Henry James Saloon

henry james signWe decided that we should stay local because this weather has taken a toll on our energy reserves. What a cold winter we have had in Philadelphia! Manayunk is kind of fancy but the next town–Roxborough–is not. Henry James had some nice reviews so we found it easily and trusted that it would be friendly and not territorial which is the case with some neighborhood bars in Philly. We were not disappointed. The staff was super friendly. There was live entertainment – a guitar player singing popular songs — and the wings that we ordered were delicious. Another plus was low prices! The environment was very attractive and looked like it had been renovated recently.

me in Henry JamesFrom their website: “The Henry James Saloon is a friendly neighborhood bar with great sandwiches, platters and eight great beers on tap. We offer the coldest draft beer in town. We have been in business for 22 years. We support many youth organizations in the Roxborough area (i.e.Roman Catholic high School). The Henry James is a great place to talk about sports. Bring your family in, especially kids! Everyone feels comfortable here.”


March 7, 2014

Henry James Saloon
577 Jamestown St, Philadelphia, PA 19128

In The News

Roxborough Manayunk Patch

Urban Spoon

Auburn Inn

auburn signMy weekend plan was to get together with twin friends from high school and my twin sister, Diana, in Cleveland, Ohio. Because I am afraid to fly 70 minutes in a plane I chose instead to drive for 8 hours. Color me crazy.

As I was approaching my twin sister’s home town, I got a text message from her, “Meet us at the Auburn Inn, and you are going to hate me because it is a dive and not something more glamorous”. I immediately thought “well, she obviously doesn’t read my blog!”

Weary from a day of driving, I set my navigation device to the Auburn Inn and in the wintry darkness pulled up to an old structure with a big porch that looked like a house. There were no typical tavern neon lights — just a warm glow from the windows, with a lot of cars parked in snow drifts around it. I pulled into the slushy snowy lot and found the last spot. The next thing that I saw was my brother-in- law, Tim, in my windshield! I had arrived safely!

auburn shovelNavigating the slushy snow, we went inside to a charming, busy tavern with lots of happy customers. My twin was already seated in a booth and we hugged and settled into our corner spot. The waitress/bartender came over with typical midwestern friendliness and took our orders. She said it was an “all-you-can-eat fish night, with fresh perch, and if you come back next Friday there will be lines out the door.” Sold. We ordered the fresh fish, ordered some light beer and caught up with each others’ news before continuing the next leg of the journey at our friend’s home.

On the way out the door, I could not help noticing the snow shovel resting between the candy machines. Yep, we were in a darling Ohio dive in the winter.

Feb 2014

Auburn Inn
17755 Ravenna Rd, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023

In The News

Urban Spoon

Cleveland.com (The Plain Dealer)

Jay’s Elbow Room

jays-elbow-roomThis winter bucket list evening was spent in Maple Shade, New Jersey. We started out at Laurel Lanes and Brewster Pub and by 11 p.m. we were ready for our second stop on a two-stop night. We headed right across the highway to Jay’s Elbow Room for a night cap. The online reviews for Jay’s were all consistent — a true dive bar — and we were looking forward to checking it out.

A True Dive Bar

Outside, the tall highway sign was very retro and the neon sign above the door with two lights out added to the New Jersey highway scene. It was screaming “dive bar”, which is a tradition on our bucket list nights. I can’t explain why we like the unpolished bars so much, except that they feel like a shrine to history. Many other patrons have been there before us, sitting in the same vinyl seat!
Inside, the place was packed with young happy folk and we orbited the round bar looking for a place to sit. We especially like the round bars versus the long, single row of stools. You can view across the room and do some people watching without your back to the door, depending upon your luck.

The decor was simple with linoleum floors, beer posters and neon lights. Despite the crowd the bartenders at Jay’s were friendly and attentive. The clientele were respectful and happy, including us! Four drinks were served and the bill came to $16. Compared to Center City Philadelphia, that bar tab’s pretty sweet.

Jay’s Elbow Room

2806 New Jersey Route 73
Maple Shade Township, NJ 08052

In The News

Burlington County Night Out

City Search


Brewsters Pub and Laurel Lanes

brewstersIt was a Friday night in February, with some snow piles five feet high, and we needed to get moving and stretch our frozen muscles. Our New Jersey friends Rich and Sandy joined us on our quest for exercise & elbow bending so we picked a spot midway between us — Brewsters Pub and Laurel Lanes.

