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Jan 16 2013

What's In The Fishtown Neighborhood?

Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Music & A Casino In Burgeoning Fishtown

Like its hip neighbor Northern Liberties, Fishtown has quickly become one of the coolest sections of Philadelphia, thanks to an influx of quality restaurants, inventive bars, impressive music venues and forward-thinking art galleries. Philadelphians have found new and innovative uses for the Fishtown section of the city ever since William Penn made peace with the Lenape Indians there in what’s now Penn Treaty Park. It’s the only place in the city where, in the same evening, someone can buy a custom-made guitar, drink craft beer while playing Tetris, eat stellar Yugoslavian food and visit the world’s only pizza museum. Fishtown’s Frankford Avenue Arts Corridor serves as home base for many of the city’s rising artists, and both tourists and residents can take in new gallery offerings every First Friday along the avenue and its environs.

Like many sections of Philadelphia, the borders of Fishtown are subject to debate, though the eastern border has always ended at the Delaware River. On the west, the border runs down Laurel Street to Front Street before moving north on Front Street to Norris Street, and to the south, Fishtown begins where Frankford Avenue, Laurel Street and Delaware Avenue meet. Depending who you ask, the north part of Fishtown ends either at Norris Street, York Street or Lehigh Avenue. Folks in Center City looking to spend a day or evening in Fishtown should head northeast by snagging a cab, biking it or taking SEPTA’s Market-Frankford elevated rail line (known to locals as “the El”) to the Girard Avenue stop. Those in the Fairmount/Art Museum section of the city can take the recently restored trolley system that runs on Girard Avenue.

Restaurants & Bars:

  • Barcade – Combine a sizable craft beer list with more than 40 25-cent classic arcade games, and the result is Barcade. Based on locations in Brooklyn and Jersey City, the bar-arcade combo also offers up a generous menu and outdoor space—for those who can tear themselves away from Tetris or Donkey Kong. 1114 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-4400,
  • Bottle Bar East – With an eight-tap bar, dartboard, foosball table and local art installations, this new craft beer haven entices both Fishtowners and visitors. It doubles as a take-out retail shop, so patrons can fill up a growler or mix and match a six-pack and take the party home. 1308 Frankford Avenue, (267) 909-8867,
  • East Girard Gastropub – Dubbed “The Egg,” this 24-seat gastropub takes its acronym seriously, evidenced by its egg mural and menu items such as deviled eggs and The E.G.G. Burger, which comes with cheddar, onion jam, sunny egg, bacon and fries. No one-trick pony, the restaurant also features a raw bar, classic cocktails, a healthy craft beer roster and dishes including a house-made herb sausage grinder. 200 E. Girard Avenue, (267) 761-9343,
  • Ekta Indian Cuisine – Vegetarians and meat eaters alike find a lot to love at this Indian bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurant. Highlights, including Kadai chicken, lamb saagwala and homemade cottage cheese cubes with spinach, called saag aur paneer, dot an expansive menu. Naan lovers should take heart—Ekta serves 13 different types, all cooked in a charcoal-fired tandoor oven. 250 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 426-2277,
  • The El Bar – Situated, as the name implies, under SEPTA’s Market-Frankford elevated rail line (or “The El”), this quasi-dive bar attracts a loyal following, thanks to inexpensive beer and snacks, a pool table and live music on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The enormous outdoor patio provides a perfect spot for enjoying a Kensington Happy Meal, the bar’s staple that includes two hot dogs, a bag of chips, a PBR and a toy for $5. 1356 N. Front Street, (215) 634-6430
  • Fette Sau – Brooklyn’s notable barbecue restaurant recently added a second location in Philadelphia, replete with all the characteristics that made the New York outpost buzz-worthy—dry-rubbed, well-prepared meats from local farms that are smoked in-house; simple and elegant side dishes; and communal seating on wooden picnic tables. Fette Sau (German for “fat pig”) also boasts nine beers and a cider on tap, as well as a handful of North American bourbons and whiskeys to pair with the BBQ. 1208 Frankford Avenue, (215) 391-4888,
  • Fishtown Tavern – Recently bought and renovated by the people behind Buffalo Billiards in Old City, this neighborhood pub has retained its local feel. Folks stop by for the nice selection of canned beers and bar food, and the handful of bike racks out front bring in the area’s cycling population. 1301 Frankford Avenue, (267) 687-8406,
  • Frankford Hall – If you build a modern German beer garden, they will come. This indoor/outdoor Stephen Starr hotspot keeps 12 beers on tap, most of which patrons can order in half- and full-liter helpings, and 10 more in bottles. Authentic German foods like pretzels to bratwurst, open-air picnic-table seating, a center campfire and ping-pong tables make for a memorable evening on the town. 1210 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-3338,
  • Ida Mae’s Bruncherie – Diners at this breakfast destination find a cozy atmosphere, friendly staff and a huge menu of delicious brunch goodies. The beans on toast, huevos rancheros and full Irish breakfast start the morning (or afternoon) off right. 2302 E. Norris Street, (267) 259-6493
  • Interstate Draft House – At the bar, restaurant and outdoor patio of this Southwest-style locale, people chow down on alligator and beef chili, grilled seitan tips and burgers topped with applewood bacon and mac and cheese, and they wash it all down with refreshing brews. Tuesday nights rival the weekends here, thanks to $1 tacos and $3 select draught beers. 1235 E. Palmer Street, (267) 455-0045,
  • Jovan’s Place – A family-operated neighborhood hang that feels more like someone’s living room than a restaurant, Jovan’s Place showcases Yugoslavian cooking at its most authentic, right down to menu highlights including Mom’s chicken noodle soup. With ingredients picked up fresh daily, Jovan’s schnitzel, Mom’s hand-rolled stuffed cabbage and Dad’s bean soup always deliver. 2327 E. York Street, (215) 634-3330,
  • Kraftwork – This sleek restaurant/bar pours an astounding 25 draught beers from around the world, plus specialty cocktails and wines. Kraftwork keeps the food local, serving diverse selections that range from the dry-aged burger to Korean BBQ pork tacos. The soon-to-be-available beers listed on the menu keep suds lovers coming back again and again. 541 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 739-1700,
  • Lloyd – Lloyd Coudriet, a retired science teacher from nearby Penn Treaty Middle School, heads up his namesake “whiskey-heavy” bar. Working with Lloyd are a couple people who know a thing or two about the brown liquor: his son and daughter-in-law, who ran Whiskey Ward in the Lower East Side in New York City. 529 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 425-4600
  • Loco Pez – Patrons at this Mexican gastropub swear by the 10 kinds of tacos (carne asada, seitan and spinach, chorizo and potato) offered as low-priced singles, encouraging eaters to try as many varieties as they can. Other stars include the monster helping of nachos; the bacon-wrapped Street Dog, overflowing with refried beans, ketchup, mustard, mayo and jalapenos; and 36 sipping tequilas. 2401 E. Norris Street, (267) 886-8061,
  • Memphis Taproom – An epic bottled beer list is just one highlight of the vegan-friendly Memphis Taproom, which also boasts 10 craft beers on tap and extensive brunch, lunch and dinner menus. Those looking for something different should try the raved-about smoked coconut sandwich or the deep-fried pickles with horseradish. In the warmer months, the beer garden and its accompanying can-beer-and-dog truck draw outdoor (drinking) lovers. 2331 E. Cumberland Street, (215) 425-4460,
  • Murph’s Bar – The sign outside Murph’s Bar reads “A comfortable place to be,” and with $2 PBR draughts all day every day, along with a more expansive craft beer list, it’s tough to argue with that. Live entertainment and a solid menu, with dishes ranging from shrimp scampi pizza to baked eggplant patties, make Murph’s a go-to. 202 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 425-1847
  • Philadelphia Brewing Company – Housed in a restored 19th-century brewing facility—technically in neighboring Kensington, but a Fishtown favorite nonetheless—PBC has been supplying its year-round hand-crafted ales and limited-run microbrews to the city and beyond since 2001. Every Saturday from noon to 3:00 p.m., people pile in for guided tours and a generous amount of beer samples. 2440 Frankford Avenue, (215) 427-2739,
  • The Pickled Heron – This 50-seat bistro serves French-inspired dishes with local and seasonal products, and it’s BYOB to boot. In-the-know diners make sure to leave room for dessert—upside-down Meyer lemon cake, apple galette and chocolate caramel tart are among the sweet delights. 2218 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-5666,
  • Pizza Brain – According to Guinness World Records, Brian Dwyer possesses the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia. Lucky for all pizza fans, his restaurant doubles as the world’s first pizza museum, complete with pizza-related vinyl records and pizza-bearing action figures, from Homer Simpson to Spider-Man. The brick-oven pies are as quirky as their home, with names like Forbes Waggensense and Felix Huppert. 2313 Frankford Avenue, (215) 291-2965,
  • Sketch Burger – People looking for huge, delicious hamburgers can count on Sketch Burger’s seven griddled variations, including the Cyclops Burger with bacon and a fried egg, as well as vegan options, skin-on fries and thick milkshakes. True to its name, diners can use paper and crayons to draw their odes to Sketch, which are taped on the wall throughout the restaurant. 413 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 634-3466,
  • Yards Brewing Company – When Yards opened in 1994, it resuscitated the city’s brewing legacy by ending a decades-long period without any operational breweries. Now on Delaware Avenue, the 100% wind-powered brewery churns out signature ales, a few seasonals and the Ales of the Revolution line, based on recipes conceived by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Yards offers free Saturday tours, and its tasting room give fans of the suds an onsite area to sit and sip. 901 N. Delaware Avenue, (215) 634-2600,

