Philly's Northern Liberties Neighborhood Guide

Philly's Northern Liberties Neighborhood Guide

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Northern Liberties is one of our favorite Philadelphia, up-and-coming neighborhoods, Northern Liberties has officially arrived, evidenced by the international restaurants, respected gastro-pubs and trendy boutiques—all this while maintaining the artistic vibe that made it so cool in the first place.

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The warehouses that populate the former manufacturing district found new life as condos, galleries, stores and restaurants, and along with newly designed buildings, the area enjoys a pleasant mix of older functional and modern design. Two shopping/dining/art/entertainment plazas helped make Northern Liberties an accessible and thriving area: Liberties Walk and The Piazza at Schmidts.

The neighborhood lies north of Old City, and its borders (depends who you ask, of course) are Girard Avenue to the north, Callowhill Street to the south, 6th Street to the west and the Delaware River to the east. To get from Center City to Northern Liberties, people can hop in a cab or take “the el”—SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line, called “the el” because it rides above ground (or elevated) when it’s outside of the main downtown area—from any of the Market Street stations to the Spring Garden Street stop.

 

Food & Drink:

  • Abbaye – Living up to the neighborhood standard, the Abbaye boasts a fine draft and bottled beer list to satisfy the thirsty locals. Any menu with house-made mac and cheese is sure to be a good one, and the local ingredients add another reason to love it. 637 N. 3rd Street, (215) 627-6711, theabbaye.net
  • apricotstone – Cooking up recipes she learned from her mother while growing up in Syria, chef Fimy Ishkhanian helms this Mediterranean eatery. Vegans find plenty of options here, thanks to traditional dishes including falafel, Israeli salad and stuffed grape leaves, while meat eaters dine on chicken, beef and lamb kebab. 1040 N. 2nd Street, (267) 606-6596, apricotstonephilly.com
  • Baan Thai – This warm, inviting BYOB serves traditional Thai fare along with inventive dishes such as Angel Wings (deep-fried boneless chicken wings stuffed with ground chicken and Thai spices). Regulars know to save room for sweet sticky rice and Thai iced tea. 1030 N. American Street, (215) 238-1219, baanthaiphiladelphia.com
  • Bardot – The vibes are dark and sexy at Bardot (as in Brigitte). Tartines, duck cassoulet and other European-influenced dishes complement the playful cocktails such as the Sympathy for the Devil, a mix of rye, apple and bitters. 447 Poplar Street, (267) 639-4761, bardotcafe.com
  • Bar Ferdinand – Dried roses, original paintings and a sherry wine list inspire patrons to unleash their inner matadors at this Spanish-inspired tapas venue, helmed by chef David Ansill. Diners snack on small hot or cold plates, munch on churros and take in the Liberties Walk scenery from indoors or outside. 1030 N. 2nd Street, (215) 923-1313, barferdinand.com
  • The Blind Pig – Along with an impressive canned beer list (more than 60) and eight rotating beers on tap, this gastropub offers menu items including the Thanksgiving Ball (a full Thanksgiving meal in a ball), oyster sandwich, poutine and veggie spaetzle. 702 N. 2nd Street, (267) 639-4565, blindpigphilly.com
  • Bourbon & Branch – The downstairs section is dedicated to innovative pub food such as oxtail fries with cilantro chimichurri or beer-brined chicken wings with a choice of three sauces and seasonings. The second-floor bar and stage hosts performances of all kinds, from reggae to burlesque to comedy open-mic nights. More than 50 whiskeys, 16 draft beers and an extensive cocktail list round out the draws. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com
  • Cantina Dos Segundos – Like its East Passyunk Avenue sibling, Cantina Los Caballitos, the second Cantina features creative Mexican fare such as vegan “beef” tacos and slow-roasted goat, along with flights of tequila, 12 different margaritas (think prickly pear, blood orange and guava) and a fiesta-like atmosphere. The brunch crew can get it here seven days a week. 931 N. 2nd Street, (215) 629-0500, cantinadossegundos.com
  • Circles Contemporary Thai Cuisine – Unlike its South Philly counterpart, this Northern Liberties restaurant features an ever-changing menu of progressive Thai dishes. Bangkok-born chef Alex Boonphaya incorporates authentic flavors with varying degrees of heat—from mild to Thai hot and everything in between. 812 N. 2nd Street, (267) 687-1309, circlesthai.com
