City Tavern Restaurant

Not Rated.
City Tavern RestaurantCity Tavern Restaurant
very good

27 Ratings
Ratings: 27
Reviews: 21
rAvg: 3.96
pDev: n/a
Taps: 8
Bottles: 4
Cask: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106-2827
United States
phone: (215) 413-1443

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @chefstaib

Place added by: WilliamPhilaPa

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Ratings: 27 | Reviews: 21
Reviews by BrewMaster:
Photo of BrewMaster
4.08/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Everyone before me has covered the history on this place, so I'll leave it alone. I enjoyed a nice meal here with some friends and sampled their General Washington's Tavern Porter and Thomas Jefferson's Pale Ale. The porter is much better than the pale ale in my opinion.

The thing that makes this place fun is the authentic food, dress, and atmosphere. We were seated downstairs in a small room. Outside in the hallway there was a man in costume playing a harp, and playing it quite well I might add.

On my visit to Philly I made it a priority to stop by this place, taste the beers, and take in the atmosphere. I was not disappointed. The only negative thing about the place is the price of their bottled beers. I paid $15 for a six pack of the porter, which was outrageous but I promised to bring some home to a friend. Also, they would not mix a six pack with 3 porters and 3 pale ales. Too bad for me.

More User Reviews:
Photo of jgasparine
3.83/5  rDev -3.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5 | food: 5

Went here for the 4 course beer dinner during Philly Beer Week, 2011. Didn't see a bar... but I didn't need to. The history of the establishment, the decor, and the period attire of the staff made for an incredible atmosphere.

The beer was brought to the table in glasses... presumably poured from bottles. The Yards Ales of the Revolution were surprisingly good.

The service was above average- quick and friendly... and the food was simply amazing! And the beer paired exquisitely well with each and every course.

This was a fantastic beer dinner, and I look forward to my next visit to City Tavern... it was quite an experience!

Photo of VegasBill
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

This is definitely a tourist destination and guess what, while I was there a tour bus pulled up out front. But with that said it is a must see at least once.
I had the Mallard Duck appetizer and it was excellent. For beer the Thomas Jefferson Tavern Ale, which was $8.00, wow a little pricey for me.
I was there at lunch and it was not busy so I could walk the different rooms and take in the history, of course very impressive.
There is also a pleasant area outside but I would think one would want be inside in this great old building.

Photo of DAAnderson
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

The beer flight was exceptional, especially's Alexander Hamilton's pale ale - citrusy and smooth and George Washington's dark porter - rich, hoppy, and smooth. For the price ($10.75), the flight was a very nice progression of 4 beers. The food was comfort food at its best on a cold night. Tasty lentil soup, hearty turkey or lobster pot pie, a delicious braised rabbit, and a fine hot cobbler for dessert. Excellent period background music, and very friendly staff. Overall, a great and memorable evening. Delicioso.

Photo of Gavage
3.59/5  rDev -9.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

I've walked by this place numerous times so we decided to check it out. We went to the bar area and grabbed a seat at a table. The waitresses were dressed in period garb adding to the colonial vibe of the building. Definite tourist spot here and when checking out the beer list I was surprised they only served the four colonial beers brewed by Yards - Gen Washington Tavern Porter, Thomas Jefferson's 1774 Tavern Ale, Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce, and Alexander Hamilton's Treasury Ale.

The waitress brought us our beers quickly and with a smile. The beers were quite expensive at $7.25 a glass which is just a 12 oz bottle pour. A sampler of four 4 oz tasters is $10.75.

Is this a Philly beer destination ? Maybe if you are in the mood to check out a touristy spot and feel some history, but all in all this was a one time trip for me.

Photo of DmanGTR
4.28/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

If you're visiting the historical parts of Philly, this is a must try. "The most genteel tavern in all the land." The service was excellent. Your metal goblet was never low on water. The food was pretty good as well. A bit pricey but such is the places in a tourist site. All of the staff were dressed in colonial outfits. The tables are set decently well and the drinks are great. We ordered the George Washington's Porter, one that still uses Mr. Washington's original recipe. $7.50 for a large wine glass of it but it was quite worth it. The atmosphere was warm and classy, but still fit for the random tourist to walk in. You can sit inside or out depending on the weather. We chose to sit inside to see the decor. Various paintings adorn the walls and the trimming is nice, a little victorian style too. I ordered the Mallard Sausage and a Porter which went very well together. Will return for more!

