114 Gay St., Manayunk
You learn a lot about Cresson Inn just from the sign hanging over each of the two entrances--the one over the side door reads "LADIES ENTRANCE," while the one over the main corner door reads "WHERE THE REAL 'YUNKERS' DRINK." In other words, "Women use the side door" and "No yuppies allowed." To be fair, those signs are worn remnants from decades past, but the bar has mostly retained the blue-collar, dive-y atmosphere that pervaded Manayunk before kitschy boutiques and overpriced restaurants started popping up all along Main Street. Cooks, dishwashers, waitstaff and busboys from said restaurants are among the younger drinkers who cut up the alley connecting Main and Cresson Street (directly under the Regional Rail line) to avoid the frat-boy crowds and mutated martinis that now populate Manayunk. "The Cresson," as it's known, is a safe haven for anyone who simply wants a cold beer for a buck or two, regardless of whether it's watered down or the glass is dirty. The bartenders are ridiculously friendly, although the clientele may not always be--a weekend night is a good time to pick a fight with a lifelong 'Yunker. On a weeknight, though, it's peaceful enough that you may not even notice the bartender refill your glass (without having to ask) while you watch some bad movie (Tremors 2, for example) on cable TV and soak in the Guns N' Roses blasting from the jukebox. The kitchen isn't much, but you can buy little bags of chips and pretzels at the bar. The Cresson may be best during the day, actually, when you can escape a dull shopping trip and commiserate with the other day-drinkers, nodding toward Main Street and asking, "Who are those people?"
Dinner with Luke Palladino