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Philly might not be the “city that never sleeps,” but it’s also no slouch when it comes to fun things to do at night. Whether you’re looking for things to do in Philly on a Saturday night, things to do in Philly at night in winter or romantic things to do in Philadelphia at night, we’ve got you covered. From places to enjoy a meal you won’t forget to places to dance to live music, check out the top things to do in Philly at night.
Back in 2015, the Washington Post set out to find the best food city in the U.S., and Philly landed at the number six spot on the paper’s list of the top 10 food cities. Although people might think cheesesteak when they think of Philadelphia cuisine, there’s much more to food in Philly than that. Whether you’re looking for a vegetarian meal that won’t make you miss the meat or want to eat at a James Beard award-winning restaurant, you’ll find it in Philly.
It was tough to get into Zahav, a modern Israeli restaurant located at the foot of the I.M. Pei-designed Society Hill towers before it was named the best restaurant in the country at the 2019 James Beard Awards. Now, it’s even tougher. If you want a reservation, so you can taste the hummus everyone raves about, head online at 7 a.m. two months before the date you want to go and book then. If you miss the chance to book on your desired date, you might still be able to get on the waitlist.
You can also roll the dice and try to land a spot at the bar or chef’s counter. Get to the restaurant early (it opens at 5 p.m.) to see if you can grab a bar seat.
People tend to have an opinion about vegan food. And then they go to Vedge, a “vegetable restaurant.” Everything on the menu at Vedge is entirely plant-based. Rutabega becomes a sort of cheez whiz, a whole carrot becomes revelatory. While the demand for Vedge isn’t as intense as the demand for Zahav, you’ll definitely want to make a reservation if you want a table.
No reservation? No worries, you might be able to get a spot at the bar, which offers a happy hour from 5 until 7 p.m., Sunday through Friday.
While you’re going to find plenty of excellent restaurants along East Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia, if you want the most unique dining experience, book a table at Noord, a BYOB (bring your own bottle) spot with a Dutch-Scandanavian menu. The names of some of the dishes might make you giggle, but you can rest assured that no matter what you order, it’ll be delicious.
Located in Center City, Kanella Grill has a bit of a cult following. The Greek-Cypriot menu is short and centered around kebabs and falafel. Although the restaurant is casual and laidback, it’s still the type of place where you want to make a reservation before going, as there’s usually a wait for tables. Like Noord, Kanella Grill is BYOB. Pick up a bottle of Greek wine at your local wine and spirits store to enjoy with your meal.
Parc is a Philly version of a French bistro. As its name suggests, the restaurant looks out over a park (in this case, Rittenhouse Square). You can sit outside along the sides of the restaurant at all times of year (there are heat lamps to keep you warm in winter) and people watch while you enjoy un verre or a meal with your friends.
Abyssinia might not be much to look at, but the Ethiopian restaurant is a staple of the West Philly scene. Your best bet is to order one of the combination platters, which are available in meat or vegetarian versions, so you can sample a little bit of everything. The platters are served on injera bread, which you use to scoop up your food. Once you’ve finished your meal, you can continue your evening by heading upstairs to Fiume, the attached dive bar.
Cheu Noodle Bar, Cheu Fishtown’s older sibling, is popular and perennially packed (it’s also tiny). Cheu Fishtown is bigger and has outdoor seating, so it’ll be easier to grab a table there (you can also make reservations).
Zahav might be one of the best, most in-demand restaurants in Philly, but as of early 2020, it has some competition: Laser Wolf, from the same team. Considered a “sequel” to Zahav, Laser Wolf focuses on grilled meats (vegetarian options are available). The restaurant team’s famous hummus, pita and small bowls of salatim are included in the price of the grilled items.
Laser Wolf is a “shipudiya,” or skewer house, and gets its name from the character of Lazar Wolf in “Fiddler on the Roof.” It’s located in Kensington, just north of the Fishtown border. Although it’s housed in a former warehouse and is relatively large, it’s definitely a place where you’ll want to make a reservation.
Why have dinner when you can have dinner and a show? Fabrika is a dinner-cabaret in Fishtown located in what was once an ice cream machine factory. The space is massive, consisting of two floors. It has three bars, multiple dining areas and a VIP section. There are also two stages for performances.
The menu’s concept comes from Konstantinos Pitsillides, the chef behind Kanella, and focuses on Mediterranean-inspired fare. If you want some entertainment during dinner, head to Fabrika after 10 p.m. on Thursday through Friday evenings. Then, you’ll be treated to a rotating list of performers, including cabaret acts and contortionists.
Located in the heart of Rittenhouse Square, The Love is a collaboration between famous Philly restauranteur Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy, another big-name in the Philly food scene. The Love is meant to be a bit like a classic neighborhood spot, even though it’s located in one of the swankiest sections of the city. The menu is a mix of high-end comfort foods, delicious pasta and creative cocktails.
