NFT Philadelphia Southwark West

Southwark West

Essentials
Looking for proof that South Philly changes radically from block-to-block? You've got it right here, buddy. From new condos to crumbling lots, from some of the best food in the city to dubious holes-in-the-wall (okay, sometimes they're the same thing); this is one of the most varied areas of the city.

Sundries/Entertainment
If you can't find food or fun here then you're just being willful and obstinate. So anyway, speaking of vittles: goodness gracious, that food! Head to P.O.P.E. for a frosty one, a delectable pastry at Isgro, and a delicious BYOB dinner at August. And did we mention that the best dive bar on Earth is here? Long live See more.

>Bob & Barbara's.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Mural, Mural on the Wall

By Augustin Kendall
Illadelphia, Filthadelphia, City of Brotherly Love ... whatever Philly is to you, there's a mural for it somewhere. Amidst the spectacular three-story-high or building-long murals that ooze local culture, there are some off-kilter gems you won't find in the official tours. Augustin Kendall brings you an alternative mural tour that will not only satisfy your artistic appetite, but your thirst and sweet tooth cravings as well.
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Black Lung Special

By Caren Beilin
Philly is the last hip city in this generally po-dunk America where you can smoke inside public places. Before the inevitable smoking ban takes effect, celebrate some of Philly's hottest spots to light up and fill your lungs with a black lung special.
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Things That Make You Go Om

By Allison Lowrey
Balance your chakras, shake your maracas; it's time to do some yoga! Allison Lowrey, a skeptical city slicker, had her doubts about the healing power of Downward Facing Dog. But all that would change... when she took a class. Are you ready for an Indian-originated mental and physical discpline that leaves you exalted, sweat-sopped and begging for more?

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Philly's Rock-and-Roll Five-Spot

By Alex Morales
NYC? Fuggetaboutit. Chi-Town? Yawn. LA? So like, totally not. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re looking for the tippy-top of the indie-rock & pop pyramid, it’s all about Philly. From airplay on NPR and college radio to beer-soaked venues nationwide and spots on the upcoming SXSW festival, 2005 has seen our myriad scrappy troubadours gathering steam. And, if I’m not a monkey’s nephew, bigger and better things await in ’06.
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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Da Vinci Ristorante
Yes. Hard to believe. A hearty Italian restaurant in the depths of South Philly. But at Da Vinci Ristorante, the spirit and flavor of Passyunk mingle with a smooth elegance more often found in Rittenhouse Square. Chef and owner Francesco Parmisciano grew up near Salerno, and his restaurant's palette manifests that Southern Italian heritage in deliciously complex combinations; so if it's traditional marinara "gravy" you're after, you may have come to the wrong place. Pasta and meat entrées alike balance delicate flavors such as white wines, capers, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola and ricotta cheeses. If making a reservation, be sure they seat you downstairs (the upstairs seating is better for large parties, but lacks in ambiance) or, in good weather, sit in the spacious and mosaic-studded back patio. Stay for dessert and they'll treat you to a shot of chocolate-cello (a sweet, thick variation on traditional limoncello liquer).



Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Carman's Country Kitchen
Carman's may very well embody the spirit of South Philly: it's rough and saucy, made to order, and straight from the heart. There's no messing around here at this homespun brunch storefront; sitting at the counter or at one of a few snug tables, you'll be served with mismatched silverware and mugs likely filched from your great aunt’s cupboard. The menu, hand-written on the wall, announces a small selection of seasonally inspired entrees that change weekly. You'll always have your choice between a sweet pancake, fruity French toast, seasonal omelette, or a special meat, fish or sausage served with eggs and toast. Sit at the far back table and you'll catch Carman hard at work in her tiny kitchen; she may even ask you how you enjoyed your meal as she fries up another omelette. In warm weather, you and your party of 6-8 can sit at the "chef’s table," a picnic table nestled in the bed of a curbside pickup truck. (Call ahead; it's available by reservation only.) The tables may be few, and the entrees fewer; but Carman proves that quality, not quantity, wins the day.



