Ratings: 31 | Reviews: 19 | Display Reviews Only:
4.15/5 rDev +0.5%
Visited 8pm - 10:30pm, 9/13/10
After a 90 minute session down the street at Tria, our foursome (that's sholland119, vickster529, jyoungsbcp & me) strolled a couple blocks down Spruce. Scott had recommended Varga as a personal favorite (don't believe me? look at the review below mine) so I couldn't think of a better way to end three excellent days in Philly than a place like this.
Another fine little corner cafe; we arrived around dusk to find a number of open tables, but we picked one near the front entry, right next to an open set of tall, operable doors that welcomed in the evening breeze (and, later, the bugs). What I thought might be a kitschy 'themed' vibe of pin-up girls and retro decor turned out to be quite tasteful: black leather, sleek and dimly accented bar (with full booze for the non-beer drinker), understated checkerboard floor, monochrome scheme around the room but for the occasional pop of color. Oh and the occasional portrait of a lovely 'Varga Girl', including a mélange of mid-century sexiness on the ceiling above the bar. Soulful and funky Motown tunes enhanced the feel. <Like>
Our server hit us up immediately for 'cocktails'...no, my good man, we would like pints of your finest ales! Only four bottles available, but all were solid: Russian River Damnation and Consecration, Left hand Smoke Jumper and an all-time classic, Orval. From the good draught list (including several from the local likes of Sly Fox, Stoudts, Brooklyn, Flying Fish, Ithaca plus interlopers like Furthermore (Wisconsin) and Rogue (yay, Oregon!)) I ordered a pint of Manayunk's tasty ALTercation. I also got to try Stoudts DIPA and a Lagunitas Fusion 3 as they were passed around our table. Lots of good conversation, some more about the SEPA beer scene (that I longed at times to be a part of) - end result was a great time with beer friends and a uniting of locals who'd never met, but probably should have a long time ago! We finished with a couple more half-pours, mine a Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin that's probably my favorite of all I've tried of the style.
We said our goodbyes, but not before Josh and I made a quick visit to the nearby Foodery. No dice there, so the night seemed over as Josh left for his car. Before I headed back to the hotel, the thought occurred: this Varga place was so good, I'm not ready to leave it! So back I went to the exact same booth, but to a different server; where before the service had been cool and aloof (3.0-3.5 range), NOW I got friendly/chatty Patrick (4.5-5.0 range). He was MUCH more into the beers, talking up personal favorites, asking about Northwest beers (once Portland entered the conversation) and raving about one brewery in particular, Flying Fish (a brewer there apparently lives just a couple blocks from the bar and visits Varga frequently). It made sense to talk up FF, especially since I had a delicious 'Exit 6' in hand, alongside a hearty portion of Truffled Mac 'n Cheese (filling but oilier and a little under-seasoned). I told Patrick about my one previous experience with Flying Fish, the 'Exit 4' being one of the clear standouts at Oregon Brewers Fest 2010. He promised to tell the brewer about this next time he dropped in. Cool.
A fine place that may not fit the strict definition of 'beer bar' to some. Me? I loved Varga and would be happy to be a regular. Great call, Scott...and cheers to Vickie and Josh, too, for a fantastic ending to my fine Philly weekend.
09-25-2010 21:37:38 | More by msubulldog25
4.33/5 rDev +4.8%
One of our favorite places to stop by when we are in the area. Very bright and open for a corner bar, with plenty of light and windows. In good weather, with the windows open and outdoor seating on both corners, Varga is one of the best spots to hang out in the city. Cool vibe inside regardless with consistently friendly, competent service.
Beer is essentially all craft, with the retro-kitsch addition of a Schlitz can or something similar for the hipster crowd. The taps are always well balanced between American and Belgian styles, hoppy and malty, sessionable and kick your a** beers, light and dark. However you want to break it down, the tap list is always very well thought out.
Food is very tasty as well. Highly recommended.
06-24-2010 13:39:25 | More by sholland119
3.8/5 rDev -8%
Stopped in at Varga's with my wife and a friend while hitting up Philly for a concert. The weather was perfect, and all of the windows and doors were opened up to let in some fresh air (well, fresh for Philly) and give you the impression you were relaxing outside drinking a beer. While my personal preference is for dingy, hole in the wall style bars, this wasn't bad. I would have to say this bar's best feature was the multitude of pin-up girls lining the inside of the bar.
The tap selection was decent. They had a nice selection of some tasty and popular offerings from breweries like Left Hand, Stone, Terrapin, Bells, and Lagunitas.
The service was good. They were quick to take our order and made sure to ask when we were running low, but that's pretty much where it stopped. The place was getting rather busy, so I suppose their attention was better placed elsewhere.
Overall, a decent place to stop. I would probably stop in here again if I were in the area, but I don't think I would make a special trip just for it.
04-04-2010 14:08:07 | More by krisandajt
4/5 rDev -3.1%
I stopped here very late at night after a recent pub crawl. The place is very well lit with a clean/industrial like environment. Varga has a very large draft selection of about 25 or so taps. 99% of which were of the craft kind. Everything was served in it's appropriate glassware. Service was quick and attentive. I noticed the server reccomending selections to the two women sitting at the end of the bar.
This place fits right in with the Philadelphia craft scene. Stop by if you are in the area.
01-20-2010 16:03:15 | More by mymrnngjckt
4.72/5 rDev +14.3%
Visited on a weekday for lunch, and most tables were full. The bar was empty, which was cool for me. The bartender and one service person that I interacted with were friendly, knowledgeable, and seemed to be real beer lovers. The place was smaller than I expected but not really cramped.