Bowling & Brews

We crossed the Betsy Ross Bridge from Philadelphia and a short drive later we saw the word BOWLING brightly lit in the dark sky.  We were immediately impressed with the size of the parking lot and how packed it was. Lots of other people apparently had the same idea! The building, home to the lanes and two food venues, Brewsters Pub and Tony Luke’s, was massive with neon signs beckoning us to come hither.

Brewsters Pub was dark and cozy with a view of the lanes. It was tucked behind a wall of plate glass windows allowing us to watch the action but still have a conversation despite the thunderous sound of pins getting clobbered by bowling balls.  We found four seats at the bar although there were tall table tops available.

laurel-lanesBefore we ordered, we decided to get our names on the list for lanes in case there was a wait. The bowling sign-in counter was staffed with friendly young men and added us to the wait list. When we explained that we were having dinner at Brewsters and would not be able to hear him announce our name, he offered to come down and find us. Nice touch!

Wings and Blings

Back at Brewsters we ordered bar wings, a chicken quesadilla, and salads with grilled chicken to accompany our drinks of bottled beer and cosmos. The food was well prepared and more than filling. The attractive female bartenders were friendly and attentive.

bowler Our bowling experience followed the pub scene. The lanes were washed in electric blue light, the rock music was just like a club and a cocktail waitress was attentive. Into our second game, the overhead blue lights went dark and disco lights began to flash.

There was only one electronic glitch—when the game stopped because the metal arm guard rested in front of the standing pins. We called for help via the intercom and they responded immediately, resetting the pins. It was a fun place to have drinks and feel like athletes at the same time (insert snicker here).



2825 New Jersey Route 73
Maple Shade Township, NJ 08052

In The News


East Windsor Patch

Trip Advisor




Brick and Brew

bricknbrewWhat a beautiful place! We tried to get in earlier in the evening but the Brick and Brew was packed. By the end of the evening, the crowd had thinned and we were able to get to the bar and find seats.  At the other bars on the bucket list that night, we held back on ordering any food so that we could enjoy their well known pizza. Too bad– the kitchen closed! We were unable to enjoy the gastro grub.

Craft Beer Here

We ordered from their 12 rotating craft beer list. I had a special cocktail from their chalk board assortment, which was very tasty – a lemonade flavored mix with vodka and fresh basil. It was refreshing on a winter night.

The decor was very hip. With a nod to their name “Brick and Brew”, wooden half-barrels were hung high on the brick walls mixed with urban metal struts and chalkboards on all of the walls posting their offerings of burgers, pizza, craft brews and cocktails. The female bartenders were skilled and friendly and there was a nice crowd. We look forward to returning to try out their grub.

Brick and Brew
2138 Darby Rd
Havertown, PA 19083
(484) 455-7250


In The News

Bar Finder

Haverford Havertown Patch

Trip Advisor

The Crossbar

thecrossbarI collected a few locations of pubs for my bucket list for the night in Havertown — the burbs. All of the choices were irish pubs and parking was plenty. We did not realize that three pubs were within walking distance of one another, a plus.

In my research, I read that the location of The Crossbar was convenient because the bar across the street was very popular! It was often packed and the overflow of people usually crossed the street to The Crossbar when they could not get in to the popular bar. Curious, after reading that review, of course we planned to go to the more popular bar first. We attempted to get in but it WAS packed as the review had warned, so we did as others had done before us. We crossed Darby Road and headed into The Crossbar.crossbar-logo

 Irish Pub in Havertown

Apparently there are many Irish pubs in Havertown. This Irish pub was tiny, thin and cozy with dark wood, ceiling fans, and a beautiful exposed brick wall. A handsome sculpture of the logo carved in wood adorned the front window. We found a high-top table for three at the end of the busy room and were waited on immediately and ordered craft beers. The crowd was mostly young & attractive people–no families on this cold winter night. The service was quick and friendly. We didn’t order food, waiting for the pizza at the bar across the street!

The Crossbar
2225 East Darby Rd
Havertown, PA 19083


In The News


Local Yahoo

The Oakmont National Pub

oakmontOn a snowy night Eric, Ted and I decided to hit the burbs for an evening of comaraderie and pub exploration as well as free parking! I already received two parking tickets from the City of Brotherly Love and maxed out my monthly quota. The bucket list was Irish Pubs in Havertown, Pennsylvania and we found our first pub after only a ten minute drive.

