Top 10 Philadelphia Bars for Summer
If you’re not escaping to the shore or the mountains during this season of hot sun and high mercury, have no regret. Philadelphia is a great place to be throughout July and August, with bars all over town offering patios, tropical cocktails and refreshing craft brews. Check out our picks for where to sip in style this summer.
Cantina Los Caballitos: Margaritas serve dual purpose in summertime heat — not only do they refresh as they tingle, they also provide salt (if that’s your style), replenishing some of what your body may have lost as you sit in the sun. If the many outdoor seats along Passyunk and throughout the adjacent corner triangle are full, the colorful bar and lounge of this South Philly Mexican will provide seasonal cheer, as well as easy-eating chips and south-of-the-border bites (1651 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-755-3550).
Cuba Libre: The high-ceilinged dining room of this Old City Cuban is done up Havana-style, with palm trees, colorful lighting and faux-lettered signs pointing to taverns Ernest Hemingway might have frequented. Fans spin up above, keeping the festive atmosphere cool, even if you choose to sit on the raised patio along Second Street. Bartenders here are experts at caipirinhas and other tropical cocktails that will whisk you off to the isles (10 S. 2nd St.; 215-627-0666).
Frankford Hall: The Germans knew they had something when they used Linden trees to shade their below-ground brewing cellars from hot summer sun, as the leafy branches also provide respite for drinkers enjoying the end product. This Stephen Starr Fishtown beer garden keeps the Teutonic vibe alive at the enclosed courtyard, complete with pool tables and Jenga sets. If the temps rise too high, toss back your giant mugs of brew inside the cool, industrial interior at the large, wraparound bar (1210 Frankford Ave.; 215-634-3328).
In Riva: The gorgeous banks of the Schuylkill make a beautiful vista in summer, lush greenery draping over the river as rowers pull past and bicyclists roll by on Kelly Drive, and the only place to enjoy the view with a great brew and bite is this East Falls pizza house. “Bar Fiume” is the name Art Cavaliere and his team have given the large outdoor patio and bar, where you can enjoy Italian craft beer, wine or creative cocktails with your wood-fired pies and antipasti bites (4116 Ridge Ave.; 215-438-4848).
Jack’s Firehouse: A waterfall trickles in the enclosed garden patio beside the spacious dining room of this gastropub in a 19th century firehouse. An all-local draft list is complemented by a solid spirits selection, and the brunch mimosa and Bloody Marys are don’t-miss weekend summer faves (2130 Fairmount Ave.; 215-232-9000).
Morgan's Pier: This "backyard beer garden" finally offers a place for craft brew lovers to enjoy the Delaware River. Head to the waterfront and take in the breeze at one of several seating areas, from Linden tree-shaded picnic tables to a huge, tented horseshoe bar, while enjoying cans and drafts along with a menu of easy, summer bites from Meme's David Katz (221 N. Columbus Blvd; 215-279-7134).
Revolution House: With the prettiest patio east of Billy Penn’s hat, this bi-level pub on the corner of Second and Market is the place to be when outdoors calls. The interior isn’t bad, either, should heat drive you from the sun, with a rustic vibe that is an ode to Philadelphia history. Two bars pour a solid selection of craft brews, and wine and cocktails are also well-poured. A Neapolitan pizza, crisped in the marble brick oven in less than a minute flat, makes a perfect hot evening snack (200 Market St.; 215-625-4566).
Sampan: Michael Schulson employs local artists to decorate almost every bit of available wall at the Graffiti Bar hidden behind his Midtown Village Pan-Asian, creating a wild and colorful outdoor drinking experience. The space was recently named one of the top 10 outdoor bars in the country by Travel + Leisure, and it’s easy to see why. Stop in to get your sake fix, or, if you’re throwing caution to the wind, grab a friend or two and give the monster-size “Scorpion Bowls” a go (124 S. 13th St.; 215-732-3501).
Stateside: Instead of being hidden in a dark corner, the bar at this East Passyunk small-plate stop is front and center, a large, L-shaped slab of concrete that faces huge windows, easily flung open to allow breezes through the small space. Grab a seat there or at one of the outdoor tables wrapping around the corner to enjoy serious mixed drinks (using only American and housemade spirits) with a few of George Sabatino’s creative bites (1536 E. Passyunk Ave.; 215-551-2500).
Twenty Manning Grill: While common in heat-scorched cities like Phoenix, the spritzers that line the awnings outside Audrey Claire Taichman’s Rittenhouse bistro are a rarity in these parts — but heartily welcome. Enjoy the cool mist they deliver as you sit outside along 20th Street, or duck into the sunny, bright-walled interior for solid drinks and elevated pub fare (261 S. 20th St.; 215-731-0900).
Top photo: Graffiti Bar at Sampan, courtesey the restaurant; bottom photo: Morgan's Pier, by Danya Henninger
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