Washington Square West
110 S. 13th St., Washington Square West
This tiny Mediterranean spot is lively and typically packed, thanks to its incredible pizzas (think: red grapes, secret sauce, gorgonzola, arugula, prosciutto, toasted walnuts, and vincotto) and salads, like their watermelon and buffalo mozzarella offering. Dessert here is also a draw—they're known for their budoino (and once even offered their take on a Choco Tac, which was stuffed with frozen salted caramel budino). If you want a table for dinner, definitely make a reservation—seats at the bar are sometimes available if you just walk in.
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
1020 South St., Washington Square West
As its name suggests, this massive, interactive art installation—including indoor-outdoor galleries and a labyrinth—is, in fact, magical. Artist Isaiah Zagar works predominantly in mosaic, which he meticulously constructs from tiles, old plates, glass, old tires, and more (if his art looks familiar, you likely saw some of his smaller scale murals peppered throughout the city). You can easily see the entire space in under an hour, with plenty of time left over to explore the rest of the neighborhood. Pro tip: Grab your tickets online ahead of time.
1216 Walnut St., Washington Square West
Housed in a newer and larger location in Midtown Village (they’d been in Callowhill since 2010), this boutique run by husband-and-wife duo Kaz and Yuka Morihata is a veritable love song to their native Japan. Here, a thoughtful selection of porcelain, bento lunch boxes, yoshii towels, and Binchotan charcoal line the shelves. Don’t miss a sampling of the loose leaf tea, which is offered to you upon entering the shop—and easy to re-order thanks to their exhaustive online store should you find yourself hankering for it later.
121 S. 13th St., Washington Square West
With its upholstered booths and ample colorful lighting, El Vez is a reliably lively spot perfect for a big meal to share: The fairly extensive menu offers everything from crab and cactus salsa to a kale salad with vegan caesar dressing and cashew “parmesan” to sweet corn and poblano empanadas. Margaritas here are excellent—you can't go wrong with the classic, but they're known for the frozen blood orange. You can sometimes find a seat at the bar while you’re waiting for a table, but to avoid a wait at dinner, it’s best to make a reservation.
McGillin’s Olde Ale House
1310 Drury St., Washington Square West
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.
412 S. 13th St., Washington Square West
Three locations strong (two in Philly, one in Westport), this Italian spot serves up solid, fresh dishes. Restauranteurs Jeff Benjamin, Marc Vetri, Brad Spence, and Jeff Michaud opened the first location back in 2010, which quickly garnered a crowd. We recommend making a res, as it’s often packed, especially on a weekend night. Order the baked pecorino with almond honey and the bucatini with almond pesto. It's a little pricey, but is an excellent experience overall.