 The Corner Tavern

The Oakmont National Pub is an established corner tavern on Eagle Road. Walking in the front door, we were immediately greeted by friendly staff welcoming us. There was a two person band performing very current music, like Imagine Dragons, and singer had a great voice. Architecturally, the room has the feeling of a grand hall with high arching ceiling and wood paneled walls. The bar hugged one wall and a row of elevated booths line the opposite wall so the center of the hardwood floored room was very open and there were large screen TVs, perfect for sports fans.

We took our seats at the bar, which was decorated with a glamorous Valentine theme of pillar candles and red hearts. The bartender waited on us immediately, again with the smiling staff, and we enjoyed a house cabernet sauvignon and craft beer. The American cuisine menu looked good, but we did not order – next time! All ages and types were enjoying their night.


Owner: Brendan Goggin

Oakmont National Pub
31 E Eagle Rd, Havertown, PA 19083

In The News

Philadelphia Menu Pages

Haverford Havertown Patch

Haverford Havertown Patch – Meet The Owner

12 Steps Down

12 Steps Down Group Therapy Bar

12stepsOff to Bella Vista for the next location, 12 Steps Down. Get ready to inhale smoke! You literally walk down a set of concrete steps from the city street level into this underground dive bar, with permission to smoke your cigarettes and cigars! We were thrilled to find friendly staff and kick ass bartenders. (Funny to be carded at the entrance even though we are obviously way past 30.) The decor was truly dive — non-descript of the linoleum floor and ripped vinyl kind. Pleasantly unassuming.

12steps-boardA Limoncello For My Wife

Although packed with people on this winter night, the spacious pub was not too crowded. In the center of the room there was a full circle bar with a pool table along the back, hopping with a game going on. The tiny female bartender with a mohawk and enormous dangling star earrings was smiling as she worked, actively checking on all customers needs and pacing the bar nonstop. She suggested a Limoncello for me. A lemon wedge and a glass of sugar accompanied a shot glass with the lemon flavored, biting liquid…it all comes together in your mouth. It must be a South Philly tradition. It was a great last stop for the night.

January 2014

831 Christian St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

In The News

The Drink Nation

Philly Beer Week


South Philadelphia Tap Room

SPTR-barIn the Point Breeze area of Philadelphia, we were looking forward to check out SPTR after learning it had the same owners as Brew and American Sardine Bar. The sidewalk entryway was adorned with a classy planter and the bar area exposed a warmly rustic room. Laughing people were sitting at the table to the right, usually a good sign. The decor is composed of tiles, brick, wood, art and artistic lighting. The wall behind the bar held a very attractive mirrors, their logo and the line of taps indicated that they offered lots of craft beer – 14 taps I heard.

Long on Craft Beer But Short on Service

We walked in further to see the rest of the restaurant and asked the waitress if there was a second floor with music by any chance. She greeted us with a bored face and short answer, no. We went to the bar and the bartenders gave us the same facial expression, asking what do you want? No smiles. We ordered and asked for menus. They were delivered, again with a non-welcoming face. Ok, my friend tried to be jovial and asked about “the special” and the reply was deadpan. Three bartenders and a barback huddled at the end of the bar looking at some paper. By this time we started to feel like they were not really happy we were there, so instead of ordering we finished up our drinks and moved along. Too bad.

Apparently they have been in business for ten years and had good things written about them online. We had hoped it was going to be a nice first visit! Maybe they have become complacent with their notoriety? The owners better be careful and check in on the staff here, at least on Friday nights in the winter.
January 2014

1509 Mifflin Street,
Philadelphia, Pa 19145


Food Newtwork

Philly Beer Week

GIGI – It’s always fun at Gigi

GIGIKicking off another winter, we headed for Gigi — right in the heart of Old City on Market Street. Our good friend Zep Harpo was playing harmonica that night so we followed him into this very friendly place and luckily two spots were open at the bar at the front of the restaurant. Zep was playing with Johnny Never, a talented guitarist and singer with a playlist of great old blues. Great duo!

Top Notch Night for Music and Food

The staff was top notch and the owners, Reggie, Denise and Tom, came over and introduced themselves. That kind of welcoming has been unheard of on our Friday nights so we were very impressed. Reggie was very friendly and obviously proud of their establishment, excitedly telling us how they started up the partnership and where it is going. Big plans! It is due for a complete renovation with a new name “4 Fathers Philadelphia”, which stands for the four Founding Fathers of the United States. The name is perfect for Philadelphia, seeped in history of the birth of America. Once the restaurant is reopened and doing well there will be more 4 Fathers – Boston, etc. We hope they do well!

