Big cities mean tons of options, which unfortunately can also mean too many options when you’re pressed to find the best. When you want insight into the top spots a city has to offer, you turn to the locals. So to share the best gems of Philadelphia, we’ve assembled the A-team of insiders: some of our favorite Krrb sellers and local bloggers with knowledge on where to go and who to see. Let’s meet the team!
Karen DeStefano from DishRecon lives in the East Kensington section of Philadelphia (right on the edge of Fishtown) with boyfriend Joe and six year old son. She is a lover of all things vintage from the 1950’s-70’s. She can be found on Instagram @Dishrecon. (KD)
E.M. Ricchini of Lark & Lace is a fashion blogger, photographer, writer and reporter based out of Philly. You can catch E.M. on her segment #TheFittingRoom for MyNEWPhilly and on Instagram & Twitter @emricchini. (ER)
Chaucee Stillman of Streets And Stripes, is a social media manager and photographer by day & lifestyle blogger by night. She first started blogging in 2008 and has grown her blog into one of the top Philadelphia-based blogs. She can be found on Instagram and on Twitter @streets_stripes. (CS)
Emily Tharp of Her Philly, is a Philly lady and lifestyle blogger with an unmatched passion for the city of brotherly love. You can always catch her checking out new Philly hangouts and on Instagram & Twitter @herphilly. (ET)
1. Where do you go to a enjoy lazy cup of coffee and people watch?
ET: I wish I had more time for a lazy cup of coffee! When I’m not making my own coffee at home, my favorite shop is Rival Bros. Their coffee is fantastic, and they stock High Street on Market pastries – amazing.
CS: There’s this great coffee shop near my home in Kensington called Franny Lou’s. They make these tasty spinach cheddar biscuits and have a rotating selection of delicious coffees from around the world. The staff is super friendly and they have ample seating perfect for people watching.
ER: I’m lucky because my favorite coffee shop in the entire city— One Shot in Northern Liberties— is only a few blocks away from my house. They have a constantly-changing menu of interesting lattes and the best vegan donuts in all of Philadelphia. I often stay there all day and just work, imbibe, and soak up the local color.
KD: We are so lucky to have Franny Lou’s Porch right around the corner on Coral St, not only is it a convenient place with excellent coffee but it’s cozy inside. They have things for my son to do like board games, an art center, and books. It is pretty much inevitable every time we go, we run into someone we know, strike up conversations and stay 2x as long as planned.
2. What’s your best burger spot in the neighborhood?
ET: My answer to this may be a little biased (my boyfriend works here), but Rex1516 has my favorite neighborhood burger. They do a special each week with a different “punny” burger name (like the “Netflix and Chili” and “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Brisket”) that comes with a shot and a beer for $15! Their house burger is just as great – the pimento cheese makes it.
CS: Since I’m vegetarian, I’m always on the hunt for the best veggie burger. Right now the one at Monk’s hits the spot.
ER: I’m not really a burger gal because I don’t eat meat or anything, but I can get down with the Bourbon and Branch’s seitan cheesesteak.
KD: To be honest I am not really much of a meat eater, but my boyfriend is and loves the burgers at Cedar Point. Mostly because it is local grass fed beef and we are conscious of the foods we eat. Also they have amazing wings with Brussels Sprouts! We hit up their late night happy hours that we lovingly call “Awesome Hour”, because they make a killer cocktail as well.
3. After an exhausting day, where do you go locally to recharge?
ET: I have a feeling you’re looking for a bar answer here, but my “recharging” spots are pretty much the opposite. If I want to feel better after a long day, I sweat it out at a spin class at Flywheel, followed by a salad from Sweetgreen or Honeygrow.
CS: Definitely Memphis Taproom. I’m super into sour beers and they always have a good selection on draft. Their food is also fantastic – order the coconut club next time you’re there. In the summer they have this great outside area with picnic benches and a food truck, and they also hold movie nights throughout the season.
ER: Penn Treaty park is one of my favorite places to go if I want to just sit and be be introspective. I like sitting on the rocks and looking over the Delaware River. You get such a lovely view of the Ben Franklin Bridge and the city.
KD: When I need to recharge I love to have my comfort food, so it means leaving the neighborhood a bit and venturing into South Philly to Nam Phoung for some Vietnamese food. Food is quick and alway good, I get the same lemongrass noodles every time and of course a Vietnamese coffee.
4. What’s the most underrated community event?
ET: I’ve been to a lot of festivals, food events, etc. in this city, so I say this with full sincerity: Brewer’s Plate is the best Philly event. I don’t think enough people know about it, but it’s so worth the money. You get so. much. food. (even without the VIP ticket!) and the beer pairings are always perfect. It’s always on a Sunday night in March, so here is my warning: you’re probably going to want to take Monday off.
