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Race Street Cafe

Not Rated.
Race Street CafeRace Street Cafe

18 Ratings
Ratings: 18
Reviews: 14
rAvg: 4.17
pDev: 5.52%
Taps: 13
Bottles: 20
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

208 Race St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106-1910
United States
phone: (215) 574-0296

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap 

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(Place added by: WilliamPhilaPa)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 18 | Reviews: 14 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of slander
4.1/5  rDev -1.7%

Fact finding mission Phillybound, it’s been a while since we’ve done so. Today, we ran the long long longest way around, as we saw the posted ‘1 hour delay between exits 9 & 8’ signs on the dirty Turnpike heading south towards it. Jumped off and ran Route 1, never a treat on a Sunday afternoon or ever, but dealt and done...

Circled and parked a sweet slander spot just up the block. Through the tables two out front, in & up; it’s actually a tiny little place. A wrapping ½ a hex wood topped bar with a lip, wood panel base, & a foot box; seating for a dozen on high backed chairs. Brass barbell tap tower holding a dozen + a stand up Franziskaner ceramic piece with 2 more, and a hand pump alongside the main tower on the corner. Barback corner holds wood shelving units off the corners, their units with inlayed baby spots. Tiered booze on the center of one wall below a mirrored panel, and more shelved booze to both sides. Just shy of a dozen and a half bottled selections above, and large format stuff (Duvel & Grolsch 3L, giant glassware, bottles, etc) displayed atop. Glassware of all sizes and shapes shelved and wines on their sides boxed on the side wall.

Brick walls & the far wall painted over wood slat lower & trim. Wood slat floorings, and a slightly arched wood rafter ceiling with a skylight piece off the bar. Dark duct work, spinny fans & drop thimble lamps tracking the bar and adjacent seating. Blackboard action around the barback bend listing tap selections, and a 4x6 board on the back wall listing dinner specials just now. Light brewery mirrors, tins, & signage, some good local art & bridge pics. Flats in the corners, front & rear; golf here, football there.

Oddball lamppost in the middle of the room and a forward wood stove between the red curtained windows; one with tall vertical narrows & a dangling plant potted above, the other with swinging barnlike doors over panel windows and a planter there. Them windows offer some nice views of the Ben Franklin Bridge out front. 8 low tables & 4 hightops across the room and a stairwell surprise to the bathroom lined with old Philly black & whites.

14 mix & match taps printed on a 4 x 6 horizontal blackboard chalked. A single PA player (Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout), some craft near (Allagash White & Confluence, Ommegang Rare Vos, Great Lakes Dortmunder & Smoked Porter), some craft far (Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale & Lucky 13, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA, Elysian Bete Blanche Tripel), a few imports Germ (Ayinger Brauweisse, Bitburger Pils), and a single cider (Jack’s Hard Cider). And let us not forget the cask Yards IPA. The Dortmunder from Great Lakes was tasting anything but, but the Allagash Confluence was wonderfully brettiful.

And bottles (the board listing ‘featured’) Lovely Orval, Sam Smith Organic Lager, Apricot, & Chocolate Stout, Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Chimay Blue, 3 ciders, Narragansett Lager, macro & import meh. Orval runs a very cool $7.50 = tax, wow. Almost got one for the sheer novelty. And wines, too. Red & white, 5 of each, + a sparkling Cava.

Started with the saffron shrimp chowder, red, served with bread, it was good stuff. And then the Race Street Burger (½ lb angus, cheddar, bacon, L, T, O, & P, dealt medium, on a bun that held up to my abuse of consumption), and I’ll play tater tots, please. Witz had the Spanish burger topped with a fried egg, served with Spanish tater tots, of which he said ‘lovely’.

Golf & football on the tele and mostly Motown oldies tunes today. Chill Sunday lunching crowd of grownups; a neat quiet warm comfortable place. Good tap list & fine grub. I’d do this again…

slander, Jan 16, 2014
Photo of scottbrew4u
4/5  rDev -4.1%

scottbrew4u, Jun 16, 2014
Photo of KXS
4.04/5  rDev -3.1%

Funny how a bad waitress can ruin one's visit to a place - but in this case, it was only an "almost" ruin, as the brewer/owner guy behind the bar was fantastic and almost made up for the bad waitress. The rather good beer and gourmet food definitely helped me forget about her rudeness and lack of skill. Can't remember the last time I left a 10% tip, but she deserved it. Anyway, food and atmosphere were both really far nicer than many of the other small craft beer places in Philly, and I would DEFINITELY come back. In spite of the waitress.

