Philadelphia is an exciting weekend destination, but it’s also a happening spot Monday-Thursday. Go bowling at Lucky Strike, catch the Philly Rising open stage night at World Cafe Live, Movie Monday at The Troc or a wine tasting class at Tria. (Photo credits clockwise from top left: Doug Seymour courtesy World Cafe Live, courtesy Lucky Strike, courtesy Trocadero, by B. Krist for GPTMC)
Philadelphia’s midweek nightlife rocks just as hard as the weekends.
Choose from classic movies, dance classes, concerts, cooking classes, museum happy hours, even drag nights, as alternatives to the bustling bar scene in Philadelphia (although we can help you out with some suggestions for high-quality sips as well).
Check out our top picks, below, for exciting weeknight (indoor) happenings in Philadelphia, just in time for the frosty winter weather.
• Philly Rising at World Cafe Live: Every Monday night at Upstairs at the World Cafe Live, Boy Wonder (a.k.a. Andre Coles) hosts Philly Rising, an open stage and progressive talent competition. Signups are at 6:30 p.m., performances start at 7 p.m. Each artist performs a two-song set, with a featured performer (not eligible to win the contest) doing an extended set.
• Grape Room Pub Open Mic Night: A staple of the Philadelphia music scene, the Grape Room Pub hosts an open mic night every Monday in its upstairs space. Artists sign up at 8 p.m.; the show starts at 9 p.m., with no cover.
• The Curtis Institute of Music Student Recital Series: At 8 p.m. on most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from October to May, culture vultures can take in one of more than a 100 free solo and chamber music performances during The Curtis Institute of Music Student Recital Series. The concerts provide a first listen to future stars.
• Mugshots Open Mic Night: Mugshots in Fairmount hosts an open mic night that’s fun for the whole family. Every Tuesday starting at 7:30 p.m., singers, poets and storytellers do their thing while patrons enjoy organic coffee and locally made treats.
• The Legendary Dobbs Open Mic Night: The Legendary Dobbs on South Street also hosts an open mic every Wednesday emceed by John Faye of IKE. Doors open at 8 p.m., and there is no cover.
• Bob & Barbara’s Drag Show: All sorts of people—from lawyers to students to hipsters and more—pack into the legendary Bob & Barbara’s Lounge for the Thursday night showcase of drag talent. The $7 admission includes a drink ticket.
• Martha Graham Cracker at L’Etage: On the second Thursday of every month (with some exceptions), Martha Graham Cracker entertains at L’Etage with her arsenal of music, comedy and androgynous theater: and all while wearing heels. The $10 tickets are first come, first served, so people should arrive when the doors open at 8 p.m., even though the show doesn’t begin until 10 p.m. In the meantime, they can enjoy drinks and food.
Suggestions for wine tastings, cooking classes, movie nights and more, below.
Food & Drink
• Reading Terminal Cooking Classes at La Cucina: With the help of La Cucina, the Reading Terminal Market continues its tradition of cooking and entertaining classes. Not only do students receive samples of the foods they prepare and take home new and exciting recipes, they are also introduced to great, local merchants from whom to purchase their ingredients year round.
• Tria Fermentation School: Those who yearn for a more intellectual understanding of their food and drink can head to the Tria Fermentation School, where passionate winemakers, cheesemakers, brewmasters, authors and other experts share their knowledge with students who get to drink and eat off of the syllabus (not literally).
• Off the Beaten Vine at the Tria Wine School: Off the Beaten Vine in West Philly features three ever-changing, out-of-the-ordinary wines for $5 each. Don’t expect chardonnay or cabernet here. Instead guests enjoy off-the-radar varietals and regions every Monday through Saturday from 4-6 p.m.
• Tryst Drink Classes: After spending a couple of Wednesday nights at Tryst, happy hour goers will be able to impress friends with their extensive knowledge of fine wine and cocktails. That’s because every Wednesday night (starting at 5:30 p.m.), the downstairs bar at Le Bec-Fin offers wine and cocktail classes by sommelier Christine Bruno and cocktail expert Erik Lombardo. Classes are $25 each and include a flight trio and light bites. Reservations are highly recommended.
• The Trocadero’s Movie Mondays: Movie and beer lovers head to the Trocadero, a historic burlesque theater that hosts live music, each week for Movie Monday. For $3 guests can enjoy such cult classics as Edward Scissorhands and Die Hard or more recent releases like The Hangover Part II or 30 Minutes or Less. The bar stays open before, during and after the show and those who arrive before 7 p.m. get a free beer and a bag of popcorn.
• Mugshots Movie Nights: Not content to offer just one night of movies, Mugshots in Fairmount has two movie nights. On Mondays starting at 7 p.m., guests can enjoy anything from 80s classics such as Arthur to more recent masterpieces such as Pan’s Labyrinth. For movies that are sure to please all ages, head back to Mugshots on Friday for Family Fun Friday Films.
• North Third’s Fancypants Cinema: On Tuesday nights at North Third, located in the city’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, local filmmakers—from amateurs to professionals—present short works during Fancypants Cinema. The works are not screened in advance, so there is really no telling what to expect. The shows start around 10:00 p.m., the kitchen is open until midnight and admittance to the lounge is free.
• Jet Wine Bar Movies: Every Thursday night, Jet Wine Bar pairs a movie with wine or a cocktail. Themes vary from scary to French noir to animation. There are always drink specials in keeping with the theme for the evening and free popcorn.
• Lucky Strike: Head to Lucky Strike for a couple of frames of bowling (24 lanes) or a couple of games of pool (six tables). Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m. and includes drink specials and half off the lounge menu.
• Barcade: For fun and games of the 25-cents variety, head to Barcade, a grown-up (but not mature) arcade in Fishtown. Enjoy classic 80s arcade games and a rotating line-up of American craft beer. Happy hour takes place each weeknight from 4-7 p.m. and includes a dollar off all beers.
• Buffalo Billiards: At Old City’s Buffalo Billiards, there’s a game for just about everyone’s taste, from pool to shuffleboard to darts to foosball to skee ball. For those who prefer to watch a game, there are 17 TVs. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 6-8 p.m. and includes half-priced appetizers.
• Johnny Goodtimes Quizzo: Legendary Quizzo host Johnny Goodtimes, who was named to Philadelphia magazine’s guest list for the ultimate cocktail party, is also the ultimate Quizzo host. Goodtimes hosts the game, made popular in Philadelphia, at North Star Bar on Mondays, O’Neals Pub and the City Tap House every Tuesday, Locust Rendezvous and The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant every Wednesday and The Ugly American and The Bards on Thursday.
• National Mechanics Pub Quiz: Every Wednesday at 8 p.m., those who aren’t easily offended head to National Mechanics for Pub Quiz, hosted by a foul-mouthed Irishman who tests participant’s trivia knowledge. Filthy team names are strongly encouraged.
• Author Events at the Free Library: The Author Events program at the Free Library offers the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with some of today’s most celebrated and influential authors. Past guest speakers have included Umberto Eco, Harry Belafonte, Jeffrey Eugenides and Jennifer Egan. The library presents more than 125 authors each year.
• Time’s Erotic Literary Salon: The third Tuesday of every month, Time, a restaurant, taproom and whiskey bar in Midtown Village, presents The Erotic Literary Salon upstairs in the bar’s Parisian-style club. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and readings begin at 8 p.m.