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Top 5 Philadelphia Happy Hour Go-To's

Top 5 Philadelphia Happy Hour Go-To's

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Top 5 Philadelphia Happy Hour Go-To's

We love an expertly crafted cocktail or craft beer paired with a delicious little morsel, that is why happy hour just might be our favorite time of the week. All over Philadelphia are great restaurants offering up food and drink specials, and even extending their happy hour to include late nights and weekend hours. So whether its oysters or chicken wings that you're craving, read on to find out where we love to go in Philly happy hour. 

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1. The Olde Bar

We absolutely love a well-crafted cocktail. And when those drinks are paired with a raw bar, that’s a match made in heaven. The Olde Bar recently added some new wonderfully hand-crafted cocktails their menu, securing this spot as our number one pick for happy hour in Philadelphia. The Olde Bar, located in Old City at Philadelphia’s landmark Old Original Bookbinder’s, is at once a tribute to the city’s storied past and an updated version of one of our most beloved dining spaces. 

Enjoy Happy Hour at The Olde Bar every day of the week, Monday-Friday 5pm-7pm, and Saturday-Sunday 4pm-6pm! Take a seat at the bar or in a soft leather booth while you enjoy Buck-a-Shuck Oysters and bar specials including $5 house red and white wine, $4 Olde Dock Street Oyster Stoudt, $4 select beer, and $6 Fish House Punch. During happy hour bar snacks like Salt & Vinegar nuts, Deviled Eggs, Beef Fat Fries, and Buffalo Cauliflower are only $5 too!

One of our favorite new cocktails on the menu is Magic Carpet Ride. This uniquely flavored and refreshing drink is made with gin botanicals, Kummel, ginger, lime and Morocan Bitters. This savory drink was a hit right away during R&D and we can see why. We also really enjoyed Here Gose Nothing which is a gin based fizz variation with house made plum jam and Cardamaro, topped with blood orange gose and garnished with Himilayan Pink sea salt to play on the tart and sweet flavors of the drink. This drink was delightful in both color and flavor.

We’d suggest the Enemy at the Gates for every lover of a Manhattan cocktail. This Manhattan variation is made with rhum agricole, Kronan Swedish Punsch, Gran Classico, and a dash of Aphrodite bitters. Stirred over ice, this drink is strained into a chilled glass, garnished with a Maraschino cherry, and served up. And last but certainly not least, for tequila lover’s of course, is Picasso in Jalisco. This drink is named for the tequila’s home region and the Painting of a Suze bottle by Picasso. Try this cocktail for relaxed agave flavor in resposado tequila which goes well with cilantro and Suze. Honey infused with turmeric adds a touch of sweetness as a garnish of cilantro and sprinkle of Aleppo pepper (with medium heat) finishes it all off. 

Whether you’ll be enjoying a drink or more, we’d highly suggest some of the smaller plates on the menu. Personally, nothing stops our heart right in its tracks like the Olde Bar Fries which are topped with crab, lobster butter, oyster stoudt and cheddar fondue. This indulgent treat will have you licking your plate. Their Buffalo Cauliflower is possibly the most delicious way to eat cauliflower, lightly battered and fried, tossed in hot sauce and placed on top of buttermilk ranch, garnished with scallions. The Crawfish Croquettes served here add just the slightest touch of Southern comfort to the menu. They’re made with andouille sausage, and creole remoulade. And you can never go wrong with the Olde Bar Burger topped with kale and cabbage slaw, cheddar, tomato, avocado, and a side of duck fat fries.


2. Charlie was a Sinner

Who is Charlie? That is the question many customers ask when they step inside Charlie was a sinner. Nicole Marquis’s mysterious cocktail bar opened 2 years ago and guests are still intrigued. She describes the restaurant as the darker, sultry side of her personality which is easily felt when you walk in, through a velvet curtain, to see a Louis XIV-style decor and an old hotel front desk where the host greets guests. Open only for dinner, the restaurant is entirely low-lit creating a “feel-good” vibe.

Whether dining in the front lounge area of the restaurant or slipping by the bar and underneath a glowing chandelier into the main dining room, guests will begin by sipping on sparkling or flat water that is brought to each table freshly infused with mint leaves. Take advantage of happy hour here Monday- Thursday 4-7 pm, and Friday 4-6 pm. Specials include $8 cocktails such as Witches of East, Cider House, and Charlie’s Punch. Draft beer is $1 off and house wine, Sycamore Lane Pinot Noir and Sycamore Lane Pinot Grigio are $5 a glass. Select small plate specials are also offered.

Bar manager Pete Venuto’s has designed a drink menu in partnership with Barclay Prime’s Bob Caskey, that covers everything something to suit all tastes distinguished by fresh juices and unusual enhancements. The drinks themselves set the tone.

