NFT Philadelphia Fairmount

Fairmount

Essentials
Lots of families, students, and young couples are here, living in sin and duplexes. The area is close to both Fairmount Avenue and 676, which makes it convenient to many places (except public transit). On the positive side, Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the best attractions in Philly and has a rocking Halloween haunted house.

Sundries/Entertainment
Mugshots serves organic and fair-trade treats to students, couples, and young mamas with strollers. The Belgian Café serves powerful beer and food that'll delight meat eaters and vegans alike. For cheap late-night munchies, Little Pete's has you covered. See more.

>Rose Tattoo, while having a name reminiscent of some sort of 80s mistake, is a long-time date-night favorite.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Abby Baker
Photo:  Abby Baker

Urban Saloon
If you want to get away from the frat-esque bar-scene in Philly's downtown, then make the trek out to Fairmount and hit up Urban Saloon. With a killer dance floor and smokin' tunes that will make you recall your high school days, nothing beats it. If dancing is not your forte, don't worry--the beer selection here ain't too shabby. Well, that is, if you don't mind drinking your Blue Moon from a Yuengling glass, or drinking your water from a jug. Actually, none of that should matter because if you come to Urban, it's definitely not to be classy.



Posted By:  Meg Favreau
Photo:  Meg Favreau

Eastern State Penitentiary
You'd think that with all of the cities she could visit, Elvira wouldn't say yes to Philadelphia for Halloween. I mean, she's the hilarious and buxom Mistress of the Dark! She could entertain New York, LA, or Hades with equal ease. But she chose Philadelphia--I'm guessing it's because of all of the darkness we have in our hearts. So yeah, Elvira's going to be here on Halloween, visiting creepy locations such as Eastern State, the Poe House, and the Park Hyatt ("Park Hyatt! Our room rates will make you scream!"). "But Meg!" you might be saying to yourself, "I'm so jaded that seeing a campy celebrity just isn't enough for me!" Well, how about this: Cassandra Peterson, who plays Elvira, has also been a member of The Groundlings (the launchpad of famous comics from Phil Hartman to Kristen Wiig), worked as a Vegas showgirl, and once appeared in a Fellini film. If that's not enough cred for you, take a good look inside your black heart and ask yourself if you care about anything. Oh, you don't? Well then, Happy Halloween.



Posted By:  Virginia Blond
Photo:  Virginia Blond

Oliver's Antiques
This is the coolest, most affordable antique store around, at least as far as I’m concerned; (and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t know any better, so let’s move on). You don’t want to believe me? Google ‘em and see if you don’t find more praise. Oliver’s Antiques is small, but I’m sure there’s gonna be something there you want. If not, they get new stuff all the time. What kind of stuff? How about vintage clothes and accessories (for women—mostly coats and purses), furniture, and furnishings. And it’s right next to Mugshots so you’ve got yourself a complete afternoon outing right there—coffee and browsing. It’s worth it just to get the big ‘ol friendly vibe from the owners.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Umai Umai
Japanese food in Fairmount: an answered prayer. Umai Umai opened on the site of a former bakery at the corner of Brandywine and 22nd Streets (just above Spring Garden). The location is small, but features cozy tables and a sushi bar. Its BYO status means you can economize on beverages while splurging on outstanding food—or splurge on both, if you like—and enjoy creative dishes such as the "Godzilla": a collection of sushi plated to resemble its namesake. As romantic as a table for two at Umai Umai can be (and you should consider it next time you have a date), I recommend sitting at the sushi bar, where the chef can carry on a great conversation while preparing your food. He also makes great recommendations; I am personally a lover of salmon, but wanted to try something different. When I mentioned this to the chef, he happily served up several suggestions, all of which were fantastic. My only remaining suggestion: make a reservation. Umai Umai is definitely worth the wait, but why wait if you don't have to?



