Philly Beer Trip 8: Center City
There is definitely no shortage of places to drink in Center City, so you’re in luck if you happen to be a business traveler stuck downtown. But, how can you tell what’s worth your time and what isn’t? You’d want to stay away from places that specialize in $1 PBRs for Happy Hour and cater to the bland business folk that think Guinness is way too dark (“How can you drink that stuff? It tastes like pure coffee!”) and head somewhere a little more exciting—and selective with their beer offerings. We’ve picked just the five places for you, and hopefully they’re within walking distance of your hotel.
You can’t go wrong at Pub & Kitchen: they have a solid tap list (including their own proprietary beer by Sixpoint, the Pub & Kitchen Middleton Ale), great burgers, quality English classics and—if you’re not feeling beer at the moment—they age some of their cocktails in mini casks, and they’re a constant presence on Eater’s 38 essential Philly restaurants. They don’t open until 4pm on weekdays, so you may not want to start here during the week, but their weekend brunch begins at 11am. This would be a great starting point for any Saturday beer trip. Go three blocks East on Lombard and take a left on 16th to get to your next destination.
What can be said about Monk’s that I haven’t said before? Or that everyone hasn’t said before, including Michael Jackson, the world’s most well-respected beer writer? Maybe to get there early, because the place fills up quick—and for good reason. While they always have something interesting on top, the real gem here is the bottle list, which can be found on the many pages of Monk’s famous Beer Bible. Go to town, because you’re probably not going to see some of these very often. Oh, and if you didn’t eat at Pub & Kitchen – get a burger here, which is outstanding, as well as an order of fries, which have been rated the best in the city. Continue North on 16th for a block in a half and turn right on Sansom to find our next stop.
C. Nodding Head Brewery & Restaurant
1516 Sansom Street
We’ve talked about Nodding Head before, but the fact is, they’re still turning out great beer and decent food. If you happen to be in town for one of their second Saturday events, you’re in luck. But, if you don’t make it for one of those, don’t fret. They’ll still have a full taplist of great beer and you might get lucky enough to be here during the summer for their Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weiss, the crown jewel in their lofty repertoire. Turn right out the door and take your first right on 15th to find our next pit stop, which is about a block down on the right.
Good Dog has a lot of things going for it. They have a solid bottle list and an even better draft list. They have one of the best burgers in the city. They have two floors so you can easily find a spot on busy days. I’m not sure what more you would be looking for, but if you want to throw TV notoriety in there, the bar was highlighted on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so feel free to add that to the pile of reasons to head to the bar. And did I mention the awesome wall-to-wall photos of dogs? After the puppy love wears off, head to our last stop—take a right out of Good Dog and walk less than a block.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Good Dog is Jose Pistola’s—named after owner Joe Gunn, who is one of the most beloved beer personalities in the city. The bottle list isn’t as good as some places, but it’s still worth checking out—the draft list, however, is where this Mexican bar excels. They always have great beer and they usually have something hard-to-find to pair with the excellent Mexican food they’re turning out. Whether you’re stopping here for the nachos, the beer, or the late-night tomfoolery, you’re sure to stumble home happy.