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May 29, 2010 08:15 AM

Chow's post on the best places to drink beer in Philly

Chow recently made a post on the "best" places to drink beer in the city:

Any "best of" list is going to be missing some people's favorites, especially since we have such a wealth of beer bars in our fair city. It's pretty hard to argue that places like Monk's and Tria and not good places to drink a beer, even if I like some neighborhood spots better, but a few of the bars on the list made me raise an eyebrow.

Kraftwork opened like two weeks ago and suddenly makes a national "best of" list? The PR rep for that bar seriously earned her money on this one. I'm sure it is/will be a good gastropub but it seems a bit irresponsible to put a brand new establishment on a list like this, as it's hard to say how a bar or restaurant will turn out after the dust settles--especially since this is the owner's first attempt at expanding beyond one location.

Nodding Head -- seriously? I like the atmosphere but the beers are far from great. I cringe at the thought of beer tourists trying the brews Nodding Head--they have some decent ones but I have not once had a great beer there. If pro brewers hang out here, maybe I am just personally missing something or trying the wrong beers.

Jose Pistola's does have a good beer selection but is off the radar for me. I had a really traumatic experience here once, so I haven't been back for a while (no coffee at brunch??). Maybe the food has improved, but I think Cantina (both locations) does good beer + Mexican food better. It's a good beer bar but would be pretty low on my personal Best Of list.

I understand that Center City is the most tourist-friendly neighborhood and NoLibs/Fishtown is the hippest, but it would have been nice to see at least one of the elite neighborhood beer bars make the list--Devil's Den, POPE, Resurrection and Local 44 all have a better selection than at least Tria and Standard Tap. Eulogy, Irish Pol, and National Mechanics are also interesting omissions as they are downtown and have very serious beer programs.

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  1. I totally agree RE: Nodding Head, their beers are what you might expect from a half-decent homebrewer. I also was impressed with the beer selection at Jose Pistola's but didn't like the food very much, and there are so many other places around there with better food (Monk's, Good Dog, etc.) that it never occurs to me to go there.

    Also missing from the list is Brauhaus Schmitz. If you're not a fan of the high-ABV, high-intensity flavor beers that dominate our beer bars, that place is like water in the desert.

    1. I'm with you guys! I was SHOCKED that Nodding Head made the list. I've never had a beer there that I thought was exceptional in any way... though now that I think of it, I've had some exceptionally bad beers there...

      I've always liked Jose Pistolas- the bartenders and staff are great, the atmosphere is low key, and I love their carnitas nachos. I agree also that Good Dog has a great list.

      And I know Monks is great, but I guess I'm just sort of over it. (Also I'm not a huge fan of Belgians-- sacrilege, I know...) It's crowded, expensive, and the service I've gotten there has never been particularly good. I love St. Stephens, though that is also my local watering hole, so I'm a bit biased.

      Can't wait to check out Brauhaus Schmitz-- thanks for the tip, Buckethead!

      1. Oh, man. After reading these three posts, I went to the actual post. I didn't realize they only named 6! 6 of the "best" and nodding head and jose pistola are on there? They should probably re-title it "6 places to drink beer in Philadelphia."

        I'm really impressed with Varga, I like that the selection changes constantly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: urbanfabric

          Varga has an amazing selection. I find the food to be hit-or-miss.

          I've never had anything but terrible food at Jose Pistola's. Not worth going when there are so many other places in the city that combine very good-to-great food with awesome beer selections: Devil's Den, South Philly Tap Room, Royal Tavern (though sometimes the beer list leaves a little to be desired), Tria, Resurrection Ale House, Good Dog.

          And totally agree on Nodding Head. Nothing about that place, other than atmosphere and location, make it worth going to.

        2. my favorite bar is Memphis Taproom. Perhaps partially because I live north of the city and it's just so easy to get to/park, etc. They ALWAYS have at least one beer on tap that I've never heard of, and the taps change constantly, with good variety. The food is good and reasonably priced. And the owners (same as Resurrection) are so nice!

          1. Race St Cafe has a good beer list as well. I was introduced to many a good beer there. I was disappointed by the bartenders during my last visit, but the beer list was still great.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jbird35

              Great call on Race Street - a great beer list and some awesome food (the Merguez sandwich is particularly great).

              1. re: jaba

                wow... i'm always on the lookout for a good merguez sandwhich. gonna have to check this place out.