The Philadelphia Guide
Recently, the City of Brotherly Love has become a hybrid of old and new, classic and cool—experiencing a renaissance of its own. Take, for instance, Fishtown: The neighborhood once known for commercial fishing has seen an influx of some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, and art galleries, offering a destination for young professionals and creatives alike–and giving Philly a whole new, revitalized feel. But at its core, Philadelphia is a city that runs on a medley of loyalty, tradition, and so much history. There are the sports fans—diehards for their Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers—the ever-famous (rightfully so) cheesesteaks, and the deep-rooted historical context—after all, it was here where most of the American Revolution was devised and the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. For the teeniest tourists, the city’s landmarked buildings and cobblestone streets lend endless opportunities for exploration and surprise history lessons, not to mention, refresher courses for the adults.
1 Tippling Place2006 Chestnut St., Rittenhouse | 215.665.0456
1 Tippling Place is furnished with a variety of antiques and estate sale finds like floral couches and leather chairs, which makes it feel more like an eclectic neighborhood coffee shop than a stuffy cocktail lounge. The homey bar in the back is manned by owner Anne Frey, a local institution who makes all of her cocktails from scratch, with syrups that are mixed-in house and ingredients that change with the seasons.
Cook253 S. 20th St., Rittenhouse | 215.735.2665
In an intimate, 16-seat exhibition space, local chefs like Malik Ali of the Dutch, Matt Kemp of Shoon Sushi, and Peter Scarola of R2L put their cooking skills to work on a monthly basis. (See the full list of classes here.) The retail arm stocks an exhaustive assortment of cookbooks, kitchen gadgetry for every skill level, plus produce from Fishtown-based Green Aisle Grocery.
Frankfort Hall1210 Frankford Ave., Fishtown | 215.634.3338
Perfect for day drinking when it’s nice out, this German-style beer garden has everything you’d hope it would: ample outdoor seating in the form of picnic benches (and outdoor heaters, plus space inside, for when it’s chilly), some greenery, a lots of German beer served in steins, and really good giant pretzels. Their menu also includes schnitzel and six different types of sausages, among some other gems—plus, they’ve got classic games on deck like ping-pong and Jenga.
Franklin Bar112 S. 18th St., RIttenhouse | 267.467.3277
This is one of those places where you can literally feel the history once you walk in–and it's obvious why: It was once the site of one of the largest-running underground alcohol operations during prohibition, using "The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company" as its front. The drinks still run today, but with a much more artisanal bent: The bar staff serves up some of the best cocktails in the city, including an Old Fashioned that can't be missed.
Headhouse Farmers MarketS. 2nd and Lombard St., Society Hill | 215.575.0444
This year-round farmers' market features more than 40 local vendors offering some of the best produce from the surrounding area. Located in the historic Society Hill neighborhood and Run by The Food Trust, a Philly-based non-profit that works to make fresh, healthy food accessible in the city, this is one of Philly's largest and most popular markets. There's also several food trucks–including on not-to-be-missed lemonade stand–parked within the mix.
La Colombe1335 Frankford Ave., Fishtown | 267.479.1600
Todd Carmichael has coffee in his roots. Well before founding La Colombe in Philly, a boutique coffee company and café that has sparked a sort of coffee revolution, with its canned draft lattes and pure black varieties, he lived in Seattle where he worked at a café that later became Starbucks. The businessman and traveler partnered with JP Iberti to start La Colombe with the goal of bringing sustainable, good coffee to the masses. In Philly, you can sip their brews at their locations in Fishtown, Rittenhouse Square (their first brick-and-mortar shop), Dilworth Plaza, and Independence Mall. Not in the city? They’re also in Boston, NYC, Chicago, DC, and LA, as well as on the shelves at various health food stores.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House1310 Drury St., Washington Square West | 215.735.5562
This place is a classic, both in the sense that it’s been around forever (it opened in 1860!), and also in the sense that it has all the reliable hallmarks of the perfect Irish bar: the likely suspects on tap, plus some local brews, the food you want to eat while drinking beer, and lots of loyal regulars. Note: It’s not a sports bar per se, but it’s a great place to watch a game if you can find a seat.
Philly Style Bagels1451 E. Columbia Ave., Fishtown
What’s a Philly-style bagel? According to bakers Collin Shapiro and Jonathon Zilber, it’s boiling the dough in beer-spiked water. The resulting bagel is crispy on the outside and pillow-y on the inside with a delicate malty flavor. For purists, have your sesame, poppy, garlic, onion, salt, everything, or plain bagel simply toasted with spread (smoked salmon is a favorite). For the adventurous, there are bagel sandwiches—from hummus and veggie to BLT.
Reading Terminal Market51 N. 12th St., Center City | 215.922.2317
Philadelphia has a long market history, the first informal iterations having appeared in the 1680’s. Reading Terminal was formed from a few different markets and opened in 1892; train service began the following year. The last train left Reading Terminal in 1984, but the market lives on. Today, people come here for excellent produce, meat, cheese, specialty chocolate, flowers, and gifts—and the legendary soft pretzels from Miller’s Twist.
Standard Tap901 N. 2nd St., Northern Liberties | 215.238.0630
Considered to be sort of ahead-of-its-time, this gastropub opened New Years’ Eve of 1999 and has been a local favorite ever since. (It's not exactly a secret, though, so there are plenty of out-of-towners at any given time.) Standard is known for a constantly updated and varied beer selection that only includes locally produced draft beers; but the vibe is unpretentious, and the split-level building is comfortably both large and cozy. As a bonus, the pub’s food is pretty great, if you’re in the mood for indulgent classics like chicken pie and pulled pork sandwiches—and the kitchen is open until 1 a.m.
Ultimo Coffee2149 Catharine, Southwest Center City | 215.545.3565
Ultimo was early to the Philadelphia coffee scene and remains a favorite, in part because they keep things fun with tastings and coffee competitions. The original location, in the Newbold neighborhood, shares a roof with a specialty craft beer shop called Brew—a setup as perfectly hip as it sounds. (Ultimo now has a roastery/lab in this neighborhood, too.) The second spot is just a couple miles north in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.
Weckerly9 W. Girard Ave., Fishtown | 215.423.2000
If you had to describe an ice cream shop as “cute as a button” this would be it: Here, in a pocket of Fishtown, husband-and-wife duo Andy and Jen Satinsky lovingly churn out French-style ice cream one batch at a time. The organic cream comes from Seven Stars Farm in Chester County and the eggs from nearby Sandy Ridge—plus they’ll incorporate fresh and in-season ingredients, so no two batches are totally alike. This summer, standouts included blueberry breakfast (cinnamon toast oat ice cream plus blueberry swirl) and summer jam, a chocolate ice cream with marshmallow fluff. The ice cream sandwiches, like blueberry on a cardamom graham cracker are pretty epic, too.