Lounges in Camden

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In 2012, a group of well-connected Philly nightlife entrepreneurs transformed an old Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant in the Spring Garden neighborhood into Union Transfer, and it quickly became one of the most popular music venues in the city. Several nights a week, this mid-size, 1,000-capacity club books generally indie and small-label national touring bands: the garagey Heartless Bastards, retro-soul purveyors Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the synthy electronic-music trio Chvrches are the types of bands that grace Union Transfer’s stage. Shows are general admission with limited seating available in the upstairs balcony. Most concertgoers stand in the main floor area in front of the stage. During all-ages shows, concertgoers need a wristband to access one of the three bars.

1026 Spring Garden St
Philadelphia,
PA
US

Just about every night at 8 p.m., two musicians take their seats at opposing baby grand pianos, and the show at Jollys Dueling Piano Bar begins. For the next, say, six or so hours, they'll belt out crowd favorites by Billy Joel and Lady Gaga, pausing to take audience requests or serenade a birthday honoree. But even without the rollicking performance, there would be plenty to draw people to the bar—namely, the food and drinks. A rotating list of craft beers and sweet cocktails complements a menu of spicy bacon burgers, goat cheese flatbreads, and housemade guacamole.

1420 Locust St
Philadelphia,
PA
US

The chefs at Aki Japanese Fusion Restaurant & Sake Bar experiment with ingredients and recipes from a host of countries, but the flavors of Japan shine through most noticeably. Traditional Japanese entrees such as tempura-fried shrimp and teriyaki-glazed chicken offer heartier options, though the chefs also demonstrate a commitment to simple, elegant bites. The salmon nigiri "particularly rocked," according to Philadelphia Weekly, "melting on the tongue like pats of butter." Amid these familiar sushi-house staples, the menu also features a handful of items that embrace the fusion theme. Globetrotting menu options include broiled black cod marinated in miso paste and topped with mango salsa, and the tuna pancake—a tortilla layered with guacamole, raw tuna, and a spicy caviar and scallion sauce. Just like the menu, the decor has a similar fusion theme. "Although new Aki, with its red velvet booths and sleek black accents, may feel more nightclub than neighborhood sushi spot, it manages to play both roles relatively well," says Philadelphia magazine. Cherry-wood floorboards and a wall of exposed stonework help convey this homey, neighborhood spirit, while sunset-orange walls and soft lantern lighting create a lounge-like ambiance where sipping one of the bar's numerous sakes or specialty cocktails feels perfectly natural.

1210 Walnut St
Philadelphia,
PA
US

Periodically, cries of "Nevermore!" reverberate through The Raven Lounge, which continually reaches out to local celebs such as NBC 10's John Clark to deliver in-house readings of the classic Poe poem. They are among many famous faces that fill the club, where six area DJs spin the latest jams every week, bands frequently blast out their tunes, and comedians H. Foley and Chris Cotton host open mic comedy every Thursday.

Neon lettering scrawled on the ceilings helps illuminate the two-floor lounge, where projectors and flat-screens showcase sports and, as reported on BBC Two, members of the rock, papers, scissors league compete for a spot in the world championship in Las Vegas. To complement optional bottle service from the fully stocked bar, The Raven Lounge's menu of bar classics includes chicken and vegetable dumplings or hot dogs from a late night menu that starts at 2 a.m.

1718 Sansom St
Philadelphia,
PA
US