A steel town reinvented, with a focus on quick bites and quirky atmosphere
It was the early 1900s when my great-grandparents arrived in America and came to Phoenixville, where work was available at the Phoenix Iron Works. The works produced iron rails for the Pennsylvania Railroad and wrought iron, as well as puddled iron for parts of the Eiffel Tower and infrastructure around the world.
My family settled in and began building their lives in this small town along the Schuylkill River. In 1963, my mom Kathy was crowned Dogwood Queen of the town’s May festival—which includes a pageant, festival and parade (an enduring event that’s still great fun today).
In 1984, though, the iron works closed, and the town’s prosperity disappeared too.
Today, after struggling for more than 30 years, Phoenixville is revitalized—with shops, restaurants, breweries, festivals and more. Since I bought my house here 15 years ago, I’ve seen the changes. When out-of-town family and friends visit, I have our day mapped out, starting with a food-focused tour and shopping. Here’s my optimum agenda for exploring this charming town.
The Welcome to Phoenixville mural, recently painted by artist Teresa Haag, greets us as we take in the downtown around Bridge and Main Streets, with more fun shops along the outlying streets. Wake up with a pourover coffee from Soltane Cafe on Bridge Street. The large windows give this place such a peaceful atmosphere, in addition to the friendly baristas and the attention they give each meticulously brewed cup of coffee. While you’re here, snag a brownie for later. Soltane’s pastry chef has a magical way with these (and all) chocolatey treats.
Your Mom’s Place blueberry oat French toast
Work up an appetite strolling from one end of Bridge Street to the other—just a few blocks down is Your Mom’s Place. Breakfast is served all day on Saturday and Sunday here, and the chef adds creative twists to coincide with local events like Blobfest or the Firebird Festival. Partnerships with local farms like the Royersford Tomato and Vegetable Company make for a fresh and delicious caprese omelet. While specials change weekly, try the French toast, the western omelet or my favorite, the bacon and blue omelet—spinach, mushrooms, bacon, and blue cheese.
Need to cleanse your palate? Head across the street to The Foodery and grab a drink from the vast assortment of beers and soft drinks. Snacks, candy, wines, and cheeses from around the world are also available.
Desserts from Steel City
Swing back up Bridge Street and wander through the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market, then head to Vecchia Pizzeria. Vecchia bakes Neopolitan small pies in just 95 seconds in a giant wood-fired brick oven using super-fresh mozzarella di bufala and toppings like basil, olive oil, soppressata, San Marzano tomatoes, arugula, garlic, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and olives imported from Naples. If you have room, try the Nutella dessert pizza.
2pm: Kombucha and Shopping
A couple blocks up on Morgan Street lies A Culture Factory. Fermentation enthusiast Olga Sorzano has brought kombucha to Phoenixville with her fantastic Baba’s Brew. The Culture Factory space has comfy couches and seasonal varieties of the fermented drink to try. The rotating list includes hibiscus, blueberry, honey chamomile, pumpkin, apple, rose and more.
Walk back toward Main Street and take in some of the lovely stores. Shops to browse include the Diving Cat, Ellie’s Choice, and Bridge Street Chocolates.
A Culture Factory
Dinner at Station Bistro
5pm: Pre-Dinner Cocktail
Walk to the corner of Main and Bridge and glide into the Fenix Room at Molly Maguire’s Pub. This swanky spot serves up drinks with a flourish, plus live music and a full food menu. I love sitting here listening to ‘80s music, enjoying a Swedish Fish Martini or a Moscow Mule and watching the world go, while inside, the red-andblack leather seats lend a soothing air to the wood and exposed brick space. Bartender Brian whips up creative cocktails that’ll make you feel saucy and suave.
Just a mile out of town you’ll find Station Bistro in Kimberton. Fresh, casual BYO dining shines in this historic structure, which was once part of the Underground Railroad. Owner Nancy Dill opened this spacious, stone- floored one-room restaurant in 2007. She’s also a chocolatier, creating gingerbread structures, dipped cookies and seasonal chocolate items. Station Bistro sources from local farms and CSA for all dairy products and fruits and chooses organic ingredients whenever possible.
After dinner, head to Steel City for live music and dessert. Steel City recently added homemade ice cream to the menu. You’ll also find housebaked toaster pastries, cookies, scones, brownies and Rice Krispies treats. Order up a latte, coffee, Baba’s Brew kombucha or hot tea and relax with a treat. You’ll find local writers and townspeople like me in here every day, slugging down coffee and meeting up with friends or pounding out prose.
Fenix Room’s strawberry martini
FOOD LOVER’S ITINERARY
138 Bridge St
324 Bridge St
325 Bridge St
249 Bridge St
A Culture Factory
333 Morgan St.
The Fenix Room
193 Bridge St
1300 HaresHillRoad, Kimberton,PA
203 Bridge St