It's not often that you can walk into a bar that serves both an incredible chicken lo mein and tater tots. Bar–Ly Chinatown does it all, with 60 unique beers on draft, as well as high–definition televisions to monitor your favorite sports games while you're enjoying them. The sports bar, located on 101 N. 11th St., harbors an amalgamation of delicious dishes and drinks that cater to your every need.
As vaccines are becoming readily available, and city life is slowly awakening once more, entering a bar may feel anxiety–inducing and foreign. However, walking into Bar–Ly feels as if you are being transported into a '90s sitcom, where you and your friends can complain about long hours at your 9–to–5 job, your failed romantic endeavors, and everything in between. It's the perfect first date spot or location for a roommates' night out, one that carries both a sense of comfort and an atmosphere of excitement.
On a steamy Philadelphia afternoon, the restaurant is a short 15–minute SEPTA ride from Penn's campus and offers plenty of seating for walk–ins. The menu features multiple dishes such as peking duck sliders, mozzarella sticks, and shrimp tacos to pass around the table with your friends or coworkers. The highlight, however, is the crab ravioli; the creamy stuffing coats your tongue with flavor that lingers long after the bite has been swallowed.
Bar–Ly's large plates offer something for everyone, even if you're with a picky eater (or are one yourself). The range of Asian American pub food carries Vietnamese banh mi and burgers, each for under $10, with a galore of customizations. To wash down your meal and energize you for the remainder of the evening, try the Vietnamese iced coffee, an indulgence that's not too sweet.
But the ultimate game–changer that Bar–Ly's spacious bar contains is the happy hour menu. Their happy hour takes place Monday—Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m., and you can enjoy a plethora of mixed drinks and small plates to get the most out of your money.
You should begin with one of their specialty martinis priced just below $6, injected with a variety of flavors such as watermelon and apple. The one that cannot be beat is the Luscious Lycheetini, as it comes with a piece of fruit right in the center to enjoy after the drink. After a round of martinis, be sure to get a sake bomb for everyone at the table—nothing can combat the sticky–sweet Philadelphia humidity quite like that. Or, if beer itself is your preferred drink, you can always grab a pint for $5 to nurse for the evening. And if you happen to catch the waiter Joe, he might tell you about the promotion the Bar–Ly currently has through Instagram to earn you and your company a free shot.
Regardless of what you order, the most cherished aspect of Bar–Ly is its curated friendly aesthetic. The walls are adorned with sports paraphernalia, and the ceilings are decorated with hanging lightbulbs that keep the bar cast in a dim warm light to background your favorite summer memories. There is an aspect of nostalgia that washes over you the second you enter, a warmth that invites you to sit down and take comfort in the lively buzz of conversation all around.
And over time, the evenings you spend at Bar–Ly might become nostalgic and beloved memories themselves. So go enjoy those long stretches of Philadelphia sunlight this season—grab a drink, grab a friend, and sink into the seats of this sports bar on your next night out.