Posted By:  Sara Nye
Photo:  Sara Nye

Green Eggs Cafe
While eating breakfast at Green Eggs, one of the only other physical tasks I can accomplish is heaving great sighs of contentment. Not only because the French toast I order is perfectly portioned and manages to be both light AND rich, but also due to the ambiance here, a newly remodeled set of rooms that is full of warm dark woods, intricate ceilings, and images of the natural world. Each table even has a plant centerpiece. The cafe itself seems to be breathing deeply, so what choice do I really have to do otherwise? Get this: buying a glass of water for $1 helps conserve the planet's water ways. Now I'm wholly convinced this place is designed to satisfy the greener, more-in-touch-with-nature person trying to fight his or her way out of us all. While sating us silly, that is. A note on this French toast: it's brioche stuffed with fresh berries and ricotta and topped with more berries, Chantilly cream, and blueberry sauce. Next time I'm diving into the pancakes. A full stack is $6.50, a short $4.50. And I can get poached pears, vanilla ice cream, and lavender honey on them. For no. Extra. Charge.



Posted By:  Krista Apple
Photo:  Krista Apple

Isgro Pastries
Of South Philly's great bakeries--Termini Brothers, Varallo Brothers, Cosmi's--Isgro is one of the best known, not only because of their delectable sweets but because of their proximity to the oft-traversed Italian Market and (inimitable) Sabrina's Cafe. Isgro's delivers all that one dreams of in a traditional Italian bakery and sweet shop: pignoli, biscotti and sfogliatella; tortes, tarts and eclairs; and--of course--cannoli (the store's website, lest we wonder, is "bestcannoli.com"). What's more, you don't even have to walk into the store to get a little dash of bakery bliss; thanks to the fans cooling the basement ovens, the bakery's singular aroma wafts up and down Christian street, a siren song calling out to the deepest caverns of your olfactory senses. What's the use in resisting? The "best" ricotta cheese cannoli in South Philly awaits.



Posted By:  jaimie KREMS
Photo:  jaimie KREMS

Sweet Freedom Bakery
Philadelphia is a city where bakeries aren't just places to get your sweet on; they're institutions. But Philadelphia is also a city whose residents were voted the some of the homeliest in the country. Leave it to the rebel friends behind the brand spankin' new Sweet Freedom to shake things up. Nestled next to vegan haven Govinda's, this Center City sweet spot serves up gluten-free, dairy-free fare that is seriously satisfying despite being way better for you than anything with buttercream. Their rotating cast of cupcakes, cookies and fruity crumbles can make even health nuts look forward to dessert. So if you reach for agave over artificial sweetener, but still want a seemingly sinful brownie, here’s your new favorite future institution.



Posted By:  Rebecca Troutman
Photo:  Rebecca Troutman

Nam Phuong
The first thing you must know about Nam Phuong is that it is a place you go for pho. That said, I have never ordered pho--as tempting as a soup as big as my face can be. I am not a creature of habit, but to be honest I never make it past Veggie Spring Roll Vermicelli ($4.95) and the avocado "fruit shake." The other vegetarian offerings are largely satisfying--lemongrass tofu, spicy eggplant, and others. The restaurant's Pepto Bismol decor is straight out of a southern Delaware hotel buffet restaurant that rents out as a ballroom for local high school dances. The ten foot stage near the entrance usually features stacked chairs and an unplugged fan, which isn't confusing so much as it is a waste of a perfectly good cabaret opportunity. This place is hopping on a Monday night as it is, could you imagine if there were bands and acrobats? Watch out for the chandeliers!




