7 Must-Visit Hidden Bars in Philadelphia
Hats and spats and pearls and fringe: secret bars can provide a place to hide or to keep the party going. Philadelphia boasts more than a few speakeasies — with oversized ice cubes and Prohibition spirits — plus several other hidden gems. Next time you’re looking to sneak away, refer to our list of seven secret spots you definitely want to take time to find.
The Ranstead Room: Even with explicit directions, you’ll still have a hard time finding this hidden-in-plain sight Rittenhouse speakeasy. Enter on its eponymous street: going west, the door is on the left, behind El Rey. Look for the two red “R”s. If you still can’t find it, go into El Rey — if you ask nicely, you may be let in through the restaurant’s connected kitchen (2013 Ranstead St.).
Pen & Pencil: “The oldest continuously operating press club in America, and the second oldest in the world,” says the website for this Center City hideaway. If you are an active journalist or friend of the media, you may be eligible for membership. If you have a buddy who’s is a member, get them to take you — the bar is open open through 3 AM (1522 Latimer St.; 215-731-9909).
Hop Sing Laundromat: If hide ‘n’ seek is your game, you’ll enjoy the search for the doorbell to this Chinatown lounge. In speakeasy style, you’ll have to pass the nod-and-wink check before you’re even allowed into the penny-lined vestibule. Since we’re not about spoilers, you’ll have to go, to see what comes next. Do mind the dress code — no sneakers, shorts, hats or sandals — or you won’t find out (1029 Race St.).
RUBA: The name is an acronym that stands for Russian United Beneficial Association, but you don’t have to be Russian to be a member, and you don’t have to be a member to enter, most of the time. While it is technically a private club, there are plenty events featuring local talent that are open to the public. Look for the fence and gates to enter — the doors stay open through 3:30 AM (416 Green St.; 215-627-9831)
Emmanuelle: Unless you circle Northern Liberties’ Piazza regularly, you might miss this little gem in what used to be the back room of PYT. Now you can have a fancy cocktail where your friend’s band used to play (At Hancock St. & Germantown Ave.; 215-791-8090).
The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.: Look down and to your left as you walk up 18th and you might glimpse the stairs leading below street level into this chic speakeasy. And yes, the Boardwalk Empire preview party was completely meta (112 S 18th St.; 267-467-3277).
Jerry’s Bar: Did you know this old NoLibs shot-and-beer dive had been revamped, overhauled and whipped into something wonderful? Step off the beaten path to find delicious cocktails and former Cafe Estelle chef-owner Marshall Green behind the line (129 W. Laurel St.; 267-273-1632)
Photos by Danya Henninger