Bar-B-Que, Art & a Second Round at the Pedal Bar in Philadelphia

A second go-around on Big Red Pedal Tour's Old City Pub Crawl.
A second go-around on Big Red Pedal Tour’s Old City Pub Crawl.

I had a very action packed week last week. On the weekend of February 7th, I went to Philadelphia to celebrate my sister’s big 2-5 and then that following Wednesday flew down to Nashville for four days. I’ve basically spent the past two days living either at the gym or outside XC skiing in order to combat all the booze and bbq I ingested. Want to know something crazy? While I was below the Mason-Dixon for the majority of the week and BBQ is arguably a southern specialty,  the best food I ate came from our home state, Manayunk specifically.

The whole point of going to Philly was my sister’s birthday. I left immediately from work on Friday, which gets me to Philly around 5:30, which was an hour and a half before my sister got out of work, which meant I needed to find something to do with myself. I’m telling you all of this because that’s how I ended up at Deke’s Bar-b-Que at 443 Shur’s Lane in Manayunk (Philadelphia if you’re using a GPS of any sort) which was the best bbq of the week hand’s down. You might be wondering why I’m giving you the address (besides for the fact that I’m a travel blog and should, but I’m normally too lazy to do this)? It’s because Deke’s is rather hidden. I like how they phrase it on their website:

Deke’s in located in Roxborough/Manayunk at 443 Shurs Lane, between Roxborough’s Ridge Ave and Manayunk’s Main Street.  We are on a cobblestone parking lot in a former mechanic’s garage adjacent to the Ugly Moose.

It really is located in a parking hidden behind a row of homes. I’ve always been aware of Deke’s because my friends live in the row of homes that hides it, but for some reason, actually eating there has evaded me up until last weekend.

I’d also always mistakenly thought Deke’s was called “The Garage”, mostly because Deke’s is located in an old Garage, which makes for a very cool and intimate eating/drinking experience. I imagine it’s especially nice in the summer when they open the doors and let you eat open air style. Deke’s is in the process of opening a second take-out  location on Main Street in Manayunk.

I’m far from a foodie. I have the most basic of palates which is why I very infrequently review or discuss restaurants on here. That being said, I consider myself to be somewhat a connoisseur of barfood, wings and BBQ so would absolutely recommend traveling to Deke’s, not just eating there if you happen to be in town.

This is the type of food I get excited over. That's sort of a lie, I actually loathe fast food, with the exception of the McChicken which is God's food. I was excited that they came out with a buffalo ranch version, but it was a let down. There's a reason the original is a "crispy classic."
This is the type of food I get excited over. That’s sort of a lie, I actually loathe fast food, with the exception of the McChicken which is God’s food. I was excited that they came out with a buffalo ranch version, but it was a let down. There’s a reason the original is a “crispy classic.”

I had the pulled pork, which was delicious but if I’m being completely honest, what will have me coming back for more was the sides: mac n cheese, potato wedges and what may have been the most delicious cornbread I’ve ever had. I wish I had pictures for you, but it was not the type of food you sit and instagram before digging in. It was the type that made you engulf it as soon as it was placed in front of you. I just had Coors Lights because I still had to drive into the city, but Deke’s is famous for it’s mason jar cocktails which my friends and brother have assured me are delicious & potent. If you’re in the Philly area or if you just like good bbq, check out Deke’s. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. You can also rent the garage for private events, which would be a lot of fun.

The big star of the weekend was The Big Red Pedal Tour pubcrawl which we were planning on doing Saturday afternoon at 2:00 for Katelyn’s birthday. I’d done one in September and had a blast. You could read about the ins and outs of what the tour is here. Now you could rent out the entire pedicyle or purchase individual tickets. We’d thrown this celebration together somewhat last minute so opted on the latter. My cousin and sister’s best friend were coming down from Scranton, and so the four of us planned to pedal. Apparently you need more than three people for the pedicycle to ride and they called my sister to inform her of this fact the day before, before my cousin had decided she would be joining us. It would just be the four of us, she told us once we got to her apartment and started pregaming for the night, so we decided to make it our mission to text as many people as we could to try and fill it up.

We found the bulk of our new participants at an art show we briefly attended Friday night for Philadelphia’s First Friday celebrations. I’d never been to an art show before, and this one, held in Plume Salon on Girard Avenue, was fun and despite being an art novice, I was really impressed with the things that Dan Lisowski was showcasing. I’m not just saying this because he’s my cousin either, I enjoyed looking at his drawings. You could click on his link above to check out all of his stuff. After the show we went a few doors down to Johnny Brenda’s a hipstery corner bar & music venue in Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood, where we recruited some cousins to peddle with us the next day.

Johnny Brenda’s was only the first stop of the night and we all ended up waking up a little worse for the wear Saturday morning, but after a big breakfast, some it’s-not-delivery-it’s-DiGiorno lunch shortly afterand a lot of water and Gatorade, we pulled ourselves together and headed to Brownie’s Irish Pub, where the Big Red Pedal tour would come and pick us up.

Brownie’s is a cool little bar. It satisfies a lot of my “good bar” criteria: on the smaller side, touchtunes, cheap beer and an authentic Irish theme (the Pogues were playing when we walked in, which is more than I could ever say for Kildares). We enjoyed some brews and waited for our now expanded group of nine to assemble, before heading out onto the Pedicycle.


This experience was different than my previous ride in two big ways. The first was that we were pedaling in below freezing temperatures. You know what? I was barely cold. If anything I got somewhat sweaty (I think I must be in worse shape now, because my legs were legitimately sore the next day). The other was that I knew everyone on the tour. My friend Eric and I had fun when we did the pub crawl in September with 13 strangers, but this was more fun. While I recommend going on the pedal tour in whatever way you can, I highly recommend renting out the entire thing and making sure the group if composed exclusively with friends (or in my case, family).

Hanging outside McGillin's.
Hanging outside McGillin’s.

You hit Irish Pub, McGillin’s and end the tour at Mac’s Tavern. Our tour guide was Jessica, whom I’d talked with before writing my last post. She was a lot of fun and it was nice to finally put a name to a face. She’d also read on twitter that we were doing this for Katelyn’s birthday so was nice enough to give her a Big Red Pedal Tour t-shirt. Our driver was Bennett. He didn’t say much but was kind enough to rev the engine a little bit when we all got  tired (which happened way more than it should have for a group of 20-somethings).

#birthdayswag...I hated myself as soon as I typed it too, but I'm not deleting it.
#birthdayswag…I hated myself as soon as I typed it too, but I’m not deleting it.

We ended up staying at Mac’s for a good two hours or so after the tour stopped to get food and more drinks before walking right back down the street to Brownie’s where we stayed for the majority of the night. They have an upstairs room with darts and a pool table that we commandeered as a “private party” for my sister. We ended up briefly at Rotten Ralph’s and Fergie’s after that, but really probably should have just called it a night after leaving Brownie’s. Even so, it was one of the more fun weekends a had in a while, and a nice little training period for Nashville, which I’ll be posting about over the next two weeks.

Some post-pedal FIreball shots at Mac's Tavern. Question: when did Fireball become a thing?
Some post-pedal FIreball shots at Mac’s Tavern. Question: when did Fireball become a thing?

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