More Culture:

February 25, 2015

10 iconic Philadelphia bathrooms

From wow to lowbrow

Design Restaurants
Tattooed Mom Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The coveted bathroom at Tattooed Mom.

Judge a book by its cover, and a bar by its bathroom. But things are not always as they seem when it comes to finding a place to do your business. A lavatory is more than the sum of its parts; it's a hole-in-the-wall, a place to cry and even a religious experience. It's nice soap and graffiti. It's catcalls and cartoons. Add a two-way mirror, and you're in a world within a world -- a secret meeting of the minds, from designer to denizen, fine-dining to dive. So grab a lipstick or a pen, and make your presence known. 

Sassafras Bar

Inspired by the original bar's decor (think freestanding bathtub), this living-room-style design was conceived by local artist Alison Dilworth. Sitting pretty on a sofa gives girls "somewhere to go sit and chat," said owner Neill Laughlin.

48 S. 2nd St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

Tattooed Mom

Upstairs, floor-to-ceiling laminate chaos works its way into the stalls. Owner Robert Perry describes the bar's second floor as an "indoor, uncurated, anarchistic gallery of street art." Artists like Hanksy and Shepard Fairey have left their marks there, but a plaque by local sign painter Christian Cantiello was commissioned to help visitors find their way within. 

530 South St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

Continental Mid-town

A two-way mirror by Shawn Hausman Design lets passersby check you out while you check out yourself. General manager Justin Weathers demonstrates the outsider's vantage point at this Stephen Starr staple. 

1801 Chestnut St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

Cheu Noodle Bar

A pop-art collage adorns the walls of the W.C. at Shawn Darragh and Ben Puchowitz's Japanese eatery. "We cut out magazine articles and pictures and pasted them on the walls. Homemade!" said Darragh. 

255 S. 10th St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

Bean Cafe

Illustrator Bodie Chewning "massaged" stickers inspired by Japanese cartooning and comic book art onto the hallway leading to the basement stalls. He calls this wall a "crowd shot" of mutants."That's when they all seem alive to me," Chewning said, "when they're all clumped together and in a group, in a kind of rabble." 

615 South St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

National Mechanics

Kate Swan, wife of owner Darren Hill, designed and built these spidery copper pipes worthy of grapevine gossip. "I kept thinking of this continuous craziness," Swan said. Her design recalls the gears-turning intro of a childhood cartoon. 

22 S. 3rd St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

McGlinchey's Bar

At this downtown dive, tagging is the name of the game. "Some people think it's very interesting, some people think it’s dirty and disgusting. You get the two ends of the spectrum," said Shelly McGlinchey, bartender and relative of the owner. 

259 S. 15th St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice


The blackboard in Philly's happening-est gay bar usually fills up after 10 p.m. and on weekends, when the lights go dim on inhibitions. Advice ranges from lewd to shrewd, said manager Charlie Gill: "'Ask your bartender about his third nipple! Try to avoid talking about the fourth one, he's sensitive.'"

254 S. 12th St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

Elixr Coffee Shop

Originally a World War II-era factory fire door, this heavy metal slider brings an element of solidity to an alleyway stop. "It's definitely much more masculine in design than most other places," said designer Niko Dyshniku of Kole Made.

207 S. Sydenham St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice

El Azteca Uno

Sixteen years ago, a wall separating these too-close-together toilets in the ladies' room was knocked down to make room. Now, you're hand-holding distance from your partner in line. 

714 Chestnut St. Thom Carroll / For PhillyVoice