We asked Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan where he’ll be watching the big game.
Craig LaBan: First choice is always at a home party with friends. But seeing as I’m still waiting for my invitation, I’ve been mulling the possibilities to see the Super Bowl somewhere with a local flair other than the usual sports bar suspects.
My first instinct is to rekindle that NFC championship Linc feeling and head to South Philly. Stogie Joe’s Tavern on East Passyunk is a fantastic destination for updated takes on neighborhood Italian American classics like roast pork, spaghetti in crab gravy, and stromboli. If you think eating in the shadow of I-95 adds to the game day ambiance, try Toll Man Joe’s, a massive year-old sports bar on Oregon Avenue with an all-weather beer garden and full menu of Italian favorites — stuffed long hots, stuffed meatballs, and wings, of course, in honor of former Wing Bowl champ Joe (Toll Man) Paul.
Northeast Philly is home to some die-hard sports bar classics, too, like Nick’s Roast Beef and the original Chickie’s & Pete’s on Robbins Ave. But I’d head for the mod glass-box-enclosed bar of P Square Lounge behind Macaroni’s, which has a surprisingly great selection of craft beer to go along with its Calabrian chili chicken wings.
Of course, some local beer pride should also be flowing on Super Sunday, so go to the source and check out Second District Brewing, also in South Philly, where the Bancroft Pale Ale will be $4 a pint and the vegan riblets are a sleeper hit. They’ll be busting out the big screen — and plenty of hazy IPAs and barrel-aged beauties — at Tired Hands Fermentaria in Ardmore. Head for some optimistic pours of Man Full of Trouble Porter at Dock Street Brewing if you’re in West Philly, or, for another gastropub option with one of the best beer selections in that neighborhood, detour to Local 44 for $3 pints of Nodding Head’s 700 Level ode to the Vet. Local 44’s well-TV’d Center City sibling, Strangelove’s, is offering a bottomless beer and all-you-can-eat special for $75 all-in. If local spirits are more your speed, no venue represents Philly’s craft distillers better than funky Martha in Kensington, where a green punch is planned to go along with the creative series of hoagie “jawns.”
To channel the fighting spirit of Creed, head up North Broad to Max’s Steaks (3653 Germantown Ave.) for one of the city’s most underrated steaks (loved mine with peppers) and the “largest drink in Philly” at its adjoining Eagle Bar.
Another of the region’s other great steaks, the oniony-kaiser roll variation at Donkey’s Place in Camden, comes with one of the best lineups of craft brews from South Jersey (and it’ll be open on that Sunday). Eagles fandom cannot be bound by any river or border. Wherever the flat screens are playing the Birds, they bleed green at the best bars in South Jersey, too.