Max’s Brew Bar is new on the Northern Liberties scene, but it aims to feel like a neighborhood fixture where groups of friends have socialized for years. Yes, there are Eagles, Phillies, and once-in-a-lifetime Eagles vs. Phillies games charging across the TVs, but there are also plenty of spaces designed just for conversation and a collection of board games including Jenga and Connect Four. All the while, bartenders work 34 taps—pouring everything from Great Divide's Hercules Double IPA to 21st Amendment's richly fruity Lower Da Boom—as the kitchen crafts health-conscious finger foods. The menu includes grilled paninis, sea-salted edamame, and silken hummus, although the selection changes seasonally to accommodate new ingredients. While outdoor seating surrounds the Piazza entrance, nightly karaoke invites patrons indoors to belt out their favorite tune or recite their favorite State of the Union address.
It takes nearly three months, Zagat reports, for cask ale to travel from Great Britain to The Victoria Freehouse. But it's worth the wait for owner Edward Strojan. The casks add an extra touch of authenticity to his bar, which stocks an eclectic assembly of imported and local libations that, per Zagat, "avoids the obvious." Craft brews on draught—which can be served in 20-ounce "imperial" pints—share space with meads, ciders, ginger beers, and single-malt scotch.
British tipples pair well with Edward's pub food, which includes classic dishes such as shepherd's pie and Welsh rarebit with ale sauce. For sweet teeth, Edward serves tarts and puddings rich with ingredients such as the cinnamon, sultanas, and everything nice. Feasts unfold in a dark interior with wooden barstools, reclaimed church pews, and antiques such as a late-19th century bust of Queen Victoria from the Monarch's Jubilee.
Named not for the 19th-century novelist who wrote The Portrait of a Lady, but rather its location near the intersection of Henry Avenue and Jamestown Street in Roxborough, the Henry James Saloon is a no-frills neighborhood pub that has been propping up local drinkers for years. Housed in a tiny one-story rectangular building with a sign that suggests you should “Eat, Drink and Don’t Hurry,” the Henry James embodies the same easy-going attitude inside. Red walls, neon beer signs and multiple TVs constitute the majority of the atmosphere, while the pub menu is surprisingly extensive, with a long list of favorites like roast pork sandwiches, patty melts, pizzas and more. The more impressive “mealwiches” are a fitting portmanteau, stuffed sandwiches that eat like a full meal, combining chicken tenders, cheese, bacon, ranch dressing and more all under one outsized bun.
A corner pub in Manayunk with a nice selection of craft beers on draft and more than 60 bottles including ciders, wheats and barleywines, Old Eagle Tavern exudes a comfortable, easygoing vibe. There’s a rectangular bar and Formica tables, and the wood-paneled walls are decorated with tin beer company signs and old serving trays. Practice your aim on one of the two dartboards, or shoot for the corner pocket on the pool table, both of which are free of charge on Monday nights. The usual supply of burgers anchors the menu, but these beef patties are wrapped in freshly-baked buns from Wild Flour Bakery in Northeast Philly. The rest of the menu wanders a bit from traditional pub fare, including the popular chicken and waffles meal. You can’t go wrong during the generous happy hour on weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m., when all draft beers are half price.
Tavern on the Hill is a haven of warm wood: it’s in the paneling, along the dark-wood bar edged with a brass railing and etched into the restaurant’s overhang. The dining area features a ten small tables, floral wallpaper, green pineapple patterned table cloths, decorative mirrors, wall sconces, votive candles and a corner fireplace. This is a classic spot in Chestnut Hill for well-made cocktails and food that encompasses traditional pub fare like wings and pulled pork sandwiches, while not shying away from higher-end plates of spinach ravioli with homemade marinara or sautéed chicken with roasted tomato compote and saffron couscous. For great deals, the four predetermined dinners on the special “$9 after 9” menu can’t be beat: meatloaf with gravy and roasted potatoes, fish ‘n’ chips, chicken salad over greens or eggplant parmesan.
Upon stepping inside Infusion Lounge, you're immediately immersed in both the traditional and the modern. Guests enveloped in clouds of smoke puff on shisha pipes under classical European paintings. The haziness blurs together the vibrant crimson and royal purple decor, giving guests a sheen of privacy as they lean back and socialize on plush couches. They pass around hoses filled with traditional flavors of shisha such as Al Fakher lemon mint, but there are more options than just the classic flavors of the East. The extensive hookah menu also includes modern flavors such as Starbuzz Exotic apple martini. Nearby, an even more modern scene meets the eye. DJs spin electro house music next to guests mingling at the bar or ordering bottle service for friends lounging in the VIP area or at the make-your-own ship-in-a-bottle station.