Philadelphia is home to many unique bars that make a night out in the city so special. From graffiti-tagged establishments, to wall-to-wall arcade bars, Philly is always sure not to disappoint; pleasantly surprising locals and tourists with bars they didn’t even know about.
1. Tattooed Moms
Tattooed Moms is a unique Philadelphia gem located right on 5th and South. Immediately as you walk into the bar it looks as if a graffiti bomb has exploded throughout the entire establishment. I don’t think there is a piece of wall I have yet tot see that lay untouched by pen, marker, a witty sticker, or whatever else a local customer, artist, or employee is inspired to doodle on this beautifully unique canvas of a bar. The crowd is always a breath of fresh air, teeming with originality, piercings, tattoos, crazy hair, and unapologetic self-expression; however Tattooed Moms is more than just the great array of bar-goers. Upon entering, you have the option to seat yourself, or your group, at either the bar, a table, a couch, or a bumper car for two (YES, that says BUMPER CAR).
As if this bar couldn’t get anymore fun, the menu itself is packed with delicious picks. The menu lay as one laminated sheet of hot pink which features delicious favorites like “The Ass Basket” or the famed “Cheesy Tots”. So, if you are looking for something refreshing and unique to kick you out of those workday blues, Tattooed Moms will be sure not to disappoint.
2. The Bar(n)
The Barn is a locally popular West Philadelphia bar, right on the corner of 49th and Catharine. From your very first walk in you are greeted with bartenders who are not all white, as you typically see with bar establishments throughout the city, but uniquely, and importantly, people of color. The Barn is nothing short of refreshing if you are someone who is tired of bar staff and customers not representing you, your family, or your friends. If you choose to sit at the bar you can be sure to build a friendly rapport with any of the staff – that will carry on until the next time you walk through those open doors and are greeted with a smile.
Now, not only are the bar staff great, but the food is a knockout. The Barn offers dangerously delicious wings that I am guilty of indulging in more times a week than I probably should have. Another standout selection is the Philadelphia cheesesteak fries; although you would probably need to recruit another person to help you with them if you choose to ride solo. With indoor or outdoor seating, pool tables, an always occupied jukebox, action movie classics playing behind the bar, and an irresistible atmosphere, The Barn is always the best West Philadelphia spot to sit back with a Corona and relax.
Barcade is a true classic Fishtown staple. Found on Frankford Avenue, Barcade sits conveniently across the street from the beloved Barbary club. Upon entering, Barcade offers a simple sit down bar with classic bar food choices like nachos, quesadillas, pizza, sandwiches; you get the gist of it.
Luckily, this bar has way more to offer than just the food. Barcade is what every adult nerd daydreams about while at work. It is lined wall to wall with pinball and arcade game classics such as Pac-man, BurgerTime, Tetris, Crazy Taxi, Donkey Kong, etc.; the list is seriously impressive. Not only does Barcade feature the classics, they also make way for some newer gaming options such as a multiplayer Pac-Man Battle Royale which is a perfect option if you’ve got a big group with you. This spot is a perfect and unique change of pace – especially if you are tired of the same old routine of drinking at a bar and entertaining mindless conversation. Barcade is sure to bring the drunken kid out of everyone.
Tabu is a popular bar within the city’s gayborhood section that has newly relocated and taken over another bar formerly known as ICandy. Tabu hosts Philadelphia’s biggest monthly queer party, SWAY. I was lucky enough to be dragged out to a SWAY party by some friends and let me tell you, they are no joke.
The first stop everyone should make upon entering the vibrating, beat-heavy bar should always be the first floor bar section, for some delicious food options before an unavoidable night of damage to the liver. I opted for the loaded tater tots while my friends ditched me for the upper floors, where the real fun lives. This was my third time eating Tabu’s food and as always, the food never disappoints. It’s quick, delicious and most importantly filling. So, the foods all over and done with, what next?
Tabu boasts three floors which are all separately DJ’ed with music differing across genres depending on the room you find yourself in. Dancers sprawl across all levels, sweaty and ready for a break, so they head to the roof deck. A triple threat of a bar; music, food, and views, Tabu is a guaranteed night of fun, friends and celebration.
Garage is yet another Fishtown essential stop. Located on Girard Avenue, Garage lives quite literally up to its name – displaying classic rolled up garage doors and a clunky looking front that looks like it could provide shelter to more than just a few cars. However, the inside of this unique bar is anything but like the inside of a garage; it is a beautifully polished space, containing skee-ball machines, pool tables, a dance floor and plenty of seating for all of Fishtown’s beloved loyal hipsters. Garage is BYO food, which is almost too good to be true because directly outside of the bars giant rolled up doors, sits two Mexican food trucks with tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas savory enough to have you running for a beer with your mouth deliciously afire.