Your Destination Guide to Philadelphia

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Spring Garden Street Picks

Spring Garden Street Picks
Spring Garden Street Picks

© Chris Zakorchemny

Spring Garden St. is a two way avenue-split down the middle for a few blocks to allow for an elusive trolley service that runs between Front St. on its East all the way until it hits Pennsylvania Ave. at the Art Museum Plaza. Every block boasts of at least one bar, mini-club, music venue, or pub.

Finnegan's Wake on 3rd St., a massive Irish Pub, serves potato soup and meat pies, boasts package deals for birthday and bachelorette parties, often hosts ticketed holiday parties (especially St. Patrick's Day, but also New Years Eve, Halloween, etc.), and has super cheap weekday bottled beer specials.

New to the area is Zee Bar, a "members only" private social club, which maintains residence at 100 Spring Garden St. Privately owned and operated, the exclusive Zee Bar does not have to adhere to the citywide ordinance that forces bars to close at 2 am, so stays open into the wee hours of the morning hosting lavish parties and events for local VIPs, professional athletes, and business owners.

Upon entering Silk City, which was recently featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, hanging a right will take you up a couple mosaic tiled stairs into a glowing fluorescent diner with a signature menu featuring items ranging from appetizers like edamame beans, to entrees like huevos rancheros. Shaped like an elongated trailer with a low ceiling and leather-topped bar stools, the glittery Formica countertop stretches across from a row of roomy, window-side booths, complete with hooks to hang fedora hats and bomber jackets. A hard left takes you past a wall covered in d├ęcor that appears to be the aftermath of a tornado at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, and into the mini club. The raised DJ stand booth is nearly adjacent to the bar that serves a variety of signature cocktails, although most guests stick to their staple, Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys. Thursday nights are way popular at this joint, and when 2 am rolls around, the hipster circus empties out onto the sidewalk to puff away on hand-rolled cigarettes and seek out the after party.

Just up the street from here is the Electric Factory and Transit nightclub, two venues that share several surrounding parking lots, inciting a proper parade of partyers when an event lets out. The E Factory on Vine St. is an intimate two-story music venue that hosts major concerts on a year round basis, but otherwise Transit's nightclub scene tends to vary unreliably. Occasionally, it will sponsor specific parties or have acclaimed DJs, making the atmosphere slightly more predictable. The building itself, from the outside, looks like some sort of urban penitentiary but once you're in the backdoor (and probably after paying a cover charge), you're met by multiple staircases, enormous twinkling disco balls in the main room, and VIP type lounges with seedy couches upstairs overlooking the dance floor below. Despite these amenities, having a few drinks at Transit will burn a hole in your wallet and the place can be a bit ghetto-fabulous, depending when you go.

The Starlight Ballroom on 9th St. and Spring Garden is another Philly venue for hosting DJs and bands, alike. This place gives off the feel of a roller skating rink you probably hung out at when you were in elementary school. The corny mirrored walls and the semi-circle rubbery booths make you yearn for some Ellio's Pizza and an old fashioned Electric Slide. Alas, the bar is small and at shows you're forced to consume your drink within a fenced off area. Otherwise, the provided dancing space is quite ample, although the air conditioning units are sparse, making for a sweaty time.

Just North of Spring Garden St. is Gerard St., where popular hipster hangout Johnny Brenda's is located within walking distance from the Barbary.


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