Releases: Expanded View
What's In The West Philly Neighborhood?
Restaurants, Bars, Cafes, Shops & Galleries In University City, Powelton Village, Spruce Hill & Cedar Park
Every resident knows (and secretly loves) Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel Air lyric “In West Philadelphia, born and raised … ” Not obvious from the 1990s theme song is the dynamic culture that thrives inside the large area—due to historic characteristics, large educational and research institutions and new developments and residents.
Separated from Center City by the Schuylkill River, West Philadelphia resembles a microcosm of the city itself, with a number of smaller, distinct neighborhoods inside it. Many of its attractions and events—community gardens, Ethiopian restaurants, offbeat performances and the like—were created to benefit the people living in the neighborhood, but the invitation to enjoy these assets is not exclusive. Ask any local for the signature characteristics of the entire area, and they’re sure to mention diversity, optimism and openness, as well as the bohemian vibe, a trait that took hold in the 1960s and is still evident today.
People can easily access West Philly from Center City via cabs, the Market-Frankford Line (also called “the el” for its elevated section) and one of the nation’s few remaining streetcar networks. The trolleys run from City Hall down Market Street and through University City, with lines servicing the neighborhood’s three main corridors of Lancaster, Baltimore and Woodland avenues. Plus, anyone who visits West Philadelphia can immediately notice the most popular form of transit: bikes.
Neighborhood tips, itineraries and maps are available at visitphilly.com/neighborhoods.
University City gets its name from its most distinguishing features: The University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the University of the Sciences call this section of the city home, as do thousands of students, professors and researchers. In fact, 70,000 people in the region have University City institutions to thank for their livelihoods. Penn Park, which sits along the banks of the Schuylkill River, provides fields and tracks for sporting enthusiasts, as well as a perfect location for a picnic with a skyline view. In addition to this green space, restaurants, bars, casual eateries, shops, museums and galleries make this education center feel like one big, culture-heavy town.
Restaurants, Bars & Entertainment:
- Abner’s of University City – Abner’s has been a part of the Philly college experience for more than 30 years. The cheesesteak specialty shop also serves gyros, pizza and more to hungry students until the wee hours of the morning. 3813 Chestnut Street, (215) 662-0100, abnerscheesesteaks.com
- Bridgewater’s Pub – Located inside 30th Street Station, Bridgewater’s offers commuters and travelers seasonally changing dishes and imported and local beers, all served in an upbeat atmosphere. The menu includes ethnic and American specialties such as prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, baba ghanoush and a chickpea burger—and it all changes depending on the mood of the chef. 2955 Market Street, (215) 387-4787, thepubin30thstreetstation.com
- Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House – Designed as a throwback to the golden days of oyster saloons, Doc Magrogan’s prides itself on selling the freshest seafood, along with a large selection of wine and beer. The owner, an experienced publican, lists two kinds of oyster shooters on his menu: one with vodka and one with beer. The restaurant also offers a late-night menu, and reservations are recommended for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. 3432 Sansom Street, (215) 382-3474, docmagrogans.com
- Han Dynasty – Rated one of the top 50 Chinese restaurants in America by CNN, Han Dynasty built its reputation on its tasting menu and bold combinations. The eatery helpfully assigns a spice level to each entrée, which can be altered to patrons’ tastes. 3711 Market Street, (215) 222-3711, handynasty.net
- Landmark Americana – One of West Philadelphia’s most popular sports bars serves brunch for those early Sunday games and bar snacks for the afternoon and night matchups. The large menu takes pub grub to a higher level with international dishes such as carne asada, Caribbean salmon salad and chipotle burritos. 3333 Market Street, (215) 222-4500, landmarkamericana.com
- Mad Mex – Huge margaritas wash down the tasty Mexican fare at the University City outpost of this tequila bar. The terrace gets especially crowded during happy hour, when margaritas are cheap and hot wings are half-off. 3401 Walnut Street, (215) 382-2221, madmex.com
- Mikey’s American Grill & Sports Bar – With eight 50-inch flat-screen televisions, Mikey’s has established itself as a game-day favorite. American fare and domestic and microbrewed drafts keep patrons around long after the last play. 3180 Chestnut Street, (215) 222-3226, mikeysphilly.com
- New Deck Tavern – Located in three renovated row houses built in the late 1800s, this tavern holds a liquor license that dates back to the year Prohibition ended. Along with its half-pound burgers, cheesesteaks, salads and sandwiches, New Deck pours draft beers from around the world and houses one of the largest single-malt scotch collections in Philadelphia. 3408 Sansom Street, (215) 386-4600, newdecktavern.com
- The Nosh Deli – The deli experts here stuff sandwiches to the brim with high-quality meats and cheeses. Bakers make the extraordinarily inexpensive goods right on the premises.