Posted By:  Virginia Blond
Photo:  none

You would have a few drinks too if you were going to write a little piece on the Belgian Café, so don’t think you could make for the word things to all go in good places now either. So, you know Monks? The Belgian beer place with tasty tasty not so pricey pricey food and, you know, lots and lots of Belgian beer? This is that place except by the Art Museum and except bigger, so maybe a little nicer in some ways unless you like being scrunched up. Oh, and there’s outdoor seating. Great service with waiters that talk about beer the way that guy, what’s-his-name, from Sideways talks about wine. You’ll actually start to believe that there are hints of cheery in your beer. Of course, there’s plenty of the local brew and other international beer, if you like that sort of thing, and some killer burgers. There’s probably something else to say about the place, but those Belgians will knock you on your ass, so I really can’t think of what the stuff for the saying here might be.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Eastern State Penitentiary
Take a look at the photo for this radar. What do you see–aside from some nifty ivy on the walls of Eastern State Pen and those goofy fake gargoyles? Parking! Except that's not what you'd see if this picture was taken after, say, 6pm on a night when Eastern State is hosting its haunted tours. Take it from someone who lives here: there is NO parking to be found in Fairmount while those blasted haunted tours are taking place. To be fair, the organizers established the "ghost bus" this year–a set of trolleys that run from the Pen to a parking lot at Broad and Spring Garden, where visitors are encouraged to park–and that seems to have helped a little (read: I only have to drive around for an hour looking for parking as opposed to the two hours I spent last year). Still, the situation sucks. So, if you're planning to visit one of Fairmount's fine establishments between now and say, the second week of November (especially on a weekend), I highly encourage you to walk, bike, take a cab, or ride the bus. You'll thank me later (and the car-owning residents of the neighborhood will thank you eternally).



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

If you spend a lot of time on Fairmount Avenue (or even if you don't) you may have noticed what I'll call the revolving-door restaurant at 2120: it's been Gloria's, Heaven's Fine Dining (Christian-themed dining–really, I'm not joking) and a soul food joint, all in the span of just a few years. Now, however, it's the "Urban Saloon," Fairmount's newest sports bar. And while the location, across the street from Eastern State Penitentiary–one of the neighborhood's many tourist-loving dining establishments–doesn’t quite scream "sports bar" to me, I've got to admit the place is pretty sharp. Plenty of seating ensures a place to watch the Eagles (if you're masochistic) or Phillies (if you're slightly less masochistic, this year at least) on many screens. The menu is a bit short, but the prices are more than reasonable for this particular neck of the woods. Anyway, it's a place to hang out with the neighborhood crowd and cheer on the neighborhood teams, and that's good enough for me. I just wish they'd have picked a less dopey name.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

From the folks who brought you Nodding Head and Monk's Belgian Cafe comes...The Belgian Cafe. Personally we think they could have been a bit more creative with the name (or less, even; "Monk's II" sounds better than "The Belgian Cafe," and "Monk's on Green" has a nice ring to it)—but if something had to replace our beloved Tavern on Green, we suppose we're happy it's a place with a pre-existing reputation for great beer and great food. On a recent visit during their first week of business, we were impressed by the frites and dipping sauces (and, of course, the beer menu) but extremely worried when a plate of mussels came out half-raw. Knowing the Monk's family as we do, though, we'd be surprised if this incident is anything more than an opening-week kink that will be ironed out shortly. And, to their credit, the chef did immediately replace the already-large plate with a full pot of mussels, fully cooked to perfection this time. Besides, we're always happy when a new restaurant shows up in Fairmount. Or Spring Garden, depending on which die-hard resident you're talking to—but wow, are we not getting into that argument here. Let's just hope they replace those computer print-out signs taped in the window with something a little more permanent when things settle down.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Beehive
Everyone needs a good place to get their hair done. If you're still trying to find one, look no further: a trip to the Beehive is what you need. This hair salon offers cuts, coloring, perms, conditioning, even waxing if that's your thing. And what really does it for us: after you settle yourself into one of their comfy chairs, they'll offer you a freshly brewed coffee (which you should really take them up on, 'cause it's fantastic). They display local artists' work on the walls, which gives you something pretty to look at until you can check out the mirror and your finished 'do. Plus, The Beehive is also home to two extremely friendly canines who will pay almost as much attention to you as the stylists. What more could you ask for?