  • Crabby Cafe & Sports Bar – This ideal spot to catch a game boasts 30-plus draft beers and an eclectic Cajun-Vietnamese menu. Diners choose from specialties including Cajun fries, pho and a variety of seafood boils while cheering on their team. 1050 N. 2nd Street, (215) 574-9700, crabbycafebar.com
  • Dmitri’s – The Northern Liberties location of this local Greek restaurant (the original is in Queen Village) sports a BYOB policy and serves classic Greek dishes, including lamb, kabob, grilled octopus and spinach pie. The food tastes like it’s straight from Mount Olympus, but when perched at an outdoor table, diners enjoy the Philly neighborhood vibe. 944 N. 2nd Street, (215) 592-4550, dmitrisrestaurant.com
  • The Druid’s Keep – Locals love this place for its great beer selection and dog-friendly policy. Perfect for sports enthusiasts, “The Keep” projects most Philadelphia games on a wall in the backyard. 149 Brown Street, (215) 413-0455
  • EAT – The menu changes as often as the diners at this culinary incubator, where up-and-coming chefs, food truck operators, line cooks and home cooks alike can try their hand at running a restaurant for a night. The dining room includes just 25 seats, making these multi-course meals a hot ticket. 712 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 401-4769, eatrestaurantphilly.com
  • El Camino Real – Texas or Mexico? Seitan or sirloin? Local brew or Dos Equis? The menu options seem endless at El Camino Real, which splits allegiances as both a barbecue post and border bar. 1040 N. 2nd Street, (215) 925-1110, elcaminophilly.com
  • The Foodery – A stalwart for discerning drinkers, The Foodery packs its refrigerators with 800 bottled craft beer varieties from around the world. Patrons snag candies and sandwiches along with their six packs. 837 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-6077, fooderybeer.com
  • Green Eggs Café – Enter yet another South Philly eatery that opened up shop north of Spring Garden Street. Green Street serves eco-conscious and delicious dishes for breakfast and lunch. Can’t-miss menu items include red velvet pancakes and the Kitchen Sink (eggs scrambled with cheese, potatoes, peppers and onions and topped with a biscuit and pork sausage gravy). 719 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-3447, greeneggscafe.com
  • Gunners Run – This dive bar is named for the natural creek that originally bordered the neighborhood. Friday Quizzo keeps trivia geeks coming back, and the outdoor tables provide great views for catching a game on The Piazza’s big screen. 1001 N. 2nd Street, (267) 273-1144
  • Heritage – From the crew behind hotspots Time, Vintage and Garage, this modern-rustic eatery offers a New American menu of refined dishes: beef tartare with toast, pickles and local cheese; braised rabbit with grits, kale and heirloom squash; and foraged mushrooms with quail egg. Guests love the nightly live jazz shows, inventive cocktails and extensive selection of spirits. 914 N. 2nd Street, (215) 627-7500, heritage.life
  • Honey’s Sit ’N Eat – Each plate served at this home-style Southern-Jewish BYOB is like its own U.N. summit. Latkes nestle grits, and challah French toast hugs drop biscuits with sausage gravy. The orange juice is squeezed fresh—perfect on its own or mixed with champagne for brunch. 800 N. 4th Street, (215) 925-1150, honeyssitneat.com
  • Jerry’s Bar – This gorgeously rehabbed corner bar puts the “gastro” in gastropub. The dinner menu features handmade specialties including pierogies, gnocchi and a variety of desserts alongside classic bar food such as wings, burgers and house-blended meatballs. The sticky buns are the stars of the Sunday brunch. 129 W. Laurel Street, (267) 273-1632, jerrysbarphilly.com
  • Las Cazuelas – Those hungry for south-of-the-border fare can satisfy a craving for mole, sopes, tamales or mixed-to-order margaritas at this authentic Mexican BYOB, where Saturday and Sunday brunch goes for the spice. Tip: Go all-out la vida Mexico by bringing a bottle of tequila. 426 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 351-9144, lascazuelas.net
  • Modo Mio – Neighbors come here with a bottle of wine (it’s BYOB) and settle in for a tour of all the variations of seasonal cuisine that Italy offers. Particularly popular are Sugo (Italian for “sauce”) Sundays, when $37 buys antipasti, pasta, meat, salad and dessert, all served family-style. 161 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 203-8707, modomiorestaurants.com
