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Philly2Philly Hop Stops features Urban Saloon, Jack's Firehouse, Belgian Cafe

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Anyone who's been to the Eastern State Penitentiary  during October knows how crazy the area can be that time of year. But there's more than one reason to check out the stretch of road known as Fairmount Avenue. This week, the Hop Stops visits three bars in walking distance of the old prison.

The Urban SaloonUrban Saloon. 2120 Fairmount Ave

2120 Fairmount Ave

Philadelphia, PA 19130

(215) 808-0348

This Fairmount Avenue bar feels the need for a theme and tries its hardest to offer that western saloon atmosphere. There's unpolished hardwood floors, brown paper covering most of the table tops, a saloon-style door that the cowboys walk through, and plenty of exposed brick walls.

But that's about the extent of it. The crowd here is diverse, with mostly mid-20s couples and friends enjoying happy hour, but also families and seniors coming to snack on everything from burgers, to steak tips, chorizo stuffed peppers, or roasted chicken. Entrees don't exceed $15 here.

The Saloon has an open floor plan, making it feel a bit crowded, even when its not. But the skylights and raised ceilings help. The bar is off to the left with two flat screens behind it, and there's also a leather couch sitting area with its own TV for those just enjoying drinks.

With $1.50 off beers during happy hour, it's worth a taste. The draft list included Gaffel Kolsch, Rogue Dead Guy, Left Hand JuJu Ginger, Allagash Curiex and Allagash White, Harpoon IPA, and Troegs Nugget Nectar. Can't decide? They offer flights, or samplers, for just $6.

The bottled list goes even deeper, offering Chimay Red, Peak's Nut Brown, Anchor Steam, Stone IPA, Duvel, and a few Victory brews.

There seems to be specials throughout the week like Quizzo on Wednesdays and free wings when you get a pitcher on Thursday.

Jack's FirehouseJack's Firehouse. 2130 Fairmount Ave.

2130 Fairmount Avenue

(215) 232-9000

www.jacksfirehouse.com

Set inside a 19th century firehouse, Jack's may seem intimidating from the outside with its massive garage door, but the people here are welcoming. Jack's is mostly known for its menu, boasting fine fresh local products. The interior still has that old firehouse feel to it - mostly because a lot of what's seen inside is original, like the mahogany woods,plank floors, and yes - the fire pole is still there.

The dinner menu boasts items like filet mignon and whipped potatoes,pecan-coated catfish, braised lamb leg or wild mushroom risotto, to name a few. They also do lunch and weekend brunches. But coming in just for a beer or beverage is also a fantastic idea. The bartenders are friendly and the atmosphere is inviting. And the beer list is above average - that's because they keep to the local theme and offer Pennsylvania brews.

The list includes: Manayunk California Dreamin' IPA, Sly Fox O'Reilly Stout, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, PBC Walt Wit, Yards Philly Pale Ale  and Dogfish Head's Indian Brown Ale (OK so that one's in Delaware, but close enough.)

With summer months approaching, soon the tables outside will open up,perfect for dining or drinking al' fresco.

 

The Belgian CafeBelgian Cafe. 2047 Green Street

2047 Green Street

(215) 235-3500

www.thebelgiancafe.com

This Green Street corner bar is one of the city's many havens for craft beer drinkers. Pass through the red doors and enter the spacious, wooded, dark bar. There's plenty of seats right at the bar itself, and even more room on stools facing a ledge across the way.

With more than 200 bottled brews and a rotating selection of 12 craft beers, beer lovers will be happy. The cafe is also well known for its mussels, many of which are soaked and cooked in beer, as well as other menu options like a variety of topped-burgers, starters and brunch-fare choices for those late afternoon weekends. Bloody Marys and Bloody Mary Mussels? Why not!

Day or night, its a bar to relax and have good beer and good food.

The draft list is always changing but most recently included: Kira Wit, Koningshoeven Quadrupel, La Rulles Triple, Valeir Extra Belgian IPA, Winter Koninck, Dock Street Chocolate Beast, Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, Sly Fox O'Reilly Stout,Southampton Biere de Mars, Stoudts Pils.

And to keep you coming back (that is if you're not convinced already),they let you know what's on deck.

Jessica Beym can be contacted at: jessicabeym@gmail.com