October 11, 2017

Philly’s LGBT Nightlife Scene Buzzes Evening Through Late-Night

A Guide To Where To Eat, Drink & Party In Philadelphia’s Gayborhood & Beyond

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Double Knot features a bar, coffee and retail space on the first floor and a and restaurant downstairs—accessible by a hidden staircase. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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LGBT revelers of every stripe meet their nightlife matches among the buzz-worthy bars, restaurants and nightclubs in and beyond Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. After dark, partying patrons enjoy laid-back vibes and delicious cocktails at recent additions Toasted Walnut and Writers’ Block Rehab, at the well-rounded club scenes of Woody’s and Voyeur and at bar-nightclub hybrids—venues with bars on the first floors and dancing on the second—Franky Bradley’s and Tavern on Camac. Then, there’s the late-night food scene, featuring stylish go-tos like Bud & Marilyn’s and Zavino along the restaurant row that is 13th Street, plus quick noshes in the wee hours.

Here’s a lineup of Philly LGBT hotspots that get even hotter as the night gets later:

Bars & Nightclubs:

  • Bob & Barbara’s – One of Philly’s most legendary dive bars is not gay, per say, but is home to the city’s longest-running drag show, which takes place every Thursday night. Patrons seeking the authentic B & B’s experience should order a signature $3 “citywide”—a shot of Jim Beam with a Pabst Blue Ribbon chaser. 1509 South Street, (215) 545-4511, bobandbarbaras.com
  • Boxers PHL – Shirtless mixologists man the well-stocked bar at this Gayborhood spot known for its craft beer and ample spirits. This popular destination for sports fans features plentiful plasma TVs and a pool table, plus brick-oven pizzas and kitschy cocktails such as the “Get Lei’d” and “The Italian Stallion.” 1330 Walnut Street, (215) 735-2977, boxersphl.com
  • Franky Bradley’s – This self-described “house of weird” from the owner of Silk City breathes new life into former lesbian bar Sisters, which inhabited these digs for 17 years. Bar owners keep the spirit alive with kitschy art from the original location and bawdy drag and burlesque performances upstairs, while the downstairs dining room and bar offers a more low-key experience with beer, cocktails and full menu of American fare, including must-have smoked chicken wings. 1320 Chancellor Street, (215) 735-0735, frankybradleys.com
  • Knock – Gay baby boomers congregate around the bright bar for conversation and cocktails. Guests in the adjoining dining room are treated to piano tunes and a menu of new American fare. During warmer months, patrons populate tables outside for weekend brunch—and some of the best people watching in the Gayborhood. 25 S. 12th Street, (215) 925-1166, knockphilly.com
  • L’Etage – This stylish bar offers an LGBT-friendly atmosphere atop Bella Vista French creperie Beau Monde. Known for craft cocktails, small plates and crepes, L’Etage fills up on weekends for DJ dance parties, comedy shows and occasional queer entertainment, including the monthly Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret, a must-see for drag connoisseurs. 624 S. 6th Street, (215) 592-0656, creperie-beaumonde.com
  • Stir – Center City’s only LGBT-specific bar outside the Gayborhood manages to be both sleek and laid back. On a quaint side street near Rittenhouse Square, the brick-walled bar and kitchen hosts Stirsdays, a jam-packed Thursday night party featuring $1 drinks and DJs spinning tunes until 2 a.m. 1705 Chancellor Street, (215) 732-2700, stirphilly.com
  • Toasted Walnut Bar & Kitchen – Owned and operated by the former manager of Sisters Nightclub, this uber-welcoming bar and 3,800-square-foot performance venue serves all the usual drinks, plus tacos, skewers, sliders and other snacks available late-night. Patrons who swing by on a weeknight might stumble upon any number of drag and variety shows, TV viewing parties or meet-ups. 1316 Walnut Street, (215) 546-8888, toastedwalnut.com
  • Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar – This dual-personality venue features sports-tuned TVs and classic pub fare downstairs and nightly live entertainment and dancing upstairs. Tabu also offers what might be Philly’s most popular lesbian parties, Back 2 Basics, every second Saturday of the month. 200 S. 12th Street, (215) 964-9675, tabuphilly.com
  • Tavern on Camac – Tucked along cozy Camac Street is the Gayborhood’s three-in-one special, featuring a handsome first-floor piano bar, a haven for songbirds who gather nightly for show-tune sing-alongs; an upstairs Ascension Lounge for weekend dancing and occasional drag shows; and a basement-level restaurant featuring upscale American fare that’s available until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-0900, tavernoncamac.com
  • U Bar – The Gayborhood’s most Cheers-like locale serves as a no-nonsense drinkers’ refuge, where the only entertainment is a glowing jukebox at the end of the bar. Through evening hours, the kitchen churns out light bites like hummus, as well as heavy hitters like meatloaf sandwiches. 1220 Locust Street, (215) 546-6660, ubarphilly.com
  • Writer’s Block Rehab – In this dimly lit, comfy hangout with Scrabble-lettered walls and a bound library book for a menu, bartenders serve exquisite, Instagrammable craft cocktails of both the woodsy and floral variety, along with beers and a plentiful selection of wines. Upstairs seating is available for libations-enhanced reading sessions and casual conversation. 1342 Cypress Street, (267) 534-3134, facebook.com/writersblockrehab
  • Voyeur – After 2 a.m., club kids with energy to spare come here for after-hours fun. The 15,000-square-foot, tri-level complex offers multiple bars and three dance floors illuminated by stunning light shows and thumping with tunes from local and international DJs—plus, a “RuPaul’s Drag Race”-esque competition on Thursdays. 1221 St. James Street, (215) 735-5772, voyeurnightclub.com
  • Woody’s – Philadelphia’s best-known gay bar has one of the busiest weekend scenes: Gents squeeze in on Friday and Saturday nights to dance and mingle in a sea of tank tops and muscle shirts. The upstairs dance floor comes with disco balls, strobe lights and Top 40 tunes blaring from the DJ booth, while, downstairs, patrons revolve around the central bar for beer, cocktails and heavy flirting. 202 S. 13th Street, (215) 545-1893, woodysbar.com

