What To Do in Brewerytown, Philadelphia

December 3, 2018
what to do brewerytown

Brewerytown, Philadelphia got its name because of the number of breweries that once stood here. This section of north Philly went from being prosperous to undergoing economic despair, and is now seeing a surge of new businesses, homes, and residents.

 

When buying a house in this neighborhood, I searched, “what to do in Brewerytown,” and came up with only a few outdated articles. I’ve overheard the conversations of newcomers asking bartenders what to do and where to eat. And, I’ve wondered what the students at nearby Girard College find when they research their campus.

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

After exploring the neighborhood, and talking to business owners, it appears that Brewerytown has a whole lot going on. So, I decided to write up a guide myself. Whether you’re new to Brewerytown, or are a long-term resident, here’s some of the neighborhood’s best things to check out.

 

Where To Eat and Drink in Brewerytown, Philadelphia

 

The Monkey and The Elephant

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

Located on Girard, this cafe is one of the best places to grab a coffee. Their pour overs are my favorite, and the fresh baked goods are pretty hard to resist (looking at you Oatmeal Jam Bar.) The small, upstairs seating area is usually full of patrons on their laptops.

 

Downstairs, the walls are adorned with works from local artists, and inspiring quotes written in chalk. During the summer, the back patio offers a secluded spot for an iced coffee.

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

The menu features coffee drinks, teas, paninis, and healthy snacks. This Brewerytown coffee shop also runs a program to teach job and life skills to former foster care children who have aged out of the system. Many of these participants are employed at the cafe.

 

They often host pop-up shops, fundraising events, and local gatherings too!

 

Lucky Goat Coffee House

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

This coffee shop can be found right on the border of Brewerytown and Fairmount. There’s a small seating area upfront, and an additional seating area in the back. Laptop wielding coffee fans are usually found inside. And, during the summer, the patio furniture out front is filled with friends chatting over lattes.

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

Between the low key playlist and the secluded back room, this place is one of my top choices to work on my laptop. They claim to have some of the best espresso around, and encourage visitors to stop by with a book to relax.

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

Era Ethiopian Restaurant

best Ethiopian philadelphia

This is, hands down, my favorite restaurant in Brewerytown. We wandered into this bar / Ethiopian restaurant on the first night in our new home.

 

It looks and feels like a dive bar, but the crowd can throw you for a loop. There’s likely to be a bearded 20-something holding a book with his clean hand while mopping up lentils with Injera.

 

A husband and his wife toast to her job promotion as ‘Social Media Manager.’ And, a group discusses why commuting to work is a waste of time. They drink Lions Head and take shots as they rally for more companies to offer remote positions.

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There are college students bringing their parents in from out of town, and groups of rowdy sports fans watching the game. Some people are playing pool while others hide out in the back room for more intimate conversation.

 

I’m chasing the dragon after eating at Era because I haven’t found any other Ethiopian restaurant in Philly that beats it. Plus, it’s a pretty energizing place to meet other Brewerytown residents.

 

Pizza Dads

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This Brewerytown pizza spot is owned by the same people as Pizza Brain in Fishtown. Their menu features traditional pizza pies and a lineup of modern, artisanal pies. One of their most interesting options is the Randolph Pie which consists of a pineapple Jerk base, Jerk chicken, red onion, green pepper, and Mozzarella.

best pizza brewerytown philadelphia

There’s the Althea Pie, which has a white base, lamb Merguez sausage, pickled cucumber, and herb yogurt. And, there’s the Cyndi Pie, which is made with red sauce, Mozzarella, roasted beets, goat cheese, honey, and arugula.

 

Visit the shop on Tuesdays because they give out free beer when you order a pizza!

 

Spot Burgers

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Want the best burger in Brewerytown? Spot burgers is the place. They consider themselves a gourmet burger spot, and offer some pretty unique options. Go for the Spot Burger, which features hickory smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, pickles, coleslaw, and Spot sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, try out the Umami Burger, which is made with grilled onions, mushrooms, fermented soybean paste (samjang,) cucumber, pickled daikon, lettuce, and teriyaki.

