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Where to Find the Best Bar Food in Philly

Wings, burgers, nachos and po' boys — here's where to get your fix
January 26, 2015
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by Danya Henninger

There’s no shortage of great food available when you take a seat at the bar in restaurants all over Philly, but when all you want is to pull up a stool and get down on good grub, these 10 beer and booze sanctuaries have your number.

Jose Pistola’s

When co-owners Casey Parker and Joe Gunn brought on chef Adan Trinidad, this Center City beer-focused tavern was transformed into a true destination for Mexican eats.

Bar-Food Specialties: Guacamole and chips (four kinds; $11-$14), nachos ($9), steamed buns ($7)
Alternate Must-Tries: Tiraditos (like ceviche; $11-$13), Korean rib tacos ($11)
See Also: Trinidad partnered with Parker and Gunn to open Sancho Pistola’s, providing a near-identical menu and equally fun atmosphere out in Fishtown.

263 S. 15th St.; 215-545-4101

American Sardine Bar

With a great beer list served by unpretentious bartenders, John Longacre’s corner pub is an oasis in the middle of residential/industrial Point Breeze, and chef Scott Schroeder’s food makes it an even better stop.

Bar-Food Specialties: Brussels sprouts ($7), salt and pepper fries ($6), fried whole wings ($2 ea.)
Alternate Must-Tries: Sardines (grilled, sautéed, fried or on the plancha; $4), sandwiches (these change often but are always good — just don’t ask the kitchen to cut them in half; it’s against the rules)
See Also: Longacre and Schroeder are also the team running the show at South Philadelphia Tap Room in Newbold, where the burger and fried PB&J should not be missed.

1800 Federal St.; 215-334-2337

Grace Tavern

There’s a New Orleans theme to the food at this cozy drinkery tucked into the corner where Grays Ferry meets South Street, perfect for pairing with a beer list that’s concise but always on point.

Bar-Food Specialties: Grace burger ($8.75), blackened green beans ($3/small; $6/large), frites with bourbon mayo ($2/small; $4/large)
Alternate Must-Tries: Chicken-apple sausage ($7.75), jambalaya ($7.75/small; $13.95/large)
See Also: A trio of semi-sibling establishments (also co-owned by Grace partner Fergus Carey) all do stellar jobs in the bar food category: Fergie’s Pub in Midtown Village, Monk’s Cafe in Center City and The Belgian Cafe in Fairmount.

2229 Grays Ferry Ave.; 215-893-9580

Khyber Pass Pub

Get even deeper into Louisiana cuisine at this Old City brew haven, which is appropriately dimly lit so you feel comfortable drinking during daylight hours, true NOLA style.

Bar-Food Specialties: Benton’s bacon grease popcorn ($5), grilled chicken wings ($12), debris (gravy) cheese fries ($8)
Alternate Must-Tries: Po' boys ($11-$19), gumbo ($5.50/cup; $8/bowl), fried green tomato BLT ($13)
See Also: The same ownership group also runs Royal Tavern in Queen Village, where there’s a full complement of American and veg-centric favorites, plus Mexi-grub go-tos Cantina Los Caballitos (East Passyunk) and Cantina Dos Segundos (Northern Liberties).

56 S. Second St.; 215-238-5888

Standard Tap

The menu is blackboard-only and constantly changing at this Northern Liberties mainstay, but two things remain constant: the food is made from nothing but locally sourced ingredients, and the beer list is nothing but local drafts.

Bar-Food Specialties: Burger ($14), Brussels sprouts ($9)
Alternate Must-Tries: Chicken pie ($15), duck liver mousse ($13), oysters on the half shell (market price)
See Also: Co-owners William Reed and Paul Kimport also own Johnny Brenda’s just a few blocks away in Fishtown, where you can enjoy similarly sustainable and local food and drink at lunch or dinner.

901 N. 2nd St.; 215-238-0630

Fountain Porter

This no-frills beer joint a block off East Passyunk is a favorite among industry insiders, many of whom tout the simple, $5 burger as their favorite in the city. The menu's not long, but it does the job well.

Bar-Food Specialties: Burger ($5), spicy green beans ($5)
Alternate Must-Tries: Cheese and charcuterie (price varies)

1601 S. 10th St.; 267-324-3910

Taproom on 19th

Bar food in deep South Philly got a boost when friends Michael Strauss and Pete Fry took over this tappy and turned it into a full-fledged gastropub, where 21-year-old Christina DeSilva now runs the kitchen.

Bar-Food Specialties: LaFrieda burger ($13 and half-price on Mondays), Brussels sprouts ($9), “cool ranch” fries ($4), mac ‘n’ cheese ($11)
Alternate Must-Tries: Root veggie chips ($6), brown butter sage milkshake ($7; with bourbon $10)

2400 S. 19th St.; 267-687-7817

London Grill

Chef Michael McNalley pays as much attention to the food served at his two-decades-old corner tavern in Fairmount as partner Terry Berch McNalley does to the front of the house, where regulars and newcomers are welcomed with equal camaraderie.

Bar-Food Specialties: Meatball sliders ($9), calamari ($11), fish ‘n’ chips ($15), burger ($12)
Alternate Must-Tries: Foie gras pierogi ($13), cauliflower a la plancha ($7), risotto ($15)

2301 Fairmount Ave.; 215-978-4545

Good Dog Bar

Dave Garry and Heather Gleason make good use of their narrow tavern space in Center City by spreading seating and bars among three floors, all of which are nearly always busy, thanks to the food and drink menus.

Bar-Food Specialties: Mac ‘n’ cheese ($13), wings ($14), signature fries (mixed regular and sweet potato; $5/small; $5/large)
Alternate Must-Tries: Duck pot pie ($17), coffee-rubbed short-rib quesadilla ($10)
See Also: At The Industry, the couple’s Pennsport pub, space is much more spread out, and the menu is different but just as beer-friendly.

224 S. 15th St.; 215-985-9600

Pub & Kitchen

When Dan Clark and Ed Hackett cleaned up a former alehouse to create this Rittenhouse favorite, they were sure to keep the dark-wood, old-school vibe, but infused it with new-fashioned drinks that complement chef Eli Collins’ versatile menu.

Bar-Food Specialties: Deviled eggs ($7), smoked chicken wings ($12), cheeseburger ($15)
Alternate Must-Tries: Roast Lancaster chicken ($22), steak tartare ($11), whiskey-sage bread ($7)
See Also: The partners also run Fitler Dining Room a few blocks away, and while there isn’t much of a bar, there is a chef’s counter well-suited for a solo glass of wine and a snack.

1946 Lombard St.; 215-545-0350

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