Dining & Drinking Until Midnight:

  • Barbuzzo – One of 13th Street’s busiest bistros rolls out a low-priced late-night menu of signature burgers, wood-fired pizzas, draught beers, house-made sangria and wine every Sunday to Thursday from 10:30 p.m. to midnight. The rest of each day, chef Marcie Turney and partner Valerie Safran’s restaurant serves a full, fabulous Mediterranean menu. 110 S. 13th Street, (215) 546-9300, barbuzzo.com
  • Bud & Marilyn’s – Friday and Saturday nights, the bar at this retro-American joint stays open until midnight for locally brewed Bud’s Best Pale Ale, the house take on Bob & Barbara’s “citywide” and a night owl menu of crispy cheese curds, pierogi platters and fried chicken on a bun. 1234 Locust Street, (215) 546-2220, budandmarilyns.com
  • Double Knot – This atmospheric hideaway stays open on Friday and Saturday nights between midnight and 1 a.m., when the bar serves beer, wine by the glass and revivifying cocktails that include a handful of coffee-infused concoctions. Edamame dumplings, a selection of sushi rolls and pork bao buns from the izakaya kitchen here and from neighboring Sampan are available until midnight. 120 S. 13th Street, (215) 631-3868, doubleknotphilly.com
  • El Vez – The crowd is lively and guacamole bowls overflow at this flashy corner spot. Cali-Mex dishes (heaping nachos, mahi-mahi tacos), plus nine margaritas (classic to smoky mescal) are on offer until midnight Fridays and Saturdays. 121 S. 13th Street, (215) 928-9800, elvezrestaurant.com
  • Graffiti Bar – Philadelphia meets the East Village at this colorful, snug outdoor hangout serving sake flights, bottled beers and Pan-Asian satay, dumplings and pork buns until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. 124 S. 13th Street, (215) 732-3501, sampanphilly.com
  • Lolita – A low-lit, rustic vibe welcomes patrons to Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s contemporary Mexican restaurant that dishes out tostadas, tacos and a handful of heftier entrees until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Best-loved beverages here: margaritas by the glass or pitcher, tequila flights and sangria. 106 S. 13th Street, (215) 546-7100, lolitaphilly.com
  • Maison 208 – The gorgeous two-floor restaurant from “Top Chef” contestant Sylva Senat stands out both for its menu of refined, modernized New American fare and its bar—the first in the city with a retractable roof. Dinner is served until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; the bar’s open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday for ethereal cocktails such the “black rose,” combining vermouth, blackberry liqueur and rosemary. 208 S. 13th Street, (215) 999-1020, maison208.com
  • Mixto – Along comparatively quiet Pine Street, this two-level restaurant and bar buzzes with energetic crowds who pile in for Latino cuisine and mojitos. The latter come in 20 flavors that range from traditional to jalapeño, coconut or basil-infused. 1141 Pine Street, (215) 592-0363, mixtorestaurante.com
  • Nomad Roman – Club-goers often start their nights at this intimate spot near the Gayborhood bars. The focus here is local, organic ingredients in salads, vegetarian small plates and a dozen varieties of oven-fired pizzas, along with wine, beer and essential spirits. Nomad closes at midnight, with a last seating on Fridays at 11:45 p.m. 1305 Locust Street, (215) 644-9287, nomadpizzaco.com
  • Tredici Enoteca – Open until midnight every night of the week, this trendy, sophisticated bar and dining room ushers in passersby for small plates and seafood dishes with a Mediterranean flare. The bar is extensive, with a standout wine list and a selection of classic and specialty cocktails and beer. 114 S. 13th Street, (267) 928-2092, tredicienoteca.com

