Fez Moroccan Restaurant should almost ask to see passports at the door. Bolts of crimson and green fabric embellished with golden patterns adorn the walls. Seated atop cushioned stools, diners surround the room's low-slung circular tables as Moroccan music echoes throughout the space and Friday and Saturday evenings herald the arrival of belly dancers. Collectively, these unmistakable accents of Moroccan culture help create an ambiance that Gayot described as, "a setting out of Arabian nights." As evidenced by the swirling aromas of saffron, honey and almonds, and harissa-cumin sauces, the chefs are equally committed to the task of capturing the essence of Morocco. In addition to the selection of kabobs and tagines, the Zagat-rated menu features a variety of vegetarian as well as meat-laden couscous dishes. The savory smells mingle with the slightly sweet smoke of the fruit-flavored shisha smoldering in the hookahs , which earned Fez Moroccan Restaurant a spot on CBS Philly's list of the Top Hookah Bars In Philadelphia.
The taps flow with Guinness, Smithwick’s, and Harp. High-definition televisions play overseas soccer matches in surround sound. Walls of flagstone and exposed brick flank the tiered dining space of the cozy corner pub. The Irish Times truly does embody the vivacious Gaelic spirit—a spirit that thrives until 2 a.m. seven nights a week. CBS Philly praised this dedication to authenticity and placed The Irish Times on its 2012 list of Top Philadelphia Irish Pubs for St. Patrick’s Day.
In between pints, the menu tempts diners with a selection of traditional Irish staples and assorted international comfort foods. The slow-simmered stew features hunks of lamb, carrots, and celery in a Guinness, merlot, and lamb gravy, and the traditional Irish breakfast—complete with black and white puddings, rashers, and Irish sausage—is served all day long. Dishes from farther abroad include a trio of hummus, pico de gallo, and baba ghanoush and wraps filled with teriyaki-glazed chicken tenders, pineapple, and individually polished sesame seeds.
Mac's Tavern may be far nicer than Paddy's Pub from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but they do have one thing in common—Mac's is owned by Rob and Kaitlin McElhenney, who play Mac and Dee Reynolds on the show, along with a small group of their friends.
The building's house-like façade has long been an Old City fixture. In the 1700s, it was the Skinner’s Dry Goods Store and served such famed customers as Benjamin Franklin, even though it refused to accept payment in the form of bills with his face on them. These days, more than 17 draft beers rotate through the taps behind the stained wood bar and a jukebox sets the background score.
Though the tavern itself is historic, Mac's dedicates itself to modernity, as evidenced by a seasonal menu that might list a roasted beet salad in a balsamic-caramel gastrique or buffalo chicken cheesesteak, a twist on the hometown staple. And every Sunday, the brunch burger arrogantly bestrides mealtimes with its topper of smoked bacon, a fried egg, and a seven-cheese sauce.
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.
The green-, white-, and orange-striped façade of O’Neals Pub hints at what one may expect to find inside: a menu replete with shepherd’s pie, beer-battered fish and chips, and Irish beef stew along with an extensive selection of beers and whiskeys from the Emerald Isle. These Irish staples share space on tables with American pub grub such as creamy bacon mac 'n' cheese, hearty sandwiches, and 100% Angus beef or veggie burgers. Between bites, guests can marvel at the Celtic cross carved into the woodgrain on the front door, practice their aim on the dartboard, or play pranks on friends by slyly filling their bagpipes with mashed potatoes. Guests may also turn their attention to one of the pub's 20 TVs, which all have Direct TV packages, or bask in the sun on the outdoor patio, where oversize umbrellas provide shelter to those scanning the horizon for telltale rainbows after thundershowers.
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The Emerald Isles' greatest export is neither potatoes nor leprechauns, although both are invaluable to our modern way of life. No, the most important Irish contribution to Western society is the Guinness-fueled pub philosopher. Share in their wisdom with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of intoxicating pub grub and intoxicant at Finn McCools Ale House in Center City. Finn McCools is an authentic Irish-style pub that was recently upgraded to a full kitchen with an expanded beer selection, thanks to a leftover genie someone donated to a local thrift store with a perfectly good wish left in it.
The new kitchen is piloted by Irish cuisine expert, chef Larry Smith, so the menu has shamrock specialties in addition to classic bar favorites. Smith has taught at Temple University and studied under chefs at The Joseph Ambler Inn, Le Bec Fin, and Table 31. Try the bangers and mash, Irish pork sausages with mashed potatoes and peas served with savory gravy ($10.50) or a scotch fillet, 10 ounces of well-marbled rib eye served with vegetables and a baked potato ($25). Finn's serves perhaps the most traditional Irish favorite—nachos ($13), as well as wings with fries ($8) and fish and chips ($11). Unrepentant foodies, meanwhile, will find gastropub offerings such as zarzuela pasta paella ($18), poached-pear salad ($8), and moules mariniere ($9). Finn's 16 draft beers are mainly Irish, Belgian, German, and local microbrews. The bar's expert tenders are fast and friendly, so ask for directions home if your speech begins to resemble Molly Bloom's soliloquy.
After eight months of renovation, Finn's barroom is even classier and finally banshee-free. The authentic pub space has bare brick walls, wood accents, and well-stocked back-bar shelves (peruse the gallery for a peek at all the fancy new features). The giant-scaled, 20-foot ceiling could accommodate the actual Finn McCool and makes watching the game on Finn's four large, flat-screen TVs more comfortable than watching it at home on your corrugated TV boogie board.
Your Groupon can be used on yourself or on an entire table, so start a tab at Finn McCools and treat your entire U2 tribute band to some well-deserved shenanigans.
Citysearchers and Yellow Pages reviewers give Finn McCool's a perfect five stars, while CityVoters rave about the delicious food and affable staff:
- The place was excellent, great selection of beers and cocktails. We got a big selection of appetizers and it was very good. The fried Ravioli was great. The bartender was fast and excellent, and the owner and people in the bar were real friendly. – boomer71, Citysearch
- It's the best bar ever...with the coolest staff! Always a good time. Never a disappointment. Food and service is flawless. – kristen12345678, CityVoter
- Friendly staff, clean, and a great place to watch games. – mcDog, Citysearch