Photo of Seanibus
3.33/5  rDev -15.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

The food quality has taken a notable dip in recent months, but it is still a fun place to hang out. Skip the dining room and go straight to the bar area,which has a handful of large booths and a few bench type seats around the wall and fireplace. The atmosphere is scruffy and friendly, exactly what you'd expect from a well-worn colonial tavern (albeit a recreated one). The food is simple and direct (though, as I say, it used to be better). There isn't a lot of choice in beer, but what they have is fun - offerings from local brewery Yards that seek to recreate historic recipes from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Go for the sampler tray, which offers four good-sized samples of the three historic beers and one of Yard's very nice Philly Pale Ale.

Update from 3/4/09: We went back a week or so ago and the food was back up to its old standards. So I still give it a big thumbs up as a fun place to visit.

Photo of scoobybrew
3.75/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4

My wife and I stopped at the city on a recent trip to Philly. The building is supposed to be a faithful reconstruction of the old City Tavern that George Washington and many of the founding fathers of the United States ate and drank at back in the 18th century. From what I could tell, they succeeded in doing just that. The wait staff were all dressed in period clothing and the menu items seemed true enough to the period. The food was very good; both of us enjoyed our meal thoroughly.

Ok - so about the beer because that probably what you're interested in(this is a beer site right and not a gourmet food or historical one right?). The beer quality is top notch. The Thomas Jefferson pale was my favorite, but the porter and summer ales were also done well. They had an IPA - which was perhaps a bit out of context from a historical perspective (particularly the Pacific NW type hops) - but was also good. The only bummer was the variety, as only 4 were on hand. But, quality over quantity any day and these did just that.

If you're out site seeing in Independence Park, I'd recommend stopping in. While it is a bit expensive ($7.50/pint), it was a good experience.

Photo of tstegman
4/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Just like most have said, this is a good place to go with good beer and good food. I had a German special dish, and my wife had the pot pie. Both were good, a little overpriced, but the beers and the colonial atmosphere made the difference. No Philly Steak sandwiches here. Tried the Gen. Washington Porter, which was very good, and the Pale Ale, which was good, and the Martha Washington Wit Beer, which was very good. Overall, I certainly would return. Service was good, and I thought the historical aspect was worth the trip.

Photo of leftmindedrighty
4.29/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Stopped in here on a Sunday afternoon with a friend of mine celebrating his birthday.

You step into the City Tavern, and you're magically in the year 1776. No kidding, the atmosphere is strictly Colonial. From the solid wood floors and walls, to the staff being dressed in Colonial attire.

The beer list is quite small, but very unique. They always have all three of the Yard's Ales of the Revolution on tap. Which is by far the City Tavern's claim to fame as far as beer goes. You can order a flight of all three, plus the Yard's Philly Pale Ale for $10. Not bad considering the area. They also have many ciders and other old world drinks to choose from. By far the most unique drink list in the area.

The food menu was also quite small, but again, very unique. Colonial recipes, plus some of them are told to be recipes from Revolutionary times people.

Overall, a very unique place, and one everyone should visit to hum the sceneray of Colonial Philadelphia.

Photo of michael573114
3.71/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5

Neat place. I love the historical aspect, it's a really good idea. Seems it's not the original place, but it was built as a replica - I'd say they got it right, down to the distressed wood on the tables and benches.

Beer was good indeed. I had a pint of Mr. Washington's beer, and my friend had a pint of Mr. Jefferson's. Both were excellent, but as I'm more a fan of porter, I thought Mr. Jefferson's was a bit thin for my tastes.

I was a bit disappointed that the beer was served in nice goblets, and CHILLED, rather than served on cask in a big mug. Points off there, they should have done this one right.

I'd have liked to stay for food, but we had just had lunch at Monk's Cafe, and thus were quite stuffed.

Definitely check it out for both the beer and the historical aspect.