  • North 3rd – This moody neighborhood eatery keeps the crowds coming with its casual bar classics—Asian-style Buffalo wings, potato pierogies, veggie spring rolls and one juicy burger. Also on the menu: solid drink offerings that come in the form of blood-orange margaritas, stoli dolis and an extensive beer list. 801 N. 3rd Street, (215) 413-3666, norththird.com
  • Paesano’s – The options at this sandwich shop are decidedly new school; the Meatloaf Parmesan, for example, boasts Italian-style, crispy fried meatloaf smothered in red sauce and mozzarella. Not surprising to local fans, Paesano’s namesake sandwich beat Bobby Flay’s brisket grinder on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. 152 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 886-9556, paesanosphillystyle.com
  • Pura Vida – Its name comes from a Costa Rican saying that translates to “pure life.” The homey food at this bare-bones, pan-Latin BYOB is indeed life-affirming: corn patties stuffed with pickled vegetables, chorizo tacos and ginger chicken soup. The staff even mixes mojitos and sangria for patrons who bring their own spirits. 527 Fairmount Avenue, (215) 922-6433
  • Rustica – Guests enjoy thin-crust specialty pies featuring such combinations as corned beef, Swiss cheese, caraway seed, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and pickles, or Brussels sprouts and caramelized onions. Lovers of simple pizza can order the more traditional options (or create their own vision), as well as sandwiches, calzones, wings and salads. 903 N. 2nd Street, (215) 627-1393, rusticaphilly.com
  • Same Same – This fast-casual eatery brings authentic Vietnamese street food to Northern Liberties. Most dishes are priced at $10 or less, so diners of all budgets can chow down on flavor-packed treats such as pork sausage banh mi, ginger soup and lemongrass chicken with rice noodles. 614 N. 2nd Street, (215) 625-4575, samesamephilly.com
  • Seiko – The guests at this sushi BYOB follow up a Bento box with a dish of fried green-tea ice cream drizzled in chocolate. Bright red counters, shiny copper fixtures and molded plastic chairs lend a futuristic vibe. 604 N. 2nd Street, (215) 413-1606, seikojapanese.com
  • Silk City – It’s one-third diner, one-third club and one-third beer garden. Silk City’s American fare with flair has been featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Philly native Questlove of The Roots occasionally spins here when he’s home and in the DJ mood. 435 Spring Garden Street, (215) 592-8838, silkcityphilly.com
  • Spuntino Pizza – The menu here includes salads, sandwiches and small plates, but the main attraction is the Neapolitan-style pizza baked in a wood-fired brick oven. The more than 20 varieties include the Gamberi, with shrimp, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil; the Formaggio, with Gorgonzola, ricotta, mozzarella, provolone and rosemary; and the Cavolfiore, with roasted cauliflower, garlic and fresh mozzarella.701 N. 2nd Street, (267) 930-8486, spuntinophilly.com
  • Standard Tap – A gastropub stalwart for more than 15 years, this draft-only pub highlights Philly-area brews among its daily rotation of 20 beers. The kitchen sources its ingredients from the surrounding region, and area environmentalists have even given the bar a green thumbs-up for its eco-friendly habits. 901 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0630, standardtap.com
  • Suppa – The kitchen at Suppa serves dishes that are just as delicious as they are filling, as evidenced by chef Georgeann Leaming’s victory in the Food Network’s Chopped kitchen. Known for crowd-pleasers such as house-made tater tots, the Cubano melt, sloppy Joes and cheddar pierogi, this casual spot offers Mad Libs and other games to play at the table over a delicious meal. 1040 N. American Street, (215) 644-9324, timeforsuppa.com
  • Tiffin – Many Philadelphians swear by the food at Tiffin’s eight locations in and around the city, and the Northern Liberties spot is no exception. Run by a Wharton MBA, Tiffin prides itself on carefully curated dishes such as the Malai Kofta and butter chicken. 710 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 922-1297, tiffin.com
  • Trios Pizzeria & Trattoria – Locals rave about the thin-crust square pizzas served at this outpost of a restaurant family that includes Craft in Manayunk and Marzano in Jenkintown. Tip: Save room for the tiramisu. 342 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 627-1000, triosfreshitalian.com