We had some delicious food in addition to our drinks — Edamame, Gigi wings and hot soup of the day. Their menu offered a healthy range of options from cheese steaks to salads. We hope they keep the healty choices on the next menu. The environment was clean, attractive and cozy – a long bar along the left and tables to the right, with dining in the rear. In the summertime they take advantage of a pergola covered side porch decorated with classic colonial pillars. We will return when they transform it into their new vision — if only just to talk again to Reggie and Denise! They make you feel special.

January 2014

319 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

In The News


Philly Hotlist


Stateside Saloon

Stateside Saloon

Stateside Saloon


Known for small plates and a great chef, Stateside received Philly Magazine’s #1 spot in a restaurant review so we made reservations weeks in advance. This visit was on a Saturday night, not a Friday, so it was not an official “Bucket List” night. However it was on the original bucket list and we decided to include it.

Stateside Saloon

Stateside Saloon

Where In The World Is Pappy Van Winkle?

We arrived early in order to experience the bar, but it turned out that the place was so small that the tables were IN the bar. We visited with Ross and Vicki, and Ross asked the bartender for something special. They served Pappy Van Winkle. He ordered two “2 finger” (double) Pappy Van Winkles for the guys and two Cosmos for the ladies. Each shot of Pappy is $30 because it is a very rare find. Graciously Ross picked up the bar tab because the bill for drinks alone was $140!

We created a meal of the delicious small plates, which included Duck sausage, created by famous chef George Sabatino. The guys had another round of Pappy and the girls enjoyed more cosmopolitans and sweet desserts.

February 2013

1536 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 551-2500


In The News

Trip Advisor






Tired Hands Brewing Company

Tired Hands logo

Tired Hands logo

Tired Hands

On a cold night in January with wind chill, snow drifts and an active flu season to battle we explored locally again in the burbs. The internet results included the familiar pubs but a new name to us popped up – Tired Hands cafe and craft brewery.

Tired Hands Upstairs Bar

Tired Hands Upstairs Bar

We met new friends, Pamela and Joseph there. The decor felt like we were in a bar in Colorado, with antlers hanging in the architectural cross beams in the ceiling and rustic wood walls, floors, and tables. Exposed brick walls were rustic and cozy. It was so totally transformed that we wondered “what used to be here?”

They have a Farmers’ Menu – locally grown produce and cheese/meat boards – to accompany the craft brews. We tried the fare—cheese board and roasted green beans in olive oil and herbs—and enjoyed the craft beer served by a slim young man in a fedora!

They brew their own, including a very elegant 13% dark Saison on tap called “Westy13”, apparently favored by the ladies.

January 2013

16 Ardmore Ave
Ardmore, PA 19003
(610) 896-7621


In The News

The Ardmore Patch


Beer Advocate




Drink Nation



Fiume Bar

Fiume Bar


Christmas gift giving was successful and New Years Eve was over. Happy Year! Our good friend Jack lived in the neighborhood so we managed to inspire him to brave the cold and join us, leaving Susan at home sick (sorry honey!)

Another find from an internet search, we discovered an official Philly hidden bar — Fiume. We loved everything about this surprising little pub, out of sight on the second floor, above a corner African restaurant, Abyssinia. Abyssinia’s bar was nearly empty and Fiume was packed!
 Every table and seats at the bar were filled even though it was winter break and the college kids were gone.

The gregarious bartender explained that they had 120 bottled brews and 40 whiskeys available, which was a mind game to figure out where they hid all of it. Jack entertained us with stories of Michigan and his hi-jinks as a tree surgeon in his youth.

January 2013

45th and Locust St
Philadelphia, PA 19139

In The News


Philadelphia Weekly

The Beer Advocate

Happy Holidays at Paddy’s Old City Pub

Paddy's Bar

Paddy’s Bar

Paddy’s Bar

Besides being the namesake bar of the funny TV comedy show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”  Paddy’s is a classic blue-collar neighborhood Irish bar, located down near the Delaware River under one of the bridges.

Paddy's Chalkboard

Paddy’s Chalkboard

We are very fond of Paddy’s. No frills. No “No Smoking”. It is a long, thin establishment with décor of green walls and a few framed photos of Irish catholic heroes on the walls, looking as if they were hung in the 1960s without much thought, coated with dust and smoke tar. The bar stools are in need of patches.

