• Sunday , 21 January 2018

Bok Bar Mixes Hipsters, Booze, Vietnamese and Filipino Food with Stunning Views

Photos, story by Cassie Hepler

General Manager Stephen Yaeger was working with Steven Starr before his restaurants were mega mogul money makers, about 12 years ago when there were only four fledgling restaurants.

And when a powerhouse of that size starts looking to NYC for inspiration, it’s time to jump ship and start new ventures.

That’s why we love Yaeger and his entrepreneurial spirit. He likes to take a risk… and get shit done. Previously they had a seasonal pass from the city for the hippest buzz of last season named Le Bok Fin (a pun on the now closed French restaurant Le Bec Fin). Now they are officially Bok, the rooftop bar and snack venue is back in action and if Yaeger has any say in it, they will keep roof toppin’ until January.

The former Edward W. Bok School hosts a variety of surprising businesses and is a huge stone goliath of a building. The menu fits the name with the Vietnamese and Filipino dishes from chef Ronan Libunao. A medley of bánh mí sandwiches are available, sesame balls and some sweet spot items, all priced under $10. And that was the point, to keep the prices low and the crowd eclectic (hipsters, old folks, young professionals and “normies” as the kids call them). The drinks are the same, affordable for craft beer/Philly prices from $5 to $6 and wines per glass $7.50 to $9 or by the bottle.

When you roll up to the doors, your GPS will lead you here. Go around the building to the left and you will find the entrance. There is a helpful sign posted here.

When you roll up to the doors, your GPS will lead you here. Go around the building to the left of this entrance, take a right and you will find the real entrance. There is a helpful sign posted here telling you where to go as well.

This is where you go inside, the giant gate will open a little after 6 p.m. but a line was already forming.

This is where you go inside, the giant gate will open a little after 6 p.m. but a line was already forming.

On your left when you get inside, check out the psychedelic art exhibit surely much more so after a few brews. There is also a store MAARKet which sells independent Philadelphia labels such as Bok tenant Lobo Mau.

Once you wind your way through the halls and up the elevator, the attendant said he loves to see people's faces when they walk out. We were impressed.

Once you wind your way through the halls and up the elevator, the attendant said he loves to see people’s faces when they walk out. We were impressed.

A view from the right of the rooftop, eight floors up.

A view from the right of the rooftop, eight floors up.

The area is huge and long - a comfy 425 people can fit here even though technically more could, Yaeger wants it not to resemble a mosh pit.

The area is huge and long – a comfy 425 people can fit here even though technically more could, Yaeger wants it not to resemble a mosh pit.

The decor is very sparse and minimalist which makes sense in a weather heavy space.

The decor is very sparse and quite minimalist which makes sense in a weather heavy space.

I wanted bubbles and rose and guess what? They had it, nice and tart on a hot sunny day.

I wanted bubbles and rose and guess what? They had it, nice and tart on a hot sunny day.

The beer list was solid as well, we sampled our way through it like this No. 3.

The beer list was solid as well, we sampled our way through it like this No. 3 tangy india pale ale.

A few of the ladies waiting in line to get a good seat were enjoying themselves and the view.

A few of the ladies waiting in line to get a good seat were enjoying themselves and the view.

At the other end of the bar is... another bar!

At the other end of the bar is… another bar!

The old school building's architecture is gorgeous to look at as well.

The old school building’s architecture is gorgeous to look at as well.

A view from the left of the rooftop doesn't disappoint as well.

A view from the left of the rooftop doesn’t disappoint as well.

But let's face it, Center City views are where it's at!

But let’s face it, Center City views are where it’s at!

A hazy, warm summer day in the city promising a beautiful sunset each different from the rest.

A hazy, warm summer day in the city promising a beautiful sunset each different from the rest.

A view from the other side of the bar.

A view from the other side of the bar.

I had moved on to the straight up rose at this point.

I had moved on to the straight up rose at this point.

The food and drink list on a very school like letter board.

The drink list on a very school like letter board.