3600 Market Street, (215) 387-4411, annanosh.com
- Penne Restaurant & Wine Bar – This modern Italian restaurant and wine bar features award-winning pasta, seafood, meats and an expansive wine list. All pastas, except those that are gluten-free, are made in-house. On the days they make it, patrons who’d like to watch the floury magic can congregate around the so-called “pasta bar” during lunch. 3611 Walnut Street, (215) 823-6222, pennerestaurant.com
- Picnic – Specializing in gourmet prepared foods, this carryout cafe also offers both indoor and outdoor seating for onsite indulging in decadent desserts, hearty sandwiches and more. Most ingredients are seasonal and sourced locally. 3131 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1608, picniceats.com
- Pizza Rustica – The menu lists pasta, salads and sandwiches, but the hand-thrown, hardwood-fired pizzas are the hands-down favorite here. Beer, wine, cocktails and espresso wash down the classic Italian cooking. 3602 Chestnut Street, (215) 895-3490, pizzarusticaonline.com
- Pod – One of Stephen Starr’s novel concept restaurants seats diners in futuristic pods to sample diverse sushi options that travel through the restaurant on a conveyer belt. Specialty rolls include unusual styles such as the overstuffed rainbow roll filled with tuna, salmon, yellow tail and shrimp. 3636 Sansom Street, (215) 387-1803, podrestaurant.com
- Sang Kee Noodle House – This noodle house features a modern Chinese menu, with Hong Kong noodle soup, Peking duck and weekend dim sum. Private karaoke rooms are popular for large and small gatherings. 3549 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-8808, sangkeenoodlehouse.com
- Slainté Pub & Grill – Just across the street from 30th Street Station, hungry and thirsty travelers can indulge in bar food, beer and cocktails. The classic and clean wooden décor, plus knick-knacks imported from the homeland, complete the Irish pub experience. 3000 Market Street, (215) 222-7400, slaintephilly.com
- White Dog Cafe – More than 30 ago, the White Dog Cafe started a trend in Philadelphia: an unusual blend of award-winning cuisine and social activism, including its focus on local, sustainable, organic ingredients. The whimsical dining rooms tucked inside three renovated brownstones make for an inspiring dining experience. 3420 Sansom Street, (215) 386-9224, whitedog.com
- World Cafe Live – This music venue and restaurant works on two levels: Upstairs houses a full-service restaurant with live eclectic music on most nights during the week, while the downstairs music hall and restaurant caters to a larger crowd and well-known bands. It’s a perfect blend of food, drinks and jams. 3025 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1400, worldcafelive.com
- Zavino – Though the original is in Center City, Zavino’s larger location resides in West Philadelphia—much to the delight of neighbors who love the fantastic craft pizza pies and delicious pastas and salads. 3200 Chestnut Street, (215) 823-6897, zavinohospitalitygroup.com
Cafes, Tea Houses & Markets:
- Avril 50 – With a selection of international coffee, chocolate, tobacco and tea and an array of postcards, this tiny shop is a must for lovers of foreign cultures. They can also browse a newsstand that holds newspapers, academic journals and high-end fashion magazines from countries and continents as diverse as Europe, China, Israel and Lebanon. 3406 Sansom Street, (215) 222-6108, avril50.com
- Kitchen Già – Outfitted as a retro-modern, all-natural Italian cafe, Kitchen Già satisfies its customers with its leafy salads, crisp paninis and steaming hot espresso. All ingredients are free-range, hormone-free and never fried. 3716 Spruce Street, (215) 222-7713, kitchengia.com
- Sugar Philly – Making numerous television appearances and named one of the 20 best food trucks in America by Smithsonian magazine, this gourmet-inspired sweets truck makes mouths water with its French macarons and crème brûlée. Fortunately for visitors to the city, the truck doesn’t move much (just for special events), so it can be found easily. 38th & Walnut Streets, sugarphillytruck.com
- American Apparel – American-made basics abound in a rainbow of colors at the University City location of this scenester-approved outfitter. 3661 Walnut Street, (215) 222-2091, americanapparel.net
- Doctor Cycles – For bikes in need of some TLC, the doctor is in at this retail and service shop. For added convenience, Doctor Cycles offers mobile repairs to customers unable to make it to the store. 3608 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 823-6780, doctorcycles.com
- Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) – The adventure lover’s go-to store, EMS lines its shelves and racks with durable hiking, camping and biking gear, plus footwear and clothing. College IDs get students 20% off full-price EMS-brand items and 15% off national brands. 3401 Chestnut Street, (215) 382-0930, ems.com
- Greene Street Consignment – Secondhand shoppers delight in the upscale, boutique-style atmosphere at Greene Street Consignment. One of 11 Philly locations, this store houses an unlimited number of treasures, from Gap to Gucci and from clothes to shoes to accessories. Patrons feel even better about their purchases when they learn that a portion of sales helps fund The Greene Street Animal Rescue, a non-profit, no-kill dog rescue in Chester County. 3734 Spruce Street, (215) 662-0332, greenestreetconsignment.com
- Modern Eye – Uncompromising eccentricity and style make up the values at this ultra-hip eyewear shop and optical office. The advanced selection even includes highly customized, premium free-form digital lenses. No four-eyes jokes here. 3419 Walnut Street, (215) 386-5953, modern-eye.com
- Penn Book Center – Functioning as an unofficial alternative to the University of Pennsylvania’s bookstore, this spot acts as a clearinghouse for new and used textbooks and scholarly and classic works. Local poets gather here for a poetry reading series and what may be the largest poetry section in the city. 130 S. 34th Street, (215) 222-7600, pennbookcenter.com
- Penn Bookstore – Often a stop on author book tours, the University of Pennsylvania’s bookstore carries more than 55,000 titles, making it one of the largest bookshops in the city. Students and visitors can also find Penn apparel, home décor and electronics, as well as baked goods at the wireless cafe. 3601 Walnut Street, (215) 898-7595, upenn.edu/bookstore
- Philadelphia Runner – Started by two hometown runners, this shop carries shoes, apparel and accessories to maximize running and walking performance. Center City and suburban locations extend the running mindset. 3621 Walnut Street, (215) 662-5100, philadelphiarunner.com
- Piper Boutique – The stock changes daily at this all-natural women’s clothing boutique. Piper Boutique celebrates rustic style and textile traditions, and the staff is devoted to personalized attention for all customers. 140 S. 34th Street, (267) 233-6516, piperboutique.com
- Urban Outfitters – People head to this bi-level shop for all-things urban cool, including men’s and women’s fashions and funky housewares. The store receives many of the chain’s most up-to-date items, thanks to the fact that its headquarters calls Philly home. 110 S. 36th Street, (215) 387-6990, urbanoutfitters.com
Museums, Galleries & Performance Venues:
- Addams Gallery – This is one of the many galleries where students and faculty of Penn’s fine arts and architecture programs exhibit their work. Located in Addams Hall, it hosts approximately four openings per semester. 200 S. 36th Street, (215) 573-5134
- Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts – As one of the nation’s premier urban performing arts centers on a university campus, Annenberg puts on all genres of cultural performance. Jazz, world music, contemporary dance, dramatic touring theater and local Philadelphia artists make the venue a place to explore “adventuresome perspectives on contemporary issues and timeless ideas.” 3680 Walnut Street, (215) 898-3900, annenbergcenter.org
- Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania and Kroiz Gallery – This gallery exhibits the works of more than 400 architects and planners from the 17th century to the present. It also contains 225 projects of Philadelphian Louis I. Kahn, as well as his personal library. 220 S. 34th Street, lower level, (215) 898-8323, design.upenn.edu
- Arthur Ross Gallery – In just one room, Arthur Ross Gallery houses objects from Penn’s collections, as well as other major public and private collections. Though compact, it’s notable for its home in a Frank Furness-designed, late-Victorian Romanesque building, completed in 1891. 220 S. 34th Street, (215) 898-2083, upenn.edu/ARG
- The Drexel Collection – Comprised of three separate galleries (the Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery, the Paul Peck Center Alumni Gallery and the Rincliffe Gallery), Drexel University’s collection started in 1891 with the founding of the school. Today, they house 19th-century paintings and sculpture contributed by friends and family of the university and an 18th-century David Rittenhouse astronomical musical clock, considered one of the most prestigious clocks in the country. 32nd & Chestnut Streets, (215) 895-0480, drexel.edu/drexelcollection
- EKG Exhibition Space – The exhibitions and programs here showcase contemporary art that intersects with advances in science and technology—and all are free and open to the public. The Department of Making and Doing, an on-campus makers’ space, sits just a block away on Market Street. 3600 Market Street, (215) 966-6188, sciencecenter.org
- Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania – Open to the public free of charge, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been instrumental in showcasing the work of emerging and under-recognized artists for more than 50 years. It led the way with the first-ever museum shows of Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, Robert Indiana and other influential artists. 118 S. 36th Street, (215) 898-7108, icaphila.org
- International House Philadelphia (IHP) – Dedicated to broadening the horizons of the Greater Philadelphia community through film screenings, live performances, art exhibits, lectures and language classes, this independent non-profit also provides housing to students and scholars from all corners of the globe, introducing them to the American experience. 3701 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-5125, ihousephilly.org
- Kelly Writers House – Penn students, faculty, staff and alumni founded this gathering space for writers inside an actual 13-room house on campus. Each semester, it hosts around 150 public programs and projects that include poetry readings, film screenings, seminars, workshops, art exhibits and musical performances. 3805 Locust Walk, (215) 746-POEM, writing.upenn.edu/wh
- Leonard Pearlstein Gallery of Drexel University – The novel and experimental art comes in all contemporary mediums: digital, video, sculptural, photography, graphics and fashion design. Located the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s URBN Annex, the gallery presents 3,500 square feet of exhibits free of charge. 3401 Filbert Street, (215) 895-2548, drexel.edu/westphal/resources/leonardpearlsteingallery
- Penn Museum (University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) – A world-renowned collection of art and artifacts from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Greco-Roman World, Asia, Africa and the Americas (including a Native American exhibit) fills a grand arts and crafts and eclectic-style building. Gardens, fountains and a koi pond make the outside as impressive as the inside—almost. 3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
- Penn Park – A 24-acre urban recreational area on the banks of the Schuylkill River, Penn Park includes bike trails, walkways, places for formal and informal athletics and plenty of green space, as well as an enclosed air structure for all-weather play. 31st Street between Walnut & South Streets, pennpark.upenn.edu
A northern offshoot of University City, Powelton Village sometimes gets lumped in with the larger ’hood, but residents will gladly point out the differences between their home and its neighbor. Stately houses along tree-lined streets give the district, one of the oldest in the city, a look that distinguishes it from University City. Cutting through Powelton, Lancaster Avenue is especially hopping on Second Fridays, when businesses stay open later and visitors enjoy special happening like poetry readings and music.
Restaurants & Bars:
- Ed’s Buffalo Wings and Pizza – Oversized slices and hot wings provide inexpensive sustenance to overworked college students. For a spicy treat, the Tim and John slice comes topped with crispy chicken and Ed’s famous hot sauce, and the wings can be doused with a dozen seasonings, including the fiery Dragon Sauce. 3513 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-4000, edswings.com
- Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant – Imaginative Thai dishes alongside creative drinks and a reasonably priced lunch make this simply decorated restaurant a West Philly hotspot. Customers can end their meals with a delicious scoop of coconut ice cream. 3626-30 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-8042, lemongrassphila.com
- New Angle Lounge – Built in the 1800s, this triangular bar’s clientele has evolved drastically. Today’s mixed crowd keeps in step with the eclectic drink specials. 3901 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 387-5147
- Sabrina’s Café @ Powelton – The wildly popular Sabrina’s Café planted a flag at Drexel University, bringing its daily brunch and dinner specials to a new audience. Regulars return frequently to chase that wow factor that Executive Chef Lance Silverman brings to every meal. Ross Commons Building, 227 N. 34th Street, (215) 222-1022, sabrinascafe.com
- Savas Brick Oven Pizza – The name can be deceiving; Savas Brick Oven Pizza serves much more than just pizza. Buttermilk pancakes at breakfast and full salmon and pasta dinners in the evening keep guests stuffed and happy. 3505 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-7777, savaspizza.com
- Spencer ETA Burger – The burgers here come in beef, turkey and vegetarian form, and the flavor varieties include the Tomahto Daddy (fried cornmeal-herb-panko-encrusted tomato, bacon, American cheese, grilled red onions, homemade special sauce, shredded romaine, brioche bun) and Wakey Wakey (grilled sausage, cheddar cheese, caramelized maple-onion-shallot jam, two over-easy eggs, green onion-sour cream biscuit). Ross Commons Building, 227 N. 34th Street, (215) 222-1022, spenceretaburger.com
Cafes & Markets:
- Green Line Cafe – A neighborhood-based family business since 2003, the Green Line Cafe now has five Philadelphia locations, all serving organic, fair-trade coffee and grab-and-go foods made daily on-site. Plus, the artwork on the walls changes frequently and is always for sale. See Spruce Hill section for two other locations. 3649 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 382-2143, greenlinecafe.com
- Reed’s Coffee and Tea House – This is the cafe every neighborhood should have. Along with fair-trade coffee, 20 different teas, homemade lemonade, sandwiches and baked goods, Reed’s demonstrates its commitment to the community by providing meeting space, Wi-Fi and voter registration services. Those who just want to kick back can enjoy the TV, alfresco seating and homemade Belgian waffles (on Saturdays). 3802 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 349-6298, reedscoffeeandteahouse.com
- Redcap’s Corner – Players gather at this local gaming emporium for events, matches and camaraderie. Almost every evening, open play events such as Magic: The Gathering and Infinity pack the place with gamers. 3617 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 387-4040, redcapscorner.com
- Wolf Cycles – This funky funhouse of all-things cycling is one of the oldest bike shops in the city. Wolf provides repair services and sells used, refurbished bikes, and the small staff is friendly and knowledgeable. See Cedar Park section for sister shop Firehouse Bicycles.