Ted joined us, introducing us to his friend Money, a long-haired handsome sailor from New Jersey and Money’s girlfriend Rose, a beautiful young social butterfly from Poland who told stories of her acting career to everyone she landed upon.

The bar’s “Greedy Santa” game was in progress at the end of the bar, with potluck dishes served from foil pans and plastic bowls. No pretense. Just a friendly holiday party at Paddy’s.

December 2012

228 Race St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 627-3532

In The News

The namesake Paddy’s from Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Wikipedia)

Reviews on Yelp

Teresa’s Next Door

Teresa's Cafe and Next Door

Teresa’s Cafe and Next Door

Teresa’s Next Door

The Main Line suburban pubs were in our drinking establishments cross-hairs. Ted, Eric and I were happy to discover a Belgian beer pub that rivaled Monks in Center City — Teresa’s Next Door.

Teresa's Next Door

Teresa’s Next Door

Walking in the front door the first thing we saw was a very long, tall wall displaying half-pint glasses adorned with belgian beer logos of every brand they offered. My thought upon seeing that level of detail was the knowledge that it would require constant maintenance of the barware to match the offerings on tap and bottle. In front of the long wall of glasses was an equally lengthy, shiny metal bar top providing a roost to a scattered and quiet clientele of attractive guys.

Being a gastro pub, we ordered the wings which were juicy and tasty.

December 2012

126 N Wayne Ave
Wayne, PA 19087
(610) 293-9909


In The News

Urban Spoon




Beer Advocate


The Drink Nation




Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar

Ray's Happy Birthday Bar

Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar

Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar

With the boating season done and Thanksgiving guests gone, I dusted off my bucket list from 2011 and decided to research some new places and refresh the list. The first place to catch my eye had a curious name — Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar. Their web site boasts that “you can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning” — they begin pouring at 7AM six days a week.

Ray's Happy Birthday Bar Sign

Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar Sign

Being a fan of birthdays and neighborhood pubs, it quickly became tops on the list. Despite the cold rainy night, we plugged in the address in the GPS and took off for South Philly.

Through the darkness and rain, Ray’s sign illuminated the street corner and we found a parking spot a few feet from the door. We found two empty stools right next to a twinkling Christmas tree decorated with old 45s and did some people watching.

Observing that Ray’s had a “special” we ordered two of them – a shot and a beer for $4 each — which prompted the bartender to ring a bell. Congratulations, we made it to Rays! As promised, it was karaoke night and the crooner in the packed side room was screeching with abandon to the room filled with a queue of waiting singers.
We sat near a Christmas Tree decorated with old 45s and watched people at the bar. Observing they had a “special” we ordered two of them – a shot and a beer for $4 – and the bartender rang a bell. The karaoke female singer in the back room was screeching.

December 2012

1200 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 365-1169


In The News

Drink Nation


Grub Street


Philadelphia Weekly




Mako’s Retired Surfer Bar & Grill

Mako's Retired Surfer Bar

Mako’s Retired Surfer Bar

Mako’s Retired Surfers Bar & Grill

The Chesapeake City gang of friends (TR, Danielle, Mariah, Andy) came up to Philly for the weekend to visit their friend, the owner of Mako’s! The music was jumping and the place known for 50 cent PBR was packed.

Mako's Retired Surfer Bar

Mako’s Retired Surfer Bar

There was an internet rumor (on Yelp) that Flavo Flav hung out there and yes, we saw him (his doppleganger) wearing the telltale headress bedecked with bull horns and a gold medallion swinging across his brown neck and chest. He kicked it up a notch.

We laughed and danced until 2 AM and Mariah danced on top of the bar in a mini skirt!

April 2011

301 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147

In The News



Philly Dive


Bridget Foy’s

Bridget Foy’s

After stopping at Downey’s we crossed the frigid street quickly in seek of warmth and to explore our second spot.  Bridget Foy’s lounge was dark, quiet and very classy with a brass bar top.

bridget foys inside

Bridget Foy's

Bridget Foy’s

Eric, Ted and I stopped in for just one drink and found seats easily. A hipster sitting near me, scarf wrapped around his neck, kept his head down and stared at his smart phone while using fingerless gloves.

February 2011

200 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 922-1813
Owner: John Foy


From Their Website:

The cornerstone of Philadelphia’s most happening street. Breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week with dining options including Gluten free, brunch, kids and home delivery. Bridget Foy’s, open for business since 1978, is American fare.

