Esquire dubs Philly ‘Late-Night Capital of the U.S.’ (for food)

Philly Beer Week at the Standard Tap in 2009.

By now, you’ve probably already heard that Esquire.com’s “Eat Like a Man” food and drink blog has crowned Philly “The Late-Night Capital of the United States” – when it comes to food, anyway.

The introduction reads:

Once referred to as the “workshop of the world,” the great factory city of Philadelphia still has a third-shift appetite: It gets hungry after midnight. And it doesn’t hurt that the local love for microbrewing, dating to the late 1600s, shows up on beer lists so intricately compiled they’d be described as curated in more pretentious cities. (Yes, Brooklyn, I mean you.) Epic jukeboxes and random dartboards, roasted meat and melted cheese, super-hard-to-find beers and whiskey neat — all served up without judgment in an American stronghold for going big into the wee hours: Welcome to the dark side.

Fair enough. Flattering, actually. But what do you think about the men’s mag’s picks for places to pig out? The list is broken down by neighborhood, with one or two late night eats spots highlighted in each. Here’s who, what and where came out on top:

Northern Liberties: North Third, 801 North 3rd Street

Standard Tap, 901 North 2nd Street

The Dapper Dog, 2nd and Poplar streets

Reviewers write: “If Philadelphia has a late-night strip, it’s the bike-racked, dog-friendly stretch between retro-artsy North Third and retro-woody Standard Tap.” To which we reply: “bike-racked,” “dog-friendly” and “retro-artsy?” You’re not fooling anyone with those euphemisms, Esquire. Come out and say it already – as much as those who fit its description argue to the contrary, “hipster” is not a dirty word!

Old City: Khyber Pass Pub, 56 S. Second Street, because it’s “a legendary rock bar reborn as a pub, with a shot of southern comfort.” It’s always good to let outsiders know there is more to Old City nightlife than spray tans and tribal tattoos. Though there’s still plenty of those, if that’s what you’re into.

Chinatown: David’s Mai Lai Wah, 1001 Race Street: “To dismiss it as ‘drunk food’ demeans the importance of being able to score pork dumplings, salt-and-pepper squid, and roast duck chow fun until 4:00 a.m.” Second that emotion.

Midtown Village: McGillin’s Olde Ale House, 1310 Drury Street. Because, “no matter how many times you’ve been, it’s hard to shake that off-the-beaten-path feeling of discovery you get when you enter McGillin’s.” Except for when it’s full of polo-shirted popped-collared frat boys wearing sunglasses. Inside. At night. True story.

Rittenhouse Square: Good Dog, 224 S. 15th Street, for its “democratic mix of businessmen and bike messengers eating duck potpie in an old-school bar.” Businessmen AND bike messengers? How diverse.

Queen Village: Kennett, 848 South 2nd Street, “a 1924 café rehabbed with reclaimed materials and a wind-power commitment.” The mag didn’t really get past the green angle to describe what kind of food the joint serves, but no mind – I know when I’m drunk and hungry past midnight, my first priority is to ensure my deep fried duck fat truffle mac and cheese fois gras slider is solely supported by wind power. Wouldn’t want it to be unhealthy or anything.

Bella Vista: Royal Tavern, 937 East Passyunk Ave, for “what many consider the best bar burger in the city.” No snark here – it’s a damn good burger.

East Passyunk: Cantina Los Caballitos, 1651 East Passyunk Ave, because it’s “not just any late-night Mexican, but full-on fancy.” And with your huitlacoche quesadilla, you’re likely to also get “tattoos by osmosis.” Because, you know, coolness is contagious. Like leprosy.

Point Breeze:
South Philadelphia Tap Room, 1509 Mifflin Street, with its “big-ass bar” and “compact menu that manages to cut across cultures.” Ironically, we would imagine many regular consumers of those cultures won’t be too pleased with the magazine’s choice of neighborhood name for the area renamed “Newbold” by the founder of SPTR himself.

Graduate Hospital: Grace Tavern, 2229 Grays Ferry Avenue, which “oozes the sort of genuineness that evokes simpler times” and features “memorable bar food.”

The Sidecar Bar & Grille, 2201 Christian Street, whose “substantial menu reads like a bar-food greatest-hits lineup.” Where Esquire sees “greatest hits,” crabby chain Chickie’s and Pete’s sees “potential lawsuit” (see: Sidecar’s “THE APPETIZER FORMALLY KNOWN AS: A dish so controversial, we dare not type its name.” It’s really called that.)

Kensington: Memphis Taproom, 2331 East Cumberland Street, where “everything about it is designed to cultivate regulars.” Which kind of misses the innately effortless quality central to bars populated by regulars: they don’t require cultivation.

What do you think about the choices? Hits, misses? We would humbly submit for inclusion the Oregon Diner. It might not have blackened green bean baskets or grilled tempah hoagies, but there’s pie. PIE.


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