Sadly, Philadelphia finds itself at the top of some not-so-great lists: most overweight major city, most difficult-to-imitate dialect, etc. But we're also number one when it comes to having lots of cool, old stuff everywhere, including bars -- like these five fine drinking establishments (and one honorable mention) where, instead of making bad decisions, you're taking a trip through our city's alcohol-soaked history, and where you just might meet a Ben Franklin impersonator or two.
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5. Established 1921: McNally’s Tavern
McNally’s opened as a pit stop for travelers/car operators on the Route 23 trolly. Today, the sandwiches are still delicious, but you can actually stay a while and enjoy the bar.
Fun Fact: McNally’s gigantic signature steak-and-grilled-salami sandwich, the Schmitter, is available at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field, and has even been served at Super Bowls in Jacksonville and New York.
4. Established 1905: Cherry Street Tavern
This place is so old that women once had to use a separate door, and stay in one section of the bar. Today it’s a cozy -- and coed -- Logan Square staple.
Fun Fact: During the Prohibition, the place stayed open as a “barber’s shop”.
3. Established 1900: Ralph’s Italian Restaurant
Established by an Italian family fresh off Ellis Island, Ralph’s is the oldest Italian restaurant in America.
Fun Fact: Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first, but hardly the only, big-name guests to eat at Ralph’s during a visit to Philly.
2. Established 1894: The Mask & Wig Club
Owned by UPenn’s musical comedy troupe of the same name, the former stable/church/carriage house, and current historic landmark, has a seriously old-school hunting lodge-inspired interior, and is even available for parties.
Fun Fact: During the mid-20th century, the troupe’s songs were kinda a big deal -- even Frank Sinatra did a cover of one.
1. Established 1860: McGillin’s Olde Ale House
The city’s oldest, continuously operating bar -- one of the oldest in the US -- was opened the year Lincoln was elected, and has been serving Lincoln's least-favorite thing, shots, ever since.
Fun Fact: Robin Williams, Will Ferrell, the geniuses behind Drunk History, and a slew of famous names have swilled spirits here, and why not? It's one of America's best Irish pubs, after all.
Honorable Mention: City Tavern
Commissioned by the likes of John Penn and other ye olde Philebrities, this tavern was opened before there was a United States in 1773, but hit tough times in 1834 when a fire destroyed half the space, leading to full-on demolition 20 years later. Today, it's a re-imagined, and very tourist-friendly, 18th century-style saloon staffed by people in period costume.
Fun Fact: City Tavern was the cool hangout for the First Continental Congress, and hosted the first Fourth of July anniversary party in 1777.
1. McNally's Tavern8634 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia
2. Cherry Street Tavern129 N 22nd St, Philadelphia
3. Ralph's Italian Restaurant760 S 9th St, Philadelphia
4. The Mask & Wig Club310 S Quince St, Philadelphia
5. McGillin's Olde Ale House1310 Drury St, Philadelphia
6. City Tavern138 S 2nd St, Philadelphia
This historic tavern was established in 1921 and is known for their signature steak-and-grilled-salami sandwich, the Schmitter, which you can also score at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.
A Philly landmark since 1905, Cherry Street Tavern serves up eats like oven-roasted beef sandwiches, has four flatscreens to watch the game, and boasts over 30 brews to choose from.
Family owned and operated since 1900, this historic Italian joint is the oldest one in the country, and serves up classic boot food like chicken cacciatore, meatballs with linguine, and more.
Owned by UPenn's musical comedy troupe of the same name, the former stable/church/carriage house -- and current historic landmark -- has an old-school hunting lodge-inspired interior, and is even available for parties.
Imagine: the year was 1860, Lincoln was elected, and McGillin's Olde Ale House first opened. It's safe to say they place is doing something right, because generations of people can't be wrong. This is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philly. They have since changed the beer taps, we promise.