In The News

Zagat Review


Philadelphia Business Journal


The Drink Nation




Downey’s – Drinking House Dining Saloon

downeys 2011

Drinking House Dining Saloon

A freezing winter night, we met up on Ted’s sailboat and decided to explore Society Hill. Downeys is a well-known Irish pub with dark walls and a round bar. Eric, Ted and I found a place to hang in the noisy crowd.

The place was packed with dating couples and groups of men and it was Kareoke Night. I have a vague memory of singing Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” but the sound system was overwhelmed by the boisterous conversations.

February 2011

526 S Front St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 625-9500
Owner: Chef-owner Domenico Centofanti bought it from Jack Downey in 2003.
Opened in 1976.


From Their Website:

“The restaurant is located in the city’s premier neighborhood, Society Hill. The rich mahogany bar, wood panels and stained glass panes were imported from Country Cork in Ireland…Grub Street Philadelphia: Downey’s received a Spike TV’s Bar Rescue makeover in 2011.”

In The News:

Grub Street – Bar Rescue


City Paper




Tattooed Mom

Tattooed Mom

Tattooed Mom Sign

Tattooed Mom

Beer. Food. Fun.

The inky logo and name for Tatooed Mom attracted my attention in a local paper so it became our third stop in the night.

Despite the darkness we saw colorful graffiti-style artwork on every surface including vintage circus mural art hanging on the walls. There were little toys and candy spread out on the bar and tables.

Probably because it was a freezing winter night, it was not crowded and the bartender was very friendly. With drinks in hand we headed upstairs and jumped into some out-of-commission amusement park cars to imbibe and tell stories and listen to the music. The art was visually exciting.

February 2011

530 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 238-9880


Owner: Catheline Sughes

From Their Website:

“Tattooed Mom is a melting pot of good people of every stripe. We’re the perfect spot for a casual lunch, dinner or late night snack with an always yummy bar menu and ever changing draft list of the best local and regional beer.”

In The News:

Philadelphia Weekly


Drink Nation




Grub Street


Hop Sing Laundromat

Hop Sing Laundromat

Hop Sing Landromat

Hop Sing Laundromat

The month was March, the winter was almost over, and it was a final Bucket List night. For the occasion I checked the web for something different, a “hidden bar”. Ever heard of Hop Sing Laundry?

We drove to China Town, stepped out of the car, and felt the chilly wind as we walked the barren winter sidewalk. By tracking the street addresses of the local shops and restaurants we deduced where we thought the place might be. We spotted four people huddling in the cold facing a metal grate the size of a door next to a doorbell.  Ah-ha!

The face of an asian man wearing a knit cap and glasses peeked through the unopened grate and asked how many parties. “Two”. The first four were escorted in and he told the three of us “Please wait here.” In the cold shivering? Really?

Finally, an enormous and well-dressed bouncer escorted us up an unlit stairway to a small dark lobby and pointed to a wooden bench. “Take a seat, get out your IDs and wait for Mr. Lee to explain the house rules.” House rules? Cool. We his followed directions without question, feeling like we were in The Soup Nazi line in the Seinfeld episode and within five minutes

Mr. Lee appeared and perused our identification. “First let me apologize for my club.” (The guy had a shtick!) He explained the house rules, which included no photos and no cell phones. “We will escort you to a private room to make a phone call if you have to speak to your future ex-wife”. We passed the inspection.

He led us, calling us individually by name (remembering the IDs!), to the vast and ornate main room with a vaulted ceiling. The main room was decorated with elaborately framed artwork stretching the length and height of each wall.  One of the paintings was a portrait of a magnificently dressed man’s body with a dog’s head. Classy couples were seated at the linen-covered tables.

We occupied three stools next to the mirrored bar with a view of the bartenders shaking the cocktail shakers and the waiters gliding about, delivering peach, amber and blue spirits sold at a fixed price of $12 per drink—a low price for a major city. The drink menu focused on unusually named concoctions and a tale associated with each, like the Little Big Horn. It was a glamorous night and Mr. Lee stopped by to make sure we were keeping our expectations low.

March 2013


unmarked storefront at 1029 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA

In The News





The Pub on Passyunk East

Eric, Ted and I were well fed after the sardine feast at the last pub and psyched about the success of that bucket list achievement, the bar with the funny name.  We hopped in the car, crossed over a few blocks using the navigation system, and found The Pub On Passyunk East aka The POPE.

