The Foobooz Top 50 Bars for 2012

We’ve done it again. Foobooz has polled a panel of writers, bloggers, noted drinker types and others whose opinions we respect to assemble our list of  Philadelphia’s Top 50 Bars for 2012 ranked 1 through 50.

We’re once again impressed with the way the list has turned out. There is a bar or three for every occasion, whether it be fraternizing with a dozen friends, reconnecting with a digital buddy from the 80s or looking for a new companion.

For each of the top bars in Philadelphia we provide some praise, a pro’s tip or a quote from one of our panelists. Check out the list and tell us what you think in the comments or on Twitter via our #50BarsPHL hashtag.

Best Bars in Philadelphia 2012 [Foobooz]

Around The Web

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  • Clueless

    Once again you prove clueless, bars ranked top in the world in publications that matter left off your list because they don’t give your hack panel free drinks. This is just a list of friends of your website founder who had to sell out because he needed a steady paycheck.

  • Mike

    I thought it looked pretty thorough and had all the usual suspects. Curious to see the list of your omissions?

  • Victor Fiorillo

    Free drinks. Ha.

  • GoBirds

    Uh, Johnny Brenda’s sucks and is overpriced. The attitude alone should keep it off the list. Royal Tavern is awfully low on your list.

  • Mike

    Another year, another error that Stogie Joe’s is left off the list.

  • Jimmy

    The lack of comments is telling. It’s hard to argue with this list.

  • Jacques Strappe

    Sad to see no Kite and Key, Bishops Collar or Lemon Hill on the list, but it actually looks like you may have forgotten to review the bars in Fairmount before running this list.

  • Andrew

    Sad to see no Finnegan’s Wake, Mad River, McFaddens, Field House, Public House, etc. These places are the cultural anchor of the city and Foobooz just ignores them… so sad.

  • Food Phan

    The ‘Vous?

  • Telling

    Jimmy “The lack of comments is telling” yeah it tells you this blog has no traffic and does not really matter.

    Regardless, from the list I can tell it’s important for a bar to make this list to have the following:

    1. terrible customer service
    2. a sense of hipster Elitism that comes from working at hipster bars
    3. be full of libtards unable to work a real job because everyone knows corporations are the devil
    4. have very bad health inspection reports (check yourself)
    5. at one point or other made Art to feel he isn’t just a bald chubby doofus
    6. pretended Bryson was something other than a big mouth drunk screaming at chairs and the LCB
    7. never challenged the “old school” slacker icon bars and their high school drop out staff and owners
    8. hire no one more full of hot air than the panelists, just too dumb to know all they spout is factless opinions.
    9. have six bikes parked out front with riders pretending to be green but really just unable to afford a car with shitty jobs cause they were too cool for school or still working off that DUI suspension
    10. have staff full of tattoos who spend more time outside smoking than cleaning (see point 4)

    Great list, not

  • Boozey


    What’s your top ten?

  • Dees

    I know for a fact that every time Art goes into a handful of these places he gets everything short of a testicle massage. But what exactly do you expect? You don’t bite the hand that feeds and that goes for both Art and the restaurants he praises.

  • Ryan R

    The Farmers’ Cabinet would have made the list but the check bounced.

  • Jacques

    This list is as useful as telling us the Top 50 Pairs of Pants. And I just talked to everyone at McGlinchy’s and they don’t care if they are on your list or not. And then they called me an asshole for even knowing about this list.

  • justanotherchef

    well, the only meal i had this past year – indeed,the entire 9 years i’ve lived in philly – that was so bad that the entire food check was comped was pub and kitchen. can’t even blame it on an off night because the chef came out an apologized profusely when he found out that 2 chefs were sending back the food.

    i know lots of people love it but one of the worst meals i ever had in my life was memphis tap room.

  • Andrew

    What, no Sid Booker’s Stinger lounge?

  • Justanotherstoryteller

    LOL @ Justanotherchef’s tall tale.

  • barryg

    @ Justanotherchef I gave up on P&K a couple years after several bad (and expensive) meals.

  • Austin
  • CM
  • Nick

    Why is Pub&Kitchen on this list at all? No one in my food or drink circles frequents – let alone respects them.

  • sailing

    @Nick lets hope your “circles” continue to keep Pub and Kitchen off your radar. @Gobirds Royal tavern has certainly built a reputation on their service- maybe most god awful pretentious staff for no reason bar on the list (Johnny Brenda’s would literally have to not take your order at all to outdo them).