Dining & Drinking After Midnight:

  • Charlie was a sinner – This moody café and bar holds sway as the neighborhood’s vegan specialist. Menu standouts include avocado toast, artichoke frites and potato croquettes, while the cocktail list is both classic and adventurous—how about a wheatgrass shot mixed with green chartreuse liqueur? The bar is open until 2 a.m. every night, with food served until 1 a.m. 31 S. 13th Street, (267) 758-5372, charliewasasinner.com
  • Tiki – Mai Tais, daiquiris and zombies with little umbrellas—along with shrimp dumplings and pork bao—are the specialties of the neighborhood’s go-to for all things tropical, bringing Polynesian vibes to the Gayborhood until 2 a.m. nightly. 102 S. 13th Street, (215) 309-3435, tikiphilly.com
  • Valanni – Mediterranean- and Latin American-inspired tapas flow from the kitchen until 1 a.m. at this attractive neighborhood spot one block from the Avenue of the Arts. The bar serves up craft cocktails, a hefty wine list and selection of beers until 2 a.m. 1229 Spruce Street, (215) 790-9494, valanni.com
  • Vintage – Open until 2 a.m. nightly, the Gayborhood oenophile’s dream-come-true is a rustic French bistro pouring more than 60 wines by the glass and flight options that allow guests to sample multiple varietals. A late-night menu of small plates (crostini, croquettes) and “fancy-ass cheese fries” is available until midnight Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. 129 S. 13th Street, (215) 922-3095, vintage-philadelphia.com
  • Zavino – Artisan pizzas are the star of the show at this bustling intersection in the heart of the Gayborhood. The menu, available until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, also features a selection of meats and cheeses, tapas-style small plates, small-producer wines, plus beer and fruity drinks. 112 S. 13th Street, (215) 732-2400, zavino.com

After-Party Eats:

  • Pizzeria Cappelli – Conveniently located across the street from Woody’s, this spot is popularly recognized as the late-night pit stop that serves “Gay Pizza.” Open until 4 a.m., the shop attracts a long line of slice seekers before they head home. 209 S. 13th Street, (215) 398-1065, pizzeriacappelli.com
  • Wishbone – Fried chicken is the name of the game at this “craft fried chicken” kitchen, which cranks out buckets of the good stuff until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Think of it as a fancy-pants Kentucky Fried Chicken, with white and dark tenders and wings—all buttermilk battered with a pretzel crust. Sides include biscuits, coleslaw and mac and cheese. 210 S. 13th Street, (215) 921-3204, wishbonephilly.com

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