The Harp & Crown is full of surprises. On the ground floor are beautiful chandeliers, high ceilings and massive glass windows. Funky wallpaper decorates the walls, and leather banquettes invite you to enjoy your food, from an eclectic menu that features pizza, toasts and raw fish. Head down a level, and you’ll find another bar area, plus a two-lane bowling alley. It’s a place to head for dinner with a crowd or to enjoy a few rounds of bowling and a couple of cocktails.
Also located in Rittenhouse, in the Pod Philly hotel, Condesa is a Mexican restaurant from the team behind Suraya, a popular Lebanese spot in Fishtown. Although it’s named for a specific area of Mexico, food on the menu comes from all over the country. Corn tortillas serve as the base and backbone for many of the menu’s items. Dishes on the menu range from street food items and tacos to larger plates.
Yet another addition to the Philly dining scene from Michael Solomonov (the chef behind Zahav and Laser Wolf, among many others), Merkaz is an Israeli sandwich shop in Center City. The highlight of the menu is the pita sandwiches, which are served until 7 p.m. — ideal if you want an early, super casual dinner. There’s also a Family Dinner option, available from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., which features either a rotisserie chicken or whole roasted cauliflower.
Looking for a place to enjoy a drink or two, either before or after your dinner? Philly has you covered. Whether you’re looking to dress up or down, here’s where to drink in Philly:
You’ll find Bok Bar on the roof of a former vo-tech high school in a residential area of South Philadelphia. The rooftop bar offers one of the best views of the city and is open seasonally, usually from May through early fall. Although most people head to Bok to get a view of the city, it also has a limited food menu and plenty of beer on tap.
Philly is home to a lot of dive bars, and perhaps the divey-est of them all is Dirty Frank’s. Located in the Gayborhood, Dirty Frank’s is a reminder of Philly’s grittier, weirder days. The bar is cash-only, filled with clutter and the type of place where you want to eavesdrop on conversations (or join in them if you’re not shy).
Standard Tap was at the forefront of the “gastropub” trend back in the day. It’s also been a haven for fans of craft beer and has championed craft breweries since its inception. If you love Philadelphia-area breweries like Yards and Victory, you’ll want to visit Standard Tap for a pint or two.
Hop Sing Laundromat, a “speakeasy” located in Chinatown, is all about mystery and keeping people on their toes. It’s hard to get into since only 50 people are allowed in at once, and the cocktail bar is only open three days a week. Before you can head in, you need to hand over your ID, which will be scanned. If it turns out you’re on the “banned list” (which some 3,000 people are), you can’t get in.
How can you avoid getting banned from Hop Sing Laundromat? Don’t take pictures inside, don’t write a bad Yelp review and remember to tip well. Also, remember that the speakeasy is cash-only.
Frankford Hall is a massive beer hall styled after a German Biergarten. It has plenty of places to sit both indoors and out, and on a warm spring or summer’s night, you might find a line to get into the gigantic space. Once inside, you can order beer by the liter or half-liter as well as plenty of German-inspired food, such as giant pretzels, spätzle and sausages.
As you might guess from the name, Barcade combines a bar and an arcade. Located in Fishtown, just a few blocks south of Frankford Hall, Barcade is full of vintage arcade games, such as Tetris, Asteroids and Centipede. It’s also got a decently sized food menu in case you work up an appetite while blasting away aliens.
Tucked away on a street in Center City that’s so small it might as well be an alley, Writer’s Block Rehab is a cute book-and-library themed bar. Although the bar itself is multiple stories, it’s cozy and intimate. Menus are tucked away into books and feature a mix of classic and creative cocktails, wine, beer and non-alcoholic options. There’s also a limited food menu, made up mostly of small plates.
Double Knot comes from the same team behind Harp & Crown, and like Harp & Crown, it’s a multi-concept eatery and bar. The upper level is a café in the morning and afternoon and a cocktail bar in the evening. The lower level is a sushi bar and robatayaki grill. Head there for a happy hour drink in the late afternoon and early evening and see where the rest of the night takes you.
What is the nightlife like in Philadelphia? There’s really no one answer, as there’s a little something for everyone. It involves more than going out to restaurants or meeting your friends at a bar. All year round, there are plenty of fun things to do outdoors at night.
Open from May until the end of September each year, Spruce Harbor Park has transformed the Delaware River Waterfront. The park features a beer garden, plenty of food options, games and lots of activities. Depending on when you go, you can salsa, catch a DJ set or listen to some jazz. You can also just relax and enjoy the waterfront air in one of the park’s famous hammocks.
Summertime means Shakespeare performed outdoors, and Philly has plenty of choices for people who love the bard. Every July, Shakespeare in Clark Park puts on a production in the middle of the popular West Philly park. Commonwealth Classic Theater also produces a play by Shakespeare and takes its show on the road to parks across the Philadelphia area.
