Road Trip: Fishtown in a Day
An insider’s guide for food lovers
Since I moved to Fishtown in 2012, this Philly neighborhood has blossomed around me. Every week, it seems, new eco-friendly homes spring up from once-vacant lots, unused storefronts morph into bars and BYOs, and late-night food truck corrals appear on different street corners to feed the growing throngs. When friends and family visit from out of town, they’re more excited than ever to explore my suddenly hot home territory. A weekend is best to sample all the flavors Fishtown has to offer, but ambitious eaters can conquer it in a day. Here’s my go-to itinerary for navigating the streets and eats of this lively hood.
Coffee at ReAnimator
Start your day with a cup of single-origin coffee at ReAnimator, a minimalist café where the staff roast beans on-site. There you can observe artsy locals in their industrial-chic habitat and learn all about coffee bean sourcing from the knowledgeable baristas. Once your caffeine buzz sets in, head four blocks east to Montgomery Avenue and take a stroll through Palmer Cemetery, a burial ground that predates the Revolutionary War.
Brunch at Kraftwork
From the cemetery, follow Montgomery Avenue southeast all the way to Girard. The craft-beer bar Kraftwork sits right on that corner, and though it’s most well known for its beer list, it also serves one of the best brunches in town. For prime people-watching, snag a table by the window—or better yet, outside—and peruse the menu as Fishtowners stroll by with their dogs and baby carriages. My favorites are the breakfast flatbread (with three sunny-side-up eggs, tomato, bacon, parm and crème fraîche) and the Beer Can Chicken Sandwich (shredded chicken on a brioche bun with long hots, onions and provolone), along with a pint of whatever beer is on cask. Since they’re not quite as carbonated as regular keg beers, cask ales make for smooth, easy drinking.
Penn Treaty Park and lunch at Johnny’s Hots
Walk southwest on Girard and turn left on Columbia Avenue, which will take you to the Delaware riverfront. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this was the epicenter of Philadelphia’s commercial shad fishing industry (hence the name “Fishtown”). Order a hot sausage from Johnny’s Hots, on the corner of Columbia and Delaware Avenues, and take it across the highway to Penn Treaty Park, where you can chat with fishermen by the river, toss a Frisbee on the expansive lawn or just soak up the sun.
Yards Brewing Company
When you’ve had your fill of playing in the park, cross Delaware Avenue for a locally crafted beer at Yards Brewing Company. The tasting room has an impressive menu, including Philadelphia Pale Ale (called “one of the best pale ales in the country” by The New York Times), Extra Special Ale (a local favorite) and a collection called Ales of the Revolution, which are based on the home-brew recipes of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Order a flight to taste them all.
Head back up Delaware Avenue, take a left on Frankford and keep going straight to Jinxed, a quirky shop that specializes in vintage merchandise, housewares and furniture (and has four other Philly locations). The inventory changes daily, so you never know what you’ll find. Peruse the selection of old books, magazines and artwork; sort through baskets of ceramic figurines; nerd out over historical maps and memorabilia; and ogle the mix-matched assortment of desks, chairs, tables, trunks, hutches and more.
Bottle Bar East and dinner at Stock
Cross Frankford to enter Bottle Bar East, where you’ll find a wall of fridges containing thousands of local, domestic and imported beers. Pick out a mixed six-pack and then find your way north on Girard to Stock, a Vietnamese BYO, for dinner. If you’re lucky, you can snag a seat overlooking this tiny 18-seater’s kitchen as the kitchen turns out soul-satisfying pho and other Southeast Asian classics.
Ice cream at Little Baby’s
After dinner, take a stroll up Frankford Avenue, soaking in the neighborhood’s trendiest stretch of art galleries, boutiques, food trucks and bars, and pop in to Little Baby’s Ice Cream for dessert. The decor is carnival chic and each of the store’s wacky flavors is crafted using locally sourced ingredients. Chipotle chocolate and cardamom caramel are my favorites. If you’re feeling crazy, get a sugar cone with a scoop of each.
Cocktails at The Yachtsman
For the perfect ending to your Fishtown adventure, retrace your steps down Frankford Avenue to The Yachtsman. At first glance, this retro tiki bar, complete with thatched grass, Hawaiian-themed drink ware and the beachiest of soundtracks, might seem out of place in the neighborhood. But try one of its signature cocktails, like the punchy, flavor-packed Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, and you’ll understand why this place belongs in Fishtown’s hip new culinary scene.
Bottle Bar East
1308 Frankford Ave.
1234 N. Delaware Ave.
1331 Frankford Ave.
541 E. Girard Ave.
Little Baby’s Ice Cream
2311 Frankford Ave.
Penn Treaty Park
1341 N. Delaware Ave.
1523 E. Susquehanna Ave.
308 E. Girard Ave.
1444 Frankford Ave.
Yards Brewing Company
901 N. Delaware Ave.