Posted By:  Jamie Papoutsis
Photo:  Jamie Papoutsis

Lazaro's
I heard this was supposed to be the best pizza in Philly, so I ignorantly gave it a try during an Eagles football game. When I went to pick up the pizza, the joint was choked full of men, standing around a suspended television set soaking in every precious second of the game... not wanting to remove their eyes even to pay the cashier. The pizza itself was pretty satisfying although I ordered it with peppers and onions, which somehow translated to the mental midget on the other side to only one half of the pizza. My advice--try it if you're in the neighborhood, but don't make a special trip.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Trojan Pinata
You may have noticed, as you walked down Broad Street during all of the Phillies hubbub, that a giant six-story piñata is just hanging out in the empty lot on Broad and Washington. The piñata, surrounded only by moving trucks, a crane, and two dudes snoring on folding chairs, looks incredibly ominous. Where did it come from? Who really needs that much candy? Especially right after Halloween? The entire thing is suspect, which leaves only one conclusion. Surely this is a Trojan Piñata and some army of scary creatures, like Oompa Loompas, are going to come flying out of that thing and take over Philadelphia at any second. The newspapers would have us believe that it was just a lame cruise line publicity stunt. The Greeks probably fed the same story to the Trojans. Do not trust the piñata, Philadelphians!



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Pub on Passyunk East (P.O.P.E.)
In today's fast-paced, short-attention-span world, we often look for what's up-and-coming rather than enjoying the here-and-now. Like those goldfish we won from traveling carnivals when we were little kids, local establishments often appear fine one day, then go belly-up the next. That's why it's cause for celebration when a great business actually thrives. Head to the P.O.P.E. on Saturday, June 28 to ring in the bar's second anniversary. The P.O.P.E. has come a long way since it opened two years ago--patrons can now kick back in a cozy lounge area inside or spend their lazy summer nights enjoying hearty draughts at outdoor tables. The jukebox alone is worth making the trip to South Philly. Forget soulless digital jukeboxes spewing over-played radio hits. Each CD in the P.O.P.E.'s jukebox has been hand selected with care. Don't be surprised if you walk out with a list of songs to buy from iTunes when you get home. And ladies, make sure you hit the powder room--the Tiger Beat collage will put a goofy smile on your face for days. Because who really needs more "Sheila is a bitch!" graffiti, anyway?



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Devil's Den
Upon hearing about Devil's Den, South Philly's newest gastropub, I immediately pictured a cramped, dingy bar. Walls painted black. Graffiti'd cliches smeared all over the bathroom walls in White-Out and Sharpie marker. Loud angry music and the smell of day-old vomit. You know... stuff you normally picture when you think of Hell. But how wrong I was. Devil's Den is not how I envision my inevitable afterlife at all--in fact, beer connoisseurs may think they've died and gone to heaven. Spacious and all kinds of swanky for a South Philly watering hole, Devil's Den features a huge selection of yummy and exotic brews to feast upon. The building itself has big windows that open on gorgeous summer days and two flat screens sit behind the bar, featuring whatever sport a Philly team is excelling in at the moment. Servers' faces are familiar if you've frequented other South Philly hot spots, so you'll feel right at home when you park yourself at the bar and lush it up.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Black n Brew
Sometimes you go to a brunch spot to order a much-needed breakfast burrito and when it's served you can't help but think: holy shit, this thing's so big it could knock Joey Chestnut out of an eating contest! Other times, you go to some fancy restaurant where food portions are miniscule and you shoot daggers at the dude scraping bread crumbs from your table with that weird tool...because you would have actually eaten those. If there exists such a thing as a Goldilocks of portion size, Black & Brew has nailed it. Good food, a cozy set-up, affordable prices, and an unpretentious atmosphere make this place a South Philly gem. Bring your dog and walk off the calories after you grab a sandwich or latte—pooches are welcome in the cafe. There are even dog treats at the counter so your furry friend doesn't gawk pleadingly at you the entire time you devour your scrumptious breakfast or lunch.



