I've been a little out of the loop, and now with my two 20-something nieces coming to town, I want to take them for dinner someplace fun with good food. There seems to be a million new gastropubs (one word or two?) and I need some help parsing them.
Which ones do you think are the most worthy?
For the most interesting food, go to the South Philly Tap Room (SPTR). For the most interesting beer, go to the Khyber Pass. Both are excellent, the two best gastropubs in the city IMO, you can't go wrong at either. But SPTR's beer list really favors high-octane, bold-flavored beers and if you're not in the mood for something like that, you usually only have one or two other choices. The Khyber's beer list is more balanced and has, on the whole, better beers on draft.
Brauhaus Schmitz is great too, I don't think of it as a gastropub but if it fits your definition of one, I'd recommend it.
The food there is wildly inconsistent in my experience -- no recent reports though, because I stopped going due to that.
Anyway SPTR is my pick for best... definitely get the wild boar tacos, and ordering off the specials menu is usually the way to go -- always really interesting and good stuff, you can check their twitter feed to see recent specials. Also you are right on about the draft beers there, but there is an extensive bottle list if nothing on tap tempts.
I also really like the food at Royal Tavern but if you yourself aren't a twenty-something, you may feel a little out of place there.
I like Khyber Pass but haven't been too wowed wit the food -- Catahoula does much better cajun food IMO, but it doesn't really qualify as a gastopub because the beer list is limited. It has the vibe of a gastropub though, and a nice patio (with heatlamps) when weather permits.
Also if you're looking for a place with a more diverse crowd that is still fun, check out Alla Spina, Marc Vetri's gastopub. Interesting and good food, and a very good beer list. My only issues are that the beer is highly marked up compared to other places, and they don't have the proper glassware for the beers.
I agree with the suggestion of SPTR and Royal Tavern. I'll also throw out Resurrection Ale House and Standard Tap, both of which also have great beer lists - not as great if you're looking for cocktails. I find the food at Khyber outside of the po-boys to be a little underwhelming.