Come for the Night Market, stay for the neighborhood. Fairmount is filled with great restaurants, bars, markets, cafes and more, so be sure to plan a return trip not long after tonight's big event. (Top left photo courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary, other three photos by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
[This spring, Visit Philly launched a new effort to promote 14 different neighborhoods surrounding Center City Philadelphia. With our new complementary “Philadelphia Neighborhoods” post series, Uwishunu is teaming up with Visit Philly to promote all the awesome dining, shopping, arts, nightlife, events and more within Philly’s many exciting neighborhoods.]
Tonight, Night Market Fairmount expects to draw thousands of hungry urbanites from all corners of the city to experience not only the fine food at the festive event, but also the charms of the ever-developing Fairmount district.
What better time to kick off our new series spotlighting Philadelphia Neighborhoods? In the coming months, we will bring you neighborhood guides on the remarkable restaurants, brilliant bars, independent boutiques, funky art galleries, historic green spaces and more within each vibrant district.
Fittingly, our first neighborhood guide offers up a post-Night Market primer on the fabulous dining in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Below, we look beyond the cool cultural destinations (like Eastern State Penitentiary, The Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art) to take a look at some of the many excellent eating and drinking options in Fairmount.
To explore more about Fairmount, and to view these places on a interactive map of Fairmount, check out the full Fairmount guide in the new Philadelphia Neighborhoods section on visitphilly.com.
Restaurants and Cafes
• Alla Spina: Chef Marc Vetri’s latest restaurant, Alla Spina offers a variety of tasty Italian gastropub-inspired fare, beer and cocktails. The garage door-style windows open up to welcome fresh air in the warmer months. Tip: Order up a classic negroni cocktail — served here on tap!
• Angelino’s Restaurant and Pizzeria: Those with a craving for pasta with homemade sauce, oven-baked pizzas, fresh sandwiches and a neighborhood atmosphere go to Angelino’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, a bring-your-own-bottle shop.
• The Belgian Cafe: From the same people responsible for lauded beer bar Monk’s, The Belgian Cafe maintains a selection of cool and interesting beers on tap, as well as an extensive selection of mussels.
• BlueCat: The husband-and-wife restaurant veterans who own this sunny BYOB share their love of Latin food, along with their affection for their Russian Blue cat, evidenced by the huge mural of the feline. BlueCat’s lunch, dinner and brunch dishes range from empanadas and arroz con pollo to salads and sandwiches.
• Era Bar and Restaurant: It might look like the average neighborhood bar at first, but Era distinguishes itself by offering an Ethiopian menu full of traditional dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Check out the dorowat chicken slow-cooked in a flavorful red pepper sauce; or kitfo, steak tartare flavored with traditional berbere spice.
• Fare: Dedicated to healthy, organic and local food, Fare’s dinner, lunch and brunch menus contain small plates, salads and main courses sure to keep a clear conscience.
• Figs: Still a relatively well-kept neighborhood secret, cozy corner BYOB Figs dishes out Mediterranean food in a Moroccan setting.
• Hickory Lane: The menu changes frequently at this neighborhood fave, which uses in-season ingredients for lunch, dinner and brunch, but with Chef Matt Zagorski — who gained local fame for the Rouge burger — in the kitchen, guests can be sure to find a burger on the list. Those craving quick bites or leisurely meals are equally pleased at Hickory Lane.
• Isabel: Isabel, a BYOB, from the owners of nearby Asian fave Trio, doesn’t stick to one avenue of Mexican cooking — traditional dishes have their place alongside modern twists on Latin flavor.
• 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, to neighbors and visitors for more than 20 years.
• La Calaca Feliz: Sibling of Fort Washington’s Cantina Feliz and boasting muraled walls, La Calaca Feliz, a highly praised and brightly colored spot, dishes out modern Mexican cuisine and pours a few dozen tequilas. The carnitas tacos are a must-try.
