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I'm a writer who's eating, drinking and reading my way around Philadelphia.

7 Philly Bars You Can Actually Read In

7 Philly Bars You Can Actually Read In

This is probably only an issue for a very specific subsection of the population, but if you're anything like me, you have a pet peeve when it comes to bars: a lot of them are so dark you can't read in them. And I don't mean "can't read" as in "can't read the menu." I mean "can't read" as in "I want to enjoy this beer and finish this novel, but the lighting is way too dim and I don't want to pull out my book light like a dweeb." 

I like reading in bars, mostly because I like beer and I don't like talking to people. So if I have a long day at work, I want to sit at a bar and read my novel in peace. That means that the bar actually has to have enough light to read in. I have some bars that I adore (hi Good Dog!) that are just so dark all the time that I can't easily read there. If I'm looking for a place to bring my book, I go to the bars below.

Disclaimer: some of this may change depending on time of day. If you head to one of these bars at one a.m. on a Saturday, the atmosphere may not be as conducive to reading (duh). But for happy hour/early-ish evening, you should be good.

Bottle Bar East

1308 Frankford Ave

Sitting at the bar, a table, upstairs, downstairs, doesn't matter: Bottle Bar East is bright enough to read in no matter where you end up. Pair your book with: a beer from their rotating draft list or one of the many craft bottles they carry.


1137 Spruce St

Wine is excellent when paired with books. So is cheese. Luckily, Tria supplies both at a bar light enough to read in. Pair your book with: the cheapest glass of wine you can get ($5 during happy hour!).


541 E Girard Ave

I once went to Kraftwork at like 11 o'clock at night and actually remarked that it was well-lit enough to read in. That's when I started liking Kraftwork. Pair your book with: a flight of their rotating microbrews. 


941 Spruce St

Later at night it can get a little dark at the tables, but I've found that you can sit at the bar at Varga's and enjoy your novel pretty easily. Pair your book with: a pint from their rotating craft beer list (they also have one of my favorite happy hours in the city).

Murph's Bar

202 E Girard Ave

I've been to Murph's at dinnertime and at midnight, and I could have easily read a book at either time if I wanted to. Now that's the kind of bar I can get behind. Pair your book with: something from their insanely cheap craft bottle list. Oh, and pasta.


124 S 18th St

As nice as it is to enjoy a drink on the couch by their fireplace, don't sit there: it's always way too dark to read. Instead, take a seat at the bar on the first floor or up in the dog-themed room and enjoy. Pair your book with: a pint and one of Dandelion's excellent bar snacks, like the deviled eggs.

Devil's Den

1148 S 11th St

I don't make it into South Philly that often, but I've made the trek just to visit Devil's Den. This cozy bar has a good draft list, great food and, most importantly, enough light to read. Pair your book with: a bunch of snacks and, of course, a draft.

Also check outBest Philly Happy Hours; Murph's Bar


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