It’s the 2014 50 Best Bars in Philadelphia

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Bob & Barbara’s | Photo by Trevor Dixon

We asked 25 of the city’s best chefs, bartenders, beer geeks, cork dorks and professional drinkers to weigh in on the best bars in Philly. Here, in order, are the 50 best places to drink in a city made for drinking. Philadelphia, meet the 50 Best Bars Class of 2014.

Foobooz 50 Best Bars by the Numbers

13 bars are new to the list from last year.

18 bars have been on the list for all six years we’ve compiled it.

Another 4 bars have been on the Best Bars list at least 5 years.

A.bar was the biggest mover, jumping 38 spots on the list.
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This Weekend: Brooklyn Beer Meets Philly for Mash Tour

farm-dinner-400The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour is coming to Philly this weekend and bringing more than just bottled beer with it.

The weekend kicks off with a slew of events centered around Brooklyn Brewing’s beers and is topped off with Sunday’s Dinner on the Farm with Chefs Mitch Prensky and Andrew Gerson.  

Read on for highlights and a discount code for the farm dinner »

Steel Magnolia

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Furnaces and fireworks for the Fourth of July. Photography by Jonathan Davies

John Callahan, a 44-year-old natural salesman turned preternatural politician, looks down at the small plate of tuna crudo on the table. Fork poised, he considers the unlikelihood that he would be sampling such a dish in a swank new Italian restaurant on the main drag of the traditionally working-class ethnic enclave called the South Side in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“Who’da thunk it,” he says, with a rapid-fire wheezy chuckle. He spears an olive-oil-drenched nubbin of raw fish. “I often tell people: This is not your grandfather’s — hell, it’s not your father’s — town of Bethlehem.”

If he walked out the front door of Molinari Mangia, Callahan, who recently ended a decade as Bethlehem’s mayor, could peer toward the hulking 20-story blast furnaces that were once the hot heart of Bethlehem Steel, a premier industrial powerhouse of the last century. For much of that century, into the 1990s, those belching furnaces — “convoluted structures that look like smoke-stained dinosaurs snorting into the sky,” in the words of one writer — delivered a daily reassuring signal to the city of 75,000. As long as what locals called “The Steel” was working, so was Bethlehem.

But The Steel, reeling from foreign competition, plagued by myopic management and hamstrung by its unions, shut down the furnaces in 1995. The company spiraled into bankruptcy and finally dissolution. The city lost its namesake company, and a fifth of its taxable land devolved into an unused brownfield site, transformed almost overnight into a Rust Belt relic facing an existential crisis: What do you do with a huge plot (picture downtown Philly, Market to Spruce, river to river) of polluted land littered with industrial-era detritus?

More than 10 years after The Steel’s bankruptcy, the emerging answer gives John Callahan a story to tell. One day he showed up at daybreak at those big blast furnaces, which have been preserved and repurposed (complete with a glowing LED light treatment) as the city’s largest art installation. In the shadow of the furnaces now are two sleek modernist glass, steel and concrete cubes. One houses state-of-the-art studios for the Lehigh Valley’s public television station, WLVT; the other is a multi-level visual and performing arts center called ArtsQuest, with several chic performance spaces (one is an amalgam of Philly’s World Cafe Live and New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center) and a two-screen art-house cinema. On a landscaped plot of grass hard against the furnaces is a concert pavilion designed by Philly architecture firm WRT; it looks like an unfolding piece of origami. The whole area is called SteelStacks, and it’s just a short walk from Bethlehem’s real game changer: a nearly $1 billion casino, hotel, shopping mall and events complex that began operating five years ago as the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

“This one Sunday,” Callahan recalls, “we were having sunrise yoga under what they called an ‘earth harp.’” He lets out his characteristic chuckle. “The harp was these giant bands that came off the ArtsQuest building. Someone was playing it by jumping up and grabbing onto them.

“So I’m kicking off the show, doing a little welcoming speech. And I couldn’t help but imagine a rigger working up on those blast furnaces, looking down and saying, ‘What the fuck kind of nonsense is going on down there?’ How could that kind of person ever imagine a day when there’d be people doing sunrise yoga underneath an earth harp at an arts center called SteelStacks?

“Wow,” he says, “what a change!”

Bar Crawl to Anchorman 2

south philly goes to the moviesAfter nine years of waiting, there is finally a sequel to Anchorman. And if you’re excited, you’ll be doubly pumped for this combination bar crawl and exclusive midnight showing of Anchorman 2.

A $20 ticket gets you a beer at the Pub on Passyunk East, a beer at the Industry and a ticket to the midnight showing of the movie.

Local sales reps from Shawnee, Allagash and Brooklyn will be there as well.

The crawl starts at 7 p.m. at the POPE and progresses to the Industry . Get tickets at Good Dog, the Industry, the POPE or the 10th street location of Foodery to buy your ticket.

Listen to Mort Crim, Will Ferrell’s Inspiration for Anchorman, Recite the Film’s Iconic Lines [Philadelphia magazine]
And Now, a Song About Mort Crim, Ron Burgundy and Anchorman [Philadelphia magazine]

Black Friday Brunches Around Town

blackout brunchThe Cambridge – Since you’ll surely be up and shopping by 4 a.m., you’ll be ready for a Bloody Mary by 11:30. And that works out well since that’s when the Cambridge opens and your first Bloody is free through 2:30 p.m.

Kraftwork and Sidecar – Both these bars are offering their annual Blackout Brunch. Sidecar is making Thanksgiving leftovers sound appealing with specials like “green bean casserole quiche” and yam soup plus dark beers like Great Lakes Blackout Stout and Goose Island Bourbon Country Stout. Kraftwork is offering almond pumpkin coffee cake and Thanksgiving biscuits and gravy. The Fishtown bar will also be going dark on tap with Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout highlighting an impressive list.

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Tonight: The Industry Turns One

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The Industry turns one tonight and they’re celebrating with a Philly Beer Week event. They’ll be pouring all the special beers they’ve had on during beer week for $5. There will also be passed hors d’oeuvres. A party bus will also be running between the Industry and Good Dog Bar for people who have no idea where Pennsport is.

And it is all for a good cause with 20% of proceeds going to Pennsport based Edward O’Malley Athletic Association.

The Industry Makes Potato Skins a Permanent Addition

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The Industry has updated its menu for spring and is including my potato skins from their Food Writers menuArt’s Potato Skins are Idaho potatoes topped with Brooklyn Lager and cheddar cheese sauce, bacon bits and crème fraiche. An order is $8 and I of course, highly recommend them. Also appearing on chef Pat Szoke’s spring menu:

  • Salt and Vinegar ChicharronesClams and Sausage, with Linguica sausage, fingerlings, tomato, scallion, shallots and a grilled baguette
  • Sweet Corn Arepas, with mole, asparagus, snap peas, radish, and cotija cheese
  • Mediterranean Salad made with watercress, Napa cabbage, radicchio, arugula, feta, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, crispy chickpeas and served with a red wine vinaigrette

The beverage list has also been enhanced for spring » 

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