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Sep 8 2017

Philadelphia's Food Corridors Offer Neighborhood Dining At Its Best

Philly’s Food Scene Extends From Center City’s Thriving Streets To Farther-Out Fare

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods—and spot-on neighborhood dining. Thriving restaurant rows have emerged across Philly, offering eaters a place to dine and explore, and explore and dine. Within view of City Hall, Midtown Village’s chic 13th Street is home to Mexican, Spanish, Mediterranean, Japanese and all-American bistros. On the other side of the Schuylkill River, steps from the University of Pennsylvania’s historic campus, West Philly’s ever-international Baltimore Avenue is dotted with hyper-local coffee shops and markets, plus Thai, Laotian, Ethiopian, Middle Eastern, Indian and West African eateries. Trendy Fishtown is home to artisan-fueled, night-on-the-town operations. And South Philadelphia’s thoughtfully renewed East Passyunk Avenue showcases one Top Chef—among many top chefs. Here’s a list of Philadelphia neighborhoods known for their exciting dining scenes.

Center City Food Corridors:
• 13th Street/Midtown Village/Washington Square West, between 7th & Broad Streets and Market & Pine Streets
Known by these three names—and also lovingly nicknamed “the Gayborhood”—the busy urban district tucked between Old City and City Hall is a foodie haven. Chef Marcie Turney and partner Valerie Safran run a mini empire along 13th Street, with Lolita, Jamonera, Grocery, Barbuzzo, Bud & Marilyn’s—plus two shops, Open House and Verde, which happens to have its own chocolate studio. Also in the mix: chef Michael Schulson’s Double Knot, part underground izakaya, part coffee and Vietnamese food bar. Nearby are vegan hotspot Charlie was a sinner. and vegan destination Vedge, chef Marc Vetri’s first and finest Italian destination spot, Vetri, and, closer to Washington Square, tiny, terrific Cheu Noodle Bar.
Chinatown, between 9th & 12th Streets and Arch & Vine Streets
One of the nation’s oldest, most textured Asian neighborhoods—just on the edge of the city’s colonial-era Historic District—continues to delight modern diners with Sichuan, Cantonese, Burmese, Vietnamese, Japanese and so much more traditional to modern fare. Highlights include a new, do-it-all food hall (Chinatown Square), authentic dim sum (Dim Sum Garden), early-morning pastry shops (Bread Top House, St. Honoré), banh mi (QT), hand-drawn noodles (Nan Zhou, Spice C) and late-night (David’s Mai Lai Wah, Red Kings 2) noshes.
• Old City, between the Delaware River & 6th Street and Walnut & Race Streets
Art galleries, independent shops, students and restaurants pioneered the revival of this Historic District neighborhood, home to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House—and some very modern eating. Among Old City’s culinary trailblazers: Fork, Buddakan, the Continental and Chlöe. Today, the neighborhood is also home base for top 2017 James Beard award winner Michael Solomonov, who runs Israeli Zahav. Crawling with pubs and clubs, the blocks between 3rd and Front Streets and Market and Chestnut Streets bustle with bar hoppers. In season, the neighborhood’s beer garden scene includes riverside Spruce Street Harbor Park and Morgan’s Pier and, just across 6th Street from the Liberty Bell, Independence Beer Garden.
• Rittenhouse Square, between Broad Street & Schuylkill River and Market & Pine Streets
This busy, tony shopping and business district grew up around a verdant, seven-acre park. The neighborhood keeps as busy as ever after dark, when diners and drinkers flood sidewalks in search of food and fun. Some of the city’s most prolific restaurateurs have a strong presence here: Ellen Yin’s a. kitchen & bar, Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov’s Abe Fisher, Rooster Soup, Dizengoff and Goldie’s; Sam Mink’s Sansom Street Oyster House and Mission Taqueria; Jose Garces’ Tinto, Village Whiskey and Volvér; 2017 James Beard “Outstanding Restaurateur” Stephen Starr’s The Dandelion, Parc, Butcher and Singer, Continental Mid-town and El Rey; vegan chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s V Street and Wiz Kid; and Michael Schulson’s Harp & Crown. The neighborhood has no shortage of independent operations, too, such as veteran bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) Audrey Claire, longtime sidewalk bistro Rouge and 2017 James Beard “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” Greg Vernick’s Vernick Food & Drink.