• Lemon Hill: A recent addition to the neighborhood, this pub and restaurant opened with consulting by Mike Welsh (The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.) and Mitch Prensky (Supper), and is named for the famous mansion nearby. Lemon Hill serves fresh takes on more traditional dishes with local ingredients and modern pub food.
• 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.
Alla Spina, Marc Vetri's Italian beer bar, rocks some awesome alfresco seating on Mt. Vernon Street. (Photo by J. Zale)
• McCrossen’s Tavern:
Chef Townsend Wentz consistently puts forth exceptional cuisine, along with a few classic favorites, in what The Philadelphia Inquirer’s
Craig LaBan called “the best of the Art Museum area.” McCrossen’s Tavern
progressive beverage program is matched by friendly and informative service.
• Mugshots Coffeehouse & Cafe: The first location of this local chain, dedicated to the community and the environment, offers organic and fairly traded coffee and tea and locally grown vegetarian and vegan options for breakfast, lunch and dessert. Plus, Mugshots Coffeehouse and Cafe sells eggs, cheese, bacon, milk and cider from local farms.
• OCF Coffee House: One of three coffeehouses run by realty firm OCF, this cafe provides Fairmount with top-notch coffee and espresso, light fare and a warm, welcoming place to gather.
• 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, hardware and windows dating as far back as 1907 — plus a great view of the city skyline.
• Rybread: Father and son teamed up to share their passion for food at this sandwich-centric cafe. Rybread’s sandwiches, made with fresh ingredients, are loosely based on the son’s seven-week “unemployment opportunity” road trip across the U.S., and pictures of his journeys adorn the walls.
• Sabrina’s Cafe & 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 brunch, lunch and dinner. Hint: Sabrina’s brunch line is worth the wait.
• Trio: Opened in 2006 by three friends, Trio is a Thai-inspired, Pan-Asian paradise. In addition to three floors of dining, it offers a takeout/delivery menu, so fans can eat drunken noodles in the comfort of their homes.
• Water Works Restaurant and Lounge: Located behind the Art Museum and situated in the very same Fairmount Water Works that pumped water to the city until 1909, Water Works Restaurant and Lounge overlooks the Schuylkill River and the famous Boathouse Row.
• 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.
Bars and Entertainment
• The Arts Garage: One of the city’s most distinctive event venues, the Arts Garage is many things to many people: gallery, under-the-radar bar, dance club, presentation space and marketplace. Its “plug and play” accessibility means it appeals to a wide range of performers and creators.
• 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.
• Bridgid’s Bar and Restaurant: Quite possibly the first bar in the city to put its menu on a chalkboard, Bridgid’s pairs an outstanding selection of Belgian and craft brews with delicious lunch and dinner dishes. The later happy hour keeps loyal locals coming every night from 9 to 11 p.m.
• Kite & Key: Named for Ben Franklin’s famous experiment with electricity, Kite & Key has one cask, 16 taps, countless bottles and even some cans of local, domestic and foreign beers. The full bar and wine menu keeps the non-beer drinkers happy too.
• North Star Bar & Grille: Delicious comfort food, a fantastic microbrew selection, weekly Quizzo and live local and national music acts make North Star Bar a neighborhood favorite and a great reason to visit the area.
• Rose Tattoo Cafe: Family-owned and -operated, the greenhouse-inspired Rose Tattoo serves American cuisine in four romantic dining areas, including a balcony with plants and flowers.
• St. Stephen’s Green: The owners of The Black Sheep and The Bishop’s Collar teamed up to open St. Stephen’s Green, featuring an extensive beer list. Executive chef David Shuman adds the “gastro” to the pub experience.
• Urban Saloon: One of the largest bars in the neighborhood, Urban Saloon is a popular place to catch a game on several flat-screen TVs or enjoy a relaxing meal. On weekend nights, the scene shifts from locals’ bar to dance club, complete with a DJ.