Everything that I ate and drank was top rate. The Kobe burger wasn't priced as high as many places so I gave it a try. They had a tomato bisque for soup of the day that was unusual and delicious. My wife had a very thick grilled cheese. They also make their own ketchup and mustard--very unusual and tasty.
The beer selection was way above the norm with Yard's Old Bart on cask, and taps representing 21st Amendment, Stone, Terrapin, Avery, Great Lakes, Ithaca, North Coast, Port Brewing, Rogue, and all the local brewers. I especially enjoyed the Old Bart and 21st Amendment Monk's Blood.
I recommend Varga Bar highly.
01-08-2010 14:12:11 | More by rdrummer
3.7/5 rDev -10.4%
Stopped in during my stay in Philly. Cool place with a pin up girl type motif. Pretty contemporary in feel with a nice selection of beers on draft. They have nothing really earth shattering to offer but they hit most popular, with a quality beer to offer.
The service was good but I was the only person in the place as they had just opened for the day.
I had no food, though the menu looked as though they had some quality offerings. Not your standard pub fare here.
The price is a bit high overall, but in line with the prices you will find in Philly.
12-03-2009 00:39:40 | More by tpd975
2.65/5 rDev -35.8%
A new beer bar in the Washington Sqaure West neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia. Not too large of a place. As other advocates have said, some nice large windows that open up. Great for a nice day. The sidewalk tables are OK. Horribly unbalanced, and it is just plain dirty and smelly out there.
They do have a pretty good beer selection, although, throughout some visits, I have found it to be somewhat repetitive. But, overall they do a pretty good job. Nice competitor to Tria just up the block.
The bartenders are good. Very knowledgable, and pretty friendly for the most part. They do tend to rush a selection, even if the place is not busy. The waitstaff, however, is awful. I can ignore rude, and unfriendly, but they have to be able to do their job. The waitstaff has almost no knowledge of the beers they are selling, or beer in general. Seriously, why work at this type of place if you can't somewhat describe a beer? Hey Owner, you should think about that when you hire these people!
They do have an OK food selection, although very over priced for the quality. But, when you have had a few too many beers, you really can't be too picky about what you are eating.
10-02-2009 18:10:46 | More by sbw138
4.7/5 rDev +13.8%
I read about this new beer bar on several internet sites, so we decided to make this a must stop on my latest Philly visit. The bar has a great clean and modern interior and has windows that open up to the street creating a nice airy feel. The bar can seat about 15 people, there are several sidewalk tables, but on a few tables inside. There are some cool paintings of pin-up girls on the ceiling over the bar.
There were 20 taps, and on this day they were featuring 6 Terrapin beers. Add to that Port Hop-15, Victory Helois, Green Flash West Coast IPA, and other offerings from Stone, Left Hand, Heavy Seas, Flying Fish, Stoudts, and Ithaca. The tap list was so good I did not even check out the bottle selection.
The bartender clearly knew the beers as we had a nice conversation about them over the course of a few pints. Extremely prompt and friendly services here compared to some other places in Philly.
There are so many good places in Philly, but this one is now one of my favorites.
09-16-2009 12:18:49 | More by Gavage
4.5/5 rDev +9%
My wife and I stopped by for dinner this past Friday and were very impressed with this new addition to the ever growing Philly beer scene.
There is a small bar when you walk in with a huge chalk board listing whats on offer. There is very limited seating but thankfully they have outdoor seating for the warmer months.
The service was excellent as well as the food and beer selection. We shared a three cheese plate which was very good with a perfect portion. For my main course I ordered a rack of ribs that were cooked in a bourbon barbecue sauce. They were incredibly tender and literally fell off the bone when touched with the fork. My wife had pot belly sandwich that had fried green tomatoes in it. There were other interesting offerings that we didn't get to try that sounded amazing including tempura asparagus and lump crab meat cheese fries.
On to the beer. They had a very nice selection of draft beer including Pliny the Elder, Allagash Curieux, Ballas Point Piper Down Scotch Ale, Bear Republic Wine Country Wheat and Great Lakes Burning River. All of the beers on tap are available for growler fills at reasonable prices but you have to buy their growler which cost $20. This is the only downside of this place. It is a really nice german style growler with their logo on it and you can bring it back for refills but $20 is way too much. Other than that everything else was excellent and I can't wait to go back. Highly recommended.
08-17-2009 18:50:53 | More by corby112
4.43/5 rDev +7.3%
I often do not rate a place that I know I will go back to on the first visit but this deserves to be an exception.
Stopped in during a busy Friday evening and received proper service in moments. Four of us got outside seating along the street. The whole place is opened up wide during nice weather and gives the place a very nice vibe.
Twenty taps total with NO crap and two beer engines offer a most impressive selection. They even update the menu online with regularity, another plus. I enjoyed the cask Yard's Oaked IPA and a Long Trail DIPA.
Having been nibbling all night I wasnt overly hungry but the pickle pot of assorted pickled vegetables piqued my interest enough to try it....a very nice and reasonably priced appetizer. I must go back more hungry as the menu looks great, to include the lumpy cheese fries....cheese fries with lump crabmeat....genius!
Service from our server was fine....it was busy so waiting here and there was ok. The high mark is due to the following. We asked for our bill and when it came I noticed a HUGE discount. I mean we had 6 beers and the app. so it should have been around $35. Well, our first round, four beers, had been perked! What?! Upon inquiring we were told that Rich, the bar manager, had comped us! Reason, he heard us talking about BA and saw me taking notes and wanted to treat us and give an obvious good first impression....well, it worked!
Regardless of the impressive service I would have gone back to Varga again. With the treatment we received though I will MOST certainly return!
07-13-2009 17:54:09 | More by Deuane
Varga Bar in Philadelphia, PA
92 out of 100 based on 31 ratings.