If it’s artisanal, locally sourced, organic, repurposed, sustainable or any of a hundred other adjectives beloved by hipsters, you will find it in Fishtown and Northern Liberties. Once solidly working class, this quarter is renowned today for a vibrant food, music and nightlife scene. Other areas may be quainter or more polished, but here locals have embraced the neighborhood’s blue collar past and wear grittiness as a badge of honor.
La Colombe’s flagship is more than just a coffee shop. It dishes up a full menu of homey selections like Biscuits and Gravy and Onion Soup on Toast Tartine in an immense former warehouse. In addition to coffee, wine and beer, La Colombe also pours its own brand of sipping rum, Different Drum, distilled on-site with cane sugar and — you guessed it! — coffee.
1335 Frankford Ave.
One Shot Coffee Shop and Kitchen is the kind of place that will make you wish it was raining outside to justify sinking into an overstuffed chair, grabbing something off the bookshelves and settling in for the day. It’s as cozy as your grandma’s kitchen (if your grandma was a killer pastry chef who served direct-trade coffee). Enjoy your brew with just-baked rustic tarts served on thrift store china, or cool off with a Mason jar of iced tea. Be sure to check out the second floor.
217 W. George St.
Quick Tourist Moment:
Fishtown and Northern Libertiesare not neighborhoods for traditional sightseeing. Instead, the fun here comes from exploring on foot or by bike. From Fairmount Avenue, head north on Second Street to experience the heart of NoLibs. Bowl a frame atNorth Bowl, or browse the trendy shops and restaurants along Liberties Walk. Fishtown’s main thoroughfare, Frankford Avenue, exudes an arty, retro vibe. Vinyl purists will adore the selection of rare records atPhiladelphia Record Exchange. Or stop byJinxedfor a well-curated assortment of vintage ephemera.
909 N. Second St.
Philadelphia Record Exchange
1524 Frankford Ave.
1331 Frankford Ave.
Benjamin Franklin reportedly said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Nowhere is that more evident than atYards Brewing Company. Ask for Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce, inspired by Ben’s own barley- and molasses-based recipe. It’s one of Yards’ “Ales of the Revolution” on tap in the tasting room, along with a rotating selection of seasonal and small batch brews. Visit on the weekend for the excellent guided tour and a chace to sample some of Philly’s favorite food trucks.
901 N. Delaware Ave.
215-634-2600 ext. 106
NoLibs gastropubStandard Tapwas a pioneer at a time when nothing seemed to be happening north of Spring Garden Street. Nearly 20 years later, the neighborhood is flourishing and Standard Tap continues to turn out flawlessly executed pub standards. Summer evenings are best spent on the upstairs deck quaffing something cold from an all-local draft list.
901 N. Second St.
When Philly boxer John Imbrenda retired in 1967, he opened a tavern at Frankford and Girard, a corner bar where you went for a shot and a beer. Today,Johnny Brenda’sserves 12 local drafts and Mediterranean-inspired small plates, but the neighborhood ambience — from the paneled walls right down to the linoleum floors— remains. You can also catch live music most nights, and DJs spin during weekend brunch.
1201 Frankford Ave.
Frankford Hall, Stephen Starr’s take on a German beer garden, never disappoints. The outdoor courtyard exudes the casual bustle of a backyard barbecue. Friends and strangers bond around picnic tables and fire pits, and challenge one another to Jenga and Ping-Pong. You’re there for the vibe, of course, but you can’t go wrong with a liter of hefeweizen and a bratwurst while you’re at it.
1210 Frankford Ave.
Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, — named for the restored 1890s whiskey blending and bottling facility it inhabits — serves up a comfortable, yet creative, Italian menu. Try a traditional pasta dish or branch out with the uniquely Philly “Spicy Jawn,” a wood-fired tomato and pepperoni pizza with hot coppa, cacciocavallo, sharp provolone and long hots.
1355 N. Front St.
Like Chef Sean Magee’s ambitious menu highlighting local, seasonal ingredients, the inviting interior ofHeritagecould best be described as “modern rustic.” Reclaimed materials and greenery create an urban garden where the sound of nightly live jazz spills onto the street. The bar is impressive too, with 36 draft beers and an excellent selection of whiskeys.
914 N. Second St.
Don’t let the kitchy “Brady Bunch”-goes-to-Hawaii decor fool you.The Yachtsmanis the kind of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot cocktail connoisseurs love to keep all to themselves. Fresh ingredients and homemade mixers are key at this tiki bar. For a decadent treat, order the signature Pina Colada, made with homemade coconut cream.
1444 Frankford Ave.