Democratic National Convention: Where to Eat, Drink and Party in Philadelphia

9:00 AM 7/22/2016

by Ashley Primis

Held July 25-28 at Wells Fargo Center, the DNC will make Hillary Clinton America's first female major party presidential nominee as various events around town feature Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz and Alicia Keys.

DNC_Wells Fargo Center - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

DNC_Wells Fargo Center - Getty - H 2016

Rocky might have immortalized Philadelphia's grit on the silver screen, but the city has come a long way since those hardscrabble days. Thanks to Top Chefs, new public spaces, shiny skyscrapers and the pope's September visit, the City of Brotherly Love is getting a lot of it. More than 50,000 delegates, politicians, members of the media and Bernie diehards are expected to descend on South Philly to make Hillary Clinton America's first female major party presidential nominee. The Democrats' big confab will be held July 25 to 28 at the Wells Fargo Center, where the 76ers and Flyers play, and will see a host of political and Hollywood stars take the stage: Barack and Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Eva Longoria, Debra Messing, Tony Goldwyn, Star Jones, America Ferrera and Demi Lovato all are scheduled to appear, along with former NBA stars Jason Collins and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  The city put up a no-drive parameter around a huge chunk of downtown when the pope came but won't go to those lengths for the DNC — though the blocks around the area will be closed off and airspace restrictions will be in effect.

  • Stay

    Rumor has it the Obamas will stay at The Rittenhouse hotel in Rittenhouse Square (Oprah, Mick Jagger and President George H.W. Bush have racked there). AKA Rittenhouse Square, the upscale extended-stay suites where Richard Gere, Jennifer Lawrence and Miley Cyrus have slept, just announced it will take daily reservations during the event. Even if you aren't staying at Hotel Monaco in Old City, grab a drink at Stratus Lounge, the rooftop bar across the street from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and try to spot all 57 of the painted donkeys that have been installed around town, one for each delegation.

  • Eat

    Though he's been concentrating his efforts in NYC for the past two years, prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr makes sure his Philadelphia spots teem with diners. In fact, Hollywood, Washington and Silicon Valley bigwigs already have booked private parties at three Starr spots: Talula's Garden, which has a verdant outdoor dining and drinking patio; French-y Parc (native Bradley Cooper has lunched there); and Butcher and Singer, a clubby, private steakhouse where Robert De Niro has dined with wife Grace Hightower. Newly opened Double Knot has a coffee shop and cafe upstairs and a candlelit sushi and robatayaki restaurant downstairs; it's owned by chef Michael Schulson and fiancee Nina Tinari, who worked for Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell for six years. Philly pols have a tradition of celebrating wins at Famous 4th Street Deli in Queen Village, which has been serving corned beef sandwiches and rugelach for more than 90 years.

  • Drink

    The state Congress is trying to pass a law to keep bars open past 2 a.m. during the convention, but if not, last call is taken seriously here. Hop Sing Laundromat in Chinatown is the most sought-after cocktail bar in the city — that is, if you can find it. Be forewarned: No baseball hats, sneakers or phone photos allowed. Stellar cocktails also are served at Ranstead Room, The Franklin Bar and Martha. But the most exclusive sip is at The Union League, a private club built in the 1800s that still pulls in presidents, heads of state, entertainers and industrialists.

  • Where the Stars Will Shine

    Politico HUB

    The expanding political news organization is camping out at 2 Commerce Square and offering daily briefings, watch parties and panel discussions, including a July 25 invite-only session with Alicia Keys, who will speak (about criminal justice reform and civil rights) and perform. (The RNC Politico HUB at 925 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland so far looks to be less glittery.)

    Creative Coalition Benefit Gala

    Fergie will perform at this July 27 fundraiser at a location to be determined.

    'Camden Rising'

    George Norcross — arguably New Jersey's most powerful player in Democratic politics — is hosting a free (albeit invite-only) concert July 28 at the BB&T Pavilion on the Jersey side of the Delaware River. Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz and DJ Jazzy Jeff will perform in the hours before Clinton is expected to take the stage. Guests will be a mix of delegates, big-name elected officials (and maybe their daughters, wink, wink) and party leaders from many states.

    Unity Party

    On July 28 — the DNC's final night — three Super PACs (Priorities USA, the Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC) are co-hosting a private event at the Electric Factory headlined by vocal Hillary supporter Snoop Dogg.