 

All of the burger options can be switched out for chicken or veggie options. As a vegetarian, I know that it can be pretty tough to find a tasty veggie burger. I tried one from Spot Burgers and can vouch for how delicious they are.

best burgers brewerytown philadelphia

And, aside from burgers, Spot offers the Philly classics like cheesesteaks, buffalo chicken cheesesteaks, and fried chicken. They have a menu of franks and sausages which features a corndog. They have a Spot Burgers original section which features a Sloppy Joe and Vegan sausage and peppers.

 

Spot also has a ‘secret’ menu featuring falafel, and a dessert menu that has root beer floats!

 

Rybrew

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Whenever someone asks me where to go for lunch in Brewerytown, I always suggest Rybrew. They have a diverse menu of sandwiches, soup, salads, and even ice cream. Their crab cake sandwich is my favorite, but I’ve heard great things about their Santa Monica sandwich too.

 

They usually have vegetarian options, and they often have fresh baked goods. This place serves coffee, offers craft beer on tap, and has an entire wall of beer fridges. Their beer selection if probably the best in the neighborhood as they have everything from local brews to rare craft beers that are hard to find.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

They have WIFI (it’s a great place for people who work remotely,) plenty of seating for people to eat or do work, and often have events like open mic nights and art showings.

 

Irie

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

This is the only Jamaican restaurant on the Girard strip and the food is so good that there’s no need for another one. It’s a simple spot with a small dining room, a Bob Marley mural, and authentic, Jamaican cuisine.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

The dishes are hearty but also really affordable so you can fill up without spending too much. Their menu includes items like curry goat, oxtail, fried tilapia, BBQ chicken, Jerk chicken, curry chicken, and red snapper. Sides include items like collard greens, candied yams, rice & peas, and macaroni and cheese.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Blue Jay Diner

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Photo: Zomato

This long-standing diner is a focal point on the main Girard strip. They offer up the standard diner breakfast and coffee that you crave after a night of drinking. The food here is simple, delicious, and affordable. Keep in mind that this place isn’t open late so get here early for breakfast.

 

Philly Sunnyside Diner

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Photo: MapQuest

Another breakfast spot on Girard ave, the Sunnyside Diner is the go-to spot for a cheap and hearty breakfast. They have all the classics like pancakes, French toast, and omelettes, so you know you’ll find something you like. This diner isn’t open late either, so make sure to venture there for breakfast or lunch.  

 

2637 Brew

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

I still haven’t tried 2637 Brew, but I’ve heard they have the best brunch in Brewerytown. This cozy bar and restaurant offers artisan cocktails, craft beer, and refined eats. According to their website, they serve elevated comfort food in a casual, comfy setting.

 

They have specials like Wine Down Wednesday, Taco Tuesday, Bubbly Monday, and a Monday-Friday happy hour. Their menu includes items like nachos, brussel sprouts, flatbreads, fish and chips, lobster mac and cheese, and pan seared sea scallops. Stop in on Wednesday nights for some live music.

 

iMunch

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

This cafe might be small but it has a pretty big menu. They are a one-stop-shop for coffee, lattes, smoothies, breakfast or lunch. Don’t let their small downstairs area fool you though. Take the spiral staircase upstairs for a full room of tables where you can eat or get some work done.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

They have WIFI so you can bring your laptop or school work. And, they even have a conference room that you can use for meetings.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Butters Soul Food

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Butters Soul Food has a dining room that is just as exciting as its menu. The walls are full of knick knacks, trinkets, artwork, and signs. You would never know by looking at it from the street, but this restaurant has a pretty quirky atmosphere.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Try their baked, stuffed chicken breast, baked turkey wings in gravy, BBQ pork ribs, or fried catfish. They have sides of greens, string beans, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, cornbread stuffing, lima beans, and mashed potatoes.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Grab a slice of their double chocolate cake, sweet potato pie, carrot cake, or lemon pie. And, wash it all down with their homemade iced tea.

