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Feb Club kick off Credit: Jennifer Liao

City Tap House, Local 44 and Smokey Joe’s have recently been ranked highly among their peers, but each bar says it has unique features which set it apart from the crowd.

Philadelphia food and drink blog recently ranked Tap House and Local 44 among the top 50 bars in Philadelphia — at 19 and 23, respectively. They were the only two on the list located in West Philadelphia.

Tap House General Manager Andy Farrell called his bar an “all-purpose kind of place,” serving an “extremely diverse group” of people, including professionals from the hospitals and colleges, local residents and students.

Farrell also said the bar’s wide variety of beers on tap set it apart from the competition. Being able to compare among nearly 60 different beers on tap “allows the consumer to really hone in on the things they like,” he said.

Highlighting the large size of the restaurant and its outdoor seating as features that distinguish Tap House from most establishments, Farrell said the bar is an “escape” from the everyday.

He added that constantly reaching out to locals has been integral to the popularity of the bar, which opened this summer.

Local 44 co-owner Leigh Maida said unlike most bars in the area, hers tries to reach the permanent resident demographic rather than college students.

“We opened up hoping to fill a need for the residents versus the college community,” she said, attributing the mostly local demographic to the bar’s success.

The bar also differentiates itself from the college student scene by selling only craft beers, shunning Budweiser, Miller and even popular imported beverages.

Co-owner Brendan Hartranft said for Local 44, “It’s more important for us to be a West Philly bar.”

Hartranft added that the bar creates a “real sense of community” for its patrons. “We really hang our hat on being a place that is committed to the neighborhood first,” he said.

While Local 44 finds its niche with local residents, Smokey Joe’s finds its “primary customer base” in Penn students, Manager Kevin Dixon said.

Smoke’s was ranked the fourth-best college bar in America by in August.

Dixon said while many bars have come to campus in the last few decades, Smoke’s has remained popular for over 60 years because of its “sense of history.”

Though Dixon believes some other college bars let in underage students or encourage binge drinking, he thought that Smoke’s is a “classier” option with its strict ID policy.

He noted the friendliness of Smoke’s staff and the new kitchen and menu. “There’s always good service,” he said.

Patrick Christopher, head bar-back at the Blarney Stone, said that rankings are not always the reason people choose the bars they frequent. “It’s more friends than rankings,” he said.

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