Seriously though, don't mess your unborn up yo!

Seriously though, don’t mess your unborn up yo!

During the day, look into people's windows. At night, enjoy the twinkling lights.

During the day, look into people’s windows. At night, enjoy the twinkling lights.

A solid yet minimal menu. Yaeger said he wasn't sold on the pancakes but when he sampled them, he ate nine. We tried to as well.

A solid yet minimal menu. Yaeger said he wasn’t sold on the pancakes but when he sampled them, he ate nine. We tried to as well.

Super delicious and greasy scallion pancakes. We may have ordered another plate.

Super delicious and greasy scallion pancakes. We may have ordered another plate.

Some seriously sweet, doughy and tasty hot steamy sesame balls. Also addicting, we ordered another pair.

Some seriously sweet, doughy and tasty hot steamy sesame balls. Also addicting, we ordered another pair.

Pork, tofu and beef bánh mí sandwiches with some spice on top. Not usually a veggie lover, I loved the tofu and it's creamy yet crispy texture. Paper plates and plastic cups are kind of a necessity when dealing with drunk people on a rooftop.

Pork, tofu and beef bánh mí sandwiches with some spicy peppers on top. Not usually a veggie lover, I loved the tofu and it’s creamy yet crispy texture. Paper plates and plastic cups are kind of a necessity when dealing with drunk people on a rooftop.

About an hour later, the place started really filling up.

About an hour later, the place started really filling up.

People were flocking to every once empty table.

People were flocking to every once empty table.

A view looking down onto the school below and the little ant looking people.

A view looking down onto the school below and the little ant looking people.

Back to the drinks! We kept in line with the rose, and got some tasty porter.

Back to the drinks! We kept in line with the rose, and got some tasty Great Lakes porter.

Two winning drinks of the night were the chardonnay and the

Two winning drinks of the night were the chardonnay and the Left Hand Brewing Co.’s ginger infused Good Juju, a perfect summer beer.

A selfie step for people to get the maximum sunset bang for their buck.

A selfie step for people to get the maximum sunset bang for their buck.

As soon as the sun started setting low in the sky, everyone flocked to the left of the rooftop to capture those hues.

As soon as the sun started setting low in the sky, everyone flocked to the left of the rooftop to capture those hues.

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Philadelphia skyline at sunset.

We were glad to oblige a gaggle of cute girls wanting that stellar photo of the skyline.

We were glad to oblige a gaggle of cute girls wanting that stellar photo of the skyline.

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These guys were adorable and hilarious fresh from softball practice.

These guys were adorable and hilarious fresh from softball practice.

The sun is almost gone!

The sun is almost gone!

Everyone has their cell phones out to capture the beauty of mother nature.

Everyone has their cell phones out to capture the beauty of mother nature.

An older couple fits right in and watches the sunset together.

An older couple fits right in and watches the sunset together.

All Day IPA is good for day or night drinking and a super sweet ginger ale to settle the stomach in the summer heat (other non-alcoholic options are available as well).

All Day IPA is good for day or night drinking and a super sweet ginger ale to settle the stomach in the summer heat (other non-alcoholic options are available as well).

This guy was recording the sunset on his tiny tripod and we were stalking his video.

This guy was recording the sunset on his tiny tripod and we were stalking his video.

The bomb.com Jackfruit popsicles were melting all over the place, eventually becoming a sort of slushie that we drank.

The bomb.com chunky and chewy Jackfruit popsicles were melting all over the place, eventually becoming a sort of slushie that we drank.

These banana fritters are fantastic, just wait for them to cool off first. Crunchy, creamy and dreamy especially at sunset.

These banana fritters are fantastic, just wait for them to cool off first. Crunchy, creamy and dreamy especially at sunset.

Sometimes you forget how expansive and beautiful the sunset is at night in the city.

Sometimes you forget how expansive and beautiful the sunset is at night in the city.

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Until next time Bok, stay cool. Or rather don’t and give us an Indian summer please!

 

 

 

 

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