Philadelphia’s highly-walkable downtown district is home to a vast number of nightlife options, from nationally-renowned clubs and gastropubs to eclectic bars that rank among the East Coast’s top hipster hangouts. A number of upscale clubs and bars have gained national attention for their inventive cocktails, extensive draft lists, and award-winning pub fare.
1.Chris' Jazz Cafe
© Chris' Jazz Cafe
Chris' Jazz Cafe is a popular jazz music venue on Sansom Street in Center City, known for its showcases of both up-and-coming regional artists and national touring acts. Music is presented at 8:00 nightly, with a small cover charge required that varies depending on the night of the week. Its full restaurant serves lunch, dinner, and late night dishes with Cajun flair, including gourmet burgers and shrimp po’boy sandwiches, while its methe bar serves up an inventive cocktail menu alongside pints, shots, and wine pours by the glass. Happy hour specials are offered throughout the week, including discounted evenings for service industry members.
1421 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, Phone: 215-568-3131
© Raven Lounge
Raven Lounge is a four-story combination venue that showcases a casual bar, dance club, comedy club, and concert venue all in one. The lively Rittenhouse Square spot was opened by former Philadelphia school teacher Jonathan Hunter and offers a half-off discount to all teachers who present valid school IDs. It showcases six individual rooms, including a speakeasy-style Pendulum Room and a low-key Poe Room lounge. Board games are available for play, along with creative drink combinations such as champagne and pop rocks. Upstairs, live comedy and burlesque acts are hosted at the Dream Within a Dream venue.
1718 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Phone: 215-840-3577
3.Bob and Barbara's Lounge
© Bob and Barbara's Lounge
Bob and Barbara's Lounge is a laid-back dive bar on South Street that has been in business since 1969 and is credited as the inventor of the famed “Citywide Special,” a popular Philadelphia happy hour deal that pairs a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon with a shot of Jim Beam. The bar’s resident jazz band, the Crowd Pleasers, play Friday and Saturday nights and are known for their Hammond B-3 organ stylings that are popularly referred to as “Liquor Drinking Music.” On Thursday nights, the bar presents its famous Miss Lisa’s drag show, featuring a cast of the city’s best drag performances. No cover charge is required at the 21-and-up club, which welcomes a diverse, casual neighborhood crowd.
1509 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19146, Phone: 215-545-4511
4.Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar
© Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar
Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar was opened in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood in 2000, with its name honoring the ongoing struggle for freedom for the island nation. The restaurant is dedicated to showcasing Criollo-style Cuban cuisine, which is known for its blend of South American, African, Asian, and Spanish culinary traditions. On Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant is transformed into a hip nightclub, offering guest DJs spinning top salsa, merengue, and bachata hits. VIP lounge tables offer customizable cocktail service and bottle service for premium spirits, wine, and sangria and mojito pitchers, available until 2:00am each night.
10 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, Phone: 215-627-0666
5.The Dolphin Tavern
© The Dolphin Tavern
The Dolphin Tavern occupies the space of a former South Philly go-go bar, redesigned in 2013 as a hip bar serving rotating craft beer taps from regional and national microbreweries. Its unique decor features an iconic neon-lit wall that was constructed to evoke the former bar’s rainbow-lit dance floor. Nightly themed dance parties draw diverse hip crowds, including a weekly Club Congress event with a significant LGBT following. Other events include Friday night Danceteria events, which feature eclectic music mixes from DJs Ed Christof and Jayo, and Lean Back parties, which highlight early 2000s rap hits. Live music performances from international rock and independent touring artists such as James Murphy and Matthew Dear are also presented.
1539 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147, Phone: 215-278-7950
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Down Philadelphia is an intimate, upscale nightlife spot located next to the popular Howl at the Moon bar venue on 15th Street. The 8,200-square-foot venue offers a dance floor that accommodates up to 500 nightly guests, hosting top DJs from throughout the tri-state area for guests sets. Four fully-stocked bars serve cocktails all night long, and a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system creates a lively atmosphere. Champagne and spirits bottle service is offered at the club’s exclusive VIP lounge area, which can be rented for private special events. The club enforces a dress-to-impress dress code policy, ensuring all patrons enjoy an elite partygoing experience.
262 S 15th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, Phone: 215-732-1681
© Franky Bradley's
Franky Bradley's is a kitschy bar and restaurant in Philadelphia’s Midtown Village neighborhood, a popular LGBT-friendly spot within the city. The restaurant was originally opened in 1933 by its namesake owner, who had previously owned several luncheonette restaurants throughout the city. Throughout the mid-2oth century, the restaurant became a favorite of celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, and Dick Clark. Today, it features a nightclub space decorated with quirky decor such as vintage erotic artwork and taxidermied fish. Draft and bottled beers are available, along with an extensive upscale bar menu that offers selections such as gourmet burgers, skirt steak, and shrimp scampi. The club’s upstairs space is host to a number of monthly performances, including drag shows, dance parties, and burlesque skits.
