If you're jonesing for a night out on the town, you’re in luck: Philadelphia’s bar scene is a really fun one. Their nightlife has something for every mood — whether you’re looking to start off with a solid happy hour and light bites, sip craft cocktails at an exclusive speakeasy, or rock out to live music at a dive bar.
To easily experience a few different vibes in one evening, pick a neighborhood (Center City, Old City, South Street) so you can bar-hop with ease. To help get your night started, we’ve listed 16 of Philly’s coolest libation locales for enjoying a drink.
Note that the city rolls up its red carpet by 2 a.m. (not too early, not too late). So while you can’t order beverages at 4 a.m. like in New York, there’s still plenty of time to paint the town red (and rest assured, no one makes good decisions after 2 a.m., anyway).
With Harp & Crown’s 24-foot ceilings, chandeliers, and dim lighting, the venue perfectly marries rustic charm with luxurious sophistication. Take a seat at the spacious 32-seat bar or in the refined lounge and order from their craft cocktail list; if you’re hungry, their New American menu is just as impressive. Come for happy hour (Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.), when the house cocktail, house wine, and select appetizers are all about $5. Oh, and surprise: there's also a two-lane bowling alley underneath the main room.
The Franklin Bar
If you’re not looking for it, you can completely miss the unmarked entrance of The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company (a.k.a., The Franklin Bar). But once the security guard leads you down to this chic Prohibition-era speakeasy, you won’t be disappointed. The Franklin is highly regarded as one of the best cocktail lounges in the world, so you know whatever craft libation the mixologist shakes up will be good — they have a list of over 500 different cocktails that have rotated through the place over the years. For the best of both worlds, there’s also a chill tiki bar upstairs.
Situated in a former bank building, National Mechanics is a bar and American restaurant that always has something exciting going on. Come by during the week for happy hour (Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.) and enjoy drink specials and select menu items for $5. If you find yourself in Old City on a Friday or Saturday night, you could find yourself in the midst of a dance party with a DJ, karaoke, a quiz night, or another fun event. Looking for a place to brunch the next morning? Take advantage of their make-your-own bloody mary bar with countless hot sauce options.
Located in Old City, this offbeat Mexican joint covered in Day of The Dead decor offers funky vibes and very strong drinks (especially all those flavored margaritas). Their food and cocktail menu makes it a great place to start your evening, especially if you come for the happy hour specials: $5 house margs, sangria, tacos, and empanadas (there’s a delicious vegetarian option). Parking in this section of Philly can be tough, so consider taking the El train; the bar is only a few blocks from the 2nd Street station stop.
This bi-level Fishtown venue is built on the credo of supporting Philadelphia’s own. Johnny Brenda’s is part indie rock bar and part gastropub, where independent and local musicians take the stage (upstairs and downstairs) several times a day and really draw crowds. Even the food and drink menus are Philly-centric, made up of locally sourced produce and beers from the area’s best microbreweries. If you’re rocking out late-night and get hungry, the kitchen offers a full menu until 1 a.m.
This Belgian bar may be tiny with its dark ambiance and an authentic pub-like feel, but it was named one of the top five places in the world to have a beer, which is no small feat. There are at least 23 beers on tap at a time, and the list is always rotating. Their food menu is also far beyond what you’d expect from a pub (crowd favorites include Monk Mussels and seasoned fries with bourbon mayo). Speaking of crowds, folks know this place is an award-winner so it gets packed, especially if you're looking for seating on weekend evenings, so plan accordingly.
Hop Sing Laundromat
This posh Chinatown speakeasy accidentally became a speakeasy — owner Lê keeps the venue under lock and key so he can screen out all the loudmouths and drunks. Make it through security (and follow their dress code), and you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the Laundromat’s meticulously prepared cocktails by candlelight, which have helped the venue make a list of the 30 best bars in the world. As “exclusive” is they may seem, Hop Sing Laundromat actually has one of Philly’s best happy hours. Open Tuesday-Saturday.
The Trestle Inn
For something a little different, feel the funk at this Philly hidden gem situated just outside the bustle of Center City, which also happens to be a whiskey and go-go dancing bar. The retro disco era is still alive at The Trestle Inn, where you’ll discover music from the '60s and ’70s, boogying, a next-level whiskey cocktail menu (no seriously, order a whiskey sour here), and of course go-go dancers taking center stage. Moonlight happy hour is extra-groovy on Fridays and Saturdays (10-11 p.m.).