Cool Cafes & Bakeries:

  • Brown Betty Dessert Boutique – No ordinary pastry shop, Brown Betty—named after the family’s matriarch and expert baker Grandma Betty—specializes in cakes that look spectacular and taste delicious. The Hey Thelma chocolate buttermilk cake comes with pecan coconut filling and a semi-sweet dark chocolate glaze, while the Jean’s Road Trip is a red velvet cake with buttermilk cream cheese icing. 722 N. 2nd Street, (215) 629-0999, brownbettydesserts.com
  • Cafe Chismosa – This Latin-inspired cafe serves breakfast, brunch and lunch daily. The short rib quesadilla and tamales are popular among regulars, but the coconut latte is practically legendary. 900 N. 4th Street, (267) 273-1448, facebook.com/cafechismosa
  • Café La Maude – Neighbors tried to keep this French-Lebanese cafe a secret, and it’s no wonder. The local La Colombe coffee pairs perfectly with a buttery brioche or some baklava. Hungry for something more? The traditional Lebanese options include foul moudamas; house-made hummus topped with scrambled eggs, fava beans, tomatoes and zatar; and poulet roti, a marinated chicken sandwich. 816 N. 4th Street, (267) 318-7869, cafelamaude.com
  • Higher Grounds Café – Green tea lattes, 16 loose leaf teas and coffees from the Americas, Indonesia and Ethiopia, along with late hours and free Wi-Fi, make this spot a popular choice for the caffeinated and decaffeinated set. Committed to the artists who make the Northern Liberties neighborhood a creative enclave, the cafe hosts acoustic performances, poetry readings and art exhibits. 631 N. 3rd Street, (215) 922-3745, highergroundscafe.com
  • Kaplan’s New Model Bakery – For more than 100 years, this bakery has supplied its neighbors with the best challah and rye breads in town. While there, customers add more to their order when tempted by the assortment of muffins, turnovers, bagels and other pastries. 901 N. 3rd Street, (215) 627-5288, kaplansnewmodelbakery.com
  • One Shot Coffee – The One Shot brunch menu, which includes items such as breakfast sandwiches, egg dishes and tasty sides, changes seasonally, but it always earns high marks from coffeehouse dwellers and foodies. People can enjoy their selections at the downstairs tables or in the comfy library upstairs. 217 W. George Street, (215) 627-1620, 1shotcoffee.com
  • The Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop – The international brews at this charming little cafe include 40 artisanal teas and house-blended herbal infusions. The tearoom also sells vintage and antique wares, medicinal herbs, gluten-free baked goods and Philly-made jewelry and crafts. 713 N. 4th Street, (267) 639-2442, therandomtearoom.com
  • Soy Café – It’s in the name, so patrons know that fresh soymilk is always available at this bistro, which offers a range of scrumptious menu options for both vegetarians and omnivores. The kitchen whips up smoothies, pastries, light sandwiches and gourmet salads. 630 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-1003, mysoycafe.com
     

