PHG Foodie Diaries: Fishtown

fishtown

The development of Fishtown coincides with the ebbs, flows, and overall delights of Philadelphia. Once primarily known for its role in Philly’s commercial fishing industry, Fishtown (and neighboring Kensington), have transformed into a hub of culture, music, art, and as you probably guessed – delicious cuisine. One of our agents, Jeanne, is a longtime Fishtown fan and resident, and she’s giving away some tips on how to experience the best of this artsy neighborhood. We’re always on top of the latest neighborhood trends (and great places to eat), so check out tour of Fishtown life.

Fishtown can be summed up in a few words: so much delicious food, so little time. Take your first stop at Johnny Brenda’s on 201 Frankford Ave. It’s located at the cornerstone intersection of the neighborhood where Frankford and Girard Avenues meet. Known for being known for one of the first successful establishments that opened during the Fishtown Renaissance, it is a fantastic and well-traveled venue for wonderful food and live music. If you’re feeling adventurous, mix a local beer like Yard’s Pale Ave or Kensinger with Johnny Brenda’s tasty grilled octopus.

Now that we’ve got you thinking of craft beers, you should stop by the Philadelphia Brewing Company on 2439 Ambler St. Around noon on Saturdays, it’s open for free tours of the brewing facility from 12-3 PM. It’sneat place to meet the locals and learn about the history of the neighborhood.

Stroll down the block from Johnny Brenda’s and take a peek at Frankford Hall on 1210 Frankford Ave, a Steven Starr creation. This German-style beer garden is filled with classic treats such as Bavarian pretzels, bratwurst, and is event complete with a ping pong table! Not feeling hungry? You’re free to just walk in and out, maybe sipping on some Oktoberfest specialty beer in the meantime. Save your appetite for Fette Sau right next door. It’s an order from the butcher by the pound barbeque joint with excellent cocktails and a wild happy hour. If you’re feeling a bit old school, walk down the opposite way from Frankford Hall and on the other side of Girard and head to Barcade. This is a bar with food that features around 30 vintage video games (including Frogger and Ms. Pac Man) that you can play for a quarter a pop.  It brings back memories!

After you’ve had some retro-style fun, head past Barcade and end up at Penn Treaty Park, a beautiful riverfront park in the city that is host to a picturesque view of the Ben Franklin Bridge just past weeping willing trees. This park holds many notable events such as Shad Fest and the River City Festival. On Wednesday nights in the summer they have free concerts, perfect for those who want to experience music under the stars. Regardlesss of the time of year, it’s a great place to job through and/or watch fireworks explore over the bridge or at the Camden River Sharks stadium.

Photo from ReAnimator Coffee

Photo from ReAnimator Coffee

While you’re rushing around and exploring the neighborhood, stop by and visit Loco Pez on 2401 E Norris St, known for their renowned Fish Tacos. One of our favorite drinks is The Regal, a tasty cocktail. And of course, the tacos are phenomenal as well. Across the street from there is ReAnimator coffee, a cozy café that began in a tiny basement in a Fishtown row house. A little further across the street is Cedar Point, another delicious restaurant. Known for its retro-American style and music acts, this bar is known for craft beers, rare imports, and a generous selection of wine & spirits.

Feeling like something sweet? Try out the Whipped Bakeshop at 636 Belgrade Street, known for its wide selection of treats and home to some of the best cupcakes in Philly. Quick tip: the cupcakes are refrigerated but you shouldn’t eat them cold – wait until they get to room temperature and the icing softens. You only make that mistake once. If you’re out during the weekend, call at least a week ahead and pick up their famous Philadelphia Butter Cake on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Photo from Uwishunu.

Photo from Uwishunu.

Now if you’re looking for a mix of baked goods, deserts, and juicy burgers, we’re going to point you over to Sketch Burger at 413 East Girard Ave. They feature a gallery of sketches submitted from fans, and have a host of burgers, milkshakes, and pretty much everything you could desire from an old-school burger joint. 

Head over to the artist’s corridor Frankford Ave to York St. This intersection is also crossed by Trenton Avenue, the sight of Philadelphia’s wildest festival – the Trenton Ave Arts Festival. This yearly celebration focuses on the music, arts, and culture within the Kensington-Fishtown area. They even have a kinetic sculpture derby, where participants can create a sculpture and have in shown in a parade throughout the neighborhood. Trenton Ave also serves as the dividing line between the parts of the neighborhood under the Fishtown Neighborhood Association, and the northern part of the neighborhood known as NoYo (North of Tork). You’ll also pass some incredibly delicious spots at 2311 Frankford Ave, Little Baby’s Ice Cream and Pizza Brain. Ever tried Balasmic Banana or Chipotle Chocolate ice cream? You may be surprised, but you’re in for a treat. Both of these spots for famous for their tasty food and quirky names – the Wendy Wedgeforth pizza non-withstanding.

After that, check out one of Fishtown’s high end BYOBs, the Picked Heron on 2218 Frankford Ave. The owners are dedicated to using local products and a wide selection of artisanal breads at this lovely French-inspired restaurant. Travel a few more blocks down to E. York St, where you’ll find a huge building known as 2423 York.  This building has many hats, and houses art galleries, event spaces, and office buildings, including the True Hand Tattoo Shop and the Mug Shot Diner. Continue down York St and you’ll see Coffee House Too, at 2514 York, which serves a meatball burrito for breakfast and a delicious Texas toast grilled cheese sandwich. Step outside and you’ll end up at an intersection adjacent to the entrance to I-95 where there’s all kinds of convenient shopping including: Thriftway, Pep Boys, Accent on Animals, and Foot Locker.

Photo from Philly.TheDrinkNation.com

Photo from Philly.TheDrinkNation.com

Now let’s head into NoYo, where you’ll experience one of the friendliest and quirky neighborhood bars in Philadelphia, the Memphis Taproom on 2331 East Cumberland St. If you’re a Food Network fan, you might remember that this palce has been featured on a little show called Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. This restaurant services a wide variety of craft beers from the U.S., Germany, Belgium, and many other locations. If you’re looking for a place that appreciates a fine beer, this is the location for you. Our last stop takes us to a relatively new restaurant by the famed creators of Old City’s Farmacia called Cook and Shaker on 2301 E. Albert St. They have an all-American dining menu, using locally sourced ingridients. If you’re looking for a tasty yet unique treat, try the Cook and Shaker tots with Pico de Gallo and tomatillo salsa.

While there’s plenty to explore, this gives a well-rounded overview of the best in Fishtown. Stop over and enjoy this quirky, thriving, and fun neighborhood.