Here's Street's guide to the restaurants, karaoke bars and street corners — yes, street corners — we can't get enough of.
Gusto Pizzeria -— 240 S. 22nd St.
Just across the Schuylkill, on a quiet street in the sleepy neighborhood of Fitlter Square, this tiny pizzeria serves up some of the best pies in Philly. Bring a few bottles of wine and share the pesto zucchini and buffalo chicken pizzas with a small group of friends for a chill, inexpensive evening. If the weather’s nice, consider walking there to get a sample of the neighborhood’s many beautiful 19th century homes. The PennBus service also operates in the area and can get you there and back to campus for free.
To boil it down: if Philadelphia were a fair, this stretch would be the fun house. It’s got Melograno (if you haven’t had the sformato, you should), the weirdest thrift store ever, a gay men’s club called the Sansom Street Gym, a salon that sells Kerastase and a family–owned pointe shoe shop.
-– Nina Wolpow
Scoop DeVille —1734 Chestnut St.
Scoop DeVille could easily be the best ice cream shop in Philly, maybe based on their menu alone. They’re known for their ice cream “blends” — tasty mixed concoctions, from the more traditional Nutty Bananas Foster to the more unorthodox Wasabi Coconut Banana. The menu is expansive, the shop is delightful and the ice cream is sublime.
Gallery Row — 2ND ST., Between Market and Arch
On the First Friday of the month you need to get yourself to Gallery Row in Old City. The art–curation gods have graced this block of 2nd St., from Market to Arch, with about a million galleries, including Artist’s House, Muse and Vivant. You can spend an entire day meandering in and out of galleries, drinking in the artwork along with the wine, which most gallery owners serve on these divine days.
S. 16th St. and Latimer
After a morning of shopping or dining downtown, it’s easy to just hail a westward cab to go home and take a nap. But don’t head back to campus just yet. Instead, venture down to 16th and Latimer St. The looming shop windows melt into gated gardens and quaint early 20th century buildings, some of which have been around since 1915. Quiet and unassuming, Latimer embodies an Old City vibe in the middle of Center City.
Only a few blocks west of campus, the original Green Line’s larger and less crowded sister café serves up coffee and baked goods to the West Philly community like it’s nobody’s business. A great spot to study, read or spend a lazy Sunday morning, Green Line has the added bonus of a fantastic soundtrack — the perfect antidote to the dreck Saxby’s inundates you with while you’re trying to focus.
JOY TSIN LAU — 1026 Race St.
On Saturday mornings GTL is out and JTL is in. Only a short ride to Chinatown separates you from the brunch of your dreams. At Joy Tsin Lau you will feast on delectable pork buns, succulent soup dumplings, taro cake and so much more, all in the company of at least a dozen Buddhas and photographs of celebrity customers in an establishment where no expense was spared on red wallpaper or gilded trinkets. Now go get some dim sum! We’ll race you there.
Hats in the Belfry — 245 South St.
Hats in the Belfry is the hat store to end all hat stores. Located on South Street, the shop’s price range is a bit high, but do you really need to buy a Chihuahua–sized fedora? No, the joy of Hats in the Belfry is wandering around a wonderland of flat caps, top hats and floppy church hats. It’s the perfect place to take a profile picture or to legitimately find the perfect headpiece for your next Halloween costume. As a bonus, it now sells bedazzled pimp canes. Just saying.
I hate brunch. Your stuffed French toast and dry omelets mean nothing to me. Luckily, the people over at Sam’s Morning Glory know what I’m talking about. Their down–to–earth reworking of standard breakfast fare exceeds their own slogan: not a “Finer Diner,” but the finest diner. Crunchy home fries. Homemade ketchup. Tofu scrambles. Salmon frittatas. Coffee in tin cups? Coffee in tin cups. They don’t accept credit cards or take reservations, so bring cash and go early or be prepared to wait (outside) for at least a half hour. You’re welcome in advance.
UHURU FURNITURE — 1220 Spruce St.
In need of some nice, cheap furniture, but with a little more character than an IKEA coffee table? Uhuru Furniture at 13th and Spruce is a great place to find unique, gently used furniture at prices any Penn student can afford. As if getting a gorgeous mid-century modern credenza for only $90 isn’t reason enough to feel good about yourself, the proceeds from the store are used to fund charities both local and global.