The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp (GPTMC) has tried to help visitors by launching the Philadelphia Neighborhoods Program, an expansive and intimate guide to 14 of Philly’s finest burroughs. Even they admit, however, that they haven’t covered them all.
Philadelphia is also the city of food. Whatever your craving, Philly can satisfy- all you need is the name of the right street. So what better way to get to know the best of the city than by the neighbourhood and by the meal. When visiting Philly, I suggest you let your tour guide be your stomach and your mantra be, I’m feeling hungry (for)…
A solid brew: Dock Street Brewing Co. in #CedarPark
701 S. 50th Street, dockstreetbeer.com
This Zagat rated microbrewery was founded 1985 by brewmaster Rosemarie Certo. It upholds Philadelphia’s long, long tradition of great brewing, producing unfiltered and unpasturized batch beers full of those necessary vitamins and nutrients. Nothing in this brewpub is stylized. Look for your draft options -both “Current” and “Upcoming”- on the chalkboard above the bar and printed on simple paper sheets on your table. Look for the fuel that fires their incredible wood oven pizzas stacked near the bathroom, just beyond which you’ll find the door to the brewery. Not only does Dock Street Brewing Co. set the standard for microbreweries, they establish trends for the industry. Their successful experimentation includes “Crackle & Squeeze,” featuring fresh squeezed lemons and cracked pepper, as well as a collaborative brew with the Four Seasons, the savoury “Truffle Ale.” For your beer education, a brewery tour comes with a tasting sheet as refined as a vintner’s; my trip to Dock Street Brewing Co. was the first time I considered the appearance, bouquet, and finish of my pint .
Delicious cured meats: Le Virtù in #EastPassyunk
1927 East Passyunk Avenue, levirtu.com
Le Virtù is nestled on East Passyunk Ave. in South Philly, a street with so much going on, it’s considered a neighbourhood. Le Virtù showcases local ingredients and imports from the Abruzzo region in central Italy. Best of all, it offers one of Philly’s finest selections of charcuterie- most of which is cured in their own cellar. Executive Chef Joe Cicala trained in Salerno, Italy with 3-Michelin star Chef Pietro Rispoli and brought his expertise back to Philly to develop the menu. Making an appearance on our charcuterie platter, which Cicala personally presented to our table on the terrace: salami nostrano (fermented one year), wild boar salami, capicollo, and pancetta – a perfect pairing on a hot evening with a chilled glass of Trebianno D’Abruzzo. Le Virtù has recently wrapped construction on their patio, having transformed an old grass lot into an exquisite outdoor terrace with the help of Philly-based sustainable landscapers, Urban Jungle. Their terrace is now an urban oasis with intimate seating and an herb wall, and they plan to install an outdoor projection screen for films and soccer games, as well as a fire and water fountain.
2028 Fairmount Avenue, farerestaurant.com
Fare, on the opposite side of Fairmount Ave. to the East State Penitentiary, lays out on their seasonally varying menu what they have to offer, “Organic. Local. Sustainable. Artisan. Crafted.” They serve the healthy fused with the delicious for brunch, lunch, and dinner, so you leave satisfied without having to unbuckle. At lunchtime, you can choose from “Smalls,” salads, mains, sides, and desserts– and they even have a kids menu! The food speaks for itself; so I’ll let it. A winning starter is the Crispy Tuna Roll with avocado, pickled ginger and tamari vinaigrette, as is their Gingered Beet Salad with walnut chutney and ricotta over baby arugula. Their Fish Tacos are a diner’s favourite (I surmised from the many plates being delivered around me), filled with mahi, citrus slaw, and served with delicious arroz y frijoles- or, black beans and brown rice. I decided on the tacos, which I scarfed down alongside a great local beer, Victory Summer Love. I dined at Fare on my birthday and considered the meal my first treat yourself gift.
A nap after breakfast kind a’ breakfast: Honey’s Sit ‘N Eat in #GraduateHospital
2010 South Street, honeyssitneat.com
This neighbourhood staple, and one of Philly’s many BYOBs, is known particularly for its breakfasts which are locally-sourced, southern-inspired, and just-like-home-cooked (but likely better). From their pies all the way down to their mayo and jams, it’s from scratch. Be prepared to fight your way in, however, as the rest of the city knows about this spot too. Call me superstitious but I took their yellow checkered menu, with its photos of a skillet and cup of coffee, as a sign I was going to get a good breakfast. Their menu features variations of Challah french toast: straight up; under eggs benny; or sandwiching their Honey Cristo – that is, two steamy slabs on either side of double smoked ham and swiss cheese, and topped with two sunny side eggs. Their buttermilk pancakes are the stuff of Sunday morning cravings. Honey’s even has its own version of the skip scramble, appropriately titled “The Breakfast Bomb,” pancakes stuffed with scrambled eggs and “any” breakfast meat, all smothered in maple syrup. Perhaps the best part, though, is that with almost all of their breakfasts, you can choose from fresh baked corn muffins or biscuits, cheese latkes, or good old fashioned grits as your “side.”
A jägerschniztel, and make that outdoors!: Frankford Hall in #Fishtown
1210 Frankford Ave, frankfordhall.com
Frankford Hall is a good ol’ modern German beer garden and local watering hole in the heart of Philly’s Fishtown district. It’s full of playful takes on its Bavarian forefathers: picnic tables, a fire pit, ping pong tables, a German menu served from a window in the brick walls of the outdoor courtyard, and – oh yes, beer. Frankford Hall pours its 10+ draft beers (a great selection of imports and locals) in half and full litres, and into proper mugs. If a litre at a time doesn’t do you, they also offer a 5L keg can of DAB Dortmunder Lager. They serve warm soft pretzels with cheese sauce, several different kinds of sausages with sauerkraut or red cabbage, German potato salad, and true blue pork jägerschnitzel and spätzle. I highly recommend Frankford Hall for carbo-loading.