Saturday, November 21, 2009

Out and About: Rittenhouse Square

When I go out for a night on the town in Philly I intend to have a lot of fun, as most people do. It has been difficult to do so in the past because downtown isn't that party friendly to those under 21. It also doesn't help that everything closes around 2 and that Septa (arguably one of the worst transit systems in America) shuts down before that. But as soon as I turned 21 I let loose! I am now free to hang out at bars and clubs closed off from me before and I feel comfortable taking public transit downtown and catching a cab back, because I know that the time spent in Philly will be well worth it. My journey last night reaffirmed that fact. It was my first time hanging out after hours in and around Rittenhouse Square and I must say that I was not disappointed. The first stop of the night with my lovely friends was Alfa Lounge on 17th and Walnut. It is a two floor spot with a charming and cute bouncer at the door for the 1st floor and a really nice hostess at the door for the 2nd floor. We decided to first check out the first floor lounge as we were waiting for one more friend. The place was crowded at the bar, it was a bit difficult to walk around, and you had to search for a spot to order a drink. But, once the drinks were in hand, we felt a bit better about the spot. I would definitely suggest either reserving a table so that you don't have to stand awkwardly in the lounge area or get there a bit earlier than 10 to situate yourself at the bar. The crowd was friendly and laid back and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. And for $8 a drink (good ones at that) you can't go wrong. The upstairs area was what really sealed the deal for me. The music was bumping with fantastic 90s hip hop and r&b. They played artists like Camp Lo and The Fugees and had a little dance area were we grooved. The music was excellent and the other male patrons were friendly and fun, making Alfa a spot my friends and I will definitely return to.

The other destination of the night was The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. The name in itself sounds nothing like the place it is, which is exactly the point. We walked past it twice searching high and low for where it could possibly be (especially because buildings in that area like to not have address numbers visible). Staring at the door that had a larger 112 on it we were very confused as it led to someone's home. We would have definitely left in confusion if we hadn't noticed the nicely dressed gentlemen standing by a set of steps right next to it. We noticed right away that the steps leading down led to the very unassuming and hidden place that we had been looking for. He politely told us that our party of 4 would have to wait 15 minutes for a seat as they were at capacity and the place is seating only. We waited a bit longer, a good 20-30 minutes, but it was well worth it.
The place is tiny but cozy. You have definitely been sent back in time to the speakeasy era, with the barmen and waitress dressed in 20s finery. It would have made the atmosphere even more authentic if they had mixed their modern music with old classics, but I can't really complain since it didn't detract for the atmosphere all that much. Our patience was well rewarded with fantastic and delicious cocktails. The menu is fantastic and all of our drinks were definitely amazing. I had heard this place has some of the best drinks in Philly and I was definitely not disappointed. If you can brave the wait (if there is one) it is definitely worth it to come. The drinks are priced at $12-13 or so, but the money is well spent. Some drinks I would suggest: Mexican Firing Squad, Conquistadora, Airmail, Carroll Gardens (not for the faint of heart), or the Passyunk Punch.

Cheers!

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