Ratings: 36 | Reviews: 25 | Display Reviews Only:
4.45/5 rDev +12.7%
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!!!
01-11-2005 17:42:45 | More by gueuzegeek
4.33/5 rDev +9.6%
I love music, this is my new favorite small place to see a show (puts the khyber to shame)
same owners and standard tap, they have live music and dj's upstairs and downstairs is a giant bar with tables
the people that work here are nice
It is owned by the same people who own standard Tap, the food is pretty good and cheap
the beer selection while good and ecclectic, sometimes doesnt always taste that great upstairs ( I dont know if they clean their lines as much as they need to)
they have cool seaonals from Local Philly breweries and arent afraid to throw some weird stuff on too
def like this place alot better than the khyber and the north star
12-07-2008 23:24:10 | More by gdfan47
4.33/5 rDev +9.6%
Johnny Brenda's is named for John Imbrenda, the Philadelphia native and professional boxer who used the name Johnny Brenda in the ring. He opened Johnny Brenda's in 1967, and sold it to Will Reed and Paul Kimport when he retired in 2003.
I'm not sure what can be said about Johnny Brenda's that hasn't already been said here. It's a great place. Excellent beer selection. Great food. Cool crowd. It's my local, so I'm kind of partial to it though. However, they have just added live music upstairs! THAT'S RIGHT, LIVE MUSIC UPSTAIRS!!!
I finally made it out and went to see a band called Below The Hudson. They were great, and the band that opened for them, Up The Empire, were really good too (I couldn't stay for the headliner, Cordaline).
Anyway, I was really impressed with the set-up of the place, the sound, and the quality of the bands. If they can keep booking bands of such high caliber I have no doubt that they'll become one of the premier places to see live music in Philly.
As you enter the bar is in front of you, there are bathrooms in a hallway to the left, and there's a lounge to the right and behind the bar (for when you want to get away from the music for a little bit). To the left of the bar is the stage, so you can see the band from the bar too. As you enter the big room the band is to your right and there's plenty of room to your left. It's all standing room, but there is a bar rail along the back wall. Stairs lead up to the balcony which is really impressive with a curling cut-out of the floor and "antique" railing made of black steel with a mahogany rail. There are a few tables with stools. The decor is minimal, with unfinished walls and a few antiques scattered here and there, but it's somehow really comfortable. Unpretentious, for sure.
For the $8 cover I thought it was really worth it; and I was able to get some good local beers (Troeg's Wheat and Yards Pynk). I didn't have any food, but the whole menu was available, and they had table service in the balcony.
It's really almost like two different bars now! I can hang with my friends, go upstairs to check out the show if they're not interested, and then come back down when I feel like it.
Way to go Will Reed!!!!
11-05-2006 15:07:13 | More by NeroFiddled
4.3/5 rDev +8.9%
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.
02-08-2004 14:40:49 | More by rotsaruch
4.25/5 rDev +7.6%
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...
12-29-2004 04:49:48 | More by PopeDX
4.22/5 rDev +6.8%
Johnny Brenda's is so much better now that the young-to-mid-20's hipsters have F'd off to a more hip location. Now the crowd is older on average and less scene-y. Its never jammed packed either, even on weekends. I like that the bartenders who are women aren't tarted up in slut gear or forced to dress the same due to a uniform. The bartenders are really nice, and really different.
Please don't listen to all the suburban folk who continue the culture of fear in America. They are scared by the proximity of the El, an abandoned house, or the one occasional crackhead with no teeth muttering down the block. Hello...Girard Ave. is a major thoroughfare that is strangely empty at night. I just do not see sketchy looking individuals hanging out on corners or around cars, breaking into them, or gangs of thuggy kids on bikes, and I have walked blocks very late at night between Frankford Ave. and Berks St. and have not seen a soul, let alone felt scared. I really like this neighborhood for what it is, and if it turns into another sanitized Manayunk or Old City I will be sickened. Real cities aren't always safe, comforting places people, and difference is good.
Johnny Brenda's provides 10 taps of quality local craft beer, and interesting appetizer-size dishes of food. I like the Lolla salad with chicken on it. I don't really have experience with Standard Tap so I'm not gonna compare the two. Everyone knows the same dudes own both places. I have even been to The Fire on 4th and Girard and although its not a beer bar, the experience of going there was far more interesting than the patrons you'd find in boring Manayunk.
The jukebox or whatever means they use to broadcast music is ingenious (the jukebox is on but people's bad songs never play). But it is not metal music solely. I heard Depeche Mode, Yaz, Echo and the Bunnymen, Erasure, The Cure and other 80's club hits every time I have visited JB's. And no, there is no TV and yes, its smoky in there but who gives an F? You go to a bar to socialize, not to sit in a purified air chamber with a TV to entertain you. Whiners stay home!
05-04-2006 05:55:55 | More by roan22
4.22/5 rDev +6.8%
At last, I unearthed my notes on JB's...
You can say many things about the neighborhood, but it all comes back to "seedy." But hey, you can't always pick your neighborhood. You can likewise say many things about the atmosphere, but when all's said and done, the bottom line is, DIVE. And that's not at all judgemental, but rather a simple statement, because I'm OK with dives. It's dark, dingy, too smokey, rich with bar history and chipped formica tables, and with a fabulous aura of funk. I can almost imagine seeing the old, bald, pug-nosed ex-boxer who was sitting on a stool behind the bar, stogey tucked in his mush, many years ago when I visited this bar, well before its re-birth. (I do not remember why I was there then. Or leaving. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) I mean, pretty much nothing in the apperance has changed. The pool table could be original, by the looks of it. Though, the juke box is a strong collection of new, not so new, and old. But man is it dark. Since I can't see well enough to really judge, I'll just have to assume it's basically clean.
But the beer, my friends, is mighty fine, with lines that sparkle, judging by the flavor, and a standard that is obviously very high. And the service is always a pleasure to experience, with knowledgable staff, each of them quick to refill, but not so quick that you can't make a change if you so desire.
The selection is local-riffic, and I've seen pretty much every brewery in the DelVal represented at one time or another. Sly Fox, Victory, Yards, Flying Fish, Landmark, Stoudt's and others, all make an appearance, just like down the road at Standard. Certainly, there's generally something for every taste.
And the food is a solid asset as well, with some of the best fries I've had in a long time. Sandwiches are strong, and the octopus is a refreshig surprise, so much better here than at Monk's. And I always enjoy the pastry mushroom cigars. The kitchen is in full view, which, depending on your point if view, can be good or bad. I liked it though.
So, yes, it's in a very threadbare neck of the woods. And inside, time seems to have stood still. But not where it counts most, and with the funky air of insouciance it exudes, combined with the fine ber and food, this is one establishment well worth double checking your car alarm to enjoy.
12-31-2005 21:19:48 | More by Foxman
Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, PA
89 out of 100 based on 36 ratings.