1/10/2013 11:02:00 AM

The Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Striped Bass at Johnny Brenda's in Philly

We've been spending a lot of time in Philly lately, which has fortunately included some pretty superlative meals out at unlikely locations. It's kind of like our new Brooklyn - it's cheaper, more casual, sufficiently hip but much less affected than some of the haunts we frequent closer to home. In fact one Philly dining trend we're particularly fond of (that frankly NYC needs to do better) is the gourmet dive bar - which means REAL dive ambiance (not contrived) plus craft beer and amazing food. Case in point - Johnny Brenda's in Philly's Fishtown nabe is a perfect example - this two-story music venue/dive bar with pool table, rickety booths and chalkboard menus serves up excellent gastropubby fare like this seared sea bass we had recently with roasted tomatoes and greens. NYC - take note and follow suit, please.

10 comments :

  1. Every sentence in this article hurts my heart. You know what else is better about Philly than NYC?? EVERYTHING. Please stay away and don't give New Yorkers any ideas about relocating.

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  2. Agree with the previous commenter. This is embarrassing. Johnny Brenda's used to be a plain Fishtown neighborhood bar (a "dive," yeah, in the ugly classist logic of foodie gentrifiers). It came under new management about 10 years ago and is now a fully renovated gastropub. In no sense is it a "dive," unless this means that there are actually still a few people who were born in the neighborhood who go there. I guess that's the NYC logic on display here: anything less than 100% bougie is divey.

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  3. JB's entire menu is fantastic. Also, the venue upstairs is one of the best 300-capacity rooms in the country. Ask any New York indie band! Pretty confused about the "dive bar" description. No, it doesn't look like an Apple store... is that what you meant?

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  4. I don't understand? What is the beef with this article? It's complimentary towards Philly and doesn't suck the tit of NYC. I live and die Philly, why is there the need to be so protective? It isn't a gang rivalry, no one is going to move here over a food review. Have a Yards to ease the broken heart.

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  5. Sure, it is mostly complimentary, but the harping on "dive" is pretty condescending. Johnny Brenda's is not a dive in any sense of the word. It is in a very old building, but is updated, clean, and run very professionally. Speaking of words, "nabe?" Come on now... that kind of "abbrevs" will get you punched down here.

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    1. Word is bond, for real though it's a great cut in a great "hood".

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  6. Congratulations, Zagat just discovered the "Sixth Borough" in 2013. Sick nabe, bro.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/fashion/sundaystyles/14PHILLY.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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    1. Boo, "Sixth Borough?" FOH. I'm so sad about how late I am on that bullshit.

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  7. Love this. And it IS that dive-y feel that makes me love JB's so. I don't find it derogatory in the least - I translate it as both unpretentious and lacking suffocating hipsterness (despite the clientele, and yes, they are two different things). I could bring a northeast Eagles fan or my dad here without them feeling uncomfortable, and surprise them with the delicious, wide-ranging fare. Its a bar for the poor and comfy alike. And hopefully they let plushimage.com shoot the place sometime soon ;)

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