1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Johnny Brenda's

Not Rated.
Johnny Brenda'sJohnny Brenda's
BA SCORE
89
very good

38 Ratings
Ratings: 38
Reviews: 25
rAvg: 3.94
pDev: n/a
Taps: 12
Bottles: --
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1201 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19125-3905
United States
phone: (215) 739-9684

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @johnnybrendas

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: NeroFiddled)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Ratings: 38 | Reviews: 25 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of slander
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Yes.
It's true.
I drank beers.
In the hot June sun.
In Camden, New Jersey.
For the better part of the day.
In the shadow of a large battleship.
Right across the river from Philadelphia.
Now we were going to need to get some food.
And I had heard about this place Johnny Brenda's.
So I figured maybe grab a bite here and perhaps a beer.
I figured right because we were able to grab a bite, and a beer.
And then we, uh, and then we got on the road and went the hell home.

The loving warmth of the Northern Liberties section is not to be found here. It's considerably more divey, and I'm talking about the 'hood. Um, okay, yeah, inside too. It's a 2 room deal, with a pool table front row center when you come in. Off to your left is a good juke and a neon Budweiser sign modified to read "Dive" (which is just beautiful).
REM's "Finest Worksong" was playing.
Beyond that lies the bar. It's like 2 "L" shaped bars that run together collectively seating 2 dozen. Framed Schmidts ads and posters and an old framed Harley poster, a giant glowing "Ham" light dangles behind the bar, mostly panelled walls, red & white alternate striped floor, pressed tin ceiling, an open grill area behind the bar, 6 bar tables up front and one real table and a pair of bar tables to the rear. We scored the one real table because it was meant to be.
There are 2 blackboards over the bar.
One listing tap selections...
12 taps with a nice focus on the local & regionals (Sly Fox Dopple & Dry Irish Stout, Landmark IRA, Stoudts Hefe & APA, Victory Prima Pils, Flying Fish ESB, Yards Saison & Philly Pale Ale, Weyerbacher Hefe), a retro (PBR), a cider (Woodchuck), a cask offering (Victory Hop Devil), and a few wines.
...and the other listing the food menu...
The shoestring fries were from Crazytown (that's a good thing), and the chicken sandwich was solid except that it came with a clump of spinach on it, which I promptly flicked away.
Psychedelic Furs "The Ghost In You" was playing. "Hey, hello, White Dog", I said, to the large white dog that walked up to me, obviously looking to bogue on my chicken sandwich. "I have some spinach if you're interested..." Cheese said, "It could use more light", and then added, "but they get points for the bathroom which was unexpectedly nice". A nice beer selection and the food was good and all, but I find their sister bar, The Standard Tap, to be considerably more comfortable.

Photo of gueuzegeek
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Now that Standard Tap has become the "in" place to go, Johnny Brenda's has replaced it in my book. I always loved Standard Tap, but now, sometimes it is just too crowded and there are more generic people in there than I like in the bars I visit.

Johnny's has all the good things going for it, like great local beers, hand pumps and great food. I had the falaffel (sp) sandwich one time and the grilled Brie another. Perfect for me!!

I think the Philly Pale Ale tastes better over here than at ST for some reason.

The location is really just barely off Delaware Ave (Columbus Blvd) at Frankford and Girard, which was a real shocker to me to see how close it actually was to the Ben Franklin Bridge!! That was great news!

Please do not come here if you are just looking for a new trendy spot and ruin what makes it a great place to me. Please DO come here if you consider yourself a bit left of center and quirkier than the average Joe. This is not a sports bar nor Olde City and let's keep it that way!!!

Photo of PopeDX
4.25/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Mmm, Johnny Brenda's, the sister joint to Standard Tap. It shares many of the same characteristics...local beers on tap only, and an eclectic menu. There's typically different beer and different food than the ST though, so it's not exactly the same thing. About 12 taps and 2 casks, all rotated frequently and nice and fresh. They have PBR on tap as well...yeah it's brewed by the Lion, so technically it's local...but it seems out of place, like they're trying to attract a hipster crowd. The service here is very good...friendly and fast, as well as knowledgeable.

The food is just as good as the Standard Tap, if not better. The fries are probably the best in the city, right up there with Grace Tavern at least, and the other offerings are all solid. The hummus and falafel sandwich is a great item that will please everyone. The kitchen is right in the middle of the bar as well, you can watch them cooking...always a plus...not because I don't trust them, but because it's fun.

It's really in a dingy neighborhood, though...maybe they're hoping it'll go through a renaissance like Northern Liberties did. I wouldn't hold my breath. It's pretty much a drive from anywhere, though it is a few blocks from the Girard station on the El (blue subway line). There's no other bars within walking distance, except maybe a long walk to Northern Liberties through some shady neighborhoods. It is close to the Girard Street exit of 95. Oh, and it's closed on Sunday, beware.

If you're local and looking for some place new to go, or happen to be slumming around in your car, bored, JB's is a great place to go. Otherwise I'd probably stick to Northern Liberties. Ooh, and if you go, be sure to check out the altered Budweiser neon over the jukebox. Describes the place pretty well...