1320 Chancellor St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone: 215-735-0735
© Graffiti Bar
Graffiti Bar is a popular outdoor bar in Philadelphia’s Midtown Village that was opened to the public in April of 2010. The bar’s name comes from its heavily graffitied mural walls, which showcase rotating art installations. Its patio dining space is covered with a state-of-the-art clear ceiling, allowing the sun to shine during warm months but keeping out inclement weather. Pan-Asian cuisine is served, including creative dishes such as Korean barbecue short rib satay, Sriracha sauerkraut egg rolls, and bahn mi pork belly buns. Specialty cocktails change daily, while a wine and beer list offers rotating regional and national favorites.
124 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone: 215-732-3501
© Infusion Lounge
Infusion Lounge is an Old City hangout that cultivates a Baroque-style lounge atmosphere, echoing underground haunts in historic Paris and American bars of the Gilded Age. The bar is decked out in decor such as mahogany leather couches and marble-topped tables and serves an extensive collection of more than 60 international whiskeys, including bourbon, rye, and single-malt scotch variants. Fresh cocktails use top-shelf liquors from around the world, craft blends from East Coast distilleries, and locally-sourced organic fruit ingredients. The bar’s Cocktail Culture Co. cocktail workshop series teaches participants how to craft gourmet cocktails in a hands-on environment with professional mixologists, offering tasting lessons and private workshop options.
16 S 2nd St, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106, Phone: 267-908-4009
© Johnny Brenda's
Johnny Brenda’s is one of Fishtown’s oldest nightlife establishments, opened in the late 1960s as a shot-and-a-beer-style neighborhood bar. In recent years, the club has gained a decidedly more hipster dive bar reputation, showcasing live music performances from artists such as Angel Olsen, Sampha, and The War on Drugs. A balcony offers fantastic sightlines for performances and creates an intimate music venue atmosphere, and a dance floor area highlights sets from guest DJs on the weekends. Downstairs, the venue’s gastropub serves classic American plates such as fresh oysters and fried chicken sandwiches, with many ingredients sourced from local East Coast farmers.
1201 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125, Phone: 215-739-9684
© Monk's Cafe
Monk's Cafe is a hip 16th Street brewpub that showcases the finest craft beer offerings in the world, from regional American microbrews to Old World ales from Belgium, Germany, and other top European regions. The brewpub has been in operation for more than two decades and has become a favorite hangout for brewers and beer industry professionals from around the world. A bottled beer list is also offered, along with an extensive cocktail list and a selection of wines available by the glass or by the bottle. A full menu of award-winning housemade American fare is served, including customizable burgers, ale-infused mussels, and vegetarian options. The brewpub’s Beer Bible offers a full guide of selections in choosing ales to try, including recommended options for drinkers who enjoy certain types of wines or liquors.
264 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, Phone: 215-545-7005
© Morgan's Pier
Morgan's Pier is a favorite seasonal spot along the Delaware River Waterfront, named in honor of the first traveler on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The lively beer garden offers more than 40 craft brews on tap, along with bottled beer options and draft wine and cocktails. A new head chef is chosen for the restaurant each season, creating inventive fare for the summer alongside a family-friendly create-your-own milkshake stand. Throughout the season, live music and entertainment is provided nightly, including sets from top local and national DJs, creating a dance floor near the venue’s outdoor stage. Performances by local and regional touring bands are also showcased periodically.
221 N Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19123, Phone: 215-279-7134
13.1 Tippling Place
© 1 Tippling Place
1 Tippling Place is a vintage-style cocktail bar located in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, operated by Anne Frey and Myles Carroll. The bar has been named as one of America’s 24 best cocktail bars by Food and Wine magazine and highlights unique vintage decor, recreating the vibe of an eccentric private mansion bar from the 20th century. An innovative cocktail list highlights creative twists on old standbys, including Chocolate Rum Old Fashioneds, and a house-made punch with maraschino liqueur and champagne is available nightly. Light bar bites include snacks such as bacon-wrapped dates and bitters-soaked honey-chipotle peanuts.
2006 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Phone: 215-665-0456
14.Charlie was a sinner.
© Charlie was a sinner.
