Father-and-son team Ken and Terry Sweeney founded Sweeney's in 1985 to fortify sports fans and unaffiliated revelers with family hospitality and hearty pub eats. Like visiting foreign dignitaries, wings arrive smothered in one of eight zesty sauces and sampler platters designed for digital delectation bear chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers, pizza fingers, and onion rings. Eight Philly-steak sandwiches sport tender slices of beef and chicken alongside oven-warmed jewels such as a roast-chicken grinder stacked with bacon and swiss cheese on crisp garlic toast. A pair of house-made broiled crab cakes steps out on dinner platters with potatoes draped in parsley and the vegetable of the day carved to comment on that day's newspaper headlines.
At Tattooed Mom, lollipops, plastic rings, temporary tattoos and other child-like prizes are strewn across the bar and tables, making it clear that this South Street hotspot wants its customers to let go and have fun. The space itself says just as much, with vibrant murals adorning the front entrance and an eclectic mix of stools, sofas and pool tables littering the floorspace. Along with a rotating selection of local and regional draft beers, the drink menu features playfully suggestive cocktails like the Honey Amor, a concoction of Bulleit bourbon, locally sourced honey and amaro herbal liqueur. Hungry patrons can munch on chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and other standard bar food, as well as unique options like a veggie corn dog on a stick. Specials, including $1 tacos on Tuesdays and fifty-cent pierogies on Thursdays, appeal to a budget-conscious crowd.
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.
El Cantinflas Bar's menu embodies the traditions of Puerto Rican cuisine, specifically comida criolla. Since 2004, the Northern Liberties eatery has been serving authentic dishes ranging from Mexican-inspired tacos to more traditional meals, including mofongo with fried pork, stuffed plantains with steak and cheese, and quesadillas brimming with steak and shrimp. An array of tropical drinks such as passion-fruit champagne help to wash down bites of the spice-laden, hearty fare. El Cantinflas also entertains its guests with events such as Thursday- and Sunday-night karaoke and live DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights, which coax diners out of their seats onto the dance floor much like every bride's mother on their daughter's wedding day.
The recently opened Catch 202 entices guests with an extensive menu of casual American dishes. Diners can open meals with scoops of indulgent dip layered with lump crab meat and blended with cream cheese and green onions. Friendly servers then unload plates of crispy fish and chips, creamy shrimp primavera pasta, or fire-roasted sirloin steaks. During lunch, aromas of char-grilled burgers and chicken sandwiches fill dining room while guests chatter and end meals of lingering bites of homemade apple dumplings or oven-warm brownies. In addition to its diverse menu, Catch 202 welcomes revelers with a fully stocked bar.