“Scary bathrooms….” -Clutch

Caliente como el infierno; a summer night like many before. Thoughts swam across my mind while looming diversions kept us on the go. We scuffled down a stretch of road; one that had been traveled many nights before. A bead of sweat rolled down my cheek. I demanded a quiet departure from the norms of Olde City; something to counter the loud noises and excessive heat. Packed clubs weren’t the answer and dive bars just wouldn’t cut it. “Hey look, I found a library card on the ground,” Clutch interrupted handing me the card. I flipped it over. “What will Tina do now for her reading purposes Clutch?” With a stern look he nodded at me. We stopped at the corner of 3rd and Walnut. “Where are we?” Clutch asked. We were carelessly distracted by Tina’s book dilemma. I looked up and caught a glimpse of an ancient burnt out neon sign: Society Hill Hotel & Bar. We found our place.

As we drifted into Society Hill Hotel whispers crept down my spine. It was a ghost chasing itself; an old haunt in an ancient city. The interior matched a comforting daydream. A relaxed sunny day in Cuba; there the bar sits on the beach. Customers sipped their drinks, fanning themselves with fedoras. I had the sudden urge for a mojito and a pretty dame at my side. “Holy shit, it’s got monkey wall paper,” Clutch blurted out. The bars new name was Monkey Bar. Clever got the best of them here.

It was time to order up. The specials caught my eye, $3 PBR pounders and $3 Tecate It’s hard to resist a good beer at a cheap price. We sat down at one of the heavy wooden tables near the large windows. I stared out reminiscing of the good times people must have had over the last 200 years. If there were a piano player this place would be complete. “You know what this place reminds me of?” asked Clutch. “It belongs on the beach in Cuba,” I replied. “Exactly, and a bunch of dudes in white suits show up with metal briefcases…and you know what’s going down,” said Clutch. He was right. It had a feel I couldn’t quite touch and a strange smell that lurked in every corner. “What is that smell?” I asked. “Someone said something about seafood,” said Clutch. I figured it was a Hitchcock mystery in one of the hotel rooms. The building set a quiet creepy vibe to maximum. The unintentional effect domesticated the rowdy drunks that sucked back countless shots of tequila. Monkey Bar knew exactly what it was doing.

A quick urge came over me; I decided to check out the restroom. It was in the back and down two flights of stairs. I quietly tread down them until I reached a confined space. Two doors facing each other, two single room bathrooms. I knocked and carefully opened a door. The floor was missing in one of them. Rubber mats and phonebooks guarded the hole. An apology note stuck to the wall. “Sorry for the hole.” I was sorry too. I backed away slowly. I’d bet that some people would find all of it nostalgic. Old buildings mostly in tact, both rich in design and history…but there comes a point when you start expecting a guy with a hook for a hand to appear behind you.

The bottom line:

Hours:  5 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Crowd:  Casual
Music:  Background
Price range:  $$
Accepts Credit Cards:  No
ATM: Yes
Dance floor:  No
Outdoor area: Yes
Coat check: No

The Monkey Bar is a small quiet unassuming place. The place could probably tell a thousand stories. After all, it’s been around since the early 1800’s. They’ve got cafe style seating on the outside and a ton of drink specials. From what I was told they are big on seafood here too. If you’re looking for a good place to mellow out, maybe take a pretty gal on a relaxed evening, definitely check this one out.

Monkey Bar
(301) 3rd and Chestnut St. Philadelphia 19106

(They don’t have a site, at least not yet)