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Nov 15 2015

What's In The Fairmount And Spring Garden Neighborhoods?

Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Shops & Things To Do In The Fairmount & Spring Garden Neighborhoods

Just near the renowned institutions that line the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s Fairmount and Spring Garden neighborhoods are often lumped together and dubbed the “Art Museum area,” but the personalities of these laid-back districts separate them from nearby Center City.

Fairmount easily stands on its own as a destination in Philadelphia. Despite its proximity to downtown, the residential neighborhood is considered a sort of urban suburb, thanks to the friendly residents and atmosphere. What to do here? Eat, drink and tour the former prison-turned-attraction.

Wedged between the cultural powerhouses of the Parkway and the better-known Fairmount, Spring Garden distinguishes itself and complements both neighboring districts. Beautiful Victorian architecture, constructed for wealthy industrialists during the second half of the 19th century, mixes with a decidedly relaxed vibe. Recent and continuing developments, particularly around its North Broad Street border, are generating buzz for the official historic district.

Neighborhood tips, itineraries and maps are available at

Restaurants & Bars:

  • Alla Spina – James Beard-lauded chef Marc Vetri keeps to his Italian roots for this garage-style gastropub. The brew crowd comes for craft beers on 20 taps, including an exclusive Victory house beer and Italian craft beers not found anywhere else in the city, and in 75 bottles, while foodies swear by the meat-heavy menu that includes pig tails with fennel agrodolce and sausage cheesesteak on a pretzel roll. Warm-weather alfresco tables, happy-hour specials and Sunday brunch add to the draw. 1410 Mt. Vernon Street, (215) 600-0017,
  • Angelino’s Restaurant & Pizzeria – Those craving pasta with homemade sauce, oven-baked pizzas, fresh sandwiches and a neighborhood atmosphere go to this bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) shop. 849 N. 25th Street, (215) 787-9945,
  • The Belgian Café – From the same people responsible for lauded beer bar Monk’s Café, this spot maintains a selection of cool and interesting beers on tap, as well as an extensive knowledge of mussels. During the warmer months, the outdoor seating makes a prime people-watching spot. 21st & Green Streets, (215) 235-3500,
  • The Bishop’s Collar – “The Collar” is a great place to grab a quick bite during the day, and it’s an even better place to drink and make new friends at night—thanks in part to one of the best jukeboxes in the city. 2349 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 765-1616,
  • BlueCat – The husband-and-wife restaurant veterans who own this sunny BYOB share their love of Latin food, along with their affection for their cats, who are depicted in photos and a huge mural. The lunch, dinner and brunch dishes range from empanadas and arroz con pollo y chorizo to salads and sandwiches. 1921 Fairmount Avenue, (267) 519-2911,
  • Bridgid’s Bar & Restaurant – This cozy Irish pub specializes in Italian food, Belgian beers and an extensive local and imported beer list. The late-night Shut Up ’n’ Eat special offers guests a midnight snack (the chef’s choice) for $5 Monday through Friday, 11 p.m. to midnight. 726 N. 24th Street, (215) 232-3232,
  • Buena Onda – Part of Jose Garces’ family of restaurants, this Baja Peninsula-inspired eatery offers a menu of sustainable seafood that aims to satiate customers while doing good for Philadelphia’s immigrant community. Fifty cents of every guacamole or water ordered goes to the Garces Foundation non-profit. Also satisfying: the fish tacos made with Atlantic mahi mahi served on house-made flour tortillas and the quesadilla stuffed with tofu chorizo. 1901C Callowhill Street, (215) 302-3530,
  • Dasiwa – Part coffee shop, part sushi spot, this BYOB serves it all, from lattes to sashimi to noodles to an assortment of desserts and baked goods. Also open for lunch, Dasiwa invites people to enjoy a break after taking in a museum or two. 735 N. 26th Street, (267) 761-9523,
  • Doma – This 35-seat Japanese BYOB—with Korean influences—serves lunch and dinner to in-the-know neighbors. Diners rave that the hot-stone bibimbap rivals anything found in Chinatown. 1822 Callowhill Street, (215) 564-1114,
  • Fare – Dedicated to healthy, local (and when possible, organic) food, Fare’s lunch, brunch and dinner menus feature small plates, salads and main courses sure to keep a diner’s conscience clear. During the warmer months, patrons can enjoy their food on the outdoor patio, surrounded by a vertical herb garden. 2028 Fairmount Avenue, (267) 639-3063,
  • Figs – Still a relatively well-kept neighborhood secret, this cozy corner BYOB dishes out Mediterranean food in an authentic Moroccan setting. 2501 Meredith Street, (215) 978-8440,
  • Gyu-Kaku – The restaurant cooks Japanese barbecue over a flaming grill. Not sure about the authentic yakiniku (“grilled meat”) dining experience? No worries. Helpful staff guide patrons with ease through their a la carte orders, which may include vegetarian and vegan options. Regulars know to order Lady M’s Green Tea Mille Crepe for dessert. 1901 Callowhill Street, (267) 603-9482,
  • Hickory Lane – The cozy atmosphere makes this quaint bistro a neighborhood favorite. The chef favors in-season ingredients for lunch, brunch and dinner dishes, and that means the menu changes often. 2025 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 769-2420,