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Sabrina's Cafe
There's nothing quite like driving from your cozy apartment down to South Philly on a Sunday morning, spending 20 minutes looking for parking, and then waiting 90 minutes in line for what's widely considered the best brunch in the city. Fortunately Sabrina's has just opened a second location on Callowhill, so you don't have to do that anymore—just point your car north and avail yourself of the (slightly) better parking situation and, hopefully, shorter lines. Or, if you're lucky enough to live in the area—just walk, you lazybones. Anyway, the Callowhill menu looks much the same as the original location's (including the much loved "Barking Chihuahua" breakfast burrito), and the hours are similar, except that they're currently closed between 3 and 5 pm from Tuesday through Saturday. That may be only temporary—best to call first if you're planning to stop by. Otherwise, mosey on over and partake of the best of Fairmount, née South Philly.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Eastern State Penitentiary
It's hard to think of a better way to celebrate Bastille Day than to watch one of the owners of London Grill play Marie Antoinette, being "captured" and "executed" by armed troops at Eastern State Pen, all the while yelling "Let them eat TastyKate!". (Supposedly thousands of Butterscotch Krimpets will be thrown down from the building's towers, which in my opinion is more than enough of a reason to attend.) But if that's not enough for you, there's also a bar crawl through various establishments on Thursday night, a variety of French food and wine-tasting events on Friday, music and activities for the kiddies on Saturday, and a French Champagne Brunch on Sunday morning. Our favorite event, though? The Tricycle Tour de France, for kids 4-8 years old. It's a race around the Pen at 3 pm on Saturday, with a few prizes to be had. I wish I could race myself, but I guess I'll settle for watching the young'ns have their fun. Viva la France!



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Mugshots
It s not very often that we ll wax poetic about a sandwich, but this one is worth it. Smoked turkey, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, onions, and barbeque sauce on ciabatta bread—we don t know who came up with that combo, but we re darn grateful to whoever it was. Okay, as far as we can tell, none of those ingredients have a thing to do with the sandwich s namesake, George "Machine Gun" Kelley, but it definitely packs an impressive punch for only seven bucks. Plus, throw in an extra dollar and you get a side of greens (pacify that healthy conscience of yours). But, if this particular gangster-in-sandwich-form isn t quite your style, don t worry—Mugshots offers plenty of other jailbird-themed munchables, fitting for a coffeehouse that sits across the street from Eastern State Penitentiary. Bonnie & Clyde are on hand for turkey and ham lovers, and for you vegetarians out there, try the tomato and cheese Three Thieves. We re still sticking to our guns about the MGK as the top of the heap, though. With apologies for the horrid pun.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

There are corner stores, and there are really good corner stores. JK is one of the latter. Yes, you’ll find milk and eggs, but you'll also find tofu, fresh veggies, nearly every cooking spice known to man, a deli counter, baked goods, and stuff that you need when you realize you didn't quite read that recipe thoroughly enough. (Or you've baked the birthday cake, but forgot the candles. You're covered, my friend.) Of course, there's also the standard bathroom supplies, snacks, pet food, etc. But the other surprising thing about this place is that the prices don't reflect the convenience. Most corner store prices make it more economical to get in your car and spend $5 in gas to drive to the grocery store, where items cost half as much—but not here. Our one complaint is that we wish they stayed open a little later at night, but what can you do. At least they're open at 7:30 am, with fresh La Columbe coffee ready for your consumption. And hey, if you spill a bit on your work clothes while you're dashing out to the car, don't worry—the owners also run the dry cleaners' across the street. Now that is service.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

Mugshots
Ok, it's not really called "mocha and a movie," but that's how we think of it. Mugshots' "Movies on the BIG SHEET" events are exactly what they sound like: every Monday evening at 7 pm, the coffeeshop staff hangs a giant bedsheet in the corner and uses it as a projection screen. The Ritz it ain't, but a tasty coffee and a muffin is a better (and cheaper) snack than that $3 diet soda and $6 popcorn. Flicks vary with the season, the political mood, and the suggestions of customers; titles range from documentaries to Bond films. Often the films serve as a backdrop to low-key conversation—quiet enough so that you can enjoy the movie if you want to, engaging enough to provide alternative entertainment if you find a scene particularly boring. Best of all, you can skip the sticky floors and irritating teenagers yakking on their cell phones that seem to come with the price of admission at the big movie theaters. Obviously, previews are also not on the table. But neither are commercials!