    Pub and Kitchen definitely deserves #1 for more reason than the bar alone- educated and friendly staff and outstanding food and drink (and most importantly consistent). My go to when working holidays and have gather with my family late night.

    Foobooz you got it right.

  • James

    You forgot The Cambridge

  • Lord Chezzer

    Another one mystified by P&K @ #1…

  • Jimmy

    Of course not everyone will agree that P&K should be #1. Remember a few years ago when Philly Magazine proclaimed Grace Tavern the best bar? Some may be taken aback to hear that many folks cannot stand Grace (the service is atrocious, the food is subpar, and it is loaded with hipsters). But at the same time it is loved by many – just like P&K. Deal with it.

  • Bix Paz

    You all should just quit spouting all this biased BS and patronize whatever bar you prefer and worry about more important things in life — like getting a job!

  • Ur kidding me

    This is just a joke already I can’t believe that no one has a prob w zahav is on this list. That place is the furthest thing from a bar and does not have any place being on this list other then Foobooz being a sounding board for profile pr. To add Percy st doesn’t belong on this list either.
    Foobooz answer to the people that read ur site y u have done this y u left real bar like the ones other commenters have listed to but these places that r clearly not bars to so u can continue ur relationship w profile and keep ur head up cook n solos ass
    Your readers deserve more

  • Anna

    Rather lame list…How could you have forgotten Bar Ferdinand (or El Camino for that matter)?? Hopefully not due to your hating on their chef!

  • MPG

    Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, which is what this is list is comprised of.

    A few, in my opinion, that were left out:

    – Tap House (great bar food, 50+ beers on tap, knowledgeable staff)
    – St Stephen’s Green (ideal corner/neighborhood Irish bar)
    – Smith’s (great bar food, very comfortable place to watch a game)
    – Vintage

    My two cents.

  • Pub and kitchen is a nice place but very expensive. tiny beers at top prices. I like N3rd. Good food at reasonable prices. Friendly staff, good bartenders. It pays to own the bricks to keep prices down. And they even comp you…but no testicle massage, alas……..

  • Sarck

    I agree and disagree with choices, but such is the case with any “best of” list. Regardless, I think a reader-generated best bar list would be more insightful: it would represent more areas of the city, wouldn’t be beholden to advertisers, and include lesser-knowns/hidden gems. It would also be more useful to us booze-hounds looking for new options, as well as the bars that really deserve the PR for the title of 50 best.

  • THAT’S the ticket, guys, leave your Own top 10 [with comments about What Makes A Great Bar] and we can put together our own list. But Please, stop boring us All with your ‘hipster/yuppie’ references. Also, I’m pretty sure the FooBooz gang plays it straight for evaluations, but if anybody has other than ‘hearsay’ Evidence, please share it. I know, this is Philly, where The Fix is always in, but rumor & innuendo sell better than Facts. And SO WHAT if a place is a restaurant, that doesn’t preclude a good bar, and might even Improve the bar ‘action’. Plus, some places just hang on their rep, or a chef leaves and Then their quality slips, and it is reported. If we can’t rely on FooBooz, City Paper & Philly Weekly, who Can we trust?

  • Been to ElCamino and I STILL can’t figure out why anybody would go there. And Smoking should not be a reason for being off the list. I’ve met many a Broad with nice stems in a Gin Joint by having a cigarette and a light at the ready, and some conversational banter to go with it. Even if you’re Not a smoker, That’s the kind of places you find the Fun People hanging out. How can you make a case for booze yet deny a place to smoke too? Restaurants will have No Smoking, but it’s always nice if there’s a section ‘upstairs’ or another bar room where you can light up.
    Gotta go, another Dame just walked in, and she looks like she needs a light….

  • PreparedBy

    This top 50 List brought to you courtesy of Profile PR, writing Art’s advertisements, oops we mean posts, since 2005

  • Ur Kidding Me 2

    Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh Cook, Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh Solo!!
    My Bar/restaurant is much better! Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

  • pj

    Both the panel and the list are noticeably lacking in variety.

  • Jacques Strappe

    @PJ, the writers like a certain kind of bar. That’s obvious. But whatever, it’s their blog…write your own list if you feel so inclined. My top 5.

    1. Lemon Hill
    2. For Pete’s Sake
    3. Kite and Key
    4. McGillins
    5. Las Vegas Lounge

  • Ur kidding me

    When is foobooz going to answer to this bs. They have there head so far up profiles ass that it has to put cook n solo on lists that it doesn’t belong on. Someone from foobooz please explain how zahva is on this list other then the fact that u have to please profile and cook n solo

  • Jimmy

    What is “profile?”