ER: The Kensington Kinetic Derby is SO much fun— both for the event itself and the people-watching. There’s a great creative energy there and a welcoming sense of community.
KD: Not sure that it is so underrated anymore since the neighborhood is getting so popular but my favorite thing each year is the Trenton Arts Festival and the Kinetic Bike Sculpture Derby. The street shuts down with local artist, musicians, food trucks and breweries. Then the main event is a parade of floats built around bikes, wagons and hand cranked creations that marches around the neighborhood ending up in a mud pit. It is fun to cheer everyone on as they attempt to make it thru the pit.
5. The forecast calls for a rainy afternoon. Where do you while away the hours?
ET: I love the Ritz Movie Theatres. There is always something unique playing and the tickets are not crazy expensive (bring your student ID!).
ER:I love going to Parc, sitting by the window, sipping some tea, and watching people scurry around Rittenhouse Square in the rain. The square in general is my favorite place to be on a rainy day— the rest of the city kind of slows down but Rittenhouse, for whatever reason, seems even more lively.
KD: Ok, so some more yummy food at Soup Kitchen to get their Shakshuka (spicy tomato stew with poached eggs) and a bloody mary then after run out in the rain up the street real quick to browse thru Circle Thrift, dig thru the neighborhood donations and usually come up with an item or two that’s new to me.
6. If you’re meeting friends for a night out, where is your destination of choice?
ET: As I’m getting older, my preferences for my “nights out” are changing significantly. If I’m talking a “typical” night out, my friends and I still seem to be resorting to the same Rittenhouse area bars that make us feel way too old and tired. My ideal night out has now become a place filled with low music and craft cocktails, like Hop Sing Laundromat or Ranstead Room.
CS: Hmm there are several places on rotation – JB’s, Loco Pez, Memphis Taproom, and lately I’ve met a few friends at Front Street Cafe, but their breakfast is definitely the best part of the menu.
ER: I prefer a nice, low-key night out so we’d probably head over to Old City early in the evening (before things get too wild) and grab sandwiches over at The Khyber Pass Pub. After that, we’d grab some ice cream at Franklin Fountain and if it’s not too late, take a walk on the bridge.
KD: Every month I always get to go out for first Friday because a local playgroup runs a date night drop off for the kids. I have an ongoing date with a friend in which we alway hit up Loco Pez. We get a few hours out without our kids as well as half off Margaritas and $2 nachos, we walk away with a cheap bill. We like to go out to Johnny Brenda’s as well, it’s a great bar/restaurant/venue. They always have great bands playing upstairs and enjoy seeing all the talents they bring in. We tend to go there pretty regular since my boyfriend Joe is a musician who plays there fairly often with his various bands and projects.
7. You want to spend as little money possible but still have a good time. What do you do?
ET: I’m not very good at this, but a good option for a cheap night out is to BYOB at a comedy show at the Philly Improv Theater. After the show, I’d hop over to Rittenhouse Square for some people watching (and to finish my beverages in a brown paper bag).
ER: Philadelphia has an INCREDIBLE mural arts program. Going on their website, picking out a few of your favorites, then going on a bike tour of them is an unexpectedly fun (and super cheap) way to spend an afternoon. If you don’t have a bike, fret not, because Philly has a great bike share program.
KD: The Wissahickon Trail is a little get away in the city where you feel like you are out in the wilderness. Our parks system in Philly is huge and it’s my favorite place to hike out on the trails and forget about my troubles. It truly clears my head and it is only a 15 minute drive from my neighborhood. We love to spend nice afternoons out under the trees and skipping rocks in the river.
8. And for fellow travelers, what one place is a must-see on a tour of the city?
ET: I think it depends on the type of person you are, but I’d definitely say Reading Terminal Market. Yes, it’s touristy, but locals love it here, too (being near RTM for lunch is such a jury duty perk). Don’t miss DiNic’s Roast Pork, Beiler’s Donuts, and Hatville Deli.
CS: Bike to the top of the Ben Franklin bridge just in time to catch the sunset. It’s always a beautiful view.
ER: Aside from the obvious historical sites in Old City and the great shopping on Walnut Street, the quaint and cozy Fairmount neighborhood is a must-see. Fairmount Avenue is full of little boutiques and lively restaurants with outdoor seating.
KD: I have to say it’s sorta strange, odd and creepy but the Mutter Museum is a must. Medical oddities and things you never thought existed, they even have drawers of items that we ingested by people and removed from their bodies. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but even my son finds this place fascinating.
We hope you’ve been inspired to discover the best of Philly! If you have any other local favorites (with some insider perspective), let us know in the comments!