Raise a Glass to Your Favorite Local Bar

Long-gone watering holes played host to many a foggy night.

Whether it’s the beer specials or the everything-infused cocktails, Main Liners are fiercely devoted to their favorite
watering holes. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we raised some
eyebrows (and ticked off a few regulars) with our “Drink Here Now” feature. 

These days, the top spots are as much about eating as they are about drinking. Credit the so-called gastropub movement, along with the overall trend toward casual dining at all price points. Case in point: Whitford Country Club, where I’m a member, just spent some serious coin to expand Mulligan’s, its pub-like lower level, as more and more of us would rather not bother with a dress code in the formal restaurant upstairs. It’s a trend that’s happening at clubs all over the area: Stuffy is out; no-fuss is in.

But let’s not discount the almighty neighborhood joints, to which most of us can attribute at least one—if not several—moments we’d still like to forget. Not that there weren’t some great memories, too. For me, one such place was the Berwyn Tavern, which, aside from a significant back-patio upgrade, has changed little since we frequented the place more than 25 years ago. And if we tired of the BT, Casey’s was just a short stumble away, with its hand-carved roast-beef sandwiches and cozy booths. 

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There were several other places where we’d congregate on weekends and college vacations—all of them long gone. See if these sound familiar:

Smokey Joe’s, Wayne. This slightly more refined suburban outpost of the rough-and-tumble Pennstitution was a first stop on Saturday nights for many of us in the ’80s. Nationally known comedian and Conestoga High School alum Todd Glass often held court here. Students urinating in nearby yards and other inebriated misadventures contributed to its demise in 1999. 

The Brick Bar, Bryn Mawr. Easily the loudest bar on the Main Line, which was quite a distinction.

Al E. Gators, Haverford. For us, this place was a backup when Smoke’s was dead. Its higher-end experience was reflected in the prices. I vaguely recall a dance floor, which I never got anywhere near.

Marita’s Cantina, Bryn Mawr. The kitchen turned out so-so Mexican food at a time when there was little south-of-the-border cuisine to be had on the Main Line. The lively bar scene was better than the food.

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The Yorkshire, Bryn Mawr. This after-hours club was popular with the likes of Charles Barkley and Jay Wright. For everyone else, it wasn’t easy getting a drink.

The Ratskeller, West Chester. We always knew a rowdy college bar located literally across the street from the West Chester University campus wouldn’t be around forever. But it was fun while it lasted.

Cheers.

Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!