Thirsty Scholar

S'mores and pumpkin mini-cupcakes courtesy 111 Bakery, a neighbor

This place, a beer-wine-coffee bar, has no secrets: Its two external walls are top-to-bottom windows, which often fog up entirely on cold winter nights. What the Thirsty Scholar does have is an old-timey feel, in the best way; vintage hard-cover books and globes take up residence on the shelves behind the bar. Some members of the waitstaff sport rolled-up sleeves and vests, sometimes accessorized with newsboy caps. Nestled on the corner of 16th and Delaware streets downtown, this spot serves as both a throwback in time and a neighborhood watering hole that feels entirely elsewhere.

The food is simple: meat-and-cheese plates, a vegetable tray, and so on. Desserts from the neighboring 111 Cakery include a fluffy S’mores cupcake and a delicious pumpkin version in autumn. Brews range from the expected (Sun King) to the hard-to-find (Three Floyds Gumballhead, while supplies last, of course). What sets Thirsty Scholar apart is its tone and feel: throwback-silhouette bathroom signage, dark hardwood furnishings, and brown hues abound. The place, its staff, and its patrons have a low-key but decidedly proud swagger about them, without ever visibly swaggering. Simply put, people come here to tastefully have fun and throw back a few glasses.

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