We like to start our evenings off with The East of Eden, a sort of alternative to a Manhattan featuring tea-infused Dolin Blanc and brown muscat, Bulleit, lillet and garnished with dried fig. We also love the color and tastes of La Dame De Fer made with old overholt, pamplemousse, ginger, mint, lemon, and orange. Per recommendation of a fellow diner, we recently started ordering the Penicillin concocted with dewars, laphroaig, ginger, lemon, and agave. And we can never resist ordering No Time for Dreaming, simply because of its cheeky name- it is made with Sailor Jerry rum, cranberry shrub, spiced syrup, and gingered lemon. As the menu changes seasonally, The Done and Dusted has been a staple drink since Charlie opened. Its no wonder it has won crowds over as a night cap, being made with the dark notes of Patron XO, housemade creme liquor, and hair bender espresso.

One thing is for certain, you won’t feel like your sinning while dining here. Like all Marquis & Co.restaurants, the food served at Charlie is completely untainted by animal products. Chef Michael Santoro’s menu can only be described as vegan bar food that is healthful enough to make your body feel good, but indulgent enough to keep you drinking.

While enjoying cocktails we often order Nicole’s favorite, Our Ricotta served with a side of grilled sourdough bread, this whipped tofu is seasoned with agave, black peppercorn, and olive oil for rich flavor. This dish is certainly enjoyable accompanying a strong drink. The popularity of the Potato Croquettes with chipotle aioli is unmatched- they might be the crispiest in town. We also love the Korean-Style Tofu which hits the deep fryer and is then coated with a spicy glaze, black sesame, and garden pickles creating the ultimate combo of crunchy, spicy, nutty, and sweet.


3. Ocean Prime

Center City is home to many beautiful restaurants, but one of our favorite upscale spots to grab a drink is Ocean Prime. This award-winning modern American restaurant and lounge from renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell offers happy hour Monday-Friday from 4:30-6:30 pm. Sit back and relax while choosing from 13 beers offered for only $5 during happy hour. The selection includes Arrogant Bastard Ale, Allagash White and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, among other craft and favorite macro brews.

Additionally, every one of the Ocean Prime signature cocktails are available for $10 during happy hour. Select red and white wines are also $10. Local craft vodka Stateside is offered “Your Way” {with one mixer} for $10. Our favorite seasonal cocktails to keep cool when temperatures rise include the Cucumber Gimlet crafted with Bombay Sapphire Gin and muddled fresh cucumber with a squeeze of lime and the Rum Punch with Don Poncho 8 Year, Ancho Reyes, Apricot Orchard, fresh juice and chocolate bitters.

Signature not-to-be-missed drinks include Berries & Bubbles with Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Marinated Berries, House Made Sour, Domaine Chandon Brut. Poured tableside over dry ice this cocktail is a show in itself with smoke and bubbles . The Black Orchid is beautiful as well with Belvedere Intense Unfiltered Vodka, St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, Hand Squeezed Lemon and White Cranberry Juice poured over a frozen orchid.

Let’s not forget the tempting happy hour snacks for $5 which include Chef’s Selection Sushi Roll, Truffle Fries, Philly Wontons, Cod Sliders, and house-baked Pretzels served with a cheese fondue. The Chef’s Selection roll we tried was a Vegetable Roll with tempura asparagus, sliced avocado, mango and Daikon radish sprouts. Drizzled with a sesame lime cilantro vinaigrette. This roll had bright flavors perfect for summer.

Ocean Prime also offers a great selection of other sushi rolls which are sure to impress, like the Lobster Roll with Poached Lobster Tail, Kiwi, Pickled Serrano, Masago, Spicy Mango Purée. This roll has a great spicy kick to each bite. Other small plates we often enjoy include the Lamb Lollipops with Teriyaki Marinade and no one resist the Black Truffle Mac and Cheese.


4. The Happy Rooster

The Happy Rooster has been a Philadelphia mainstay since 1968. A tradition of irresistible food and an atmosphere of old-school refinement mixed with quirky charm make it a favorite spot among locals and visitors to the city. The restaurant is now owned by the Jordan’s who recently opened Lou Bird’s. Back in 1968 the restaurant was first owned by Doc Ulitsky. As a big fan of the French culture, the derives its name from the rooster being a French symbol of good luck for restaurants. 

With the exception of a whimsical rooster-themed stained glass window, the exterior of this corner bar is totally unassuming. Once inside, quiet music and low lights create a relaxing atmosphere for diners. The front room is small and intimate. The bar’s history as an old boys’ club is apparent in the dark rosewood furnishings, antique brass lamps, and worn leather booths.