 

Crime and Punishment Brewery 

crime and punishment brewery

‘Putting the Brew Back in Brewerytown’ is their motto. Crime and Punishment is the neighborhood’s only brewery, and they do a fantastic job holding this title. The place always seems to be packed with locals and a few beer lovers from other parts of the city.

crime and punishment brewery

There’s a real community vibe going on here, which is something that can be attributed to the friendly and personable bartenders. The bar has quirky books, toys, games, and artwork that depicts Brewerytown history. They also offer ‘Movie Monday’ so you can grab a beer and watch a flick.

crime and punishment brewery

The brewing kettles are on display, and the walls are lined with local artwork for sale. They often have live music and have an interesting, rotating lineup of beers which features IPAs, Wee Heavy, Berliner Weisse, Kvass, and a Coffee Stout.

Crime and punishment brewery

Oh, and don’t forget to try their food! They have quite a few vegan options and a killer brunch.

 

Deborah’s Kitchen

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This spot has been around for a long time!  It’s a family-owned operation that offers comfort food that everyone can love.

 

The menu includes items like meat loaf, turkey chops, grilled salmon, chicken wings, short ribs, tuna salad, black eyed peas, and flounder. What really caught my eye while visiting Deborah’s Kitchen was the dessert selection.

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If you have a sweet tooth, be warned, you might spend all of your money here. The dessert menu includes options like pineapple upside down cake, apple pie, strawberry shortcake, carrot cake, cheesecake, peach cobbler, bread pudding, banana pudding, and apple crisp. There’s more, but I’m drooling so I’ll stop here.

 

Novak’s

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What a funky little spot! Novak’s bring classic French cuisine to Brewerytown. The small dining area is decorated in a big way! The vibe and decor is reminiscent of 1980s New York, and the owner is a vibrant and passionate guy who seems to really love the food and atmosphere he creates.

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Novak’s offers a prix fixe menu for $25, which gives you a choice of entree and dessert. This spot is BYOB, and according to the website, will be opening soon for brunch. Oh, and I thought I should mention that they have vegetarian options too. French food isn’t always veg-friendly but the owner let me know that they can do a meal sans meat!

where to eat in brewerytown philadelphia

Uncle Nick’s Pizza

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Uncle Nick’s is a classic pizza spot in Brewerytown. If you want a delicious pizza pie without the frills, this is the place. They have hand-tossed pizza, Sicilian square pizza, cheesesteaks, Stromboli, chicken steaks, hoagies, and wings.

 

When you just want to stay home and watch the game or a movie, Uncle Nick’s is the perfect place to order from.

 

Cafe de Lave

brewerytown cafes

Located on the 31st street corridor, this spot is a cafe with a middle eastern twist. Aside from their coffee and espresso menu, they also have falafel, salads, fresh smoothies, and fresh juices.

 

Their Italian roast coffee and espresso are top notch, and they have a small seating area for you to enjoy a fresh cup.

 

What to Do in Brewerytown, Philadelphia

brewerytown philadelphia

 

Street Art

what to do brewerytown

Brewerytown actually has some pretty interesting street art. Wander around and check out the mural on Girard and 31st, by the community garden. There’s also a few murals on 31st street, close to the old Red Bell Brewery. And, a few works of art on the sides of buildings down Girard.

what to do brewerytown

what to do brewerytown

You’ll probably find many more pieces as you check out the side streets around Brewerytown. Keep in mind that this neighborhood has its issues with crime so just be mindful of where you are at all times as you wander around.

brewerytown street art

brewertytown street art

Brewerytown Beats

brewerytown beats

If you love music and vinyls, this is your place. Brewerytown Beats is a small record shop that has a pretty hearty collection of vinyls. This shop specializes in funk, soul, and hip hop.

brewerytown beats

They’re located right on the main strip of Girard and are constantly getting in new shipments of hard-to-find records. They sell used, vintage, and rare records, and have a lineup of cassettes as well.

brewerytown beats

After chatting with a few people who work there, I found out that they often have events and DJs who come and spin records. They recommended that I follow them on Instagram to find out what they have going on each week/month.

brewerytown beats

John Coltrane’s House

John coltrane house brewerytown

Did you know that jazz legend, John Coltrane, used to live in Brewerytown? I had no idea until recently stumbling upon his former home. It’s located on north 33rd street, near the frisbee golf course.