Once the temperatures dip, the area around the Delaware River Waterfront transforms into an ice skating rink. Usually, open from late November until March, the BlueCross RiverRink is an outdoor ice skating rink that’s surrounded by cozy fire pits and lounge areas. If you’ve never skated (or if it’s been a while), the rink offers free skating lessons daily.
When William Penn first designed Philadelphia, he included five public green spaces, or squares, in the city’s layout. Franklin Square is one of those original five. In recent years, it’s undergone a transformation and now might be one of the most playful of the squares. Case in point: It has a Philadelphia-themed mini-golf course. The golf course is open year-round and stays open until 9 p.m. in the summer and during October when you can play a round of “spooky” golf.
Lately, Philadelphia has been all about the beer gardens. It even has a traveling beer garden — Parks on Tap. Each week, it sets up shop in a new park, so the odds are likely it will pop up in your neighborhood at least once during the season, which stretches from May until the end of September.
Feeling like you want to enjoy a bit of culture or live music in Philadelphia? You’ve got lots of options. From places to see your favorite indie band to places to laugh the night away, here’s where to go to be entertained in Philly.
The building that houses Union Transfer has had a long, fascinating history. Once a luggage transfer station, then the home of the Spaghetti Warehouse for many years, the venue opened in 2011. Since then, it’s earned a reputation as one of the best concert spots in the city. The sound quality is top-notch, and there’s usually a good light show to go along with the music. The venue has two levels, three bars and plenty of bathrooms.
Around the same time that Union Transfer was being transformed from a shuttered pasta restaurant into a concert venue, an abandoned country-western bar in South Philadelphia was being transformed into a small, intimate club and restaurant. Boot & Saddle has kept a lot of features of that old country-western bar, including the neon boot on the facade fo the building and the pressed tin ceilings within. It’s a small club, so more popular acts tend to sell out quickly.
If you like to laugh, you need to see a show at Philly Improv Theater (PHIT). The theater has live comedy shows every night of the week. Each show is BYOB (and BYO snacks), usually costs less than $15 and will be over in about an hour. If you’re looking for things to do in Philly on a Saturday night, you can buy tickets to multiple shows at PHIT and spend your night laughing away.
Back in 1997, Philly got its own Fringe Festival, a multi-week celebration of wild and wacky theater and performance. Fringe shows were low budget and usually cheap to attend. Over the next two decades, the Philly Fringe would mature and grow and eventually get its own home, FringeArts, where it can present programming year-round. While the original Fringe Festival is still a thing, taking place every September, FringeArts gives the organization the chance to present shows throughout the year.
It’s also expanded its offerings and has recently introduced new festivals, such as High-Pressure Fire Service, which focuses on work by local performance companies. It also hosts outdoor movies in the summer, an annual circus festival and late-night cabaret acts.
The Philadelphia Film Center is home to the biggest movie screen in Center City. If that’s not enough encouragement to buy a ticket, the Film Center regularly screens both new, first-run films as well as classics. It’s owned by the Philadelphia Film Society, which organizes the Philadelphia Film Festival each fall.
The Met was once a grand opera house on North Broad. Today, it’s been largely restored to its former glory, and although it’s no longer hosting opera, it is a great place to go to see live music, comedy and other performances. Although you can buy tickets in advance, and in some cases should, because popular shows sell out, the Met offers a rush program, letting you nab $20 tickets on the day-of-show. Acts at the Met range from musicians and bands such as Bob Dylan and the Decemberists to comedians such as John Oliver and Jim Gaffigan.
Kung Fu Necktie is a small bar and music venue located under the Market-Frankford El tracks in Fishtown. The venue usually hosts local acts, DJs and indie bands you might not have heard of. It’s got two floors, and the lower level has a pool table.
Located in what’s sometimes called Eraserhood because it’s where filmmaker David Lynch filmed the avant-garde Eraserhead, Underground Arts is a music venue and performance space situated in the lower level of a large former warehouse turned apartment building. DJs and bands regularly play there, and it’s also occasionally the site of a story slam or comedy show. From time to time, theater and dance performances take place in the space, too.
Live music isn’t an activity that needs to be confined to nighttime. At Heritage in Northern Liberties, you can enjoy a jazzy or bluegrass-inflected brunch on the weekends. The restaurant and bar also has live music every night of the week. The line-up changes frequently, so you might get to hear soul, singer-songwriter or jazz, depending on when you go.
In addition to live music, Heritage also has a full bar and food menu. The dinner menu features numerous vegetarian and vegan options.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe is one of the oldest still-operating jazz clubs in Philly. During the course of its more than 30 years of existence, it’s hosted some of the most well-known names in jazz. The club has several shows a night, including sets at 11:30 p.m. It’s also open early for lunch at 11 a.m. every day, except for Sunday.
Whether you love being the life of the party or are looking for quieter, more relaxing things to do, Philly’s nightlife has a lot of offer. If you like what you see in Philadelphia, why not make the city your home? Streamline is a real estate development and construction company based in Philadelphia that will walk you through each step of the home buying process.
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