Eclectic Shops:

  • Architectural Antiques Exchange – Everything one would need to rehab a home can be found in this 30,000-square-foot warehouse—mantels, bars, doors, stained glass, lighting, old ironwork and antique mirrors. Pieces run the style gamut, including gothic, Colonial, French, English, Victorian, art nouveau and art deco, with some pieces even dating back as far as the late 1700s. 715 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-3669, architecturalantiques.com
  • Art Star – The owners of this cute boutique celebrate craft artisans by selling their ceramics, jewelry, clothing and other wares. The shop also hosts gallery shows and sponsors the annual Art Star Craft Bazaar, which attracts visitors and exhibitors from around the country. 623 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-1557, artstarphilly.com
  • Chez Bow Wow – Because even Fido and Mittens deserve special treatment, this pet-grooming salon gives dog and cat haircuts, trims nails and brushes teeth. The spa uses only environmentally safe products, so customers know they’re protecting the planet while pampering their pets. 707 N. 2nd Street, (215) 923-2992, chezbowwow.com
  • Chic Petique – Fashionable cats and dogs and their owners make up the clientele at this pet-supply store. They pick up healthy natural food and treats through the “apawthecary” services, as well as trendy collars, beds and accessories. 1030 N. 2nd Street, (267) 761-9434, facebook.com/chicpetiquephilly
  • City Planter – Teardrop airiums, baby bonsais and mounted staghorn ferns are just the start of the collection of plants and planters for the urban gardener. The friendly experts inside this warehouse-turned-plant-store help even beginner gardeners create their urban oases. 814 N. 4th Street, (215) 627-6169, cityplanter.com
  • Creep Records – What started as a recording studio in a Downingtown, Pennsylvania basement morphed into this record store and smoke shop in The Piazza at Schmidts. Music lovers shop for new and used vinyl and stick around after hours for the occasional live show.
    1050 N. Hancock Street, (267) 239-2037, creeprecords.com
  • Exit Skateshop – Philadelphia’s skateboard community shops here for boards, footwear, apparel and accessories from brands including Vans, Anti-hero, Crooked, Girl, DC and Etnies. The bi-level shop also puts on art shows, film showings and live music performances. 825 N. 2nd Street, (215) 425-2450, exitphiladelphia.com
  • Jinxed – One part vintage store, one part antique store, Jinxed specializes in furniture and housewares from bygone eras. Regulars know to check back often, as the inventory constantly changes. 1050 N. Hancock Street, (215) 978-5469, jinxedphiladelphia.com
  • Once Worn Consignment – A refuge for those who want to unload great garments and those in the market for a fashionable bargain, this chill little shop carries nearly new and impeccably retro pieces. Think super-skinny snakeskin belts and flamboyantly colorful full-length skirts. Once Worn organizes and labels everything, so even those new to thrift shopping feel comfortable in this boutique. 906 N. 2nd Street, (215) 627-1122, oncewornconsignment.com
  • R.E.Load – Philadelphians pack fashionably with stylized bags, wallets and tees designed by the R.E.Load team. Messenger, backpack and travel bags sport various sizes, colors and features. 608 N. 2nd Street, (215) 625-2987, reloadbags.com
  • Ritual Ritual – This jewelry and clothing boutique showcases a rotating cast of indie artists from around the world in addition to a stable of six in-house designers. The space doubles as the Ritual Ritual Arts Community Hub, offering creative classes and wellness workshops. 819 N. 2nd Street, (267) 606-6082, ritualritual.com
  • Swag – Shoppers can find something for everyone on their lists at this whimsical gift shop that carries kitchenware, home decor, children’s toys and accessories for men and women. Popular items: the inexpensive statement necklaces and kitschy cookware like monkey-shaped tea infusers. 935 N. 2nd Street, (267) 888-7246, swagphilly.com
  • Trophy Bikes – This bike shop provides customers with everything they need to keep their two wheels running smoothly, plus it stocks a fine selection of bikes and gear. Trophy Bikes also offers bike-fitting services and clinics on such topics as theft-proofing your ride.
    712 N. 2nd Street, (215) 592-1234, trophybikes.com

