A Beginner’s Guide to Philadelphia

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On my tumblr account, I received what’s called an “ask” from an anonymous person who knew that I reside in Philadelphia, which asked me to compile a list of restaurants, shops, touristy sites to see, and things to do in Philadelphia prior to his/her visit, so I decided to really hone in on some of my personal favorites (as well as refer to friends, family, and the “web” reveal some of their top places) to get a feel for the city in its entirety and share it on here.

To understand Philadelphia and many of it’s neighborhoods, please refer to the map below. All of the topics I discuss are within these areas; Penn’s Landing, which is between Old City and Northern Liberties; Center City, which includes The Gayborhood, which is between and near Market East and Washington Square, Market East, Rittenhouse, and Washington Square West, and I’d say some of Logan Square; South Philly, which spans Bella Vista, East Passyunk, Queens Village, and Pennsport, and possibly a few others. There are so many subsets of areas including other villages and squares, so I will do my best to explain the location. Everything that I list will include its area location.

Simple Map

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Source: Visit Philly (I definitely recommend clicking this link)

Restaurants/Eats

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Geno’s Steaks, Source.

  • Ralph’s Italian Restaurant: South Philly. Oldest Italian restaurant in America apparently! Delicious and affordable!
  • Honey’s Sit n Eat: Northern Liberties and Center City. I go to the Northern Liberties location! It is absolutely amazing for breakfast/brunch/lunch. This restaurant offers southern and “Jewish” homestyle cooked-foods. Super yummy.
  • Green Eggs Cafe: South Philly, The Gayborhood, and Northern Liberties. I think this place is definitely a tourist and local spot, but it is worth a visit if you enjoy really rich, tasty, and creative breakfast and brunch places.
  • Double Knot Downstairs: The Gayborhood. This restaurant is divided; upstairs is a coffee-based shop that also sells food, but downstairs is this extremely innovative, cool tapas (small plates) restaurant that is Japanese-inspired. The food this place offers is INCREDIBLE, especially its black cod fried rice! I cannot properly explain the fused food, but definitely take a look at the menu and consider making a reservation here.
  • The Continental: Rittenhouse and Penn’s Landing.  The Continental is a Stephen Starr restaurant and offers global creative eats. It is a tapas place and its great to go with friends and family.
  • Meltkraft: Center City within the Reading Terminal Market. The Reading Terminal Market is a destination you MUST go to! This shop has THE BEST GRILLED CHEESE EVER!!!!!! This place produces its own cheese and the bread they use is finger-kissing good. Super delish and affordable!
  • High Street on Market: Old City. Now I’ve never been here before, but I also hear good things from people and have read good reviews about this place.  All I know is that this restaurant serves “New American” food and everything from sandwiches to pastries.
  • Lorenzo’s Pizza – South Philly (closer to Penn’s Landing). This restaurant offers my favorite pizza in all of Philadelphia. These slices are HUGE and they are sweet and tasty. They have the perfect crust, cheese, and dough ratio. For $2.50, you can purchase one of the best slices of pizza in all of Philly.
  • Pat’s Steaks, Geno’s Steaks, Jim’s Steaks: South Philly. All of these places are the famous cheesesteak places and they are all located in South Philly. I am unable to eat here, but they all have wonderful cheesesteaks according to locals and tourists.
  • Parc: Rittenhouse. If you like French food, you HAVE to go here. This place has EVERYTHING on the menu and amazing pastries and food. This is also a Stephen Starr restaurant.
  • Fogo De Chao Brazilian Steakhouse: The Gayborhood. I hear this steakhouse is AWESOME. I haven’t been here (I can only eat the fish there), but some of my friends definitely recommend to try this place! I heard it’s a cool experience and the food is fantastic.
  • Federal Donuts: Center City, South Philly, West Philly, North Philly. Want a donut? GO HERE. They have other offerings, too!

For more restaurants, check out Thrillist and Philly Mag.

Bars

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XFINITY Live!, Source.

  • Milkboy: Washington Square West. Really cool dive bar and great drinks. It’s also an entertainment venue and they have musicians and comedians come and perform.
  • Brü: The Gayborhood. “Rustic-chic alehouse with a garage-door wall & ample options on tap, self-serve brews & German eats.”
  • McGillin’s Old Ale House: The Gayborhood. “The oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest taverns in the country” since 1860.
  • Johnny Brenda’s: Fishtown. This indie rock venue offers craft beers and many would consider this a “hipster” bar.
  • Howl at the Moon: Center City. “Lively bar with a party vibe featuring dueling piano shows & novelty bucket drinks” BUT these buckets are watered down somewhat…
  • Frankford Hall: Fishtown. Hipster beer garden with ping pong tables inside, and you can play Jenga there, too!
  • Boot & Saddle: Passyunk Square (Just north of East Passyunk and west of Pennsport). Small hipster music venue.
  • City Tap House: Logan Square and University City. Bar with lots of “bros.”
  • World Café Live: University City. Great music venue with many stages.
  • XFINITY Live!: South Philly. Destination hot spot and has something for everyone! People generally go here before, during, and after sports programs/games. They also have a bull you can ride!! How fun!?
  • Monk’s Café:  Center City. Features Belgian beers and “hard-to find” beers. There is no “one” personality type that goes there.

For more bars, check out Thrillist.

Things to Do/Attractions/Museums

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LOVE Park, Source.

For more things to do, check out Visit Philly.

Shops

I have to preface this category with I’m not too familiar with shopping, boutiques, and other cute little stores within the city of Philadelphia. I’ve lived here for the past three years, and still have yet to discover some that I believe are affordable for the average college and young professional. The most shopping I do within Center City is within the few blocks of Chestnut and Walnut, which contains mostly corporate stores. It will be a goal of mine, when I have free time, to explore the “unknown” and I will update this post with my new finds.

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United By Blue, Source.

For more shopping, check out Racked.


Thank you to those who’ve helped me write this post including my sister, Cara! Follow her Twitter.

 

 

 

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