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.35/5  rDev -15%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Poked in here after the infamous Firkenteenth at the Grey Lodge. Johnny Brendas seems like a kick ass beer bar that caters to LOCAL BREWS especially on tap (like the Standard Tap) predecessor, but aside from that, kudos ends.

The joint is dingy (which is not always to a fault) but this joint coulda used a mop and bucket so to speak, especially referring to the clientele.

The lone tender on a Friday night did his best. Pool tables abound. As far as the bathrooms go, this doesn't pass the "Would you bring your Mom here test?" NO!!!

Shoestring fries rocked. Great local selection. If you are in the hood then go. Otherwise, speck out elsewhere. Just my humble honest opinion. Fits in well with the neighborhood, but that's is the inherent downturn. Philly is a city of 100 great beer bars. Being one of them is a haul, but not that steep of a hill to climb.

Last call: Been here again a few times since my first review. Good locals and

Photo of GnomeKing
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

JB's is the newly-opened sister bar to nearby Standard Tap, which I adore. So why did the Standard Tap owners open JB's? I'm not fully sure. It's a good place to hang out, but it's less than a mile from the Tap, and it offers the same type of beers (local micros). The food menu is a little different, so that could justify a trip to JB's instead of the Tap, but the Tap has such a great and diverse food menu, I can't imagine choosing to go to JB's (the imitator) over the Tap (the original).

JB's is smaller, and on a busy night it could easily feel cramped and uninviting.

In fairness, JB's is new and may not have found its identity yet. The interior decorating is cool (think bohemian/artsy hip), and there's a pool table. I've spent most of this review talking about what didn't impress me about this place, but I do like it. Hopefully it will soon find its way out from under the shadow of the Tap and develop more of its own personality.

Photo of rdrummer
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Ever since I read a review of this in the Inquirer, I have been trying to get here to give it a try. I am a big fan of Standard Tap, and Johnny B's has the same owners. There are an upper and lower bar with an open kitchen that is behind the upper bar. The lower bar has a pool table and a really eclectic jukebox. This a blue collar, working man's area of the city, which can be proven by going to any other bar in the area. The atmosphere of Johnny B's fits in but not the menu or beer selection.

The beer concept is the same as a Standard. There is only draft beer, and all the selections but the ubiquitous PBR are local (Yuengling's is debateably local.) There are 12 taps in all with two hand pumps. Yards ESA and Sly Fox East Kent were the casks on the hand pumps. There was a really good selection with Dogfish Head, Stoudt's, Sly Fox, and Yard's all represented. The beer is served at the proper temperature and service is quick and good.

The menu is very small considering the open kitchen, but it has some really unusual things on it, including grilled octopus and a mushroom cigar (which is a cheesy, mushroom mixture in a light pastry dough). I would have prefered a little more choice, and perhaps there is more choice at dinner time. All in all, another great place to kick back and enjoy some good beer and some fun conversation.

Photo of rotsaruch
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

During a visit to Standard Tap, maybrick, Jack Curtin and I met with William Reed one of the co-owners who gave us tour of the new and improved upstairs area, including the new outdoor deck. We also talked about their new establishment in the Fishtown area called Johnny Brenda's. Since it was only a short distance away, we decided to give it try.

It is definitely located in a blue-collar neighborhood at a pretty busy intersection. It's a small place with one bar-size pool table and juke box (no TVs). According to our lovely barmaid, who gifted us a round of brews, it has been open since late 2003 with a similar theme of Standard Tap of serving only local/regional mircobrews. There were 12 taps and one beer engine. There is bar seating for about 25 to 30 people with some tables and chairs. One of the cool features is an open-air kitchen area adjacent to the bar. The menu is simple, but unusual for such a bar in such a neighborhood. Paul Kimport's influence on the menue at Standard Tap shines through at Johnny Brenda's. No hambergers or steak sandwiches. How about grilled octopus!!! An absolutely marvelous, marinated, delicious beauty.Thank you William and Paul for continuing to spread the good word on quality brews, great food at some really reasonable prices.

Photo of jrancan
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

It's very early on, and I'm sure that they haven't gotten everything together, but I figured I'd be the first to give it a shot.
The second offering from the owners of Standard Tap, Johnny Brenda's (the name kept from the original owner who was a local boxer, I think?), is definitely trying to do more of the same. No bottles, only locals on tap (12 or so, which is more than S.T.) and a funky atmosphere with the molded ceilings and edgey locale. No food yet but they are working on the open air kitchen.
Funny atmopshere, on the edge of the 'hood (some people would say it's smack dab in the middle).
Really nothing else in the vicintiy, so I'm guessing that the owners are hoping that the area is up and coming, like the nearby Northern Liberties (which I think they had something to do with).
Two long blocks down, and two short blocks over from Standard Tap, this is an interesting try, but not yet a must go to.

« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | next › last »
Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, PA
89 out of 100 based on 38 ratings.