly Maguire’s
Perfectly Irish. Smithwick’s? Check. Live Irish music tearing it up? You bet. Our friends pouring us into a cab when, after five Jamesons, we pick a fight with a light fixture? That’s just how we know it’s Friday.

The Sidecar
So tiny, but such a nice selection of drinks. And despite being packed with non-neighborhood people, it somehow maintains the vibe of the neighborhood bar it wants to be.

Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar
If you must do karaoke, Ray’s is the only acceptable place in the city to do it. Also, if you must start drinking at 7 a.m., Ray’s is one of the very few bars in the world that can make you proud to have gotten out of bed so early.

Black Sheep
So many people we know had their last first date here.

Like Cheers for the gays, only with karaoke.

Pub on Passyunk East
Known to most as the P.O.P.E., it’s an unassuming corner joint with a truly rad beer selection. Avoid the tables if you can, but a seat at the bar is totally worth fighting for.

The Boat House
Imagine getting drunk at your great-grandpa’s house—if your great-grandpa lived in a shack in New Jersey and was a former boat captain. Just an awesome old bar with great classic cocktails and plenty of boat-y decor on the walls. 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, 609-397-2244.

Old Guard House Inn
Very old-school. Very Main Line. As a matter of fact, when they were building the old school on the Main Line, the Old Guard House is where all the construction workers drank and ate schnitzel.

Clam Tavern
A nautically themed bar in Delco that we frequent for the $5 Beefeater martinis and the thought that if times ever get desperate enough and we get drunk enough, we might try robbing the nearest bank with one of the swordfish heads mounted at the end of the bar.

Fox & Hound
A chain, yes, but one with a great Tuesday special: $2 drafts, with 30 on tap. Only place in town to drink Harp or Guinness at two bucks a go.

The Raven
It’s older than dirt and is constantly being bought and sold and bought again, but it has some of the nicest bartenders on Earth—and it doesn’t price-gouge like some of the other boy bars in town.

It’s nice to have a place named for what it does best.

Pen and Pencil Club
A quasi-private club and notorious late-night hang for reporters, restaurant crews and working media professionals? Well, we know where we’ll be spending our nights from now on

Sweeney’s Saloon
Every drinking city needs to have a Moe’s Tavern. This is Philly’s. 13639 Philmont Avenue, 215-677-3177.

McNally’s Tavern
The quintessential cozy neighborhood pub, with good sandwiches—including the world-famous Schmitter—to boot.

Locust Rendezvous

Some places, you go for the cocktails. Some places, you go for the beer. Some places, you go for the service or the vibe, or to be with the cocktail waitress you’re secretly in love with. The ’Vous? We go because it’s cheap.

Ivy Inn
The shuffleboard authority around Philly, for those who like games to distract them from their drinking.

Continental Tavern Small and friendly and perfectly un-fancy without being a suburban Oscar’s—just the place to grab a beer with the locals.

Midtown Diner
The perfect escape from work. A mid-afternoon seat at the bar, three innings of the Phils, and the best thing is, you’ll never get caught, because no one you know comes here. 28 South 18th Street, 215-567-5144.

The Greeks
A great mix of working-class folks who haven’t set foot in Center City in two decades and professionals who recently moved to the ’burbs and can’t find anywhere else to go for an after-work drink.

Percy Street BBQ
If you like your beer in cans, Percy Street has more than 60 behind the bar. And if you like your canned beer with pickle juice and BBQ sauce, order the Hillbilly Gatorade. You’ll thank us later.

Royal Tavern
The bar you want to wake up in once you become the kind of person who wakes up in bars.

To read about the city’s best wine bars, click here.

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  • heavy

    you can’t have a list of the best bars in philadelphia withouth mcgillins ale house. one of the best bars in town and a philadelphia legend.

  • Joe

    Where’s Perch Pub? Wake up Philadelphia Magazine. All brown everything.

  • Gloria

    What no Capital Grille in Philadelphia! One of the best bars and bartenders (my son-in law especially) in the city.

  • Rachel

    I can give you 150 reasons why McGillin’s should have been on your list of best bars!

  • B

    McGillin’s. End of comment.

  • j

    this list is garbage. mcgillins is one of the best bars on the east coast, let alone philly.

  • Jodi

    I’m from Seattle, and I send anyone I know coming to Philadelphia to the Franklin. Best bar in your city.

  • Travis

    The fact that I live 10 steps from the Pickering Creek Inn and have gone exactly 1 time and live over an hour from McGillin’s, through traffic-invested 76 and Center City, and have gone over 100 should tell you everything you need to know about this list. It is a complete and utter joke.

  • Ken

    Btw, Sweeney’s does have a website if you want to fix that on your Neighborhood Haunts page –

  • accky

    i know the girl who gave the tria quote. shes a boozehound. she thought i was a jerk but turns out she was the one that did the jerking (in the bathroom nonetheless). whoot whoot.

  • Nope

    Ha, no McGillans!?! How do you take yourselves seriously? Your online editors just wasted their time writing this article

  • Jim

    Although this list isn’t perfect, everybody relax about McGillin’s. It’s not a list of Philadelphia’s 85 oldest bars, or it’s most obvious bars.

  • Bill

    This list loses all of the respect it gains for putting Franks and Cocos on here when it names Fox and the Hound as one of the best bars in the city.

  • Rosie

    uhhhh, what about misconduct tavern? this list is s#*%!

  • stew

    I don’t understand how you can write an article about best gastro pubs and not have a good understanding of what a gastro pub is. It is a bar with Chef-driven comfort food in a casual setting usually including interesting cocktails and thoughtful beer and wine selections. It seems this list was put together randomly and without focus. Half of the selections do not meet the criteria – Fox and Hound? I was hoping to learn something from this, now I just want my 5 minutes back.

  • Harvey

    I have looked at various lists like this over the past week. I only have one question, did eulogy close or something?

  • Robert W.

    I’m saving this years’ Nov. issue to see whether
    my suggestions make it to next years list. Two
    good places, (one in N.E. Philly and the other
    in Feasterville) are Dagwoods Pub located at
    Torresdale & Linden Aves. and the other is The
    Copper Kettle at Bristol & Bridgewater Town Rds.
    They are both reasonably priced with a full menu and friendly atmosphere.

  • Robert W.

    I’m saving this years’ Nov. issue to see whether
    my suggestions make it to next years list. Two
    good places, (one in N.E. Philly and the other
    in Feasterville) are Dagwoods Pub located at
    Torresdale & Linden Aves. and the other is The
    Copper Kettle at Bristol & Bridgewater Town Rds.
    They are both reasonably priced with a full menu and friendly atmosphere.

  • River

    It’s incredible that you neglected to include Kraftwork Bar in Fishtown. It could easily have fit under neighborhood bar, craft brews or gastropub, but you missed it altogether! A beautiful space with two dozen beers on tap & delicious, reasonable food.

  • Gandhus

    Lists like this are usually a little silly as are many of the descriptions, but so are a lot of the comments. A rash of McGillin’s lovers and few other jokers. Sweeney’s? Dagwood’s? Kopper Kettle? (Yes, with a ‘K’) Come on, get serious. I do however, agree with the last comment about Kraftwork.