4311 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-2171, firehousebicycles.com
- Drexel Park – Both Powelton residents and Drexel students flock to this 2.5-acre oasis for its walking paths, benches and open green space, where picnics, Frisbee games, reading and sunbathing are the main activities. And the breathtaking view makes a typical day in the park visually stunning. 32nd Street & Powelton Avenue, universitycity.org/drexel-park
Spruce Hill sits west of the universities and is loosely bounded by 38th and 46th streets and Market Street and Woodland Avenue. Grand, historic homes populate the residential neighborhood, developed more than a century ago as one of the country’s first “streetcar suburbs.” Baltimore Avenue lends a longstanding funky flair to the area, and recent developments on the thoroughfare have boosted the number of restaurants, shops and cafes. Clark Park is the main recreation hub, with a playground and seasonal events such as music festivals, a farmers’ market, flea markets and Shakespeare performances.
Restaurants & Bars:
- Abyssinia Restaurant & Bar – Abyssinia cooks up savory and authentic Ethiopian cuisine in a neighborhood packed with African dining destinations. The native Tusker Lager beer complements tasty vegetarian and meat-based entrees served on traditional injera bread. 229 S. 45th Street, (215) 387-2424
- Allegro Pizza – Gourmet pizzas—from Neapolitan to Sicilian—may be their specialty, but Allegro also takes pride in its hearty breakfast sandwiches, pancakes and egg dishes. On nice days, the terrace makes for a pleasant place to enjoy one of the 150 bottles of local and imported beer. 3942 Spruce Street, (215) 382-8158, allegropizza.com
- Atyia Ola’s Spirit First Foods – This cozy cafe entices people with nutritional goodness, including fresh juices, sandwiches and raw vegan and vegetarian options. For those who like sit and sip, there’s free wireless Internet access. 4505 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 939-3298
- Blarney Stone – This local sports pub, boasting a pool table and nightly events such as Quizzo, has perfected the art of bar food. Weekly karaoke and deep-discount specials like fifty-cent drinks and $5 cheesesteaks make this spot a popular pick for local college students. 3929 Sansom Street, (215) 222-5340, facebook.com/blarneystonephiladelphia
- Bobby’s Burger Palace – With toppings like watercress and fresh blue cheese, chef/restaurateur Bobby Flay’s signature burgers—not to mention his savory sides and more than 10 milkshake flavors, a few of which are spiked—are undeniably delicious. All beef is certified Angus and cooked to order. 3925 Walnut Street, (215) 387-0378, bobbysburgerpalace.com
- The Bottle Shop at Local 44 – A craft-beer geek’s paradise, this shop offers more than 500 varieties of bottled beer. For $4, shoppers can even enjoy a cask beverage as they peruse the store’s many offerings. 4333 Spruce Street, (215) 222-CANS, local44beerbar.com/bottleshop
- Cavanaugh’s Restaurant & Sports Bar – This college bar fits perfectly in the neighborhood thanks to plenty of TVs and great wings and burgers—not to mention 24 beers on tap and 100 in bottles. Nightly happy hour specials and a free buffet on Fridays draw a college crowd with big appetites and small wallets. 119 S. 39th Street, (215) 386-4889, cavanaughsrestaurant.com
- City Tap House – Reclaimed wood, slate and tile create a handsome space for this beer lovers’ haven, boasting 60 taps, 140 seats inside and a large outdoor patio with 80 seats and five fire pits. Classic American fare includes brick-oven pizzas, free-range chicken, mussels and plenty of vegetarian-friendly options. 3925 Walnut Street, (215) 662-0105, citytaphouse.com
- Copabanana – Margaritas, burgers, Spanish fries and Tex-Mex dinners served by friendly waiters make this a popular happy hour spot. The plentiful outdoor seating makes it an even more happening place in warm weather months. 4000 Spruce Street, (215) 382-1330, copabanana.com
- Desi Chaat House – Fried dough, spices and fillings make up the basis for chaat, a popular Indian snack and the foundation for this casual restaurant. The 13 variations include ingredients like cashews, melon seeds, yogurt, green curry and noodles. 501 S. 42nd Street, (215) 386-1999, desichaathousephilly.com
- Desi Village – Spices—and lots of them—define this cozy Indian spot, dishing out traditional cuisine with tons of flavor. Regulars swear by the restaurant’s signature dish, the chicken tikka masala. 4527 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 382-6000, desivillage.net
- Distrito – This bi-level stunner features funky décor, creative drinks and modern Mexican fare. The carnitas tacos, complete with pulled pork and pineapple salsa, are a true taste-bud fiesta. For the best seat in the house, call ahead to reserve the table in the VW Bug. 3945 Chestnut Street (entrance on 40th Street), (215) 222-1657, distritorestaurant.com
- Drinker’s West – With sister locations catering to the college and post-college crowds in the Old City and Rittenhouse Square neighborhoods, a West Philly branch finally brings the brand directly to the college area. Ping pong, pool, bubble hockey tables, DJs on the weekends and ultra-cheap food during sporting events mean there’s something to do at all hours of the day and night. 3900 Chestnut Street, (215) 397-4693, drinkersphilly.com
- The Farmacy – Formerly known as Rx, The Farmacy offers a casual dining experience in a venue run by graduates of the nearby Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. The menu features a wide selection of basics like homemade soups and organic salads, as well as more filling dishes such as burgers and truffle mac and cheese with brioche breadcrumbs. 4443 Spruce Street, (267) 432-1082, thefarmacyrx.com
- Fiume – There’s no sign, no phone number and no website for this beloved dive bar, and that’s exactly how patrons and employees like it. Regulars know to climb the stairs above Abyssinia to this hidden spot to partake in the “citywide special” (a cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon and whiskey combo) and listen to the live bands as they shake the miniscule space. 229 S. 45th Street
- Gojjo Restaurant – Those seeking traditional cuisine can savor Ethiopian food and a cocktail, while the truly adventurous sample Ethiopian (Philly-style) cheesesteaks. A pool table and two outdoor patios provide ample spots for customers to enjoy themselves over authentic grub. 4540 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 386-1444, gojjos.com
