Beef, jumbo wings, chicken fingers, jalapeño poppers, french fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, honey mustard, and melted cheese. Those are some of the items available on The Whiskey Barrel's menu, and somehow, they all fit on the Mother of All Barrels sandwich. The 12-inch behemoth anchors a menu full of similarly hearty, borderline ridiculous sandwiches, burgers, entrees, and jumbo-sized wings that come in a variety of sauces, from whiskey BBQ to garlic-teriyaki and hot & honey.
The food provides fuel for late nights at the pub, which, like the drive-thru window outside every grandma's kitchen, stays open until 2 a.m. six times a week—including for live music performances every Saturday. Beer specials accompany all Flyers hockey games, and happy-hour deals Monday–Friday help nerves unwind after another long, hard day of resisting the urge to burn the dictionary.
In the heart of East Passyunk, Stateside offers a dining experience that is at once rustic and elevated. Wood décor, muted lighting and specials scrawled on a blackboard hint at simple food, but when diners taste their dishes, it's clear that what's coming out of this kitchen is anything but ordinary. While international influences inspire dishes like paella risotto and vegetable carbonara, the locally-sourced menu focuses mainly on small, American-style plates, as the restaurant's name suggests. On the beverage front, the massive array of American-made whiskies is complemented by a curated mix of domestic craft beers, wines and other spirits. When weather permits, outdoor stools nearly double the seating capacity of the smallish bar.
With its authentically nostalgic décor, cheap cans of beer and an everybody-knows-your-name feel, Ray's "Happy Birthday" Bar has been one of Philadelphia's favorite dives for more than 75 years. In fact, a free birthday shot, with attached small candle, is a veritable rite of passage for any in-the-know local. This South Philly institution also opens its doors at 7 a.m., six days a week (9 a.m. on Sundays), and allows patrons to smoke inside, among walls littered with old newspaper clippings, mug shots and neon signage. And to keep the crowd entertained, Ray's hosts open mic nights on first and third Tuesdays, karaoke on Fridays and live music on Saturdays. Once last call arrives, hungry patrons can head over to Pat's King of Steaks or Geno's, two local Philly cheesesteak institutions.
Though its located in the prestigious Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel and serves a gourmet menu of small plates and fine wines, Tavern 17 maintains a laidback, neighborhood atmosphere—the bartenders call out the names of familiar faces over the sounds of bar-goers chatting over a frosty pint. The warm, cheerful space hums with conversation as diners sip on one of 12 rotating craft beers or wine by the glass by candles and hanging lanterns. The atmosphere in the kitchen is just as animated—chefs bustle about, folding local and organic ingredients into artisanal steak and seafood dishes as other kitchen staffers assemble small plates of fish tacos and bruschetta. Come Saturday evening between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., the restaurant adds to the vibrant ambiance by hosting live music.
A corner gastropub in the warehouse-heavy Spring Garden neighborhood, the Prohibition Taproom has carved out a unique personality for itself. Several sections of the handsome bar jut out to form elongated, teardrop-shaped tables. The beer menu isn’t trying to be exhaustive, just smart and serious, with one beer always poured from a nitro tap to create a creamy texture. The food menu includes a half-dozen or so each of small plates, salads, sandwiches and large plates, and the grilled cheese of the day, the addictive beer-battered green beans and the classic dinner of steak frites are neighborhood favorites. On Sunday evenings it’s BYOV — bring your own vinyl — when a deejay will spin a selection from an LP you’ve supplied, and you’ll get 20% off your bill.
With stick-to-your-ribs fare and a wide beer selection – including several dozen microbrew canned beers – The Blind Pig fits the bill for a casual dinner or hearty late-night snack. Menu standouts at this Northern Liberties pub are the piled-high plate of poutine (the cheese curds come from a southeastern Pennsylvania dairy farm) and the Thanksgiving balls, which consist of turkey wrapped inside stuffing and mashed potatoes and then deep fried, served with gravy and cranberry sauce for dipping. Patrons also gravitate toward the lamb sliders and the Cubano sandwich, while copper cylinder pendant lights, distressed-stucco walls, mason jar candle holders and plenty of knickknacks and prints depicting pigs all add up to a rustic-chic atmosphere inside.