by Tara Nurin - 221 Reviews - 105 List
We've scoured the Philadelphia area and now we're ready to name our Top Bars/Clubs for 2009. Some are new and some are classic spots. Click through and see if you agree, but note that our Top 10 is randomly listed and not necessarily in our order of preference. (Photo courtesy of Vango Lounge and Skybar)
Updated: December 10, 2009
With a burger that makes everyone in town salivate, this is a go-to spot for preps, hipsters, students and anyone who likes good beer. Although the owners racked up a lot of ink this year for the opening of the Swift Half Pub in Northern Liberties? Piazza, the impression we have is that other than NoLibs/Fishtown crawlers and friends of the bartenders, Good Dog fans checked out Swift Half when they were up in the `hood, then took it on back to their home base. After all, how many burgers do you know of that can beckon a New Jersey resident over the bridge for the specific purpose of eating one?
Beer geeks cannot get enough of this place! Though many, many stellar gastropubs have opened over the last few years, a consistently talked about relative newcomer is this warm and narrow space tucked into an overlookable Asian block of South Philly. With a Belgian beer list that rivals all but a few of the city's best beer bars, the taps and bottles here are full of rare and regularly rotating celebrities of the brewing world, and those starlets number in the hundreds.
Known affectionately as ?G,? this literally underground Rittenhouse lounge is where all the cool kids hang out. Home to countless parties and events that draw the Beemer-driving set and the DJs who cater to them, it's the site of one of the world's only Krug Rooms, a private dining area sponsored by Krug champagne. Bottle service throughout the lounge is practically de rigueur, as is pretending you're entranced by the electronic wallpaper wall when you're really just shying away from the crowd because you're feeling intimidated, insecure or bored.
During warm evenings, there's no place that beats the Skybar, a rooftop deck that encourages lounging, sipping and posturing. Whether reclining on a chaise lounge or staring at the lit skyline (under heatlamps when appropriate), you'll find it easy to feel sexy as the pulsing beat surrounds you and the fruity martinis start to go to your head. Inside is a vision of exploding light, as the one-of-a-kind chandelier bursts color onto all of DJs, dancers and custom decorative detailing below.
Redesigned as of this year, the tight upstairs club space at this spectacularly appointed Old City restaurant attracts DJs and their footloose minions. Though the space isn't laid out well for dancing, that doesn't stop a varied assortment of young partygoers from trying. For those who would rather not bother, there's always the array of plush seating options that all provide prime vistas of those who don't mind squeezing their shaking booties in front of the bar.
Although the fancy martini craze is giving way to a nationwide craving for classic cocktails, artful beer and artisanal whiskey, this Old City hot spot is clinging to its cache. The martini-centric holdout mixes 30 different predetermined combinations of the drink--many of which compete in color with the restau-lounge's neon blue logo--but waitresses will also ask bartenders to stir you up a concoction of your own making, if you?d prefer. Bottle service and a large selection of gin and whiskey make this a place that also appeals to the guys.
Oh, Cuba Libre. How we love your sexy vibe, your towering palm trees and your slowly spinning ceiling fans, your on-point mojitos and your graceful confidence that on weekend nights, there will often be a beautifully self-choreographed couple precisely dancing habanera-style on your centerpiece dance floor. Around your dining room edges, at your bar and atop your mezzanine-level balcony, other couples who are dressed for a night out wistfully gaze upon your dance floor, and, bowing to the influence of the imagined Caribbean breeze, step out themselves, perform a Latin shimmy and a twirl and quickly discover that they are having a magnificent time.
For as long as it's been around, this wine and cheese bar has remained a perpetual favorite. Classy and sophisticated, though accessible and friendly, the original Rittenhouse location works as a destination for a quick date, a romantic dinner, a reunion with friends or a post-shopping lunch with Mom. Plus, eating and drinking here provides a veritable education in the wines, cheeses and beers of the world.