  • HypeSucks

    Jimmy, profile is and mostly Jennie Hatton who is best friends with Art and writes all his material it seems. Two birds with one stone, her clients pay her and Art doesn’t have to do any work.

    As PJ said “Both the panel and the list are noticeably lacking in variety.” It’s Profile PR’s hand picked list of “experts”. Most are clueless clowns who can’t keep a real job anywhere so become “independent consultants”. It’s really getting old and obvious.

  • Jimmy

    Thanks Hypesucks. Foobooz?

  • ChrisH

    Foobooz and PR listing Zahav as “Top 50 bars” is the day they both jumped the shark in their advertising. Great restaurant but no way a bar, unless you mean best bar mitzvahs

    See if you can guess what my and thousands of others call their favorite bar:
    Rated higher than most these bars on Zagats and Yelp
    Rated top 100 bars in the World by many major publications
    Has won best food for five of it’s main dishes
    Rated top 10 in the USA on major websites
    Has the city’s largest selection of beer
    Has the city’s best bartenders
    Has lasted over a decade
    Does not pay Philly Mag to win any awards
    Never offered Art a free drink or ball massage
    Great prices and service

    I hope you don’t guess, it’s already too crowded every day. Thanks to Foobooz for being a sell out and not mentioning the real best bar in Philly.

  • ERN

    @ChrisH – having a brain fart, mostly b/c I’m pregnant and have sadly been unable to drink for several months, thus rendering my ability to think of places very weak. What is it?? I want to go there ASAP post baby. :)

  • Jimmy


  • John

    P&K sucks – never a seat at the bar, games on never on, overpriced drinks and food.
    No McGlinchy’s! The most authentic, disgusting, smoked-filled, diverse bar in America. The only cigar bar that Philly has left.
    No N.3rd or Bishop’s – true, someone forget to collect the Fairmount list
    Zahav a bar.. haha

  • John


    No Eulogy – top 3 beer list in Philly


    “there is a bar for every occassion”… unless you are gay

    dissing the Gay community… How about Woody’s… They are like the 5th biggest buyer from the LCB… and they are not on the list… I know it is a gay bar… but come on… Everyone is welcome there

    same for Tavern on Camac the Gay piano Bar… always busy gets a mixed clientele

    It looks like the only ones on the list advertise in Philly Mag.

  • kate

    Okay, Zahav is a restaurant not a bar. Monks is where tourists go or where folks bring out-of-towners. How many of these have regulars?

  • ?Eulogy?

    @ChrisH who cares about Eulogy’s yelp reviews when Mike pays for them. Their draft list might have been top 3, 10 years ago but now there isn’t anything on draft you can’t get at 20 other places. At the end of the day Eulogy isn’t on the list because the owner has made too many enemies in the industry by his constant whining, and the fact he blew the whistle on Ressurection a few years back. Sad to say they are in a similar boat as Farmers Cabinet.

  • steve

    My top 10 in no particular order…my criteria is for good food or good beer or good atmosphere or any combination of the 3 according to me!
    1. watkins drinkery
    2. Ugly american
    3. pope
    4. 2nd street brew house
    5. Stogie joe’s
    6. jon’s bar and grille
    7. perch pub (best happy hour in town imo)
    8. irish pol
    9. prohibition tap room
    10. tattooed mom’s

  • Snake

    How many of the bars on this list even have the Eagles on TV on a Sunday during the fall?

  • KarmaSutraBrennan

    The list and panel is too full of the same old suspects, the big mouth bores of the industry who I abhor: Karma Sutra regular Brennan, Bryson, Gunn, Mashington, Parker, Strunk etc. Been running in the same boring circle for 20 years, afraid to learn anything new or being told they need to do better. Afraid of anything different than the mentality of the same 50 mile radius of where they grew up. Don’t like any outsider rocking the boat with better products and service. Most decent bars outsell them all combined and don’t have any of the family, financial, drug, legal or child support issues like many of them. Kind of like the truant C students in school always hating on the jocks and advanced placement kids. Like I said, a bunch of big mouth bores going around telling each other lies and backed up by just a few noisy lame bloggers. Guys, don’t let your mind wander too far from your clique, it’s far too small to be let out on its own.

    I have no idea how the good people on the panel got thrown in with these others. Luckily the good new ones are all becoming more prominent in Philly now than the old boring guard. Let’s hope they don’t get sucked into the stagnant old school. Looking forward to even better days to come. The new guard has stood up to them and turned Philly positive and open to change. Philly is a much better place because of it.