Food & Drink

The Most Beautiful Bars in Philadelphia

Published On 11/13/2015 Published On 11/13/2015
Courtesy of Ashton Cigar Bar
Courtesy of La Peg at the FringeArts

La Peg at FringeArts

Penn’s Landing

Located at the site of the former high-pressure fire system building -- a structure erected in 1903 that enabled firefighters to combat fires in Center City’s tallest buildings -- La Peg is a co-owned space with FringeArts that opened in 2014. With a turn-of-the-century, industrial-inspired design, the massive space houses a bar, restaurant, and multipurpose events stage.

Courtesy of Pat Furey

Charlie Was a Sinner.

Midtown East

It’s a little cliche to describe a bar as sexy, but Charlie Was a Sinner. definitely has a vibe that will raise the body temperature a few degrees. The dark-painted walls, intimate lighting, and antique, plush velvet seating in the lounge create an atmosphere that is perfect for a first date (or second, or third... really any date).

Courtesy of Olde Bar

Olde Bar

Old City

Outside of Le Bec-Fin (which is closed), there probably isn’t a more historically relevant restaurant in Philadelphia than the Original Bookbinder's. What was once THE place to eat and do business in Philly has long since closed, but thanks to Jose Garces, you can now slurp cocktails and oysters in the new, restored Olde Bar. To really get a feel for the place, order one of the signature cocktails like the Moravian Garden or Fish House Punch.

Courtesy of Ashton Cigar Bar

Ashton Cigar Bar

Rittenhouse

At the Ashton Cigar Bar in Rittenhouse, everything is decidedly masculine, from the leather couches to the large glass-faced humidor. The sleek and modern bar is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail & stogie, and engage in conversations about axes, tie clips, and R/C helicopters.

Courtesy of Sassafras

Sassafras Bar

Old City

Walking down 2nd St in Old City, it’s easy to miss Sassafras among the row of dives, tattoo parlors, and the underrated Khyber Pass. Inside, however, is a reprieve from the blandness that is most of Old City: Victorian tiled floors, tin ceilings, small marble cafe tables, and a large wooded bar. It’s simple but a throwback to what bars used to be (probably before any of us were old enough to drink in one...).

R2L

R2L

Penn Center

With R2L, it’s not the inside of the bar we’re focused on -- it’s the view. Located on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place, the bar and restaurant offers panoramic views 500ft above the city floor. A spot to impress, R2L also participates in Sips, allowing you to catch those sunsets at a fraction of the cost it would for the regular price.

Courtesy of Library Bar

Library Bar

Rittenhouse

Odds are, if you're staying at the Rittenhouse -- or have reservations at Lacroix -- you aren’t afraid to open up the checkbook for the night. And if you’re looking to spend like Rich Uncle Pennybags, the intimate Library Bar should more than fit the bill. Designed, as the name implies, to look like a library for the 1%, the 20-seat bar has art-filled walls, a roaring fireplace, and an expansive 17-page cocktail menu. Yep, pretty much exactly how we remember every library growing up.

Delaware River Front

Spruce Street Harbor

Penn’s Landing

Philly, you had us at “beer garden.” Thanks in part to some clever entrepreneurs, there are dozens of options when looking to grab a drink outside during the summer months. And no option is as pretty as Spruce Street Harbor: the floating barge bar that is part of Spruce Street Harbor Park. Whether sunning during the day or seeing the decorative lighting at night, SSH shows why nature always provides the best views.

Courtesy of Ranstead Room

Ranstead Room

Rittenhouse

Head to the back of El Rey and you’ll find the Ranstead Room, Stephen Starr’s take on the speakeasy. At the Ranstead it’s all about atmosphere -- dark and intimate, with plush red seating and walls covered in damask wallpaper and tasteful erotic art. To match the mood, go with the “bartender's choice” and let the Ranstead’s skilled staff mix you up the perfect cocktail. There isn’t a website, so you’ll need to actually head to the place to see what we’re talking about.

Courtesy of Steve Legato, Volver

Bar Volver

Avenue of the Arts

Clearly this Garces man knows what it takes to make a good-looking bar. At Bar Volver, Jose Garces’ companion to pricey, tasting menu-focused Volver, you can grab a pre-Kimmel Center show cocktail and small bites off the newly relaunched menu from the Iron Chef. Or better yet, head there for a Wednesday happy hour that's decidedly more upscale -- but still more reasonably priced -- than anything else in the neighborhood.

Courtesy of Michelle Albertson

Tattooed Mom

South St

Covered in graffiti, stickers, and drawings from local artists, the second floor of Tattooed Mom may not be conventionally beautiful by traditional bar standards. But take a deeper look at those walls and you’ll notice the skill and thought that went into every line. Like a lot of art, it’s not for everyone, but if it’s your thing, it’s one of the best around.