- Greek Lady – With heaping gyros, salads and desserts, Greek Lady fills hungry bellies without emptying wallets. Outdoor tables fill up fast when it’s warm outside. 222 S. 40th Street, (215) 382-2600, greeklady.com
- Honest Tom’s Taco Shop – What started as a popular food truck evolved into a bricks-and-mortar restaurant that serves Mexican fare in a casual eat-in cafe. Breakfast tacos overflowing with bacon, potatoes, tomatoes and fresh guacamole draw crowds from all over the city. 261 S. 44th Street, (215) 620-1851, honesttomstacoshop.com
- Hummus – A number of toppings, from olives to tahini, add even more flavor to the homemade Mediterranean delights at this healthy hotspot, where the staff is friendly and the prices are reasonable. The combo platter comes with a taste of everything, including kabob and falafel balls. 3931 Walnut Street, (215) 222-5300, hummusrestaurant.com
- Kabobeesh – This carnivore’s dream dishes out inexpensive and spicy beef skewers and quail in a restaurant that observes all Muslim dietary laws. The cooks at Kabobeesh, the oldest halal eatery in the city, authentically prepare the meat over a charcoal grill. 4201 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-8081, kabobeesh.com
- Kilimandjaro – West African cuisine fills the menu at this intimate spot, where unusual spices flavor lamb and beef, and fried plantains are a favorite. It’s the only restaurant in the city to specialize in the foods of Senegal. 4317 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-1970
- Koch’s Deli – After tasting the fresh-baked goods, hoagies packed with meats and cheeses, milkshakes, cheesesteaks and sandwiches named for neighborhood heavy-hitters, it’s easy to see why Koch’s has been a local favorite since 1966. The motto alone draws patrons: “More Food for Less Bread.” 4309 Locust Street, (215) 222-8662, kochsdeli.com
- Local 44 – Craft beer flows from the 20 taps at this bar, where crowds enjoy savory bar food (heavy on the vegan options) along with their drafts. The owners opened a bottle shop next door, expanding the sudsy offerings with 500 bottles and two casks that pump out beers to drink while shopping. 4333 Spruce Street, (215) 222-BEER, local44beerbar.com
- Manakeesh Bakery – Serving hummus, baklava and several varieties of the Middle Eastern breakfast flatbread that gives the restaurant its name, this Lebanese bakery and cafe is helping to transform a corner of West Philly in to somewhat of a “Little Lebanon.” Vegan and gluten-free platters pack the evening menu, and crepes, fresh fruit juice and smoothies turn morning into a delicious trip to Beirut. 4420 Walnut Street, (215) 921-2135
- Marigold Kitchen – Marigold enjoys 70-plus-year-old roots as a neighborhood stalwart. At the bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) restaurant, guests indulge in an ever-evolving menu of upscale and interesting comfort foods like liquid nitro popcorn, gazpacho dippin’ dots and duck egg carbonara. 501 S. 45th Street, (215) 222-3699, marigoldkitchenbyob.com
- Millcreek Tavern – This American restaurant, bar and live music venue pours 20 draft beers and offers drink specials during its daily regular and late-night happy hours. Drinks cost $5-7 on average at this low-key, affordable locale. 4200 Chester Avenue, (215) 222-1255
- Mizu Sushi Bar – Trained sushi chefs use only the freshest ingredients to make their high-quality maki, nigiri, salads and soups. Vegetarians can find plenty on the menu to keep satiated. 111 S. 40th Street, (215) 382-1745, mizusushibar.com
- New Delhi – For a relaxing yet international lunch or dinner, guests at this casual restaurant can pair an Indian beer or a cocktail (fan favorite: mango mojito) with tandoori meats, veggies and breads from the popular buffet. Established in 1988, it’s the oldest Indian restaurant in the city. 4004 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-1941, newdelhiweb.com
- Pattaya Grill – In the colorful bar and the sunroom adorned with trees, French-Thai specialties shine. The discounted, three-course early-bird dinner draws the budget-conscious before regular supper hours. 4006 Chestnut Street, (215) 387-8533, pattayarestaurant.com
- The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College – Four distinct restaurants (International Bistro, Italian Trattoria, American Heartland, The Great Chefs of Philadelphia) feature student chefs and hospitality staff and creative concepts. The Pastry Shop and the College Store sell fresh-baked pastries and kitchen supplies. 4207 Walnut Street, (215) 222-4200, walnuthillcollege.edu
- Saigon Pho & Cafe – Inexpensive pho and Vietnamese entrees entice people at this understated restaurant. The deluxe pho dish piles it on, with five different cuts of beef, including tripe and tendon. 4248 Spruce Street, (215) 222-6800
- Sitar India Restaurant – Sitar has something for every palate in its all-you-can-eat buffet, filled with plenty of healthy and vegetarian options. The free salad bar is reason enough to stop in for a bite. 60 S. 38th Street, (215) 662-0818
- Smokey Joe’s – The walls are covered with sports photos of great Penn athletes, and the beer taps are programmed for students on a budget. These attributes, plus its longevity as a 60-year-old neighborhood landmark, have earned it the nickname “The Pennstitution.” 210 S. 40th Street, (215) 222-0770, smokeyjoes.companygoods.com
- Tampopo – The second Philadelphia location of this haunt brings West Philadelphia diners a range of Japanese and Korean cuisine, including sushi, bento boxes, soups and noodle and rice dishes, all at reasonable prices. To promote eco-friendliness, the BYOBowl option takes fifty cents off of the bill for diners that bring their own, well, bowls. 269 S. 44th Street, (215) 386-3866, tampoporestaurant.com
- Tandoor India – This casual Indian restaurant with an all-you-can-eat buffet also has an à-la-carte menu that includes traditional favorites at very reasonable prices. Tandoori chicken is the kitchen’s specialty, made nightly in a tandoor oven. 106 S. 40th Street, (215) 222-7122, tandoorindiarestaurant.com