Cafes & Markets:

  • Coffee House Too – Quality java is the priority here, where coffee enthusiasts sip the brewed goodness that comes from fair-trade Dallis Brothers Coffee beans, grown 3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level. The breakfast, lunch and dinner eats are just as impressive—and effective, if ordering the Famous Hangover Hoagie. 2514 E. York Street, (267) 324-5888,
  • Emerald Street Urban Farm Project – The owners of this neighborhood-run urban farm/garden turned five vacant lots into an impressive production. Emerald Street offers fresh, organic and affordable produce to local restaurants and at its pay-what-you-can weekly farm stand. In addition to events and fundraisers, Emerald Street holds workshops on composting, food preservation and nutrition. 2312 Emerald Street, (518) 225-4762,
  • Greensgrow Farm – Nursery, market, community-supported agriculture (CSA) program—this nationally recognized urban farm has something for all local-food devotees. Residents sign up for the CSA to get loads of fruits and veggies, and visitors to the farm stand pick and choose what they want to sample. 2501 E. Cumberland Street, (215) 427-2702,
  • Leotah’s Place Coffeehouse – The owners of Leotah’s set out to create a friendly environment and brew an affordable cup of coffee, and they’ve delivered. The comfy vibe inside the brick building provides the perfect atmosphere to do some work (on the free Wi-Fi) or grab a sandwich with a friend. 2033 E. York Street, (267) 519-9031,
  • Little Baby’s Ice Cream – Specializing in handmade, premium ice cream made from locally sourced ingredients, Little Baby’s quickly developed a major fan base in the city and beyond. The dazzling array of flavors, ranging from balsamic banana and cantaloupe creamsicle to non-dairy flavors such as earl gray siracha, taste as interesting and delicious as they sound. 2311 Frankford Avenue, (267) 867-8567,
  • Milkcrate Cafe – Combine a quality cafe with a record store—that’s Milkcrate Cafe. Guests peruse new and used vinyl while they sip local coffee favorite La Colombe, while diners indulge in Le Bus pastries or choose from the dozen menu options with musically inspired names, such as Bagella Fitzgerald and Ike & Tina Tuna. 400 E. Girard Avenue, (267) 909-8348,
  • Palmer Park Farmers’ Market – This seasonal, open-air market offers fruits, vegetables, canned goods, flowers, honey and baked goods every Thursday afternoon from June through October. Frankford Avenue & Berks Street, (215) 568-0830,
  • Rocket Cat Cafe – What else could one want from a coffee shop besides delicious vegan and non-vegan foods, a cool atmosphere and, of course, locally roasted, fair trade, organic coffee? Food is made to order and enjoyed on the outdoor patio or on a comfy couch. 2001 Frankford Avenue, (215) 739-4562

Music & More:

  • The Barbary – This 200-person music venue presents the latest in rising local and touring indie music on the first floor and DJ dance parties upstairs. A recent renovation brought a new sound system and no-nonsense air conditioning, so both bands and dancers can maintain their stamina long into the night. 951 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-7400,
  • Johnny Brenda’s – Show-goers can take in great views (and a bit of a break) on the balcony at Johnny Brenda’s, a 250-person venue that plays host to touring indie music acts year-round. The three bars—downstairs in the restaurant/bar area, upstairs on the concert floor and on the balcony—pour all-draught, all-local beers. The menu changes daily depending on what ingredients the kitchen is able to obtain from local farmers. 1201 N. Frankford Avenue, (215) 739-9684,
  • Kung Fu Necktie – Think low lighting, inexpensive beer and one of the best-sounding small rooms in the city. Concert early birds can shoot some pool in the game room upstairs. 1250 N. Front Street, (215) 291-4919,
  • The M Room – Short for The Manhattan Room, The M Room features its performance venue on one side and its bar/restaurant on the other. The venue welcomes both local and touring acts, and patrons order from a sizable list of bottled craft beers. 15 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 739-5577,
  • SugarHouse Casino – Located just off the Delaware River, Philadelphia’s first and only casino sports an array of live tables and slot machines. One of three restaurants, The Refinery serves up microbrews and casual meals, along with great views of the Delaware River waterfront and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. 1001 N. Delaware Avenue, (877) 477-3715,


