Philly is the place for history, dimly lit alleys and secret treasures that are just waiting to be found, and nowhere is this better reflected than by the city’s nightlife. If you are in the mood and have the courage necessary to explore secret, hidden bars, then here are a few places for you to experience.

Photo Credit: The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. via Facebook

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co
112 South 18th Street, 1st Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(267) 467-3277

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company is not your average banking type establishment, and despite its name, it’s certainly not the place to go if you’re looking to re-finance your home. This is a hidden gem of a bar that dates back to the 1920s that once served as the location of America’s biggest illegal booze ring. Run by the then-infamous Max “Boo Boo” Hoff, the Franklin was one of the most successful Prohibition Era bars of its time. With a reputation for employing some of the most skilled bartenders, the bar now serves as a tribute to its past and the craft and artistry involved in making the perfect drink. The Franklin provides a sensory experience via music, low-lights, and drink names. Come on down to Rittenhouse Square and experience it firsthand.

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Ranstead Room
2013 Ranstead St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 563-3330

This secret Stephen Starr bar can easily be missed. The Ranstead Room is hidden behind a black door with the letters ‘RR’ in a tiny alley in Center City. Once inside, the décor–candlelight, a gilded chandelier, dark colored walls adorned with vintage wallpaper, golden tiling, risqué artwork and black vinyl padded bar–beams you back to an era gone by. An intimate venue with 36 tables and plush, red leather booths, be sure to arrive early in order to avoid a long wait for a table.

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National Mechanics
22 South 3rd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 701-4883

National Mechanics is another secret, hidden bar reminiscent of days gone by, and its name disguises its true purpose. Originally Mechanics National Bank and opened in 1837, the historical building now features homemade florid lighting, ancient doors, strange devices, uniquely designed bathrooms, brick walls and gothic flare. Libation-wise, National Mechanics sports 32 varieties of brews, ranging from local favorites to exotic imports. You’ll also find events like karaoke, trivia and the occasional DJ or burlesque show. There’s no better place to pay tribute to Lord Byron’s famous quote, “Man, being reasonable, must get drunk; the best of life is but intoxication,” than here.

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Hop Sing Laundromat
1029 Race St.
Philadelphia, PA

Nestled in unassuming spot in Chinatown, Hop Sing Laundromat is such a secret that it’s difficult to even find information on it. With a protected Twitter account, no outdoor sign and a mysterious owner known as Mr. Lêe, this soon-to-be hotspot had Philadelphians wondering if Hop Sing was even a real place. Some sleuthing uncovers that Hop Sing’s unique décor includes a penny-tiled floor,  a nickel-covered bar, a shoeshine stand, and framed, mounted original prescriptions for alcohol from during the Prohibition Era. Currently, Hop Sing is cash only, so come prepared.

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229 South 45th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Located above the Ethiopian restaurant, Abyssinia, Fiume is a tiny place with a big reputation. Fiume is about the size of a bedroom, but with a big selection of beer. Known for its friendly atmosphere, visitors shouldn’t worry about the crowded, standing room-only, tight quarters often found during Thursday night bluegrass. Instead, hunker down and enjoy the PBR and whiskey combo, and you’ll soon have no worries. Get on out to Fiume on a busy night, enjoy the music and you might just bump into someone new.

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Joanne Apice is a full-time benefits manager with 20 years of experience in Human Resources. She earned the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation from Wharton School and the International Foundation. A lifelong learner, PA Accident and Health, Life and Fixed Annuities Licensed, she navigates the employee benefit maze daily in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at