Arriving around midnight, we spotted happy, well-dressed people reveling outside the front door of the pub. We entered and squeezed single file through the crowd in the doorway to the end of the bar. It was a darkly warm establishment, with old woodwork, molding around the ceiling and walls and spacious rooms in the back for dining. The vibe in the POPE was up.

Everyone was friendly, wholesome and handsome. We ordered Kenzingers, a Philly local brew, and listened to classic rock and roll between conversations. A roomy and classic neighborhood pub, the crowd was committed to staying until last call but feeling very satisfied we called it a night with a promise to return.

1501 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 755-5125


In The News





The American Sardine Bar

The American Sardine Bar

“Where are we going tonight?” Eric wanted to know because it was Friday. It had been a great winter and he was looking forward to another fun night. I read about this place via Facebook and its unusual name etched a picture in my brain – The American Sardine Bar. We like sardines, but sardine bar?

I googled the location and it meant returning to South Philly, deep into a neighborhood known as Point Breeze. In addition to reading about the bar I also read about the crime in Point Breeze but this tavern was too intriguing to pass up. Plus famous foodie Anthony Bourdain had visited recently according to my friend on Facebook.

The sign hanging above the front door on the corner was a gigantic 3-D sardine can with a lid curled back. Intriguing. The interior décor included dark red walls and curtains, giving it a vintage bar feel but with unusual menu items on the chalkboards. We didn’t come in expecting to eat buy Air Bear the tattooed bartender set us up with 4 different kinds of sardines, pickle eggs served in shot glasses on the house, and three sardine sliders for appetizers. We completed our impromtu feast with family-style bowls of macaroni and cheese, sauteed brussell sprouts and a pulled pork sandwich that we split three ways. Add to the food three craft beers and we were in gastro-pub heaven.

We never made it down the aisle to the famous jukebox, which has left a trail of impressed customers, especially for “Suicide’s self-titled ’77 debut album”. Next time. There were lots of police cars circling the block around the bar. Apparently Mayor Nutter’s call for cleaning up Point Breeze has been heard.

March 2013 -

1801 Federal St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 334-2337


In The News





The Sidecar Bar & Grill

The Sidecar Bar & Grill

The Sidecar Bar & Grill

The Sidecar Bar & Grill

Our good friends Susan and Jack joined us on this cold winter bucket list run to the Sidecar Bar and Grill. After locating the arty hanging sign of a speeding sidecar above the front door, we walked in or rather squeezed our way in past everyone in the doorway, continuing to squeeze through the crowd long after we had entered. Apparently this was a hot spot.

The bar had no empty stools and the tables were filled with people eating with a late night dining scene offering burgers and hummus platters. They had a large craft beer menu and the waitress with many tattoos was extremely friendly, recommending that we hang out near the juke box until something opens up. Drinks in hand we obliged and talked over the rock music.

Soon a waitress escorted us upstairs to the only empty table in an equally crowded and noisy second floor, past the second bar. Despite the noise levels we had a nice time catching up with Jack and Susan noshing on a big plate of nachos around midnight.

Buzz Alert: Known for a top-notch Sunday brunch, the Sidecar Bar & Grill is owned by William Reed, who also owns Standard Tap. The film crew from the TV show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” came to the Sidecar & The Standard Tap to discuss filming a future episode.

March 2013 -

2201 Christian St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 732-3429


In The News




Campbell’s Place

Campbell’s Place

Campbell's Pub

Campbell’s Place

We started out on Ted’s boat to float and toast to life. Sadly, Ted’s wife who was “too-young-to-leave-us” had recently passed away so we honored her and grieved together onboard Victoria, the boat she shared with him.

Ted had plans to embark on a road trip with his Dad the next day, so, after our onboard toast we headed to Chestnut Hill near Ted’s parents’ neighborhood. Chestnut Hill has many good drinking holes.

Ted’s first selection was Campbell’s Place. It had attractive decor with brick walls and original artwork on the walls visible with indirect lighting. There were delicious aromas of food delivered to all of the pretty people sitting at the very crowded bar. We shared a chicken and cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese and roasted garlic brussel sprouts.

A long-haired local (I think it was a radio celeb) leaned against the wall at the end of the bar, looking sullen and emitting the forelorn look of an artist but he allowed a big smile to escape when a young woman approached him.  The young blond  wearing a tight sweater, heels and no pants (beige leggings) paraded back and forth from the bathroom to the front of the bar, entertaining everyone with her attire or lack of. (Note to self  “beige leggings draw attention”.)