  • Art Machine Production – A shop, studio, gallery and tattoo parlor rolled into one, this 2,700-square-foot space provides plenty of working room for its six featured artists. Buyers and browsers get a taste of new gallery work, plus snacks and drinks, every First Friday of every month. 1345 Frankford Avenue, (267) 239-2724,
  • Black Vulture Gallery – Pulling double duty as a gallery and a tattoo parlor, Black Vulture’s four staffed artists are game for ink requests ranging from the traditional to the out-there. Live music often accompanies the art shows, which have been titled “Cocktails and Creeps” and “Choose Your Own Weapon.” 208 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 423-3666,
  • Highwire Gallery – Established in 1987, this non-profit co-op prides itself on its do-it-yourself motto. Members curate and program all the gallery, video and performance art themselves. Plus, a handful of live concerts each month bring a fun addition to Fishtown’s already vibrant music scene. 2040 Frankford Avenue, (215) 426-2685,
  • Little Berlin – This undefined exhibit space serves as the gallery for the artist-run collective of the same name. Each month, a member of the collective puts together a new show for the space. Music and other fun events round out the offerings here. How many collectives can say host their own badminton tournaments? 2430 Coral Street,
  • Mascher Space Cooperative – The only artist-run dance co-op in Philadelphia, Mascher supplies a space for both artists and companies to develop their work, as well as a location for classes and workshops. Thanks to the addition of mounted theater seats several years ago, the space doubles as an informal performance venue. 155 Cecil B. Moore Avenue,
  • Space 2033 – One of the latest additions to Frankford Avenue’s arts corridor, Space 2033 is a true artistic catchall. The studio differs from its contemporaries in its focus on wellness. Acupuncture, Reiki and meditation workshops fit comfortably into its schedule, alongside First Friday events and rotating local artist spotlights. 2033 Frankford Avenue, (267) 679-3199,
  • Walking Fish Theatre – This non-profit embraces alternative regional theater and produces entertainment for the whole family. The proof: Revival Burlesque and High Dramma sketch comedy troupe for adults, Family Theatre series for kids ages 2-7, alternative and original live theater performances and affordable acting classes. 2509 Frankford Avenue, (215) 427-9255,


  • Circle Thrift – Selling gently used vintage clothes, housewares, toys, books and furniture, Circle Thrift delivers what many thrift stores don’t—quality goods and a nice experience. Savvy shoppers should keep an eye on the website for primo deals. 2233 Frankford Avenue, (215) 423-1222,
  • Craft Foundry – Open Thursday through Sunday, Craft Foundry specializes in eco-friendly crafts and gifts, such as artisan jewelry, journals, organic skin care, soy wax candles, organic tea and clothing—mostly made by locals. People also come to the shop for crafty classes. 701 Belgrade Street,
  • DiPinto Guitars – Located a couple blocks from Fishtown’s main music drag, DiPinto Guitars began as a repair shop in 1995 before morphing into what it is today—a showroom for (sometimes bizarre) vintage guitars, as well as owner Chris DiPinto’s own creations. Many musicians, including The White Stripes’ Jack White, swear by DiPinto. 407-409 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 427-7805,
  • The Lola Bean – The Lola Bean exemplifies the friendly neighborhood cafe, from the uber-friendly staff to the collection of books patrons can thumb through. Pastries and a seasonally rotating cast of handmade sandwiches, salads and hummus platters keep people perched here all day, which works out—in-house guests enjoy a free refill of La Colombe coffee. 1325 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-5652,

Parks & Rec:

  • Bicycle Stable – Located in a brick building that once served as a stable for police horses, Bicycle Stable handles a full line of bicycle services, from tune-ups to complete rebuilds. Those in the market for a new ride can browse a huge selection of refurbished bikes and brand-spanking-new models from Bianchi, Globe, Marin and more. 1420 Frankford Avenue, (215) 634-0633,
  • Fishtown Recreation Center – Across the street from the Fishtown Community Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Fishtown Recreation Center contains a playground, picnic tables and a roller rink. Neighborhood opinion maintains that the adjacent basketball courts are one of the best places to play a pickup game in the city. 1202 E. Montgomery Avenue, (215) 685-9885
  • Jay’s Pedal Power Bikes – The staff at Jay’s count more than 100 years of experience in the bike industry, and it shows in the staff’s customer service. An eco-note: Jay’s is the only solar-powered bike shop in the city. 512 E. Girard Avenue, (215) 425-5111,
  • Penn Treaty Park – According to legend, Pennsylvania founder William Penn signed his treaty of peace with the local Lenape tribe under an elm tree just off the Delaware River in 1683. Though the tree fell in a storm in 1810, the city officially opened Penn Treaty Park on the surrounding land in 1894. Today, a statue of William Penn greets picnickers and dog walkers, and throughout the year, people come from all over the city and beyond for special events, including Shadfest, which celebrates the historical and environmental significance of the Delaware River and the fish that once ran thick through its waters. Delaware Avenue & Beach Street,
  • Triangle Dog Park – A real treat for local dog owners, this community-run dog park is fenced in behind a double-gated entrance, meaning pets can run off-leash. Occasional events include the adorable Yappy Hour Meet and Greet. 898 Aramingo Avenue

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.

For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit or, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.

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