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Varga Bar

Varga BarVarga Bar

Taps: 22 / Bottles: 61
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

25 Ratings
Ratings: 25
Reviews: 19
rAvg: 4.14
pDev: 12.56%
$$ - reasonable


[ Bar, Eatery ]

941 Spruce St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107-5736
United States
phone: (215) 627-5200

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @vargabar

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: eldondre on 06-05-2009)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 25 | Reviews: 19 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of slander
slander

New York

4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$

Sunday Philly Funday (that’s the actual original name of that U2 song, a little fun fact for you). We walked on over to here from there. Yes, I know, walking; I’m feelin’ crazy, it’s true. And damned if I’m not regretting it halfway through as it is seasonably hot. If only I can talk trick command Witz to hoof it back to pick up the car while I rest here on the cool cool grass. It’s sooo soft...

Corner joint on the wrong side of the street expected. Curbside seating to both sides off the corner; Timothy Busfield is not brunching at one of them. Black wood topped ‘C’ shaped bar on the inside wall with a black leather cushion base & wood foot box; seating for a dozen or so on black cushiony stools. Black wood fitted barback unit with a long row of taps over drainage on barback center. Booze shelved above on mirrored backing and to both sides with glassware, logo’d house growlers, & a bit more boozings. Pint glasses stacked to both sides of the taps countered. Glassfront cooler below housing bottled selections, tiered booze, & cupboard space. Vertical board to the left lists foodings, and a larger horizontal board to the right listing tap selections. The list is broken out into 4 groups; Session golden, strong golden, session dark, & strong dark; each with at least 1 item in their category that in my opinion, doesn’t belong there.

Walls painted burgundy, lavender, & something maybe off gray. Black & white checkerboard tile floorings and a whiteish ceiling with life-size Varga girls painted on it. There are also a few on the walls, along with a calendar pin up print. Oh, August. Horizontal accordion windows on both walls off the corner vestibule. Ceiling spinnys, sunken spots small & baby ones, too. And more inlayed in the bar back unit. Flats on the corners and another smaller one down back. Varga shirts displayed. 16 tables sectioned & divided, some sharing fabric common benchage.

20 taps, nearly ½ of them PA offerings (Victory Golden Monkey, Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout, Troegs Pale Ale, Weyerbacher Old Heather Imperial Stout, Penn Penndemonium Maibock, and 4 beers from Neshaminy Creek on the heels of an event; Churchville Lager, Dunks Ferry Dunkelweizen, Leon Imperial Smores Stout, & Concrete Pillow Barleywine), and the remainder being craft from coast to coast (Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout, Bells Two Hearted IPA, Left Hand Beer Week Sauce Coffee Porter, Elysian Oddland Peppercorn Saison, Anchor California Lager, Lost Coast Great White Ale, 21st Amendment Hop Crisis Imperial IPA, Rogue Farms Dirtoir Black Lager, Lagunitas Lucky 13 Mondo Large Red Ale, Uinta Dubhe Imperial Black IPA). And a pair of handpumps on the bar to one side (Yards Cape of Good Hope Imperial IPA & Espresso Love Stout). I drank the Anchor California Lager & Bells Two Hearted IPA.

A dozen wines, red & white; 6 & 6, plus 4 dozen bottles (including things from Russian River, Deschutes, Port/Lost Abbey, Brewers Art), and a dozen and a half cans; half of which are 21st Amendment & Sly Fox.

A much better soundtrack than the last place. I’m liking “Can’t you see”, so Witz said he’s down on Southern Rock to hurt me. He is a bad person. There is a large jar of olives off the bar. Witzel is fascinated by it. It’s a gallon jar, more olives than he’s ever eaten in his life. He said he wants to hold it because it amuses him. Olives are a known disgustagin and they freak me out; I think that’s why it amuses him. He is a bad bad person. Service got it done; nice kid behind the bar. Chill Philly house. Good tap list. I could hang here (while Witz hoofs it back for the car…)


01-20-2014 20:25:37 | More by slander
Photo of Gavage
Gavage

New Jersey

4.7/5  rDev +13.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$

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
Photo of sholland119
sholland119

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$

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.