KXS, Apr 07, 2014
Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev -4.1%

InspectorBob, Feb 26, 2014
Photo of Holland
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Holland, Feb 04, 2014
Photo of NYR_Rob
4/5  rDev -4.1%

NYR_Rob, Jan 20, 2014
Photo of Rifugium
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%

Really nice place on the boundary of Olde City in Philly. It's very small and tidy, with a very intimate atmosphere; bar seats about 12-15 people, with a total capacity of maybe 50 people. They have a good, ever-changing food menu, featuring some standard pub fare and seafood, and a nice variety of rotating beers on tap. They usually engage in beer events. Staff can be a bit distant, but are typically knowledgeable, and willing to chat with you about beer, should the opportunity arise.

I need to frequent this place more.

Rifugium, Apr 29, 2011
Photo of jjboesen
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%

The recent Veteran's Day holiday gave me the opportunity for a long weekend in Philadelphia. Following the required touristy things, such as a tour of Independence Hall and an aimless stroll through Elfreth's Alley, it was time for lunch and around the corner from the aforementioned Elfreth's Alley loomed the Race Street Café. I had yet to try this Center City venue.

This is a hidden gem that is far from the normally beaten path; situated across the street from a vacant lot and block away from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, this beer bar-lounge is worth a trip. Enter the door and climb the stairs. It is especially small and informally cozy. The single room is an L-shaped space that seems no larger than your average living room, if the average living room was furnished with a C-shaped bar nestled beneath a large skylight. Incidentally, the restrooms can be accessed down the stairway at the end of said bar. Along the front are a few windows looking out onto Race Street, with the occasional PATCO train carrying passengers across the bridge to New Jersey. (But that's their problem.)

Above the bar is the chalkboard listing the café's fifteen well selected, draft choices, regional crafts and otherwise. Not overwhelming, but very interesting. During this long and leisurely lunch, the following were gloriously quaffed: Paulaner Oktoberfest, Great Divide Baltic Porter, Centennial IPA, O'Reilly's Stout and some nicely hopped Racer 5 on cask.

The service was superb as the bartenders passed the "Water Test." (Is the water glass automatically refreshed?) As for the food: the grilled cheese and jalapeno brioche was hearty and filling. The folks at Race Street Café do a great job to say the least. The one regret? I did not find this place sooner.

jjboesen, Nov 15, 2010
Photo of kgmcdonald
4.95/5  rDev +18.7%

This is my go to bar. The ever-rotating draft and big bottle selection never disappoints. From local staples like Stoudt's and Sly Fox to some rarer Elysian and 21st Amendment beers, I am always able to check something off of my list. Lines are always clean.

The food is top of the line. The regulars like the Race Street Burger (recommend medium with cheddar bacon and jalapeños) or the buffalo chicken sandwich or wings are all fantastic. The specials are out of this world. Brunch features the greatest breakfast in the world... Juevos San Lucas. You will be impressed.

The staff are incredible. Nice, funny and knowledgeable.

kgmcdonald, Feb 10, 2010
Photo of MarcGetty
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%

Ever since Ludwig's Garten closed more then a year ago, the Race Street Cafe has been my go-to bar of choice. This is odd because I went to Ludwig's for the food and beer (and roaches), but I go to Race Street because it is easy parking, easy on the wallet, and overall just plain easy.

The atmosphere is very good, although I'll give it an exceptional grade just for the heck of it. The place itself is small but does the whole seasonal thing with open doors in spring/summer/fall and a wood burning stove in winter. The other customers are all good folks. Not too trendy, not too low-brow, just good solid folks. Too many Philly bars are cater to one specific group, this is not a problem at Race Street.

The service is always very good. Mind you, I don't think they are Beer Advocate-level connoisseurs, but they serve you well. I would not think to ask them questions about a beer, but they will get you a refill 10x faster then some other more pretentious places that I will not mention.

The food is good to great. I've never been disappointed once. The app selection could be expanded, but they offer a very sold menu with great specials, none of which are overpriced.

The beer selection is very good, and constantly changing. They offer ~12 beers on tap and have 1-4 new beers each week and probably only 4-5 beers which I would say are regulars. With that said *none* of the beers offered are macro-brews. Never, not once. What is offered is typically 80% craft brews with 20% German imports.

If there is one suggestion I can make, it is to *INCREASE THE BOTTLE SELECTION*!!! 12 beers on tap is very good, but if you would please offer 12 to 36 bottles that would be spectacular!

MarcGetty, Feb 15, 2009
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Race Street Cafe in Philadelphia, PA
92 out of 100 based on 18 ratings.