Philadelphia is teeming with bars that boast more than a killer draught list.
There’s always a new place to drink and a new beer to try. But sometimes you want more than just a great tap list. Lucky for you, Philly boasts a number of off-the-wall beer bars for those nights when you’re feeling a little extra.
Draught Lines hit the streets in search of a few hotspots that will turn your night into an experience you won’t soon forget.
In 2004, Paul Kermizian and a few of his buddies were dreaming of opening a craft beer bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “Originally we were just looking to open a typical bar. Something with a craft beer focus.” But after a party at his Brooklyn loft, where he housed a small collection of retro arcade games, Kermizian and his buddies had a bit of an epiphany. “I had four games in my apartment, and during this party, people were lining up to play them,” explains Kermizian. “So we started thinking, ‘why not fill a bar with a bunch of classic video games?’ And Barcade was born.”
That idea has exploded into seven different locations, with two more opening by the end of 2018. “Our Philadelphia location was our third spot. We opened it in 2011.” This Fishtown haunt features over 60 arcade games and 25 taps. While even casual gamers will recognize some of these games (Ms. Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong), Kermizian and his team also like to toss in a few surprises from time to time. “We have about 315 games spread out across all seven locations, so we mix up the lineup at each spot. Sure, we have the popular ones like NBA Jam and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but we also have some pretty unusual games too – some real deep cuts.”
While the arcade games might get most of their customers in the door, they end up staying for the beer. “We’ve always been hyper-focused on craft beer,” says bar manager James Krusas. “We don’t try to overthink it – we tap what we like to drink.” Barcade sometimes partners with their favorite breweries to bring exclusive collaborations to their locations.
So whether you’re a craft beer nerd, a gamer or just want a relaxed spot to hang with some friends, Barcade has something for everyone.
“When I got the idea for this place, I thought it was just gonna be me and a bunch of my friends who were super into hot dogs,” says Jimmy Cronk, co-founder of Center City’s Destination Dogs – a restaurant that specializes in gourmet sausages inspired by the world’s best cuisine. “I just wanted to make enough money to keep me out of total debt.”
But when Cronk and his partners opened their doors, something clicked with their new customers. “The recipe is pretty simple, we serve great hot dogs with great beer. I never could have guessed it was going to take off the way it did. It’s taken on a life of its own.”
Destination Dogs boasts over 30 gourmet sausages and hot dogs, each inspired by a different destination, ranging from Trenton, NJ to Thailand. Take for instance the Bun Mi, which takes its cuisine cues from Vietnam – this Cantonese sausage features shaved foie gras, pickled veggies, fresh jalapeños, Sriracha mayo and cilantro. With a wide array of options, Cronk admits that Philadelphians have rallied around their hometown dog. “The Rocky Balboara is pretty popular. It’s wild boar Italian sausage topped with a cheesesteak. What’s more Philly than that?”
And manager Sol Thomas’s beer menu is as eclectic as their dogs. “We have 16 taps and they all rotate,” he says.
“We try to have a wide variety and keep things as diverse as possible. If you like a local pilsner and your friend is into Manhattans, I want you both to be able to sit at the same bar. People don’t have to pick and choose here. It’s all good.”
“We basically just throw a party every single day,” laughs Kristin Small of Center City’s newest ping pong-specific bar, SPiN. And she’s not kidding. With dozens of ping pong tables, a huge bar, walls adorned with street art by local artists and a DJ spinning five nights a week, SPiN is an experience like no other.
The spark for this unique spot took off after SPiN’s founders decided to turn their Friday night ping pong parties into a business. Philadelphia is the newest of eight locations across the country, and there’s a reason people keep coming back for more. “Our CEO and CFO call us the unplugged social media spot,” says Small. “You don’t see anyone on their phones here. People actually enjoy interacting with each other here.” In honor of their founder’s original ping pong parties, things get turned up a few notches every Friday evening for Player’s Nights, which feature crazy battles between guests and SPiN’s Ping Pong Pros.
And their bar menu is both approachable and universal.
“We throw a lot of private and corporate parties, so with that in mind, we offer enough beer options on tap to make sure there’s something that both the intern and the CEO will enjoy.”
If you’re looking to stop by, your best bet is to reserve a table ahead of time, but walk-ins are welcome, so grab your paddles and get on it!
Next time you’re looking for a bar or restaurant that offers more than just a solid lineup of craft beer, stop by one of these off-the-wall themed bars – they won’t disappoint!