Up Late: Nightclubs & Entertainment:

  • The 700 – Good music, good beer and good times abound at this bi-level spot, which looks like a club built inside a house (because that’s what it is). DJs mix it up throughout the week, and there’s never a cover charge. 700 N. 2nd Street, (215) 413-3181, the700.org
  • Electric Factory – This celebrated music venue draws local and national acts that entertain audiences in the low thousands. Standing room at stage level is typically all-ages, while a balcony with unbeatable views and a full bar accommodates the 21+ crowd. Past headliners include Kraftwerk, Miley Cyrus and Faith No More. 421 N. 7th Street, (215) 627-1332, electricfactory.info
  • The Fire – A small and unassuming venue with an eclectic lineup of artists on the rise—Tegan and Sara, My Chemical Romance, Maroon 5 and Jason Mraz have played here—The Fire houses a full-service recording studio to capture the live shows. The venue/bar also hosts the Northern Liberties Winter Music Festival. 412 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 671-9298, thefirephilly.com
  • North Bowl – Seventeen bowling lanes, an old-school photo booth and a billiards area make this throwback a perfect pick for spending time with family, friends or a date. Tater tots served 11 different ways seals the deal. 909 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-BOWL, northbowlphilly.com
  • Ortlieb’s – A former jazz-only haven, the revived Ortlieb’s stages a live entertainment lineup featuring rock, soul, funk and, of course, jazz. The food menu includes tacos, quesadillas, burritos, guacamole and other Mexican specialties. 847 N. 3rd Street, (267) 324-3348, ortliebsphilly.com
  • Ruba Club – This 100-year-old event space and social club houses a Prohibition-style bar downstairs and a full theatrical stage upstairs. Ruba, which stands for Russian United Beneficial Association, offers weekly entertainment, cheap beer, pool tables, Ping-Pong and after-hours fun that has kept locals coming back for decades. 416 Green Street, (215) 627-9831, rubaphilly.org
  • Soundgarden Hall – This 18-and-older live music venue spotlights electronic dance, alternative, rock, pop and R&B acts from around the world. The club has staged headliners including Tiesto, Nello, Diplo and Questlove. 520 N. Columbus Boulevard, (847) 268-8331, soundgardenhall.com

Mixed Bags:

  • Crane Arts – Contemporary art flourishes at the Crane Arts building, a former plumbing warehouse. In addition to housing a number of studios and arts organizations, the space also features events (InLiquid’s Art for the Cash Poor) and galleries (Icebox Project Space, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center). 1400 N. American Street, (215) 232-3203, cranearts.com
  • Liberties Walk – People strolling down the four blocks of this mixed-use space see kids riding bikes, owners walking their dogs and friends enjoying the outdoors. Along the way, they can pop into independently owned stores to pick up gifts (for someone else or themselves) and various eateries for a satisfying snack or unforgettable meal. Begins at 1040 N. American Street
  • Liberty Lands Park – Throughout two acres, visitors find a community garden, a butterfly garden, a playground, trees and sculptures by local artists. In addition to being a great spot for a picnic (benches are scattered throughout), Liberty Lands Park hosts Halloween rides, festivals and a summer outdoor movie series. 926 N. American Street, (215) 627-6562, nlna.org
  • The Piazza at Schmidts – Inspired by Rome’s famed gathering centers, the open-air Piazza sits in the former plot of Schmidt’s Brewery, embracing the neighborhood’s industrial past and vibrant present all at once. Surrounded by artists’ studios, shops and restaurants, The Piazza is bursting with activity all year—festivals, concerts, farmers’ markets and the like. People BYO chair to catch games and movies on the 40-foot LED screen. 2nd Street & Germantown Avenue, atthepiazza.com

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® 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.


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