- Wishbone – Buttermilk-battered, pretzel-crusted fried chicken and homemade dipping sauces make hungry mouths water at this gourmet take-out joint. Hand pies in flavors like pumpkin, bananas foster and apple end every meal on a sweet note. 4034 Walnut Street, (215) 921-3204, wishbonephilly.com
Cafes, Tea Houses & Markets:
- Capogiro Gelato Artisans – Philly’s most famous gelato spot serves inventive, handmade flavors created with fresh, seasonal ingredients and milk culled from grass-fed cows. The West Philadelphia location plays to its audience by adding coffee and paninis to the mix. 3925 Walnut Street, (215) 222-0252, capogirogelato.com
- Green Line Cafe – See description in Powelton Village section. 4239 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 222-3431; 4426 Locust Street, (215) 222-0799; greenlinecafe.com
- Kaffa Crossing – Ethiopian-American entrepreneur Habtamu Kassa took over this African coffee shop in part to promote fair trade and awareness about Ethiopia’s blessings and challenges. As such, he prepares light East African fare to go along with his Ethiopian roasts. 4423 Chestnut Street, (215) 386-0504, kaffacrossing.com
- Lovers and Madmen – This locally owned cafe sells organic pastries, gourmet sandwiches and house-pressed coffee. The welcoming neighborhood hub puts as much emphasis on fostering a sense of community as it does on brewing top-notch coffee and espresso. 28 S. 40th Street, loversandmadmencoffee.com
- Metropolitan Bakery – In addition to selling all-natural homemade breads, the shop and cafe offers coffee drinks, teas, breakfast sandwiches, wraps, panini, salads, an array of sweet confections and its famous grilled cheese. Patrons can take their seats at indoor and outdoor tables and communal benches. 4013 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1492, metropolitanbakery.com
- Milk & Honey Market – Truly a convenience store for the 21st century, Milk & Honey focuses on locally produced foods, farm-fresh produce, sustainably raised meats and imported cheeses and charcuterie. Artisanal baked goods and essential groceries round out the shelves. 4435 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 387-6455, milkandhoneymarket.com
- Saxbys Coffee – This coffeehouse blends coffee concoctions—the Cold Brew iced coffee is for real—and smoothies for a student-heavy crowd. Saxbys also serves its own line of frozen yogurt. 4000 Locust Street, (215) 222-8400, saxbyscoffee.com
- House of Our Own Bookstore – This bookshop focuses on cultural studies, history, literary criticism and social science. Located in a quiet, comfortable Victorian house on the edge of Penn’s campus, the well-organized store showcases new volumes on the first floor and used titles on the second. 3920 Spruce Street, (215) 222-1576
- The Last Word Bookshop – Open seven days a week, The Last Word deals in used books ranging from popular novels to out-of-print history books—all protected by Lester, a former stray cat who entertains customers by climbing the bookshelves. A full children’s section keeps kids occupied while parents shop for their next “me time” read. 220 S. 40th Street, (215) 386-7750
- Locust Moon Comics – At once a comic shop, art gallery and small press, Locust Moon hosts regular on-site events. Its annual Locust Moon Comics Festival celebrates comics, graphic novels and illustration. 34 S. 40th Street, (267) 403-2856, locustmoon.com
- The Natural Shoe Store – This tiny shop houses kicks of all varieties, including ones made of natural materials by companies such as Birkenstock and Earth and more mainstream lines including Uggs and Nike. The best part: Everything in the store is discounted by at least 15%. 226 S. 40th Street, (215) 382-9899
Museums, Galleries & Performance Venues:
- Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy – Housed at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy—North America’s first college of pharmacy—10,000 pharmaceutical and medical objects and artifacts cover more than five centuries of practice. Through changing exhibitions, the museum tells the story of pharmaceuticals dating back to Greco-Roman times. 600 S. 43rd Street, (215) 596-8721, usciences.edu/museum
- New Africa Center – Dedicated to preserving the history of Islam in the West, this is the first museum of its kind in the country. Using primarily pictures, books and magazines from America’s slavery days to the present, the museum focuses on the African-American Muslim community. 4243 Lancaster Avenue, (215) 222-0520, newafricacenter.com
- Paul Robeson House – What better place for a museum that honors the life, legacy, philosophy and historical significance of Philadelphian Paul Robeson than inside his former residence? A few blocks outside the Spruce Hill boundaries, the museum occasionally offers public events of particular interest to the African-American community. Tours are available by appointment. 4949-51 Walnut Street, (215) 747-4675, paulrobesonhouse.org
- The Rotunda – Built as a house of worship in 1911, The Rotunda is a smoke-free, drink-free and admission-free (unless otherwise noted) space for world, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz and experimental music. When bands aren’t playing, the socially conscious venue attracts crowds for movie screenings, yoga classes, theater projects and art exhibits. 4014 Walnut Street, therotunda.org
- Slought Foundation – This internationally recognized non-profit cultural center hosts exhibitions and programs with a socio-political focus. Programs explore the role of artists in society and art’s power to transform political realities. 4017 Walnut Street, (215) 701-4627, slought.org
- Studio 34 – Art shows and performances take place often inside this 4,000-square-foot yoga and dance studio. The venue also sees some Philly festivals, such as Artclash! And DesignPhiladelphia. 4522 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 387-3434, studio34yoga.com
Outdoors & Recreation:
- Clark Park – Established in 1895, Clark Park serves as a popular neighborhood gathering place no matter the weather. Once used by the city as a dumping ground, the park spans nine acres that now feature trees, grass and lush greenery. Between Baltimore & Woodland Avenues and 43rd & 45th Streets, friendsofclarkpark.org
- Keswick Cycle – The first Keswick Cycle opened in 1933 in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Like all of the brand’s locations, the West Philly branch caters to everyone from first-time riders to mountain bikers and racers. 4040 Locust Street, (215) 397-4191, keswickcycle.com
