The growing music scene in Philadelphia also has a growing hunger. Feed your need for good grub and even better music with these five live entertainment and dinner destinations:
304 South St.
Combine hanging out in the garage watching your older brother’s band, an old record store and some friendly bartenders named Chuckles and Sean and you get the upstairs of the Pontiac Grille.
Mix a 1950s diner, a garage from the movie Grease and metal chairs that are as hole-filled as Swiss cheese and you get the Grille’s downstairs.
South Street’s Pontiac Grille just feels like rock and roll. My roommate and I sat upstairs talking to the bartenders for a long time and we still can’t describe it.
The Grille just screams music. It’s garnished with a pool table, stuffed bear head and jukebox. It looks a little unfinished, but it’s supposed to be.
Downstairs is a bit more polished – you can order a steak and look at framed pictures of James Dean on the wall. The front looks like it once functioned as a garage door and the whole place has a lot of red and black.
DJs spin on Tuesdays with a $10 open bar. There is live music Thursday through Sunday and Chuckles the bartender said that eventually the bar will have nightly music.
In the mean time, head to the Grille over the weekend if you like rock music. The staff is really nice, the place has a good rock vibe and drinks are cheap.
1508 South St.
“Affordable, friendly … we try to cater to everyone,” said co-owner Rick “D” Dobrowolski of his South Street place.
A proud, tall and substantial man with a friendly face and leather vest, he started Tritone with his friend Dave Rodgers five years ago. Tritone has become a jamming bar and music scene with restaurant quality food that all costs $8 or less.
Tritone is a large, smoky room painted red-orange with black trim and a bar that is covered in devils and skulls.
The small stage is in the front by the windows and “D” said the bar has music five nights a week. Music ranges from rock, “Soul Sundays” and even a hip-hop show one Saturday a month.
The place has character. Just take a look at the bathroom soap, which is in a diner-style condiment squeeze bottle. All of the artwork on the walls is for sale.
People rest their skateboards against the bar or sit at tables with friends. The jukebox plays everything from Slayer to James Brown.
Tritone was truly friendly and that was my favorite part. “D” said they get a little of everyone in, from the office party hotshots to the tattooed biker. Tritone just has that appeal.
Tin Angel at Serrano
20 S. Second St.
I was worried that the Tin Angel at Serrano in Old City would be stuffy. Instead, I entered a homey environment and a warm feeling swept over me. The second floor blues, country and folk music bar feels like a pleasantly gaudy coffee shop.
The idea is to have dinner at the Serrano restaurant downstairs before the show at Tin Angel upstairs. Serrano has a Victorian-era meets Mediterranean decor style.
Climbing the gold staircase to Tin Angel you can check out pictures of musicians who have played there before. Inside Tin Angel, a long, dark, narrow room has unpolished wooden tables meant only to hold drinks.
One side of the room has a bar and the opposite a pint size blue stage. The room’s right side is lined with stools and a small counter for drinks. The walls are painted with a mural of cats, cityscape pictures and Bob Dylan lyrics.
Tin Angel and Serrano are both intimate and calming. A night there is supposed to be relaxing and pleasant; not a drunken party. It’s a nice, casual place that’s good for a date or folk music fans.
847 N. Third St.
The first time I went, I thought the faded old building in Northern Liberties looked shady. However this dim, smoky little jazz venue has since become one of my favorite places in the city.
Ortlieb’s is a chill place where jazz eases its way into your body. You can sit at the bar by the stage that houses live jazz six nights a week or on the other side of the room to talk with friends as you absorb the music and play Uno.
The single, long room has a white glow and walls covered in photographs of old and new jazz artists.
The place feels old school and fun, perfect for a laidback school night. The tables are small but definitely big enough for the must-order chicken fingers with homemade honey mustard dip.
Ortlieb’s has an authentic vibe. You’ll hear real jazz played by those who know what they’re doing. Plus, it’s cheap too.
World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut St.
World Cafe Live in University City, while you wouldn’t know it from the outside, is secretly huge and full of people.
Upstairs and downstairs have live music, happy crowds and no smoking. The venue caters to all ages and all musical tastes like rock, bluegrass and folk.
The boldly painted upstairs has tables and booths, a small stage and a bar. The menu is short, eclectic and cheap.
Upstairs shows are often free and brimming with a crowd that isn’t afraid to cheer for the bands.
Downstairs reminds me of a huge movie theater.
When Temple environmental studies student and World Cafe Live employee Chelsea Heck showed me the space, I was dumbfounded.
A door opens to another bar and sinks down into table seating that looks up at a large stage and projection screen.
Heck told me that the main selling point, aside from the bands that play, is that patrons are never less than 70 feet away from the stage.
If you pay more, you can sit in the mezzanine, which has couches and a private bar overlooking the stage.
A casual, clean and fun place, World Cafe Live is definitely worth crossing the Schuylkill for.
Jessica Pritchard can be reached at email@example.com.