  • Isabel – This Mexi-Cali BYOB features traditional fare such as queso fundido and carne asada burritos, along with not-so-traditional items including drunken chicken and lobster-filled enchiladas. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own tequila to accompany the specialty maragarita mixers. 2601 Pennsylvania Avenue, (215) 475-8088,
  • Jack’s Firehouse – Set in a 19th-century firehouse—the fireman’s pole is still standing—Jack’s has been serving innovative American cuisine, along with impressive whiskey and scotch selections for more than 25 years. The restaurant boasts a prime view of the imposing Eastern State Penitentiary across the street. 2130 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 232-9000,
  • Kite & Key – Named for Ben Franklin’s famous experiment with electricity, the Kite & Key offers a wide variety of craft and imported beers from around the world. The pub fare rivals the beer selection, highlighted by the mussels and the veggie burger, which can be enjoyed in the beer garden. 1836 Callowhill Street, (215) 568-1818,
  • La Calaca Feliz – Sibling of Fort Washington’s Cantina Feliz and Manayunk’s Taqueria Feliz, this highly praised and brightly colored neighborhood oasis dishes out modern Mexican cuisine and pours a few dozen tequilas. The carnitas tacos are a must-taste. 2321 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 787-9930,
  • London Grill – A neighborhood staple since 1991, London Grill is one part pub, with local microbrews on tap and a classic cocktail menu, and one part white tablecloth restaurant. Next door sits Paris Wine Bar, focusing on local and sustainable wines. 2301 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 978-4545,
  • McCrossen’s Tavern – Helming the kitchen, Jeff Lord consistently puts forth exceptional cuisine ranging from stepped-up tavern favorites to accomplished and innovative dishes. A progressive beverage program is matched by friendly and polished service. 529 N. 20th Street, (215) 854-0923,
  • Osteria – Honored by the James Beard Foundation twice, Osteria serves house-made pastas, thin- crust pizzas and wood-grilled meats and fish. The wine list features more than 100 Italian bottles. 640 N. Broad Street, (215) 763-0920,
  • Pizzeria Vetri – Awarded three bells by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig Laban, Marc Vetri’s pizzeria serves traditional, Neapolitan-style pizzas. Patrons can choose from a variety of beverages on tap, including four rotating beers and red and white wine. The restaurant also offers a selection of bottled and canned beers. 1939 Callowhill Street, (215) 600-2629,
  • Rembrandt’s – While grabbing a quick bite at the bar or enjoying a leisurely lunch, dinner or brunch in the dining room, Rembrandt’s patrons admire European fixtures that originally hung in the executive offices of the Hollandsche Lloyd Shipping Company in Amsterdam. 741 N. 23rd Street, (215) 763-2228,
  • Rose Tattoo Café – Family-owned and -operated, the greenhouse-inspired Rose Tattoo serves American cuisine in four romantic dining areas, including a balcony with plants and flowers. 19th & Callowhill Streets, (215) 569-8939,
  • Sabrina’s Café & Spencer’s Too – South Philadelphia’s Italian Market darling for brunch boasts an outpost northwest of Center City, where hungry diners fill up on oversized portions of comfort food during lunch, brunch and dinner. Hint: The brunch line is worth the wait. 1804 Callowhill Street, (215) 636-9061,
  • SOUTH – The Bynum brothers return to their roots with SOUTH. Low country cuisine (heirloom grits; homemade pickles; gumbo; wreckfish with butter beans) and live jazz accompany a wide selection of American whiskeys and fun custom beers (Mint Julep) from Evolution Brewing. 600 N. Broad Street, (215) 600-0220,
  • St. Stephen’s Green – The owners of The Black Sheep and The Bishop’s Collar teamed up to open this neighborhood spot, featuring an extensive beer list. Executive chef David Shuman adds the “gastro” to the pub experience. 1701 Green Street, (215) 769-5000,
  • Trio – Opened in 2006 by three friends, Trio is a Thai-inspired, Pan-Asian paradise. Throughout two floors of dining, fans indulge in the popular drunken noodles. 2624 Brown Street, (215) 232-8746,
  • Umai Umai – This Japanese BYOB serves some unusual combinations (shrimp tempura, eel, avocado, honey, macadamia nuts and strawberry is one) in their specialty rolls—just one of the reasons neighbors can’t get enough of the small sushi spot. Diners rave about the Godzilla (ingredients listed above) and Spartan (miso-marinated beef tenderloin, chives, shrimp tempura and paprika aioli) rolls. 533 N. 22nd Street, (215) 988-0707
  • Urban Saloon – One of the largest bars in the neighborhood, Urban Saloon makes for a great spot to catch a game on several flat-screen TVs while sipping craft beer or enjoying a casual meal. On weekend nights, the scene shifts from locals’ bar to dance club, complete with a DJ. 2120 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 232-5359,
  • Zorba’s – Loved for the authentic Greek food and atmosphere (maybe it’s the three generations of Greeks speaking in their native tongue), this spot is one of the neighborhood’s well-kept secrets. The family-owned and -operated Zorba’s keeps its lunch, dinner and dessert menus classic and reasonably priced. 2230 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 978-5990,