- The Woodlands – Lesser-known than the neighborhood’s Clark Park, this 18th-century estate turned rural-landscape cemetery is the largest open space in University City and provides a great location for bird-watchers. More people are discovering the spot thanks to events such as the Go West! Craft Fest. 4000 Woodland Avenue, (215) 386-2181, woodlandsphila.org
Between 46th and 52nd streets and Larchwood Street and Kingsessing Avenue, the boho sentiment reigns. It’s not a put-on trend; independent businesses, neighborhood initiatives and inclusive activities have defined the truly authentic community lifestyle here for years. The heart of Cedar Park sits at 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue, in the small yet well-appointed park that gives the neighborhood its name. A regular Friday Night Jazz series at the park provides the perfect opportunity to get to know the neighborhood.
Restaurants, Bars & Cafes:
- Chili Szechuan – Szechuan specialties such as Mongolian beef, kung pao chicken and hot-and-sour soup abound at this popular eatery. The dishes sing with classic flavors like salt-backed and pickled chili. 4626 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 662-0888, chiliszechuanphilly.com
- Dahlak – Ethnic food enthusiasts enjoy family-style Ethiopian and Eritrean food in the cozy atmosphere inside or on the patio here. For a fun twist and an authentic touch, diners eat with their hands instead of using forks and knives. With more than 40 beers to choose from and lively music (including karaoke), patrons get their fill of more than just food. 4708 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 726-6464, dahlakrestaurant.com
- Dock Street Brewery and Restaurant – Founded in 1985, this award-winning brewpub serves gourmet wood-fired pizzas, char-grilled sandwiches, salads and a half-dozen unfiltered draft selections, brewed just steps from the bar in a classic German copper brewhouse. Beer lovers know to come here for select rotating taps and takeout specialty six-packs. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 726-2337, dockstreetbeer.com
- Fu Wah – This Vietnamese shop stocks its shelves with standards, healthy snacks and international ingredients, but it is most popular for its takeout tofu hoagie, done in banh mi style. For at-home cooks, the shop is a go-to for hard-to-find ingredients. 810 S. 47th Street, (215) 729-2993
- The Gold Standard Café – Fresh, locally bought ingredients make up the soups, salads and sandwiches at this cozy cafe. Neighbors come here for the hearty breakfast dishes and homemade desserts. 4800 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 727-8247, thegoldstandardcafe.com
- Little Baby’s Ice Cream – The super-premium, Philadelphia-style ice cream at Little Baby’s comes in a range of unexpected flavors. Think balsamic banana and Earl Grey Sriracha. While the brand operates mobile tricycles at festivals, events and farmers’ markets all over town, the Cedar Park location is one of the few bricks-and-mortar outposts. 4903 Catharine Street, (215) 921-2100, littlebabysicecream.com
- Mood Café – Locals swear by the chaat—of which there are 34 variations—and the friendly service at Mood Café. The shaved ice is another popular pick at this mostly to-go favorite. 4618 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 222-1037, moodcafephilly.com
- Satellite Cafe – Satellite Cafe provides an eclectic respite for bike messengers, local punk rockers and other West Philadelphians. Vegan kale smoothies, spicy black bean wraps and strong double espressos round out the experience. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 729-1211
- Vientiane Café – Prices are reasonable and portions are generous at this family-run BYOB that features Thai and Lao cuisine. Owners claim vegetarians “go nuts” for the naam salad, consisting of crispy rice with coconut flakes, herbs and lemongrass, all wrapped in lettuce. 4728 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 726-1095
- Vietnam Café – Owner Benny Lai introduced another version of Chinatown’s Vietnam Restaurant to West Philadelphia. The inviting cafe features sleek décor, Vietnamese fare, a warm atmosphere and friendly service. Those waiting for a table can migrate to the glossy wooden bar to watch mixologists craft tropical-style cocktails. 814 S. 47th Street, (215) 729-0260, eatatvietnam.com
- A-Space – This “anarchist community space” is…well, so West Philly. A-Space hosts small music shows, film screenings, poetry readings, craft fairs, potluck dinners and political events and discussions. Plus, it hangs art on its walls. 4722 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 821-6877
- Firehouse Bicycles – Founded by a group of bike messengers, artists and welders, this shop offers cycles, parts and tune-ups. Distinguishing itself from sister store Wolf Cycles in Powelton Village, Firehouse Bicycles specializes in used bikes, of which it has a huge selection. 701 S. 50th Street, (215) 727-9692, firehousebicycles.com
- VIX Emporium – Some 150 local and national artisans design and construct the jewelry, hand-printed stationery, hats, bags, scarves, bath products, home accessories, ceramics and more for men, women and children. The funky former 1940s millinery still contains much of the original cabinetry. 5009 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 471-7700, vixemporium.com
Museums, Galleries & Performance Venues:
- Curio Theatre Company – The professional ensemble company dedicates itself to developing artistic talents and producing diverse and high-quality theatrical works at an affordable ticket price. 4740 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 525-1350, curiotheatre.org
- The Marvelous – The record selection here encompasses all genres, as well as quality reissues. Guitars, vintage turntables, amps and other musical accessories round out the merchandise. 4916 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 72-MUSIC
- Seeds Gallery – This modern gallery focuses on locally made art. Exhibitions feature emerging and established artists of all media and styles. 5011 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 289-2705, seedsgallery.com
VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, formerly known as Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, 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.
Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. 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.
- Donna Schorr, (215) 599-0782
What's In The Logan Square Neighborhood?
Logan Square’s personality defies a single definition. What’s there? Corporate and municipal office buildings; the museum-packed Benjamin Franklin Parkway; and green spaces, including the square that gives the area its name. Once called Northwest Square, Logan Square—one of the city’s original five squares—was renamed to honor 18th-century mayor James Logan.
City Hall is a natural focal point of the Logan Square neighborhood. Its elaborate architecture and ornamentation makes people stop and take notice—and photos. The sprawling building is adorned with carvings of allegorical figures and is capped off with a massive statue of William Penn, all of which was designed...
What's In the Chestnut Hill, Germantown & Mount Airy Neighborhoods?
Diverse and historic, Chestnut Hill, Germantown and Mount Airy are urban neighborhoods in northwest Philadelphia. Each enclave has a distinctive style, feel and highlights that represent the communities’ past and present. All are worth day trips, and fortunately, getting there is a cinch via SEPTA, Philadelphia’s public transportation system. Check bus and regional rail schedules at septa.org before heading off to explore these vibrant neighborhoods.
Chestnut Hill (via the Chestnut Hill East/West train lines or the #23 Bus):
With a higher elevation than the rest of the city, Chestnut Hill, a National Register Historic District, was once a vacation
What's In The Fishtown Neighborhood?
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 Fishtown ever since William Penn made peace with the Lenape Indians 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, sample Philly-made craft whiskeys and visit the world’s only pizza museum. Fishtown’s Frankford Avenue...
What's In The East Passyunk & Pennsport Neighborhoods?
For decades, insiders have headed to South Philadelphia—particularly the neighborhoods east of Broad Street, for the red-gravy Italian restaurants. Today, the area around East Passyunk Avenue—a diagonal interruption to Philadelphia’s grid layout—has enjoyed much revitalization. This is especially so on the food front, with many new eateries earning enormous acclaim from Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Travel & Leisure and more.
Visitors who stroll down Passyunk (pronounced “pashunk” by old-timers) find boutiques, coffee shops, gastropubs, excellent Malaysian, French, Mexican and Filipino fare, as well as the ristoranti (Marra’s, Victor Café, Mr. Martino’s, Tre Scalini) that first made this street...
What's In The Avenue Of The Arts Neighborhood?
Although technically named South Broad Street, the center of Philadelphia’s performing arts community—stretching from City Hall to Lombard Street—has earned the nickname Avenue of the Arts. And for good reason. The energy is contagious as theatergoers, orchestra fans, opera lovers, dance aficionados and artists spill onto the street to mix with the locals who live, work and dine on the storied thoroughfare.
Home to the striking Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the legendary Academy of Music, The Wilma Theater, Merriam Theater, University of the Arts, Arts Bank and other cultural landmarks, the Avenue of the Arts has earned its...
What's in the Washington Square West Neighborhood?
Washington Square West is a historic Center City neighborhood comprising a 17th-century park, the vibrant enclaves of Midtown Village, the Gayborhood and lots more.
Named “Southeast Square” in 1682, Washington Square once served as a grazing pasture and potter’s field on the edge of the original city of Philadelphia. Today, modern residences surround the park, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier, a sycamore moon tree and a steady stream of visitors. To Washington Square’s north are the nearly 300 jewelry merchants of Jewelers’ Row. And to its south is Antique Row, tree-lined blocks of...
What's In The Fairmount & Spring Garden Neighborhoods
Because of their proximity to the renowned arts and cultural institutions along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia’s Fairmount and Spring Garden neighborhoods are often referred to as the “Art Museum area.” But the personalities of these historic, laid-back, diverse communities are distinct in their own right.
Fairmount stands on its own as a destination in Philadelphia. The residential neighborhood is considered a sort of urban suburb, thanks to friendly residents and atmosphere. What’s a visitor to do here? Eat, drink and tour the former prison-turned-museum, Eastern State Penitentiary.
Wedged between the cultural powerhouses of the Parkway and better-known Fairmount, Spring...
Graduate Hospital goes by many names (Center City South, South of South, G-Ho), which is fitting for a neighborhood that draws its personality from the people inside it: young transplants, born-and-raised neighbors, hip urban professionals, craft beer crowds and more. In recent years, the area stretching from Lombard Street to Washington Avenue and from Broad Street to Gray’s Ferry Avenue has accumulated a healthy dose of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and markets that reflect the area’s residential and cool vibe.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) has picked this ’hood for its summertime PHS Pop Up Garden three years in a...
Long known as the edgiest street in Philadelphia, South Street welcomes more than just hippies these days. Shoppers searching for a statement-making look, visitors hungry for a real Philly cheesesteak and music lovers who want to catch an up-and-coming band head to the storied boulevard. Also lining South are ethnically diverse restaurants, bars that keep the party going long after dessert, galleries and performance spaces.
Over the past decade, the development of South Street’s east side has spread west of Broad Street, but the traditional definition of the district (depending on who you ask) spans up to 14 blocks: Front...