Both Garage locations (Passyunk and Fishtown) are set up in sprawling spaces that resemble auto garages, delivering casual fun, eclectic vibes, and big (younger) crowds on weekend nights. Drink wise, they offer over 400 canned beers from all-over, delicious frosé year round, and Fun Bags — a bright blue alcoholic concoction that comes in a Capri Sun-like pouch and tastes delicious, but sneaks up on you. It’s a great bar to come with a big group and play pool or skee ball, or to post up and have your own food delivered while you watch a sports game. (Or, to come late-night a take pickleback shots.)
Bob And Barbara’s Lounge
Welcome to one of Philly’s most iconic dive bars since 1969 and the home of “The Special” — a shot of Jim Beam and a can of PBR. Bob and Barbara’s is a no-frills joint on South Street that’s still run by its original owners, drawing a large mixed crowd thanks to free live jazz and R&B music on weekdays and weekends. The Crowd Pleasers (Fridays) and The 4 Notes (Saturdays) are two amazing upbeat shows with great energy; on Thursdays, the dynamic Miss Lisa puts on an interactive drag performance (it’s the city’s oldest running drag show). Just note the bar is always cash only.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
Tucked away in a side alley in Center City is McGillin’s, Philly’s oldest continuously operating pub since 1860. McGillin’s is a Philly rite of passage, whether you’re looking to day drink and watch sports, grab lunch (with a free bowl of soup) by the fireplace, or party all night with loud music and 30 beers on tap. If you show up late on a Saturday night, expect lines wrapped around the block and rowdy crowds on the second floor — it’s a lot of fun, you just need to be prepared for it.
Drink in unobstructed views of the entire city skyline from this seasonal rooftop bar in South Philly (it’s aptly located atop the historic and former Bok Technical High School). A local favorite during the warmer months, Bok Bar is welcoming and casual, making it a perfect spot for day drinking or catching the sunset. They serve mostly canned beer and wine and offer a solid menu of bar snacks that changes every year (it’s usually Asian-inspired). Plus, every Sunday is family day, so feel free bring your dogs and kids along.
Sometimes you just want to get a little sweaty, unapologetically dance your heart out, and be transported back to another decade. Dolphin Tavern in Newbold is your last-stop-of-the-night bar, and that time machine you are looking for. There are light-up walls, a packed dance floor, a DJ bumping beats based on the night’s theme — from a 2000s rap party to an ABBA ‘70s/’80s party. Open Wednesday-Saturday (9 p.m.-2 a.m.).
If you want to eat and drink like a local, pop by this multi-level joint with a gastropub feel in Northern Liberties. The Standard Tap pours beers exclusively from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware; what’s on tap rotates regularly and is listed on the chalkboard above the bar. Their nationally recognized menu features dishes like pulled pork sandwiches and crispy melts, all made with local produce and ingredients. There’s also covered outside deck on the second floor and live music on some weekends. Street parking in this ’hood is sparse, so allot yourself extra time to find a spot.
Located in a converted Fishtown warehouse, Philadelphia Distilling can take credit for being the first craft distillery to exist in the state of Pennsylvania since prohibition. Their famous Bluecoat gin is enough reason to stop in for a tasting, but the place’s trendy vibe and inviting lounge outfitted with leather sofas will make you want to stay a while. Ask one of the knowledgeable mixologists to whip you up a craft cocktail with house spirits, and definitely take a distillery tour (available Thursdays-Sundays at designated hours on the website).
Independence Beer Garden
When in Philly, you can’t go wrong with alfresco brews and views of the Liberty Bell. This 22,000-square-foot, outdoor beer garden oasis is a summertime hotspot, serving up expansive space, 40 local and domestic beers on tap, an all-American menu, projection screens, and plenty of ambiance. Independence draws a crowd during the day (there’s cornhole, tabletop Jenga, and ping pong) as well as in the evenings when you can grab an Adirondack chair and order a Point Breeze (rum, grapefruit, maraschino, lime).