  • The Flying Saucer Café – Guests enjoy coffee or tea and a breakfast sandwich at this 1950s alien invasion-themed coffee shop. Drinkers and diners can enjoy the shop’s assortment of local newspapers, or catch up with the news on the plasma television. 2545 Brown Street,
  • Mugshots Coffeehouse – The area’s original coffeehouse, serving locally farmed foods and fairly traded organic coffee and tea, also serves up vegan and gluten-free grub. But no need for meat eaters to fret; this neighborhood stop also brags about having the best bacon in town. 1925 Fairmount Avenue, (267) 514-7145,
  • Rybread – Father and son teamed up to share their passion for food at this sandwich-centric cafe. The sandwiches, made with fresh ingredients, are loosely based on the son’s seven-week “unemployment opportunity” road trip across the country, and pictures of his journeys adorn the walls. 2319 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 769-0603,

Shops & Markets:

  • Ali’s Wagon – Opened by new parents Jessie Menken and Nat Weston in 2007, this store sells fun, local and fair-trade adult and kids’ clothes and accessories, eclectic housewares, bath and body products and gifts for all ages. It also hosts parenting classes on a range of topics. 2017 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 787-0611,
  • Bookhaven – Breaking the used bookstore mold, Bookhaven packs its two floors with amazing finds, arranged in an organized fashion (by genre, then author) rather than in piles. There are, however, the quintessential bookstore cats. 2202 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 235-3226
  • Fairmount Bicycles – This full-service bike shop sells new and refurbished bikes, as well as all the necessary accessories and safety equipment. Cycling enthusiasts can also rent bikes for an hour, a full day or the entire week. 2015 Fairmount Avenue, (267) 507-9370,
  • Fairmount Pet Shoppe – This quaint pet shop keeps four-legged friends happy with toys, foods and accessories. The store partners with animal shelters to find homes for cats and kittens (translation: there are animals to play with). 2024 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-6080,
  • Fairmount Running Company – A favorite among the neighborhood runners, this shop is staffed by lifelong runners and coaches and carries every major brand of running sneakers, apparel and accessories. The store also hosts a weekly run on Wednesday nights that starts in front of the store at 6:45 p.m. 2023 Fairmount Avenue, (267) 639-6046,
  • Plants, Etc. – Stocking an assortment of plants, flowers, herbs and gardening tools, this neighborhood florist also creates flower arrangements for special occasions and designs backyards and flower boxes. 2313 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3060

Other Reasons To Visit:

  • Eastern State Penitentiary – Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, the massive Eastern State Penitentiary is open year-round for tours. During the Halloween season, Terror Behind the Walls frightens even the most daring souls. 2027 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-3300,
  • Fairmount Water Works – Constructed in the early 1800s to provide safe, clean drinking water to a growing city, Fairmount Water Works is unique among environmental centers because of its location at the river’s edge in the center of the fifth-largest city in the nation. Interactive, user-friendly exhibits and programs share information about the water in our world. Guided tours of the National Historical Landmark and its surroundings explore its past, present and future impact. 640 Water Works Drive, (215) 685-0723,
  • Neighborhood Potters – Owners Sandi Pierantozzi and Neil Patterson opened this studio/gallery more than 15 years ago with the mission to bring a little warmth and soul into everyday lives with beautiful, useable, handmade pottery. Classes are available for students of all levels, and the shop is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or by appointment. 2034 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 236-1617,
  • Philly Art Center – Cultivating creative genius since 2004, the art center promotes out-of-the-box thinking through dynamic arts programming in a wide range of media. Each studio, including the Fairmount location, serves as a creative community hub, offering classes, camps and parties for babies, kids, teens and adults. 2501 Olive Street, (215) 765-ARTS,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, 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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