Varga Bar

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Varga BarVarga Bar
36 Ratings
Varga BarVarga Bar

Type: Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

941 Spruce St
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107-5736
United States

(215) 627-5200 | map

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Added by eldondre on 06-05-2009

View: Place Reviews
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Ratings: 36 |  Reviews: 19
Photo of sbw138
2.65/5  rDev -36.1%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 2.5

A new beer bar in the Washington Sqaure West neighborhood of Center City Philadelphia. Not too large of a place. As other advocates have said, some nice large windows that open up. Great for a nice day. The sidewalk tables are OK. Horribly unbalanced, and it is just plain dirty and smelly out there.

They do have a pretty good beer selection, although, throughout some visits, I have found it to be somewhat repetitive. But, overall they do a pretty good job. Nice competitor to Tria just up the block.

The bartenders are good. Very knowledgable, and pretty friendly for the most part. They do tend to rush a selection, even if the place is not busy. The waitstaff, however, is awful. I can ignore rude, and unfriendly, but they have to be able to do their job. The waitstaff has almost no knowledge of the beers they are selling, or beer in general. Seriously, why work at this type of place if you can't somewhat describe a beer? Hey Owner, you should think about that when you hire these people!

They do have an OK food selection, although very over priced for the quality. But, when you have had a few too many beers, you really can't be too picky about what you are eating.

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Photo of Rifugium
2.8/5  rDev -32.5%
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. 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. Some places just rub me the wrong way, and this is one of them.

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Photo of tpd975
3.7/5  rDev -10.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

Stopped in during my stay in Philly. Cool place with a pin up girl type motif. Pretty contemporary in feel with a nice selection of beers on draft. They have nothing really earth shattering to offer but they hit most popular, with a quality beer to offer.

The service was good but I was the only person in the place as they had just opened for the day.

I had no food, though the menu looked as though they had some quality offerings. Not your standard pub fare here.

The price is a bit high overall, but in line with the prices you will find in Philly.

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Photo of NYR_Rob
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of tkdchampxi
3.75/5  rDev -9.6%

Photo of krisandajt
3.8/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Stopped in at Varga's with my wife and a friend while hitting up Philly for a concert. The weather was perfect, and all of the windows and doors were opened up to let in some fresh air (well, fresh for Philly) and give you the impression you were relaxing outside drinking a beer. While my personal preference is for dingy, hole in the wall style bars, this wasn't bad. I would have to say this bar's best feature was the multitude of pin-up girls lining the inside of the bar.

The tap selection was decent. They had a nice selection of some tasty and popular offerings from breweries like Left Hand, Stone, Terrapin, Bells, and Lagunitas.

The service was good. They were quick to take our order and made sure to ask when we were running low, but that's pretty much where it stopped. The place was getting rather busy, so I suppose their attention was better placed elsewhere.

Overall, a decent place to stop. I would probably stop in here again if I were in the area, but I don't think I would make a special trip just for it.

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Photo of Craft_Imperial
3.81/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Photo of BARFLYB
3.94/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of bylerteck
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of DNICE555
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of mymrnngjckt
4/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

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Photo of JohneHoodlum
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of soulcougher
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of mvanaskie13
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of JKWBMH
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of seanchai
4/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of msubulldog25
4.15/5  rDev 0%
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', 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.

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Photo of slander
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
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…)

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Photo of Canada_Dan
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Photo of claspada
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of baconfromwalmart
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev +2.4%

Photo of sholland119
4.33/5  rDev +4.3%
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.


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Photo of glid02
4.34/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

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Photo of ESeab
4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

I've been to Varga Bar several times now. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, the food is great, and the beer selection is very good. Prices are typical for food in Philly, but on the cheaper side for beer for what they offer. You can get a nice barrel aged stout on tap, or something local that isn't well known but delicious (Shawnee Brewing). They hold great events. One was a white out stout night where if you wore all white, any stout was $4!!!! And I'm talking FIS, Bitches Brew, Narwhal, Ten Fidy, unbelievable value for fun events. My favorite late night hangout spot in Philly.

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Varga Bar in Philadelphia, PA
Place rating: 4.15 out of 5 with 36 ratings