Posted By:  Rebecca Troutman
Photo:  Rebecca Troutman

Ms. Tootsie's
Why mess with the real thing? For 10 years Ms. Tootsie's has been home to "home cooking," dressing it up nicely to keep up with the clubbing crowd. You can still get your cheesy cheese macaroni, fried catfish, and collard greens. But instead of being slopped into styrofoam to-go containers, your okra and stewed tomatoes are piled high on white porcelain plates. Full of boisterous patrons mostly in romantic duos, Ms. Tootsie's has an ambiance of blue lights and soft blues. The brand-new bar next door shouldn't be passed up: a three-floor row home has been converted to a sophisticated series of intimate lounge spaces and sleek bars. And the signature drink? The Tootsie Roll of course!



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

1540 Hardware
Remember when you lost your house key and, after enduring a lecture on responsibility from your roommate (who was under house arrest), you ran down to the corner hardware shop and had a new copy made just like that? Then Home Depot came along with its behemoth orange-ness, huge stock and insanely convenient hours and ruined it for all the mom ‘n pop shops. Well, one hardware store isn’t afraid to take on the giant. Bright yellow and impossible to miss, 1540 Hardware in South Philly is like the Mary Poppins bag of hardware stores. It’s a small shop, but they have just about anything you can ever imagine needing. Sidewalk salt for icy days? Check. Dowels to pop in your window frames so burglars can’t open the window? Check. Padlocks? Plungers? Trash cans? Flowers? Check, check, check, check. You get the picture. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your own, the owners are infinitely helpful. So, flip the bird to those big chain box stores, where employees stare at you from dead eyes when you ask about removing super glue from human flesh, and go support your local hardware shop.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Anvil Iron Works
Nothing says "stay out of my house and keep your mitts off my fully-loaded iPod, you little druggie punk" like a handy window grate from Anvil Iron Works. Whether you're looking for something fancy and decorative to keep the scourge of the neighborhood out of your house or something purely functional, Anvil will send someone out to measure your home's points of entry and custom design whatever it takes to make your wrought-iron dreams come true. Iron work does not come cheap, but you can't put a price on the peace of mind that comes from knowing someone has to be a hell-bent blow-torch-owner if he even wants to creep into your place to steal some meth money. If intruder issues aren't your bag, Anvil also designs an array of decorative and elegant stuff, like stairway railings, room dividers, trellises, furniture, and fireplace tools. And just in case you’re worried about credentials, rest easy--Anvil is a member of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Association. Take that, wannabe intruders!



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Godmobile
Imagine, if you will, the following situation: You embark on a walk of shame down Passyunk, relieved you escaped a girl’s apartment before she woke up. You cannot wait to get your hung-over ass planted on your couch, where you’ll vegetate in front of the TV all day. Your suddenly remember what happened last night. After a zillion shots, you punched some guy who said he liked your shirt because you thought he was being sarcastic. After getting booted from the Cantina, you treated your boys to cheese steaks so you wouldn’t have to apologize for getting kicked out. Your roommate hit on some chicks while you stood in line at Geno’s and you got jealous. To get some attention, you challenged your roomy to a cheesesteak eating contest—six ‘whiz withouts’ later you were in bed with a girl who may have had a mustache. Just when you think you couldn’t feel worse, you pass the Godmobile, which loudly yells, “Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” For a moment, you think about going back to church and getting your life together. Then you go home and watch football.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