Charlie was a sinner. is a stylistically-titled offering by noted Philly restaurant proprietor Nicole Marquis, offering creative vegan fare and drinks in a sleek, dimly-lit space once occupied by the Full Moon Saloon gentleman’s club. The 13th Street bar is a favorite hangout within the city’s Midtown Village neighborhood, featuring decor that alludes to the building and neighborhood’s storied history, including bordello-inspired chandeliers and studded banquettes. Small plates, pasta dishes, and entrees offer creative vegan ingredients such as Korean-style fried tofu, black bean sausage, and caramelized eggplant. All drinks pass the vegan test as well, eschewing commercial brews and pours often processed with animal byproducts for independently-produced craft beverages.
131 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone: 267-758-5372
© Silk City
Silk City is a diner, lounge, and beer garden that was originally constructed as a diner car by New Jersey’s Paterson Dining Company that was installed beside a cocktail lounge on Philadelphia’s 5th Street. The diner became a popular Philly institution throughout the mid-20th century before being closed in 2006 by its original management. It was then purchased by current owner Mark Bee, the proprietor of the city’s N. 3rd Bar and Restaurant. Since then, it has been featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-In, and Dives” program and has been voted as the city’s best outdoor dining space. Today, it offers a 3,000-square-foot beer garden that serves American craft favorites and imports on draft. Brunch is served seven days a week, featuring American comfort fare selections.
435 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, Phone: 215-592-8838
© Standard Tap
Standard Tap is widely considered to be the first gastropub in the United States and the first brewpub to embrace Philadelphia’s renewed craft beer scene in the late 20th century. It has become a renowned favorite to diverse crowds, from hipsters and foodies to business crowds to environmentalists who commend the brewery for its sustainable practices. The multi-level bar showcases rotating daily creations by executive chef Joel Mazigian, including signature dishes such as mussels and sausage, duck confit salad, and chicken pie that have been highlighted in a number of national culinary magazines. Selections from popular East Coast favorites are tapped, including Yards Brewing Company, Troegs Independent Brewing, and Dogfish Head Brewery.
901 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, Phone: 215-238-0630
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© Tattooed Mom
Tattooed Mom is a South Street gathering place that is known for its upstairs street art installations, which began in 1999 as part of an exhibition presented by artists Nathan and Noah Rice. Today, it’s known as the home of the TMom’s Sticky Art Machine pop-up art installation, an award-winning jukebox, and one-of-a-kind decor such as amusement park ride car seating. An extensive food menu offers unique bar fare, including vegetarian and vegan sandwiches and shareable appetizers. Clever cocktails include Pop Rockets, Pickletinis, and Tattooed Rosés, with a large list of bottled craft beers also available. Diverse events are showcased regularly, including literary readings, pop-up art shows, and film screenings.
530 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147, Phone: 215-238-9880
© The 700
The 700 is a dive nightclub that stocks more than 80 bottles of regional and international craft microbrews, along with a selection of a dozen beers on draft and a wide variety of artisanal liquors. The multi-level club is also a popular sports bar, serving as one of the city’s top hangouts for soccer fans. Comfortable couches populate the casually-decorated club, which gives off the vibe of hanging out in a friend’s basement. No cover charge is required for weekend dance parties, which spin a mix of hip underground music. Guest sets from regional and national DJs are also showcased throughout the rest of the week, spinning from atop the club’s bar.
700 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, Phone: 215-413-3181
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The Barbary is a tri-level dance club that was opened in 2007 in the city’s Northern Liberties region, located near The Piazza at Schmidt’s Commons multi-use development. The 200-capacity club is open seven nights a week, offering diverse dance parties spanning nearly all genres of music. It is best known for its Tigerbeats indie rock dance parties, with other popular events including parties such as the Through Being Cool emo bash. Following a recent management chance, the usually-21-and-up club has also begun to host occasional all-ages concerts from local and regional bands. A second-floor haunt named Barberella showcases plenty of lounge seating and a full restaurant menu of creative bar food, including cheap deals such as Taco Tuesdays.
951 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125, Phone: 215-634-7400
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20.The Continental Mid-town
© The Continental Mid-town
The Continental Mid-town is a Rittenhouse Square restaurant and lounge operated as a sister facility to the Old City Continental martini bar. Both properties are managed by restauranteur Stephen Starr and are known for their creative cocktails, from retro favorites to new modern creations. Inventive food options include globally-inspired tapas, shareable plates such as French onion soup dumplings and cheesesteak spring rolls, and gourmet meat and seafood entrees. The tri-level restaurant offers diner-style seating on its first floor, a sunken second-floor dining room, and a rooftop deck open year-round. A monthly Industry Night party offers discounts for service industry employees.