HV

06-24-2010 13:39:25 | More by sholland119
Photo of Rifugium
Rifugium

Pennsylvania

2.8/5  rDev -32.4%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3.5 | $$$

I didn't get a very good impression from this place. Atmosphere was pretty weak. They have somewhat of a pin-up theme going on. The bar is kind of small, with a few tables strewn about. It looks like they're trying to pull off an old 50's diner look, but it's just not happening.

On the plus side, they do have a fair selection of good beer on tap, and growler fills. Staff is pretty inattentive, choosing attending regulars over general service and friendliness. The first time we went here, it took a few minutes of waiting at the bar for the staff to tell us that they weren't open. I don't try to figure that out. The second time, I sat there waiting for quite a while before the bartender left his conversation with an annoying regular group and took my drink order. And this was on an extremely light day. The food looks tasty, but honestly I've never desired to stay in this bar long enough to sample it.

05-04-2011 17:05:46 | More by Rifugium
Photo of Deuane
Deuane

Pennsylvania

4.43/5  rDev +7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$

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
Photo of corby112
corby112

Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

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
Photo of msubulldog25
msubulldog25

Oregon

4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$$

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
Photo of glid02
glid02

Georgia

4.34/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $

I waded over here from Tria during a recent stay.

Atmosphere is nice. A long bar hugs half of the far wall upon entering with high-top tables on the near wall. The back of the bar is raised up a bit with additional tables. The bar sits on the corner of the block so there's a good deal of daylight coming in. The vibe is more laid back than most other places I've been in Philadelphia.

Quality is also good. Proper glassware is used for all beers that I had although no beer-specific glassware was noticed. Beers are served at a good temperature with good amounts of head.

Service is very good. The bartender was talkative and you could enjoy he has a good time pouring beer. He knew a good deal about everything on tap and was able to let me in on what was coming on soon and what I'd just missed.

Selection is also very good. More locals were present here than any other place I visited and that was exactly what I was looking for. The taps are split up by style with about 20 total on-tap and one cask.

Value is great. Their happy hour is one of the best deals I've seen with $1.75 half pours. I was able to try about five different beers and got a few more for a friend for just over $15.

Overall this was my second favorite place I visited while in Philly, a close second to Monk's. Well worth a stop if you're in the area.

10-27-2010 01:34:06 | More by glid02
Photo of BARFLYB
BARFLYB

Pennsylvania

3.94/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$

Stopped in here during the early dinner rush.

I've been passing by Varga for a while. My stay was short so I'll keep this short. Since the weather was nice Varga was kinda opened up so depending on where your sitting, you can be inside, while being outside, if you understand. Varga is not the biggest spot, so it is quite congested. The bar area seats around 12 or so with seating area's surrounding it toward one side. I kinda get a 50's era thing going in my head based on surroundings. The main colors are black and white, the floor reminds me of a barbershop and I see alot of half naked ladies on the walls and ceilings. About 20 taps and, one cask I believe. A very small selection of bottles which is the new thing with alot of newer bars coming up and I think it's smart. Why have a bunch of expensive bottles that will just go out of date, costing the bar money, best to keep them taps moving. I had Brandy Angel Share which was barely carbed, but it beats a $20 bottle of it. My friend had two Brandy Angel Shares, he was drunk afterwards. Hey it's what we do in Philly, Don't knock it. I think the Philly 10% tax is built into the actual price of the pour, so that's always nice. Im coming back here and getting that char board ASAP. Im going to keep my eye out on this place during beer week, they had some specials last year. Tomme pointed out to me at Monk's that Varga had something 'special' on tap by him, I went, but I could not find Varga at that time. I was a bit sauced on 3 glasses of DDG and V007. Oh yeah, parking sucks in this neighborhood, so don't expect much.

05-15-2011 12:19:12 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of mymrnngjckt
mymrnngjckt

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$$

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
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Varga Bar in Philadelphia, PA
92 out of 100 based on 25 ratings.