Photo of jwc215
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

Visited for lunch on a weekday with a friend of mine. Worth visiting for historical and food reasons, but the beer is a plus. Both my hobbies - history and beer - are combined here. It has a colonial setting. Very comfortable. Bright with small wooden tables. The staff is dressed in colonial garb. The waiter was very pleasant, polite and efficient The food, though rather expensive was tasty. I had the turkey pot pie and my friend had the rabbit. We were both pleased with the size and taste of our meals. The menu consists of a variety of food from colonial recipes. The desert - a chocolate cake - was rich and delicious. The waiter said that it was from Martha Washington's original recipe.
The beer selection was limited. But, it's a place of quality over quantity. Three offerings of Yards were avaliable - Jefferson Ale, Franklin Ale and the Washington Porter. I had the last, which went well with both the pot pie and the chocolate desert. It was served just a tad colder than expected for a representation of colonial times, but it was okay, as it didn't take long for it to warm up a bit. No real complaint there, especially as they are serving modern people, and it was still not nearly as cold as most of the general public would probably be accostumed to anyway.
It was a very pleasant experience. Something different than the modern beer bar. If you are in Philly and looking for a historic place with good eats, and have some extra money, this place is certainly worth-while!

Photo of TheDeuce
4.5/5  rDev +13.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 3 | food: 5

Simpy a must-go place.

"The most genteel tavern in all the land" -John Adams

Easy to find in the historic park, feel of a historic Revolution-time building is well done. The servers are in historic garb and everything on the menu except for the lobster is something that would have been served around the time of the revolutionary war (be sure to ask the servers why lobster wasn't, interesting story). Decor is hisoric, water is served in old school metallic chalices, beer is served in glass chalices. As for food, I had roast duck which was fantastic, the girl had venison, also great. As for beer I had Thomas Jefferson's 1774 Ale, very good, and Poor Richard's Spruce Ale, which was interesting, but tasting like I was (somehow) drinking a Christmas tree. Go figure.

You can walk upstairs to see the ballroom (now for private parties) where the gentlemen who signed our Constitution dined and ate, very cool. You can if you want to go upstairs one more floor but it is just offices.

Overall, a great dining expierience, lots of history, great food, interesting and historic beer, crazy dishes, decent service. An absolute must-try. You can go whenever you want for lunch, but dinner you need reservations (this is what the server told me).

Photo of Suds
4.15/5  rDev +4.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

I’ve been wanting to go to this place since I first heard of it several years ago. I’m a serious history buff, so I was very excited about the entire project. The restaurant is very easy to find, located in the Philadelphia Historic park. Together with my wife and son, I had lunch at City Tavern during our recent vacation. The inside is appropriately dark and Spartan, with a seriously historic feel (nice, considering that the building is a reconstruction). The service staff is authentically dressed, and very knowledgeable. I had a beef pie and mushroom soup. My wife had a rabbit pie and pepper pot soup. All of the food was exceptional. We sampled both the Poor Richard’s ale and the Washington Porter. Both were outstanding. The place is pricey, no doubt, but for a historic experience, it’s certainly worth it.

Photo of elmocoso
3.45/5  rDev -12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 2.5

I made it a point to hit this place on the walking-way back from Penn's Landing. Brick building, with an awning. There were pictures of celeb's that had been there including my man Mr. Clinton with some hot beer winches. We went in and all the staff were in period dress. They pointed us to the "Bar" part of the joint which is a little room in the back. Looks real old and kind-of original, but we read in their cookbook that it was rebuilt in 75 long after a fire burnt it down. None-the-less, it did have a well worn historic feel. we ordered the sampler, which had four beers, three of which were recipes of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, and a Philadelphia Ale. They were brewed by Yards brewing, and all tasty and interesting. My favorite was the PA, which i though was one of the better Pale ales I've had.

The place is pricey, but it was written into our budget as a "learning experience" not a "beer experience"

Check it out.

Photo of HugoGrim
4.63/5  rDev +16.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

On a recent trip to Philadelphia I made it a point to stop here. The City Tavern is a must visit if you are interested in American history, or if the idea of eating a meal in a tavern which was run during the revolution and frequented by many of this country's founding fathers appeals to you. Much of the menu is taken from actual recipes used at the time, including some from notable people such as Martha Washington. This goes for the beer as well. They serve Yards' historic brews such as Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale and General Washington's Tavern Porter, which are apparently still made from recipes that these men used 225+ years ago.

The atmosphere is perfect for what they're going for. The de-court is perfectly matched to the time. Water is served in pewter chalices. It has a very real feel to it, not hokey like you're at a Renaissance Faire.

The food is amazing. After making an extremely tough decision I had the beef pie, which was just excellent. My girlfriend had a salad and cream of mushroom soup, which was made with sherry... some of the best soup either of us have ever had.

Now the beer. On this pertucular day they had the Washington Porter, Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce, and Philadelphia Pale Ale. We were there for lunch, and had a long day of activities planned, so I unfortunately wasn't able to sample all they had to offer, but I did try the Poor Richard's Spruce which was great.