1801 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Phone: 215-567-1800
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21.The Fillmore Philadelphia
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The Fillmore Philadelphia is a Fishtown concert venue with a name paying homage to the legendary San Francisco nightclub venue of the same name, which launched the careers of seminal acts such as the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin. Philadelphia’s version is operated by ticket sellers Live Nation and books regional and national touring acts with a focus on indie rock artists such as LCD Soundsystem and Broken Social Scene. Upstairs, the 450-seat Foundry hosts smaller performances by local and up-and-coming artists and offers its own bar. Craft beer drafts and small-batch liquors are served at Ajax Hall, along with a full menu of bar bites and pub fare crafted by legendary chef Wolfgang Puck.
29 E Allen St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, Phone: 215-309-0150
22.The Franklin Bar (The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company)
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The Franklin Bar was historically known as the Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company, a cover name for what was the largest alcohol-running ring during Prohibition, operated by legendary Philadelphia mobster Max “Boo Boo” Hoff. During the height of its Prohibition operation, it pushed more illegally-sold liquor than similar operations by Al Capone. Today, it has been rebranded as a fully-legal bar known as the Franklin Bar, still remaining one of the city’s top bars. The tiki-themed basement-level bar is accessible via an unmarked entrance and serves handcrafted bespoke cocktails and tastings flights of craft liquors.
112 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Phone: 267-467-3277
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23.The Trestle Inn
© The Trestle Inn
The Trestle Inn is a throwback whiskey-and-go-go-style bar that pays homage to the heyday of the flapper era, with nods to the free-spirited urban attitudes of the mid-20th century. Its 11th Street and Callowhill location has been a popular hangout for diverse crowds, from railroad and industrial workers to circus performers and traveling salesmen. Today, the bar has been transformed into a dancehall and speakeasy, serving affordable pours of top whiskeys, bourbons, ryes, and scotches. A light bar bites menu features items such as mixed beer nuts, olive plates, and popcorn, and soul music fuels the bar’s lively dance floor throughout the night.
339 N 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone: 267-239-0290
Time is an upscale whiskey bar, nightclub, and restaurant in Philly’s Market East district, offering live music performances from local and regional acts seven nights a week. Classic pub fare is served at its 60-seat dining room, which features Art Nouveau and Venetian design touches. Upstairs, the Parisian-style Absinthe Lounge nightclub highlights guest DJ sets on Fridays and Saturdays and is available for private special event rental. More than 90 craft whiskeys are served, along with 20 regional and national microbrews on tap. Other public special events include regular poetry and spoken-word performances by members of the city’s local arts and literature scene.
1315 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone: 215-985-4800
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Union Transfer is housed within a former Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant building that has been converted into a 1,200-seat music venue, hosting some of the city’s hippest rock, hip-hop, and independent music concerts. The venue has been named as one of Rolling Stone’s top 20 music venues in the nation and has worked with top local event presenting organizations such as the Jimmy Rollins Foundation and WXPN Kids Corner. Three full bars are offered throughout the facility, serving draft and bottled microbrews and cocktails. For all-ages shows, a lobby bar provides a place for parents of younger teenagers to stay and snack while watching concerts on several television broadcasts.
1026 Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, Phone: 215-232-2100
25 Best Philadelphia Nightlife Spots
- Chris' Jazz Cafe, Photo: Chris' Jazz Cafe
- Raven Lounge, Photo: Raven Lounge
- Bob and Barbara's Lounge, Photo: Bob and Barbara's Lounge
- Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar, Photo: Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar
- The Dolphin Tavern, Photo: The Dolphin Tavern
- Down Philadelphia, Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Lund - Fotolia.com
- Franky Bradley's, Photo: Franky Bradley's
- Graffiti Bar, Photo: Graffiti Bar
- Infusion Lounge, Photo: Infusion Lounge
- Johnny Brenda's, Photo: Johnny Brenda's
- Monk's Cafe, Photo: Monk's Cafe
- Morgan's Pier, Photo: Morgan's Pier
- 1 Tippling Place, Photo: 1 Tippling Place
- Charlie was a sinner., Photo: Charlie was a sinner.
- Silk City, Photo: Silk City
- Standard Tap, Photo: Standard Tap
- Tattooed Mom, Photo: Tattooed Mom
- The 700, Photo: The 700
- The Barbary, Photo: Courtesy of Mariano Gila - Fotolia.com
- The Continental Mid-town, Photo: The Continental Mid-town
- The Fillmore Philadelphia, Photo: Courtesy of nd3000 - Fotolia.com
- The Franklin Bar (The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company), Photo: Courtesy of oliverhuitson - Fotolia.com
- The Trestle Inn, Photo: The Trestle Inn
- Time, Photo: Time
- Union Transfer, Photo: Courtesy of Danil Nikonov - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of ACphoto - Fotolia.com