A crawl up Third Street, from Oregon to Girard.
The premise was simple enough: A crawl of the Third Street corridor’s bars, from Oregon to Girard, to investigate the nearly three-mile stretch with the reputation of having the highest douchebag-bar concentration in the city. But what exactly constitutes a douchebag bar, you ask? It’s broad, but I compiled a ranking system by asking that question of various people I met along my journey. The most common responses involved similarity of patrons to one another, fights, fashion cliches and open mistrust or mistreatment of the Other (whether gay, female, of color, skinny, fat, etc.). I found my definition challenged at each destination, which I lined up bottom-to-top.
(Note: If you haven’t ever tried to bike or drive around Pennsport, around Snyder, Third becomes Second, Second becomes Third and Moyamensing screws everything up. If an address is on Second St., just take our word for it.)
Nickels Tavern (2655 S. Second St.) was just about empty. A delightful Two Street native named Nicole bartended with a solid tan and a heartwarming accent. Fights-wise, every second Saturday she serves beer to men just out of extreme wrestling bouts at the Arena who are sometimes held together with stitches and bloody bandages, but that’s only once a month. Anyway, in Nicole’s experience, guys who’ve been fighting all night just want another beer, not another brawl, much less to fight in the amateur sense. Nicole’s instinct when pressed to name the Douchiest Philly Bar was Fatso Foggerty’s (2655 S. 18th St.), a bar that in her experience is full of junkies, addicts and dickheads. RANKING: 6
Off to Raw Dawgs Saloon (1700 S. Second St.) at Morris St., on the border of Pennsport and Queens Village. Demerits for the vaguely Irish theme, the (sparse) presence of loudmouth South Philly guys and the incredibly loud jukebox. A regular named Jimmy was playing Springsteen, which was a slight relief from Eminem, but even the Boss gets grating when you can’t hear yourself think. Thankfully, nice bartender Scott turned down the jukebox to talk to me, giving me one of my best definitions of the night: “What do you mean by douchebags? Like, five guys who look all alike?” RANKING: 5
Makos (301 South St.) was where the night took off, as I started getting to bars that had more people than I could count on my fingers. I parked my bike in front of O’Neals (611 S. Third St.), and the bouncer, Dan, confirmed that Jon’s Bar & Grille (606 S. Third St.) was more upscale, but that I was about to hit the douchebag jackpot at Makos. But, I soon realized, Dan must have been operating off yet another definition of the word. Makos was more populated with South Street-type freaks and weirdos. While Rammstein and Rob Zombie blared and strobes flashed, no one seemed douchey so much as frightening and dangerous. RANKING: 4
National Mechanics (22 S. Third St.) isn’t so bad on its own, despite its Old City location. Some sweet girls took me under their wing and had a wealth of expertise to offer. Lianna, Allie, Sarah and Jenn offered some traits from the perspective of female bargoers as to what constitutes a douchebag: “Guys who think they are the shit when they’re not,” “Screaming in a bar” and “Acting like you’re in a frat when you’re 29.” With the aid of their trained female eyes, I counted five d-bags (from afar) here, one confirmed by Jenn, “He’s talking to girls and looking around.” Damning! RANKING: 2
McFaddens (459 N. Third St.), in that weird pocket between Spring Garden and the expressway that’s dead aside from a few Walmart-sized bars, was a mystifying experience. With a $5 cover and $4.50 Lager drafts served in a plastic cup, apparently the patrons here have money to blow. It was here that music began to play a significant part in my ranking criteria. Think “Cherry Pie,” “Get Low” and then “Cotton-Eyed Joe” to get the party started. One dude went over to a tall woman of color in heels, danced up on her for a few seconds, then came back to his friends and collected his high fives. “I did it!” Ugh, I was out of there, $5 cover or not. RANKING: 1
North Third (801 N. Third St.) is tricky. This Northern Liberties bar had few popped collars and the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” count was at zero (thank god), but bartender Scott’s words echoed in my mind. “Like, five guys who look all alike?” Is a crew of loud dudes with identical wash jeans and black button-downs really that different from a crew of loud dudes with the same plaids, knit hats and whimsical facial hair? Or there’s always bad manners, the staff reminded me. “Getting called ‘sweetie’ or ‘hon,’ snapping at an empty glass, ordering things that aren’t on the menu, sitting at a dirty table” are all behaviors they’d classify as douchebaggery. RANKING: 3
Conclusion: McFaddens is clearly the Douchiest Bar on Third Street! I’m not going to lie, “Cotton-Eyed Joe” had a lot to do with my ruling.
Calendar: Sept. 30-Oct. 7