There is no question I will be visiting again, hopefully for dinner next time.

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.03/5  rDev -23.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 2

History schmistory...B-E-E-R!!! This tired joint is gnawing on a bone that has been gleaned centuries ago. Drop it. Beerwise??? A JOKE! La la la raise a Union flag...the Civil War is over. Unless you feel like paying too much for overpriced fancy goods, move on! Colonial garbed clowns serve YARDS Beer (which is tasty) with the attitude of Nurse Wratchet.

Last call: F...(as in forget) this joint! Go to Eulogy or even cooler Khyber Pub around the block, unless ya wanna tell the kin folk that you were in an historical blah blah blah...go drink a 40 in front of Independence Hall. Their website is rife with grammatical errors ta boot! I had a Ben Franklin Ale. There is no sit down bar here. Brews are served from behind a booth. The upstairs self guided tour is a waste of time. The little boys room is downstairs. The "Could you bring your Mom here" test? My Mom would gripe all the while if she went here.

Sheesh! I guess they pay the bills with the restaurant bit. Not a beer bar.

Food review??? Go to another website.

Last Call: My advice is pop in and down a YARDS Ben Franklin. Only the General Lafayette Inn has this place beat on atmosphere.

Photo of ark57
3.98/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

This place is a piece of History and a real treat to visit. They carry the beers from Yards that are the Ales of the Revolution. The Geaorge washington Porter is my favorite, but the Thomas Jefferson is nice as well. They have had these beers before they were available in their curent 12 oz format. They also have these 2 available in 1 Liter bottles to take home. When I visited they also had a Pale Ale and Martha Washington recipe that was supposed to be a spiced belgian style ale. It sort of reminded me of a wit ecept that it was fuller in body and darker. The food is for the most part authentic to the colonial era sans a few menu items for those who like their food up to date. Do not be fooled that it says this place is a tavern, you will not be paying tavern prices. Expect to pay a little more if you wander into this restaurant.

Photo of stingo
5/5  rDev +26.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

The City Tavern is one of my all time favorite restaurants. The fare, as with everything else associated with the Tavern, is American Colonial. The same is true of their specialty beers - the Thomas Jefferson and George Washington (as brewed by Yards) from original recipes from their namesakes are both very good and match with the food well. And what food! The chef Walter Staib is of German descent, and prides himself on his sausages and wursts, and it definitely shows. The ambiance is very comfortable (with no formal dress code) but especially at night, when the lights are dimmed and the candles come out. Though some might balk at the price, there is great value for the dollar, and I don't think the City Tavern's prices are out of line with restaurants of its type in Philadelphia. While usually discounted as a tourist trap by native Philadelphians, don't deprive yourself of the experience of dining at a very fine restaurant.

Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
4.25/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

This tavern has great historic character, old colonial feel to it. The waiters & waitresses have old colonial outfits on. As Nero has stated this Tavern like so many others in it’s time was more then just a tavern (to learn more, check out the website). The bar area is very small and you can not sit at the bar only stand or sit on wooden wall mounted benches...although small there is some good brews to be had from Yards Brewing. On tap from Yards they have the Thomas Jefferson Ale, George Washington Porter, Ben Franklin Special Ale, Thomas Jefferson Special Ale, Philadelphia Pale Ale and Yuengling Traditional and Light. In bottles they have Yuengling, Stoudts, Pilsner Urquell, and Paulaner NA. Let me worn you though, a pint will set you back $6.50! Besides the prices, everything else is great…

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.3/5  rDev +8.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

The City Tavern is not really a beer bar, but it is worth mentioning as it's one of Philadelphia's historic treasures. The original tavern was, like so many in it's day, a meeting place where business was conducted. And in Philadelphia - possibly a location where the revolution and new government were planned! However, the original building burned down and what is there is a "re-enactment". Still, it has a colonial charm with wooden floors, a history-based regional menu, and costumed employees. Additionally, they serve the George Washington Porter and Thomas Jefferson Ale from Yards Brewing Company which can only be had there. They also serve some excellent beers from Stoudt's. It's a bit pricey, and warrants a special trip or occassion, but may well be worth it. And, you may even want to stop into the bar area for just a beer after lunch, but be prepared for the $6 per pint price.

City Tavern Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
89 out of 100 based on 27 ratings.