Reporting Jay Lloyd
Today, happy hour involves friends spread out all over the city and suburbs, and a constant search for that common meeting place. Here are some of the top suburban spots for happy hour, based on the convenience of convergence – places where all roads meet at one watering hole.
At the junction of the Schuylkill Expressway and the Blue Route, Conshohocken has become the crossroads of the region. Happy Hour is often signaled by the call to, “Meet me in Conshy.” Two spots on the same block draw the heavy 5 to 7 crowd. – Jay Lloyd
Plenty of parking on-street and off makes Flanigan’s on the main drag an easy stop. A large bar with the requisite flat screens, a major selection of basic, craft and imported beers—everything from Bud to Belgians—gives the Boat House a feeling of home, whatever your taste. Daily discounts mark happy hour, along with a lively bar crowd. If friends want a bit of privacy, set-back tables and separate rooms provide conversation space. Pub food that’s heavy on nachos, dips and quesadillas gives you an excuse to be late for dinner.
With 17 diverse beers on tap and happy hour drafts going for $2 to $3 a pop, The Great American Pub is a favorite stop for friends who work in Center City and King of Prussia. But it’s also a spot to expand acquaintances and meet the “office casual” crowd that toils at the nearby high tech wonkeries. Like Flanigan’s, the Great American Pub provides the privacy of tables and booths for confidential confabs. Pizzas and sliders, along with a full range of apps (the eating kind), keeps the happy hour hungers away.
Close to the 422 corridor and Route 29 pharmaceutical companies, Osteria has become my favorite happy hour spot. It’s the music, or maybe, the food. Nobody cares about the TV, but the bar is packed, especially Thursday evenings to hear Todd Horn melt into his keyboard with music that spans the generations. He can shift from Big Band favorites to Broadway or Buffet at a request, but he’s also competing with a happy hour menu that serves up a large bowl of incredible mussels (red or white) for $5 and a smoked salmon platter with onions and capers for $6. Then there’s the prosciutto, with roasted red peppers and mozzarella or eggplant and asparagus for $5. You get the idea, but it’s unlike any bar food you’ve known. Plus, this place is as close as you’ll get to a “Cheers” bar, where a regular crowd never forgets a birthday.
Yes, I know it’s a chain. But here, that’s a plus. At P.F. Chang’s happy hour, before the dinner time hordes descend on the dining room, the modern, eye-catching bar is a favorite and consistent stop, both for food and location. The clicking sounds of chopsticks and elbow-bending go hand in hand at this Plymouth Meeting eatery, located near the junction of the Blue Route and the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The dry-rub ribs are memorable, and an assortment of dumplings, egg and spring rolls, lettuce wraps, won tons and dipping sauces are perfect nibbles at can’t-resist prices that accompany very generous pours and discounted beers. It’s an interesting and diverse crowd, too—we’ve never failed to get into an absorbing conversation with travelers familiar with Chang’s or locals who work at nearby corporate centers. The same deal applies to the Warrington, Upper Providence and Glens Mills locations.
A happy hour pub crawl on the Main Line could take an eternity, but I always seem to wind up back at Gulliftys. It’s central, easy to reach from most Main Line locations and boasts a friendly and lively bar where the focus is on beer. A regular bar crowd hangs out in an amiable environment that carries over from happy hour later into the night. The menu is varied, with a focus on finger foods after work and comfort chow as deeper hunger sets in. The later it gets, the younger the crowd. Remember, the immediate area is awash in colleges.
Here’s something completely different: With warmer weather hitting the region, this is a happy hour spot where you can show up in shorts and flip flops, then flop down on a beach chair that’s parked on real sand. With a brew in hand, the outdoor “Beach” at the Trappe Tavern is the place to get a Jersey shore fix while waiting for the weekend. Faux palm trees, $2 drafts and deeply discounted summertime coolers provide a perfect mid-week summertime getaway. Free nibbles fill the 4 – 7 p.m. crowd from the nearby “Big Pharma” companies. Steamers and wings are staples on a menu that fuels the outdoor bar and includes specials that range from a nightly prime rib to authentic flavors of Mexico.