A not-unpleasant sense of déjà vu washes over me as I pull up a bar stool at the Post, a new beer hall that’s set up camp in the bleak no-man’s-land between Center City and West Philadelphia that has, in the last few years, become home to some of the city’s most ambitious new mega-developments. Maybe it’s due to all the throwbacks — the sliders on the menu, Gin Blossoms and Wallflowers on the sound system. Or maybe it’s just that this trope has grown well-worn in Philly in recent years: the promise of cold beer, loud music, echoey concrete spaces, and roll-up glass garage doors, like at Frankford Hall in Fishtown, Victory Beer Hall in South Philly, and Garage in both Fishtown and South Philly.
The intent is not caricature but apotheosis, according to Branden McRill, the longtime industry veteran who launched the high-end Walnut Street Cafe and who is developing a too-early-to-talk-about restaurant project for the roof of the garage, a space branded as Cira Green. The idea at the Post, with a kitchen run by Le Bec-Fin alum Richard Cusack, wasn’t to blow up the beer hall concept. Instead, McRill’s hope is to iron out its flaws (namely, no one really wants a giant pretzel or a plate of schnitzel). He hopes customers will say, “This is simple, but these guys are doing it better than a lot of people are doing it," he said. "Anyone can phone it in with bad bar food and get away with it, because a lot of times people are drunk. It’s a gesture of hospitality to say we’re not going to phone this in.”
McRill says he created the concept in response to what he thought the area needed.
As I make my way down the silent, deserted block of 30th Street, I can confirm it definitely needs something.
The Post is on the ground floor of a parking garage — a fact I never really forget during my visit. Inside, during what passes for happy hour ($5 beers, ranging from Bud Light to a guava IPA from Philly favorite Evil Genius, aren’t exactly a steal), I find a thin crowd at the bar. The long wooden picnic tables are scattered with the type of motley, slightly uncomfortable-looking groups that tend to arise when coworkers feel obligated to go out for drinks together.
But the Post has promise, including all the requisite ingredients for a playground for twentysomethings in backward baseball caps: flat-screen TVs, Skee-ball courts, vintage arcade games, shuffleboard courts, board games like the intentionally offensive Cards Against Humanity, $3 Miller High Life bottles, $5 Twisted Tea, and $6 well drinks. It’s true that ordering food is a slight hassle. (The bartender sends me over to order at a window, where I suddenly feel the need to convince the bored-looking cashier to both acknowledge my existence and take my order. “How’s it going?” I attempt, by way of an opener. “About how it looks,” he responds, shutting it down.) However, what comes out of the kitchen is solid: a respectable pulled-chicken slider; a freshly whipped hummus plate with crisp vegetables and soft pita bread; a heaping plate of crisp, salty fried pickle chips with smoked pepper mayo.
As the night wears on, the music gets louder and the lights get dimmer. It’s what college kids want, McRill says. “You got to stage-direct. You got to produce the party.”
129 S. 30th St., 267-353-8521, thepostphl.com
When to go: This is a highly programmed space, with Quizzo, shuffleboard tournaments, live music, and DJ sets. Check social media for details. It opens at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and weekend brunch, and closes at midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 2 a.m. on weekends.
Bring: Your office party. With 7,000 square feet, there’s plenty of space to spread out.
What to order: A pile of barbecue chicken sliders (three for $8) and a heap of pickle fries ($6) for the table, and a pint of local IPA from Levante, Victory, or Dogfish Head ($6 to $8).
Bathroom situation: Private rooms, not stalls, that are not notably clean or particularly dirty.
Sounds like: A calm 80 decibels of ’90s alt-rock in the early evening, getting progressively louder and more current as the night wears on.