March 2013 -


8337 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19118

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Towey’s Tavern

Towey’s Tavern

Toweys Tavern

Toweys Tavern

After the meal at Campbell’s, Ted took us for a stroll up the street for a brew at the unassuming Towey’s Tavern. It was old-school bar decor, with tile floor, cigarette and beer  smell and non-matching stools. Not crowded but busy, his old neighborhood hang-out had cheap beer and a dart board.

At the bar, one middle age frumpy guy sat in the corner, bending over his 2 flat beers with a cigarette extended from his drinking hand. From the hunched shoulders his face was buried into a bar-top arcade game. Soon his buddy arrived, the second beer made sense, and the blue arcade light reflected off both their old faces while they enjoyed the game. It was kind of heart-warming on a cold winter night – to see the bonding of these two old guys, the bonding that these neighborhood bars are known for.

March 2013 -

7829 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Neighborhood: Chestnut Hill
(215) 247-2029

In The News



Doobie’s Bar

Doobie's Bar

Doobie’s Bar

Doobie’s Bar

It was a cold, wet winter and this was another rainy, cold Friday night in Philly which made us grateful to have the bucket list for entertainment when the summer boating was just a distant memory.

We decided to try Center City for a change and checking the map we found Doobies. I have been driving past Doobie’s for twenty years and never thought I would step foot inside ever.

Doobie's Bar

Doobie’s Bar

It was packed with talkative, laughing people and there were no empty bar stools or tables at first.

Once we ordered our drinks, a table opened up right behind us. Ted and his friend Gayle met up with us just as we were sitting down.

Doobies loves animals. There were 2 little fluffy pooches at the next table, so we were petting them while we sipped our cocktails. There was a huge pile of board games off the bar and the waitress was super friendly.

February 2013 -

2201 Lombard St
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(215) 546-0316

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Flip & Bailey’s

Flip & Bailey's Pub

Flip & Bailey’s Pub

Flip & Bailey’s

After the successful launch of the third Bucket List season in South Philly, Eric and I were psyched to see if there were any decent pubs in the burbs. Ted came over and we headed west toward Conestoga Road to find Flip and Bailey’s.

As Murphy’s Law would have it, we immediately had a mishap at the start of the evening. Eric had backed his new SUV into a pole while at the gas station and crunched his new fender. A badge of good times?

Hard to find in the early winter darkness on a curvy road, we finally came upon the attractive modern bar. There were very few patrons and it was very quiet. The style of the interior included new wood tables and windowsills with shiny hardwood floors, not a dive kind of place.

The huge, athletic bouncer at the door with nothing to do readily explained that Flip & Baileys is home to the college crowd and the emptiness was due to winter break. When courses are in session the bar is known for penny drinks on Friday nights – sure to attract the coeds.  With the bar to ourselves, we enjoyed listening to Ted’s tales of survival from an ocean storm on his sailboat.

December 2012

Flip & Bailey's logo

Flip & Bailey’s logo

900 Conestoga Road,
Rosemont, PA


In The News

BrynMawr-Gladwyne Patch


Beer Advocate


North Bowl Lounge and Lanes


North Bowl Lounge and Lanes

Strikingly Different

The North Bowl Lounge and Lanes in Northern Liberties is very popular. On the first floor near the entryway there is a very loud lounge filled with customers waiting for their turn to bowl.

North-Bowl-in-Northern-Liberties-in-Philadelphia-7Despite a ton of lanes in this bowling alley, on two floors no less, there was a two hour wait!  Luckily the pub had a tempting menu (a plus for being vegan friendly) and we enjoyed a zillion kinds of tater-tots.

We never did get to a lane but the buzz in the place was very energizing.  There were swarms of attractive women, one of them lifting her shirt repeatedly to show off her new tats on her back. The bright arcade lights inspired Ted to buy white underpants from a vending machine, or maybe the muse was the lass with the new tats.

January 2011

909 N 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19123


Opened 2006.

From Their Website:

“North Bowl is the ultimate hang-out…From the retro benches from bowling alleys of the 50s to the sculptural bar and glass enclosed pod that overlooks the downstairs lanes from the lounge, North Bowl is a place that is truly unique in Philadelphia.”

In The News

Visit Philly


Drink Nation






Black Book Mag


Philly Hotlist



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