Bar Hopping: Royal Tavern, Philadelphia, PA

Although it is not a whiskey-focused bar, and doesn't pretend to be, Royal Tavern in Philadelphia's Queen Village neighborhood is a great neighborhood watering hole that also happens to have a very nice whiskey selection. I went there for dinner last night, and was pleasantly surprised at everything this low-key bar has to offer.

The best thing about Royal is hands-down the food. They have a small but diverse menu that includes many vegetarian and vegan options, as well as a good number of rotating specials at lunch and dinner. Last night they had a Greek lamb burger on special that was amazing - a juicy lamb patty with feta cheese and an awesome olive tapenade spread. Combined with their just-crispy enough fries and a cold beer from their great draft selection this was a perfect meal to devour at the bar. They also offer one of the best bar snacks in town - freshly popped popcorn with pecorino cheese and truffle butter.

Enough about the awesome food, you're probably wondering how their whiskey selection was right? Well it's not bad at all for a neighborhood joint. They had a nicely organized selection of all the standard bourbons, scotches, and Irish whiskeys including most of the common top-shelf brands. They also featured a few bottles that you don't see at most neighborhood pubs, such as a nice bottle of 14 year old Oban hanging out on the Scotch shelf, a 12 year old Redbreast Irish Whiskey, and a bottle of Sazerac Rye which is a whiskey you're starting to see in more bars around Philly, but certainly is not at all ubiquitous yet. I enjoyed a glass of the Sazerac, and I believe it was the only whiskey I saw poured during the two hours or so that I was there. It's not the type of bar where you'll be talking whiskey with the bartender or other patrons, but I didn't get a funny look when ordering either.

So, if you're looking for an outstanding whiskey bar in Philadelphia I can suggest better places than Royal Tavern. But if you're looking for an awesome place to take a few friends for dinner and drinks where everyone will be happy, including any whiskey snobs in the group, then Royal is the spot. It has amazing food, a nice laid-back vibe, and enough high-quality whiskeys to keep you occupied while you're enjoying your dinner.