 

The house is considered a historical landmark but is currently vacant. It’s interesting just to see the house and look at the historical sign on the outside.

John coltrane house brewerytown

Personally, I think it would be the perfect spot for a jazz bar! I hope they do something interesting with it someday.

 

Yoga and Movement Sanctuary

brewerytown yoga

Located on Girard ave, this little yoga studio is a great place to get some exercise. It’s one of the first places I checked out when moving to Brewerytown. They offer a cheap introductory, monthly membership for $45,  and have community nights that only require a donation to participate. They have pay-what-you-wish classes too in order to make yoga affordable for everyone.

 

They offer private classes, an open studio to use however you wish, workshops, and events. They have yoga classes for those who have experienced trauma in their lives, flow classes, core and conditioning, Vinyasa yoga, chair yoga, and more.

 

Kush Society

kush society brewerytown

Recently opened in Brewerytown, Kush Society is here for all of your smoking needs. Since medical marijuana is now legal in Philly, Kush Society offers glassware and accessories for patients. They also sell CBD products, which are legal for anyone to purchase.

kush society brewerytown

After speaking with one of the employees, I learned that they often have local art shows. In fact, when I visited, they had local artwork displayed for sale. Apparently, they occasionally host bands and comedy shows in the basement. I was told to follow them on Instagram to find out more about these events.

 

Sound Space Performing Arts Studio

sound space brewerytown

Visiting this dance studio was also one of the first things I did when moving to Brewerytown. I took a Cuban dancing class (which I was terrible at) that featured an incredible teacher and a live drum band.

sound space brewerytown

This studio offers all kinds of dancing including: tap, Afro-Cuban, Horton, clogging, Flamenco, hip hop cardio, and more. They offer kids classes, drop-in classes, teen classes, and adult classes.

 

Cycle Brewerytown

cycling brewerytown

Get ready to sweat at the only cycling studio in Brewerytown. It’s located right on the main strip and offers super modern equipment for a great workout.

 

They have experienced instructors, upbeat music, and a motivational decor that will get you ready to put in work.

 

Le Cat Cafe

cat cafe philadelphia

There’s about two cat cafes in Philadelphia and Brewerytown has one of them. This French-themed cafe has an entry fee that allows you to spend an hour with the cats. They take in homeless kitties and take care of them until someone adopts them out.

cat cafe philadelphia

They aren’t exactly a cafe, since they only have a Keurig machine and some snacks, but, they do have seating and plenty of toys to play with the cats. Part of your entry fee goes towards helping out these four-legged friends so visiting Le Cat Cafe can be your good deed for the day.

cat cafe philadelphia

What to Do Near Brewerytown, Philadelphia

what to do in brewerytown philadelphia

Part of Brewerytown’s allure is that it’s so close to some of Philly’s best natural areas. You can walk or bike to any of these spots in just a few minutes.

 

Fairmount Park

 

Brewerytown is right next to Fairmount park. There is a playground, basketball court, picnic spots, and tons of greenery just minutes from Girard’s main strip. If you’re biking, you can easily get to West Fairmount Park to enjoy the historic mansions, Please Touch Museum, hiking and biking trails.

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philly Zoo is in walking distance from Brewerytown. This is great if you have kids or family visiting from out of town.

 

Sedgley Disc Golf Course

sedgely disc golf course

You can bike to Sedgley Disc Golf course in just a few minutes. It features 27 holes that take you through Sedgley Woods. It’s one of the oldest, permanent hole disc golf courses in the world, and has held hundreds of tournaments.

sedgely disc golf course

The course offers a diverse and historical landscape, and even sports the ruins of the home that Benjamin Franklin’s daughter once lived in. Pretty wild huh?

 

Glendinning Rock Garden

glendinning rock garden philly

Located right on Kelly Drive, this rock garden is the perfect, hidden picnic spot. It’s easy to miss but is walkable from Brewerytown. We started visiting this spot in the summer and found people doing yoga, taking wedding photos, and shooting music videos in the woods. On Sundays in the summertime there is a DJ setup for an outdoor rave here too.

 

The park has plenty of greenery for lounging but also features a stone staircase that takes you up into some Fairmount park hiking trails.

