Sorry Fishtown, the secret is out. Gritty, artistic and cooler than Center City, put this popping neighborhood in northeast Philly on your to–do list.
Formerly the city’s commercial fish–packing center, Fishtown is now a bustling center for arts, music, and good food. Tattoo parlors, vintage stores, and restaurants line the streets from York Street to Frankford Avenue. While it's a great place to hang out during the day (stop by for a mind–blowing Middle–Eastern brunch), Fishtown is even better at night.
Follow this guide for your next night out in Fishtown:
1. Get there
Take the Market–Frankford line Eastbound and get off at Girard (approximately 25 minutes).
2. Pregame with a pho BYO
308 E. Girard Avenue
Tucked away on Girard, this small but beautiful BYO serves Southeast Asian soups, salads and noodles. The summer's 8 p.m. light floods the sleek interior with natural ambiance, making this hole–in–the–wall somehow both elegant and cozy.
What to Order:
Start with the Gin Thoke, a zesty Burmese ginger and cabbage salad topped with crunchy dried chickpeas, pear, melon and sesame seeds. Crisp, refreshing, and satisfying, this salad makes for a healthy lunch or a light appetizer to share. But save room for the real star of Stock: their namesake, the pho. Stock serves up a traditional chicken pho and a scrumptious vegan version of Vietnamese soup made with mushrooms. Don’t be intimidated by the substantial bowl of soup. Served steaming hot in a massive white porcelain bowl brimming with fragrant broth and chewy rice noodles, the Stock pho will give you a warm hug in soup form.
3. The BYO continues.. with dessert
Cake Life Bake Shop
1306 Frankford Ave
Cupcakes, edible glitter, and Beyonce converge at Cake Life, Philadelphia’s one and only BYO cake shop. Packed at any hour, this gorgeous bakery off of Frankford Avenue serves stunning custom cakes and unexpected treats like pizza croissants and pistachio baklava clafoutis. Good luck deciding what to order. Periodically, they offer generous samples by the register—grab a few as you deliberate. A personal favorite is the raspberry chocolate tart—a velvety dark chocolate cream balanced by bright acidic berries and topped with Insta–worthy 24k gold leaf.
Last September, Jay–Z ordered from Cake Life, a stunning black and yellow geode–inspired cake. While their geode cakes start at a staggering $3,500, the majority of their offerings are in the palatable $3 to $10 range.
What to Order:
Raspberry chocolate tart, pistachio baklava clafouti, honey lavender shortbread, any of the cupcakes…any of them.
4. Hit the clubs
Gritty, loud, and eclectic, nightlife in Fishtown is not for the faint–hearted. Bars, clubs, and live– music venues are packed in the streets near Girard Station, which fortunately lends itself as an easy commute back to campus. Bonus: cover fares are usually cheaper than downtown.
Where to Go:
Saint Lazarus Bar
102 W Girard Ave
Dark, edgy, and decorated like a psychedelic church, Saint Lazarus is the place to start your night. Come for the pink rum fishbowls, stay for the R&B DJ parties.
The El Bar
1356 N Front St
If you're looking for something chill, head to the El Bar. Right below the El itself, this cash–only dive bar is a Fishtown classic and a great place to meet the locals. Chill on the back porch or play a round of pool.
Kung Fu Necktie
1248 N Front St
Part club, part live music venue, Kung Fu Necktie is more than a kickass name. You'll find everything from indie punk concerts to Drake and Rihanna DJ parties. Warning: it gets packed after midnight so get in early.