3420 Sansom St. 215.386.9224. www.whitedogcafe.com
My teachers in elementary school always picked a favorite animal so that students (and their parents) knew what to get them for holiday and birthday gifts. My fourth-grade English teacher's room was covered with all things frog-related, while my best friend's mom had a shrine at home devoted entirely to giraffes. Drinking at White Dog is a similar experience. It's all canine, from variations on the familiar poker paintings to achingly cute plates and flatware. Keep in mind, though, that the name and theme are in fact a proud tribute to the wildly eccentric Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society who lived in the building in the 19th century and claimed she was healed by a white dog sleeping across her infected leg every night. But that's not why you're there. No, you're there because either you're a Penn student, you're a Penn professor, or you'd like to hit on or make fun of Penn students or professors (which can of course be done simultaneously). Or maybe you're just a serious drinker who appreciates the sprawling selection of modestly priced beers on tap, including Victory Hop Devil, Yards Philly Pale Ale, Dogfish Head, Stoudt's, Troegs and Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel. In keeping with the theme, the house beer is Leg Lifter Lager, complete with cartoony logo. Late-night drinking is very much encouraged, if the 10 p.m.-to-midnight happy hour (Sunday through Thursday) is any indication. Everyone knows that White Dog's food is amazing-how many restaurants in this city have an official cookbook for sale?-so it's no surprise that the nighttime bar menu, which ends at 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and midnight on Sunday, is better than most places' regular menu. What is surprising is just how comfortable you'll be sipping beers surrounded by woody interior design and grandma's-house-style checkered curtains, taking in the Pixies and A Tribe Called Quest in (gasp) a Penn bar, of all places.
Being spotted at White Dog Bar automatically ups your cool ante. Even if you go to Penn. Frequented by artists, architects, graphic designers and other creative types, the well-lit room feels like the perfect place to sit and chat with pals or fly solo for a night of non-creepy people-watching. The only place in the whole city where you can grab late-night organic snacks, White Dog has the most amazing nachos you'll ever taste. And the hot toddies are to die for....