Bustling home to some of America's most enduring treasures—the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, colonial re-enactors straight rocking their frilly waistcoats—Philadelphia's Old City draws millions of visitors each year. Some of these people seek sanctuary in the form of a stiff drink after hours hoofing the unforgiving cobblestone, which makes Philly's most historic district one of the easiest places to slip into a random bar conversation. But it's also a largely residential and work-a-day area, which translates to a hopping happy-hour scene and neighborhood bars and restaurants that cater as much to locals as they do out-of-town imbibers.
Old City also has a rejuvenated reputation as a playground for food and drink obsessives. Considered a cutting-edge dining neighborhood in the '90s, it was eventually overtaken by other Philly enclaves once openings down here began trending more toward the club/lounge scene. The invaluable stalwarts remain—Fork, which we visit on our tour; Belgian beer bar Eulogy; Jose Garces' Amada; The Continental, mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr's very first place—but a crop of relative newcomers is also helping tip Old City's spirits scale back in a more noble direction.
A tight set of well-kept city blocks counting the Delaware River and Sixth Street as its eastern and western borders, Old City is extremely navigable sans vehicle, making it ideal for a walking cocktail crawl. And if you know where to order, the options are staggeringly diverse, ranging from Big Easy hideaway and contemporary Israeli to hyper-mod hotel and sake-slinging Japanese. Here are five great places to slake your thirst, no powdered wig required.
More Philly Drinking
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First Look: Beer Cocktails at Alla Spina in Philadelphia
Highlights from Philly Beer Week 2012
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