Top Shelf: Fun & Games
1939 Arch Street, 215-563-4704, cascamorto.com
Need to drown your sorrows? Go anywhere but here. Dark and elegant Cascamorto’s biggest appeal is the anyone-can-join-in atmosphere, one in which crowd-pleasing piano players (and a waitstaff that keeps the party going) are sure to mix up your monotonous Saturday-night routine. Revel in the mellow sounds of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” or grab the mike for some “Brown Eyed Girl.” Spectator or singer, you’ll find your place amidst the regulars/bachelorettes/neighborhood locals. A word to more discriminating cabaret aficionados: If you’re looking to warble the entire score of Wicked, Tavern on Camac is probably a better bet.
The Happy Rooster
118 South 16th Street, 215-963-9311, thehappyrooster.com
Since 1968, this dark, chicken-coop-size Rittenhouse restaurant/bar has had odd staying power. It went from an all-boys caviar club to a suit-and-tie business hangout to a dive. But we love it for its latest innovation: the kick-ass Thursday-night karaoke. And because the bartenders are just as surly as they were 40 years ago.
1631 Packer Avenue, 215-271-5220
It’s tough living in the shadow of mammoth Chickie’s & Pete’s, but the Philadium is a far more authentic (and less headache-inducing) South Philly drink-and-watch experience. Apart from the five TVs, the ambience in this sunless, basement-size haunt harks back to 1976, when the Broad Street Bullies were king, and men with well-maintained mustaches drank Schmidt’s for breakfast: dusty Phillies memorabilia, a Pennsylvania Lottery ticket dispenser, and, of course, old guys at the bar slurping cheap beers and inhaling greasy sandwiches. Any Eagles game will draw a younger, jersey-wearing crowd, but otherwise, the all-you-can-eat gorge-fests (Monday $9 wings; Tuesday $20 blue crabs) make this an excellent spot for anybody whose idea of game day is a collective groan over a few cold ones.