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

The oft-overlooked Rodin Museum is one of the Philadelphia treasures hidden in plain sight. Administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and situated snugly on the northeast corner of the Ben Franklin Parkway and 22nd Street, the museum is a pay-as-you-will landmark—perfect for college students and other visitors on a limited budget. (The museum does have a "suggested" donation of $3, still a bargain.) Just walking up to it is an experience in itself: a replica of "The Thinker" greets you at the outer gate, while a replica of Rodin's monstrous masterpiece "The Gates of Hell" adorns the actual entrance to the building. The museum hosts a combination of more than 120 original and bronze casts of Rodin's works, including "Eternal Springtime" and "The Burghers of Calais." From the smallest sculptures to the massive Gates, this astounding collection of Rodin's work—second only to the collection in Paris—is not to be missed. Even though it usually is.



Posted By:  Katie Sweeney
Photo:  Katie Sweeney

OK, be honest, are you ever really going to revisit that GMAT study guide or last summer’s beach reading? Unload some of your personal book collection here and just try to leave the store without giving the money right back. The double-stacked shelves will take you to foreign countries, into the lives of Hollywood A-listers, or, you know, pretty much anywhere that writers have written about, proving once again that there’s no cheaper escape than visiting your local used bookstore. Although this hidden gem in Fairmount won’t be the one to complete your classic hardcover Nancy Drew set (ahem!), there are plenty of other titles to suit your interest. Books are conveniently organized by genre and author on floor-to-ceiling shelves, and the aisles are often overflowing with stacked towers of titles—clearly the sign of great more material waiting to be discovered.



Posted By:  Michelle Sipics
Photo:  Michelle Sipics

If you’re thinking about hitting up a center city ice cream chain for some refreshing junk food, think again. You could spend two bucks to take route 33 up to Philly Flavors at 21st and Fairmount, buy yourself a tasty treat, and still spend less than you would have at the big-name joints. Please note the photo: that is a $2.50 “small” twist with rainbow sprinkles (pigeon not included)—also known as a $3+ medium-sized twist at Other Places That Shall Not Be Named. PF is incredibly popular in the neighborhood, and for good reason. They offer homemade ice cream, water ice, frozen yogurt, and milkshakes just for starters. They’ll also make any bizarre combination you can come up with. If that’s not impressive enough, watch the counter staff take rapid-fire orders without missing a beat or keeping anyone waiting. Insider tip: start with a kid’s size until you know what you’re getting into. Seriously. If you’re the cocky, adventurous type, try a sundae; just be prepared to walk out with a container the size of a bucket and a guilty conscience (but without an empty wallet).



Posted By:  Blythe Davenport
Photo:  Blythe Davenport

These days it’s hard to get a good cup of coffee without a healthy serving of philosophy, but at Mugshots it’s easy to get behind their ideals of fair trade and commitment to the community. The fair-trade coffee is delicious and food made with locally grown ingredients wholesome, with a menu ranging from pastries to bagel sandwiches and wraps. My favorite is the Capone, with turkey, fresh avocado and bacon, and named after the famous mobster who did a brief stint at the Eastern State Penitentiary across the street. If you’re not a coffee fan, try one of the fresh fruit smoothies. Come out every Monday for Movies on the BIG Screen (on the 13th, “A Pyromaniac’s Love Story”) and every 1st and 3rd Tuesday for a musical Open Mic night. The rotating art is generally strong, and the atmosphere is congenial. Watch out for the one-hour limit on tables during busy times.




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