Tucked inside the clutter of pretentious Philadelphia eateries, a haven lies for culinary consumers and beer boosters alike. In a culture rife with $6 light beer and $12 juice hiding under the guise of a cosmopolitan martini, the restaurant going public grows tired of a system where the atmosphere authorizes price gouging with marginal improvement on fare. Many bars specifically use the upward trend in premium beer sales as a launchpad to boost revenue. Beyond this over-inflated landscape, a few blocks into the Bella Vista section of the city, diners find refuge in Hawthorne’s Biercafé.
Upon entry, one immediately notices the comfortable and inviting environment. The presence of soft couches and a fireplace encourages patrons to unwind in a different but engaging setting for a brauhaus. Customers looking for a more traditional eating experience also have a more conventional option with plenty of tables available. The corner location of the restaurant affords the occupants simple, yet sleek seating to observe the milieu of activity through the large windows surrounding the dining room. This cozy décor, although very enjoyable by itself, is only part of the unique experience that Hawthorne’s provides.
Too frequently, seated customers must wait to procure drinks from the bar. Whether the bar has its own crowd or the other rigors of a busy night cause a logjam, the bartending staff can fall behind. Hawthorne’s has a two-pronged solution to this problem. First, refrigerated racks house the entire inventory of bottled beer (picture the refrigerated drink section at a 7-11 – but clean.) Although this colorful assemblage of brew sits in the back of the room, it remains prominently displayed as the mosaic of beer labels conjures thoughts of stained glass windows with triumphant imagery. Hundreds upon hundreds of bottles sit perched, beckoning to be sampled. Belgians, porters, IPAs, lagers, pilsners, stouts, barleywine, and even several gluten-free beers decorate the organized windowsills within. To help overwhelmed clientele make informed decisions, a staff member stands guard to make sure that curious drinkers select the exact bottle to compliment the evening. For customers craving a draught beer, ten taps sit next to the bottle section. The frequently rotating options at the draught counter are expertly poured by the knowledgeable ale aficionado and provided with immediate service. After obtaining the beverage of choice, the customer approaches a cashier desk, makes his or her table number known, and walks back to the table to enjoy the selection.
In addition to a memorable beer-drinking experience, Hawthorne’s food selection boasts a wide range of delicious options including a diverse brunch menu, artisan sandwiches, and the savory “Pierogi of the Day.” The baja tacos have the perfect amount of zesty seasoning, so as not to drown out the sweet flavor of the flaky tilapia. Hawthorne’s potato pancake may be the perfect juxtaposition of a crispy outer layer encasing a rich, creamy inside similar to a decadent helping of mashed potatoes. All items on the menu, even the humble hamburger, have complex flavors that meld together to create a thoroughly satisfying meal.
The environment, selection, food, and knowledgeable staff certainly set Hawthorne’s apart from its conceited competition. However, the distancing does not end there. Hawthorne’s prices are very affordable. No item on the menu, including the dinner entrees, exceeds $17. Premium ales that normally fetch ten dollars at a Center City taproom can be obtained for five at Hawthorne’s. After being held hostage by overpriced establishments, a reasonable bill is a welcome sight at the end of an evening. Hawthorne’s actually affords customers the opportunity for repeat visits. And after the first one, it may be hard to resist.
So I took your recommendation and everything you described in such detail was completely accurate. The decor, the selection of food and beer, and fair prices all make for an amazing dining experience. I went with 5 other people, all of whom were very satisfied with their dinners and beer selection.
We drank probably 3 beers a piece, each had an incredibly filing and tasty meal and the bill came out to $28 per person, tip included. I don't know anywhere else in the city, minus a BYOB, that you can such a great deal for such good food and nice scenery. I was drinking Paulner and other German beers that are nearly impossible to find for under $2. That's insane. My dinner was a perfectly cooked burger, The Hawthorne Burger, which had avacado, a fried egg and a spicy mayo sauce including a healthy piece of cheese and lettuce and tomato. The fries were thinly sliced and very fresh and not over salted. It was the best burger and fries I've had in years!
I spoke with the owner and he said the family will be opening a new place in June. I can't wait to try it out, and I'll be sure to visit Hawthorne's again in the near future! Thanks again for the review and the suggestion!