South Philly:
• Bella Vista/9th Street Italian Market, between 6th & 11th Streets and South Street & Washington Avenue

Bella Vista is the traditionally Italian neighborhood south of Center City. Within the neighborhood is the historic, gritty, open-air 9th Street Market (between Catharine and Federal Streets), where browsers are just as likely to find Mexican tortillas (Tortilleria San Roman), tacos (El Compadre/South Philly Barbacoa, Taqueria La Veracruzana) and pastries (Las Lomas) as they are Italian cheeses (Claudio’s, Di Bruno Bros), breads (Sarcone’s) and meats (Esposito’s). Another Italian Market can’t miss: Fante’s, the country’s oldest kitchen supply store.
• East Passyunk Avenue, between Washington Avenue & McKean Street
Just beyond South Philly cheesesteak vendors Pat’s and Geno’s, this diagonal stretch of old-time shops and brick row homes retains its Italian-American roots while expanding into impressive culinary territory. On the “Ave,” Top Chef Nick Elmi operates elegant Laurel and edgy ITV, and pretty Fond and handsome Townsend showcase brilliant American cuisine. Chef’s chef Christopher Kearse does seasonal French beautifully at Will BYOB. Abruzzi Le Virtù plays on the neighborhood’s geographic roots, as does its sibling pizzeria, Brigantessa. Saté Kampar showcases authentic Indonesian fare; Noord puts a modern twist on classic Scandinavian fare.
• South Street/Queen Village, between Front & 6th Streets and South Street &
Washington Avenue

Cheesesteaks, pizza and other fast fare pepper colorful South Street, the hippie-made, teen-loved, quirky stretch that divides Center City and South Philly. Still, the street is also known for destination dining in Serpico. South Street serves as a border to charming and residential Queen Village, where eaters enjoy elegant tavern dining in Southwark, traditional French cuisine at Bistrot La Minette, overstuffed sandwiches at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, and deliciously rustic seasonal fare all-day at Hungry Pigeon.
• Washington Avenue, between Front Street & Grays Ferry Avenue
What this four-lane, industrial thoroughfare lacks in charm, it makes up for in culinary variety. Thriving Asian shopping centers straddle the historic 9th Street Italian Market (see above), offering a wealth of authentic, affordable Vietnamese fare (Pho 75, Nam Phuong, Pho Ha, to name a few). The avenue is home to one of the city’s first brick-and-mortar taquerias (Veracruzana) and two of Philly’s most popular taco trucks (Taco Loco and Tacos El Rodeo). West of Broad Street standouts include Mexican bistro Café Ynez, pizza pub newcomer Chick’s and cozy soul food restaurant Aprons.

West Philly:
• Baltimore Avenue, between 43rd & 50th Streets
A college town-feeling, bohemian spirit of diversity, optimism and openness are hallmarks of this stretch of West Philadelphia. Diners here experience the city’s best Senegalese (Youma, Killamandjaro), Ethiopian (Abyssinia, Dahlak, Gojjo), Pakistani (Mood Café), Mediterranean (Aksum), Laotian (Vientiane Café), modern soul (Booker’s) food and then some.

River Wards:
• Fishtown/Northern Liberties, Fishtown: between the Delaware River, Frankford Avenue and York Street; Northern Liberties: between Callowhill Street & Girard Avenue and the Delaware River & 6th Street
These onetime industrial neighborhoods north of Old City have seen changes in recent years, adding into the mix residential lofts, edgy retail and happening restaurants. Newer culinary residents include international coffee roaster La Colombe, whose Frankford Avenue flagship includes a rum distillery; Kensington Quarters, a butcher shop-brasserie; exclusive, Italian-influenced Wm. Mulherin’s Sons; pioneering local beer pubs Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s; some of the world’s best pizza (Pizzeria Beddia); and ice cream entrepreneurs Little Baby’s and quirky pizzeria/pizza museum, Pizza Brain.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

 

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