10 great Black-owned bars to check out in Philadelphia

Bar hop, but make it Black-owned.

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Danya Henninger / Billy Penn
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Philly is home to several Black-owned bars, and they’re found all over the city: in residential neighborhoods, trendy college enclaves, downtown shopping districts, you name it.

That’s the energy Medina Oyefusi wants to tap into with her new Black History Month bar crawl.

Set for Saturday, Feb. 22, “I Buy Black Too” will be a five-stop affair that takes ticketed partygoers to four drinking establishments plus a pop-up held at Society Hill beauty supply store Marsh + Mane.

Oyefusi got the idea after going to a Black-owned bar crawl in D.C. and loving it, she said. Seeing that Philly didn’t have it’s own regularly scheduled version, she and her partner Aaron Robinson came up with their own.

“I feel like there are a lot of businesses owned by Black people and people of color that aren’t highlighted,” Oyefusi told Billy Penn. “So I felt like there was a market here. People seemed interested…and the businesses were excited to participate.”

Oyefusi, 22, and Robinson, 21, both came to Philly from New York City to attend Temple University. They love the city’s vibe, Robinson said.

“The culture here is really unmatched,” Robinson said. “We just wanted to harness that and bottle it up.”

The crawl starts at South Street’s Reef before heading to Haute in Center City. It then heads up North Broad to South and Green Soul, sister restaurants from brothers Robert and Benjamin Bynum.

Your $15 registration includes a free t-shirt and other giveaways, food and drink specials, and a chance to win tickets to Dreamville Fest in North Carolina. There will also be live entertainment at each venue, such as DJs, poets and singers.

Organizers said they’ve already sold more than 80 tickets and are capping sales at 150 — but you can also create your own version.

Here’s 10 great Black-owned bars to check out around Philly.

New Barber’s Hall Club & Restaurant

1402 W. Oxford St. (North Philly)

Located just outside Temple’s campus — but definitely not a college bar — is New Barber’s Hall. The mainstay has been around more than 70 years, filling a three-story venue with a 50-person VIP club on the third floor, a second floor banquet hall for events with up to 200 people, and a bar and restaurant on the first floor.

One of the most popular drinks there is the South Beach, made with rum, vodka, gin, tequila and bourbon. The restaurant’s extended menu includes best-selling wings, chicken and fish platters, and Alaskan crab legs.

Cafe Breezes

5131 W. Columbia Ave. (Parkside)

You could easily pass right by this happening spot, which is hidden inside a brick facade that looks more like a rowhome than a popular sports bar.

Dip in to find a welcoming hybrid of dive and cafe, featuring weekly specials like 2-for-1 mixed drinks, $10 margarita bowls and $5 Long Island iced tea. Most popular on the food side are salmon alfredo and garlic chicken.

The New Lou & Choo’s Lounge

2101 W. Hunting Park Ave. (Tioga-Nicetown)

A Strawberry lemonade made with strawberry whiskey is a fan favorite at this North Philly corner bar and lounge. Lou and Choo’s has an atmosphere perfect for pulling off big parties — for which it’s become famous. The lounge also boasts a revamped outdoor space called The Yard.

There’s also a pretty intense food offering featuring the fettuccine alfredo, salmon fried rice and platters of shrimp.

Era Bar and Restaurant

2743 Poplar St. (Brewerytown)

Era is a traditional Ethiopian restaurant melded with a classic Philly neighborhood dive, offering a more-than-decent selection of beer and wine. New on tap at Era is Delco Lager by local beermakers 2SP Brewing.

The straightforward counter, a wooden centerpiece alongside a pool table, is separate from the dining room. Bring friends to dine in the traditional style, sharing one large meal and eating with hands, ripping pieces of soft sourdough injera bread, doro tibs and goman, before hitting up the bar for after dinner drinks.

Haute Lounge

1420 Locust St. (Center City)

Haute is a relatively new spot that comes with all the upscale vibes you’d expect from a restaurant near Center City’s theater district. With a dimmed interior, high chairs tucked into small round tables and elevated booth seating, Haute generally hosts a more mature crowd, along with the occasional brunch party.

Shrimp and grits are a standout on the food menu, which includes Chilean sea bass and filet mignon. To drink, sip on a floral Haute Margarita with St. Germain.

South Kitchen and Jazz Bar

600 N Broad St. (North Broad)

Brothers Robert and Benjamin Bynum, who first arrived on the scene as the force behind Center City’s famed Zanzibar Blue, also currently own Green Soul, Warmdaddy’s and Relish. This large, wood-filled lounge and restaurant feels like its name: a piece of Southern hospitality hidden in a Northeastern city.

A jazz parlour for nightly live music adjoins the dining room and bar area. Pick up inexpensive show tickets in advance so you can relax and sip on the Smooth Jazz Feels, made with brown butter-infused bourbon and orange zest.

Booker’s

5021 Baltimore Ave. (West Philly)

Owned by Saba Tedla, who also runs nearby Meditterranean BYOB Aksum, this restaurant and sports bar manages a laid-back vibe amid elegant surroundings, with indoor and outdoor seating on bustling Baltimore Avenue.

Try the sweet green apple sangria or keep it classic with a minty mojito. The food menu offers comfort foods like country fried chicken and fish and chips, or more adventurous options like Creole vegan jambalaya.

Ms. Tootsie’s

1312 South St. (South Street)

Philly Twitter went up in 2015 when Drake name dropped a “Tootsie’s” establishment in a Meek Mill diss. The rapper was actually referencing a Miami strip club, but turns out Meek Mill has, in fact, dined at Ms. Tootsie’s on South Street.

This Keven Parker-owned soul food restaurant and sports bar is known for its sugary-sweet tropical iced tea — including an alcohol-infused version on its extensive cocktail menu. The Grown Folks Iced Tea adds vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec and pineapple juice to the mix.

Gojjo Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant

4540 Baltimore Ave. (Cedar Park)

Not far from Clark Park, this tavern sits in a several-block stretch filled with East African restaurants. It’s an all-around entertainment destination, with outdoor seating in the warmer months, a full bar, and events like comedy open mic nights, musician jam sessions and sports watch parties.

There’s plenty of classic Ethiopian food, plus a list of American and European wines.

Reef Restaurant & Lounge

605 S 3rd St.

This spot’s Caribbean roots are reflected in everything from its island-tinged food and drink menu to the Haint Blue woodwork adorning the bright-colored walls. It’s only right to try the fruity, orange and red-swirled rum punch at this South Street getaway.

Reef’s full food menu includes island specialties like stewed oxtails and curry chicken. After dinner, work off your food with a night of dancing.

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