Foobooz Names Philly’s Top 50 Bars

Trivia Art over at Foobooz just listed his Top 50 Bars in Philadelphia, with help from numerous contributers. You may remember that when Philadelphia Weekly posted their top 50 last year, I was one of the contributers. After all I am a man of leisure, one that is no stranger to dens of ill repute. So you’d think that I’d naturally be a contributer for this thing, since all Trivia Art had to do was yell down the hall, “Hey JGT, what are your favorite bars in the city?” But alas, no. We’ll see where his invite is when I decide to do my 50 Greatest Trivia Questions of All Time Piece.

But perhaps it’s just as well, since my top 50 experience didn’t turn out so well when PW stabbed me in the back. These top 50 bars things don’t seem to turn out so well for me, but nonetheless I am going to throw in my two cents on this.

  1. Standard Tap. A great bar, with the best Bloody Marys in the city. That said, it’s a little too hipsterish for my taste. Certainly top 5, but not sure it’s #1.
  2. POPE. Was there Friday. It has a nice tap list but nothing made me think it was the #2 bar in the city.
  3. Monks. Yeah, sure, it’s a perennial top 5 bar, though I think it’s a victim of the old Yogi Berra saying: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”
  4. Southwark. No disagreements here. Terrific drinks, thought the bar was better than the food when I went.
  5. Good Dog. Good bar, good food, good ambience, good people. Would maybe like to see them play around with the menu a little more, but hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
  6. Grace Tavern. This one was #1 in the PW piece. It’s a pretty good bar, with decent food, but is it #6 in the whole city? I got it in the 10-12 range.
  7. South Philadelphia Tap Room. It’s been very good every time I’ve been, both food and beer wise, but I’m not confident it’s a top 10.
  8. Sidecar. If I go out in my neighborhood, G-Ho, this is the place I go. This is top 3 in my book, perhaps #1. Great food, great beer, diverse crowd, great owner who does fun stuff like organize bus trips for Phils games, and lots of special events.
  9. Tria Washington Square West. It’s pretty nice, I guess. Have been to the one near Rittenhouse more. I don’t really know what to make of this ranking, almost makes it seem like there should be a separate list for beer and wine bars.
  10. Royal Tavern. No problem with this one. Some of the best bar food in the city and an interesting tap list.

Other notables: #21 Silk City should have been ranked higher. #17 Varga ranked too high. It’s fine, but not Top 20. #24 McGlinchey’s is ranked too high. I’ve had fun there, but Locust Rendezvous is much friendlier at the same price and Oscar’s is a much better dive bar with much better service. (I’m guessing the smoking kept people from ranking it higher). #25 North 3rd is a Top 10 bar, as is #33 Cantina. #44 Cherry Street Tavern should be ranked in the top 25. I think the bottom line is this, however: there are so many great bars in this city, I really don’t see much of a dropoff at all between number 1 and number 50 (#50 is the genesis of JGT quizzo, Nick’s Roast Beef.) Anyhow, check out the list and let me know what you think.

13 thoughts on “Foobooz Names Philly’s Top 50 Bars

  1. I know I'm biased, but how do you have Ray's Happy Birthday bar in there and not The Bard's? I grew up in South Philly about two blocks from Ray's bar. First of all, no one ever called it Ray's Happy Birthday bar, it was just called Ray's bar. Second, it was always just a place where degenerate drinkers and drug abusers would arrive at like 10am and hang out all day and night. I know it has become a cool hipster bar or whatever, and I even go there myself occasionally to play Chris' quizzo, but as far as I know they don't even have food. The Bard's on the other hand has an excellent menu, a decent beer selection, great Guinness (although all I've been drinking is Michelob Ultra and Miller Lite because of this damn diet that I'm on), seems like a really authentic Irish pub type of experience, is reasonably priced for being in the Rittenhouse Square area and has the best bartender in the city in Kevin. Granted, you get the occasional douchebaggery spillover from the Irish Pub, but for the most part it is a very chill crowd and a lot of regulars. That bartender guy at Ray's is all mean and crotchety which I guess is part of his charm, but I'll take Kevin any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  2. Two words, Koob: beer list. One thing I noticed about the picks was that beers on tap was their number one criteria. It's not mine, but it was theirs. That's how POPE, a decent but not great bar, was #2. In that case, I'm more surprised that O'Neals didn't make the list, since they have so many beers. But I agree, Bards should have been Top 50 without question, (though nobody would complain if they put on a few more craft beers). In addition to a great bartender (and great service), it's a great place to watch a football or baseball game. The crowd is into it without being obnoxious.

    Another interesting note: Fergies didn't make it either. Apparently the contributers were a little too hip for quizzo. (though Nodding Head and Abbaye both made it, so maybe they just like Irish Jon.)

  3. JGT is right. The criterion that matters most for these rankngs is their beer selection. The reason is that the 10-12 people who do the rankings are beer geeks. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that the majority of people are looking for a lot more in a bar than simply whether it has 95 different beers that come from eunuch monks in Belgium.
    The evidence of this is that half the bars on the list are hangouts for people who wear jeans that are too tight and ride bikes without breaks. The great thing about the disconnect between the beer list at the POPE and the overwhelming majority of its clientele is that the latter spends all their money on PBR and the such; they couldn't care less about some bark-infused porter from Saskatchewan.
    Don't get me wrong, beer is great in all its forms. But ranking bars based solely on their boutique beer selections is like ranking restaurants solely on how many beef dishes they serve. There's a lot more to enjoying a night out that simply the beer.

  4. This really should be deemed a list of Trivia Art's favorites in Center City (with a 25-34 skew), with a couple of his other faves. There are many other great bars outside of Center City and others which appeal to a more diverse clientele. That being said, I have never had a bad experience at the Standard Tap and would happily second that for the best bar in Philly, especially on a hot summer night sitting on the roof watching the ghetto palms bend with the breeze, drinking a $3 PBC draft.

  5. I think the service at Standard Tap is way too inconsistent for it to make any top list, much less be a #1. The food is great at Standard Tap, and I live a block away, but I would take North 3rd over it any day of the week.

  6. The bar at Appleby's is also very nice, and they sometimes put out bowls of those little pretzel thingies. Or maybe I'm confusing it with another of my favs. OK, forget the little pretzels, but it's still really nice.

  7. hell i like TGI fridays.
    how on earth did the locust bar make it on the list. it is one of the worst bars i have been in. and i live just 4 blocks from there.

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