The ceiling is lined with wooden wine racks, and strands of delicate white lights create an ethereal glow. The walls are pinned with old pictures and souvenir menus collected by the former owners in their travels. The most notable design feature, however, is the impressive wall-to-wall collection of roosters (the decorative sort). Perched throughout in every size and medium, roosters definitely rule this roost.

During the warmer months, we love the outside bistro seating, its ideal for people watching right on the corner of 16th and Sansom Street. The Happy Rooster has a seasonal menu created by Chef Lor Kats, using locally grown produce and the freshest ingredients from Philadelphia’s finest purveyors.

Whether dining at the bar or a table, you won’t want to miss some of the awesome items on the bar menu, available for $1 off during happy hour Monday-Friday 5:00- 7:00 pm. Two of the crowd favorites are the Tempura Fried Broccoli or Fried Calamari with Thai chili sauce. Both are lightly battered and fried to a perfectly crispy outside. The calamari are served with a sweet and spicy sauce that totally beats your typical marinara. Stop by for happy hour drink specials, as well including $1 off all bar menu items. Grab a $3.50 Miller Lite or Yuengling Lager, or sip on a $7 Chardonnay if that’s more your style.

For the upcoming winter months we’d suggest some of the great bar bites offered here. The Smoked Gouda Mac N’ Cheese is offered to customize to your liking with tomato, bacon, mushroom, and/or lobster. We absolutely adore the Ropa Vieja Fries with braised flank steak and aioli. These fries are loaded up with slow-cooked tender meat, but not too heavy with a drizzle of aioli. And of course they’re got Chicken Wings at the Happy Rooster, either Nashville hot or ginger hoisin BBQ sauced. If you’re looking for something lighter they also serving up crispy Flatbreads with either tomato and cheese, fig bacon and bleu, mushroom garlic, or arugula and labneh.

And you really don’t want to miss Thursday nights at The Happy Rooster. Their back room gets packed every week with crowds flocking in for the karaoke. If you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to go and see for yourself- it’s a whole lot of fun.


5. City Tap House (Logan Circle and University City)

With 60 taps featuring the latest and greatest craft and seasonal beers, beer buffs will be sure to find something to quench their thirst. Although City Tap House is most known for their selection of rare and in-demand beers, they also really know how to give pub food a certain flare (all thanks to Executive Chef Chad Vetter). If you’re looking to have the latest craved ”cold-one” and perhaps need a bite as well, City Tap House is the place for you.

With 2 locations in Philadelphia, Logan Circle and University City each offer great happy hour deals. In University City, even during the winter, guests can enjoy their outdoor seating on the 2nd story terrace overlooking Walnut Street complete with 5 stone fire pits for when the weather gets chilly. They’ve got 60 beers on tap, which may seem overwhelming, but have no fear- City Tap House offers flights of 3 or 4 beers (depending on how indecisive you actually are.) Whether it be porter, pilsner, or pale ale, create a trio or more to your liking, because you may need some time to glance at their glorious pub fare menu.

Each day of the week brings a different special at City Tap. Happy hour is weekdays 5:00 - 7:00 pm with specials like $4 select craft beer, $6 Sangria, and $6 select red and white wines. Additionally on Mondays enjoy $10 beer flights all day, and Tuesday at 10:00 pm is Quizzo with beer and pizza specials. Stop by late-night for live music!

We can never resist starting off our night with an order of the BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos. These chips were loaded and stacked high with an impressive amount of witbier cheese sauce, love stout bbq, green onions, red onions, and sliced fresno chiles. These killer nachos are NOT to be missed.

And nothing pairs better with a cold beer than some chicken wings. City Tap has go their own unique Ten Spice Wings which we quickly devoured. The Korean Short Rib Tacos topped pickled cabbage slaw, cilantro, and chili sauce are also very popular.

And don’t neglect the Pizza & Flatbreads menu section offering tasty options like Honey Goat Cheese Flatbread, Sausage and Mushroom Flatbread, Classic Margherita Pizza, or Sweet Corn Pizza with raclette, oven roasted tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, and cilantro pesto. We love to order the Tartufo Pizza with roasted portobellos, taleggio, sunny-side egg, truffle and added guanciale.


The Olde Bar,
Charlie was a sinner.,
Ocean Prime,
The Happy Rooster,
City Tap House

About the Author

Since moving to Philadelphia 5 years ago I've been exploring the food scene looking all over for restaurants that showcase the exciting and original flavors of the city. I love to write about the story behind these businesses, the great people who run them, and the food they serve. Check out my blog for more restaurant reviews, local events, and recipe posts.