1601
Just because you’re not looking for a rowdy night doesn’t mean you don’t want to go somewhere for a relaxing drink. (Or seven.) And just because you live in South Philly doesn’t mean you have to go to a dive bar that serves cans of cheap domestic beer. Head to 1601, a swanky café that serves high-end beer and savory eats, like the truffled mac and cheese. Steve the bartender docks his stellar and diverse iPod so the crowd can rock out to tunes. Of course, if that’s just not good enough, there’s a jukebox, too. A flat screen TV adorns the wall of the cozy bar area, so you can catch the big game. Better yet, the walls of the dining room are festooned with local artwork—and not like you don’t know already, but Philly’s got some damn talented artists. The art displays rotate on a regular basis…which could make your “check out more cultured stuff” resolution easy to keep. Get there early so you can snag a seat at the bar. You won’t even believe how fast 2 am creeps up.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Holiday Lights
There are certain things you come to expect when you live in South Philly: corny ceramic figurines gracing every picture window, ornery drunk men yelling in the streets after an Eagles loss, dog poop on the sidewalk, bad grammar. Perhaps the most notable of South Philly’s trademarks, though, is the abundance of holiday cheer. Halloween brings haunted houses decked out with smoke machines and frights that send trick-or-treaters squealing fearfully down the street. Valentine’s Day pops up with a liberal amount of hearts and Cupids plastered onto every possible surface. Thanksgiving, Easter, Flag Day, you name it. South Philadelphians know how to celebrate a holiday. And Christmas is certainly no exception. If you’ve got a case of the holiday blues, a short stroll around South Philly could certainly help stifle your inner Grinch. Put on your parka and head out to 13th street between Tasker and Morris, where lights line the entire street. Drive down Oregon, between 20th and Broad and you’ll see pockets of neighborhood lights that make Clark Griswold’s look downright primitive. To the decorators of South Philly, I (and PECO) thank you for making the holidays festive and delightful. Cheers!



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

You can’t walk anywhere in South Philly without keeping your eyes fixed on the ground in front of you because if you dare let your gaze wander, you’ll probably step in a pile of dog crap. In addition to scattered dog turds, the sidewalks are decorated with blackened wads of bubble-gum, scratch-off lotto tickets, and empty nickel bags. But occasionally you’ll find a little treasure, like the one near the corner of 13th and Federal streets. At first glance, you might excitedly think you stumbled on a Virgin Mary jackpot. Before you bust out a jackhammer and rip up the sidewalk so that you can sell the mother of god on eBay, take a closer look. Apparently someone stenciled Elvis Presley on the sidewalk and years of rain have caused it to fade. If it IS a picture of the King, the artist should find a new day job. Because upon closer observation, it kinda looks like Mary Poppins. Maybe she and Elvis had a love child whose picture is immortalized on the sidewalk? Who knows? But it’s a much better mystery to ponder than the one involving how to get dog poop out of your shoe’s treads.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Pub on Passyunk East (P.O.P.E.)
In the immortal words of Smashing Pumpkins…Hipsters, unite! They do just that at the P.O.P.E., where there’s an intimidating variety of beer on the menu that makes us Miller Lite-swigging corporate folk feel like assholes. Whether you’re a hipster or not, the P.O.P.E. is a great place to kick back with friends who enjoy talking rather than yelling at plasma screen TVs over bad sports plays. The jukebox alone can inspire hours of debate: some say it is hands-down the best jukebox ever. Others gripe that it is intentionally obscure. Either way, you’re bound to stumble on some good tunes while you shoot darts in the back of the bar and bravely sample a blueberry beer, which turns out to be delicious.



Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Bitar's
Just about anyone who’s ever lived in Philly has OD’d on hoagies, pizza, and cheesesteaks at some point. On the occasional sweltering summer afternoon, when your body’s pores are actually sweating grease from your 4 am run to Geno’s the night before, you may even find yourself craving something slightly healthy. Mosey on over to Bitar’s Eastern Mediterranean Grill to appease your growling stomach with food that hasn’t been battered, fried, and dunked in an imitation cheese sauce. I personally recommend the Angelo Cataldi Chicken Sandwich. While Angelo Cataldi the radio-personality may be abrasive and nauseating, the sandwich is just the opposite. Marinated mozzarella, a pepper sauce, and lettuce rolled up in a pita don’t make for a drip-free meal, though, so load up on the napkins and avoid wearing your favorite white shirt. Of course, if the idea of supporting anything related to Angelo Cataldi is out of the question, the gyros and falafel sandwiches are delicious, too. Eat your meal at one of the small tables inside or out on the sidewalk, where there’s almost always a pick-up soccer or softball game at the park across the street to serve as your meal-time entertainment.




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