 

Schuylkill River

kelly drive trail

Photo: Fitt

Boathouse Row is walking distance from Brewerytown. When I go jogging or take walks, it takes me ten minutes to get from my house to the Kelly Drive trail. I usually walk towards East Falls and pass some pretty beautiful scenery along the way.

 

There are sculptures, fishing spots, cafes, and plenty of green spaces to stop off for a picnic. I often ride my bike on this trail too, which takes me about three minutes to get to on wheels from Brewerytown.

 

Lemon Hill

lemon hill

Photo: Park Charms

This historic mansion in Fairmount Park is only a five minute walk from Brewerytown. The mansion can be toured and often hosts events like concerts, beer gardens,  or art exhibits. Aside from the mansion, Lemon Hill is a great spot for a picnic, has incredible views of the skyline, and is a popular spot to let your dog run around.

 

Discovery Center

Discovery Center Philly

The Discovery Center just opened on the outskirts of Brewerytown in the summer of 2018. It was once a reservoir that provided clean water for the city of Philadelphia. However, it was closed in 1970, fenced off, and stayed that way until 2018. Over that period of time, the reservoir filled with water and foliage, becoming a nesting spot for migrating birds.

 

The city has finally opened up the area to the public, and are offering educational programs for Philadelphia school children. The center offers an aerial ropes course, a trail by the lake, and plenty of options for bird watching.

 

They plan on having events and are now offering free monthly yoga classes in collaboration with Yoga and Movement Sanctuary.

 

What’s Next For Brewerytown?

 

As of writing this article, Brewerytown is under construction. New buildings are going up all of the time, and there are rumors of new businesses that will be filling in vacant buildings. I’ve personally heard rumors of a butcher shop and an Indian restaurant coming to Brewerytown. But, I’ve yet to see anything but construction workers and new apartment buildings.

brewerytown philadelphia

However, there has been word that Green Eggs Cafe is about to move into a location on the main strip of Girard. The building has been under construction for a while, but when I walk by, I can see that it certainly looks like a restaurant inside.

 

There is talk of a ‘30th street corridor’ which will feature multiple retail stores under a massive apartment complex. I’ve been watching them build this structure, and it looks like they are almost there.

 

And, as I walk down the main strip of Girard, I see building after building being renovated for future businesses. I’m pretty excited to see what will happen in the future.

 

Resources to Keep an Eye on Brewerytown

 

I’m always looking for new ways to keep an eye on Brewerytown. I follow @mmpartners and @genbrewerytown on Instagram and Facebook to find out more about new buildings and happenings.

View this post on Instagram

GREEN ANGLES: 2800/block Girard: UPDATE: Looks like B-Town just might get the much ballyhooed breakfast and bruncherie @greeneggscafe in time for the holidays, as inside furnishings (butcher block-looking tabletops on heavy black metal legs with matching seating) and finishes (a nice tiled wall that would not be out of place at Suraya, that tin ceiling) were on window display tonight. It seems like the latest branch of the restaurant took an abnormally long time to near even the close-to-opening phase, but much has to be foregiven in the world of dealing with licensing, permitting, outfitting and staffing a restaurant. An option for a better breakfast and bigger sit-down lunch arena on the Ave is a good thing, and this a tenant that prods Girard along it's invevitable, Fairmount Ave.- like trajectory. Note: The terribly good-looking new residential project just around the corner on 28th is now being lived in, and building is advancing around the 'hood in all sectors at a pace that's sometimes hard to cover and hold down a job. #brewerytown #brewerytownisbooming #historicwestgirardave #phillydiners #north28thstreet

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If you’re thinking about moving to Brewerytown or are already living here and looking for more to do, I hope this article has helped!

 

While this neighborhood certainly has its problems, and is dealing with the struggles of gentrification, it has been a great place to live so far.

 

I sincerely enjoy the location and the residential feel that my street has. Aldi grocery store is ridiculously convenient, access to 76 is seconds away, and a Planet Fitness is just a ten minute drive from my house. I’m happy that we chose Brewerytown to live and I can’t wait to see how it progresses over the next few years.

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