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Sep 30, 2008 06:13 PM

Philly Old City - Make me move

Having only been to Philly on business, I don't have a true idea of food options and am looking at moving to Elfreths Alley and 2nd st in Old City. What type of 'neighborhood' joints are in the area that are worth frequenting if I decide to settle there? Is Old City really just mostly trendy scene-y restaurants? Help!

(Some of my other city favorites are Capogiro, Lolita, Le Bus bakery, and anything with seasonal ingredients and non pretentious preparation.)

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  1. "Is Old City really just mostly trendy scene-y restaurants?"

    Yes. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mawrter

      No, La Locanda del Ghiottone , Chloe, Raddichio, and Northern Liberties 1/2 mile away just for starters

    2. Race Street Cafe has great beers, great service and reasonably good pub food. Its at 2nd and Race, so around the corner from you.

      Also, great coffee shop is Cafe Au'Lait (3rd between Race and Arch)

      3 Replies
      1. re: dartmo

        Actually it's Cafe Ole and it is a great place - good for brunch. There's also Konak for Turkish food and just a couple of blocks away is Market Street, Chestnut Street, etc with tons of restaurants. Walk 6-7 blocks and you get to Chinatown, so there's lots of options.

        1. re: rsgdmd

          We moved to Washington Square 2 years ago and we're overwhelmed with the number of restaurants within an easy walk -- from Old City to South Street to Queen Village to Northern Liberties to Chinatown and whatever they're calling the slightly East of Broad area now (Gayborhood or whatever). Lots of them are what you want. PLUS 3 Ritz theaters for independent movies!

          1. re: Beulah

            One of the great things about living in Philly is being able to easily walk to most neighborhoods or take a quick cab ride.

      2. Thanks everyone for your responses so far. One of the great things about Philly being so small IS the ability to walk almost anywhere... but I'm trying to think ahead to, for example, the winter months, where I know I am probably not going to want to walk more than a half mile max for food.

        I'm not married to staying in Old City - in fact I've been looking in Rittenhouse and Washington Sq West and even Queen Village (which seem far more central to close walkable food options). What I am hoping to get from your responses is a definite sense of whether there are enough super close delicious eateries in Old City that make the location as good or better than Wash Sq, Rittenhouse, or Queen Village.

        Which Philly hood do you guys think has the best neighborhood joints? I still worry that in the immediate areas of Old City are too hip (and less soulful) than the type of restaurants I want to be frequenting when I move.

        6 Replies
        1. re: kasiav

          Queen Village has the highest concentration of great restaurants in the city in my opinion. In a five-block stretch of Bainbridge, you have Ansill, Southwark, Horizons, and Gayle. A couple blocks beyond that you have Cochon and Little Fish. Not to mention Chick's Cafe, Famous 4th Street Deli, Essene, Alyan's, the Latest Dish, Coquette, Bistrot La Minnette, Shouk, James, all of South Street, and of course the north end of the Italian Market lies within QV.

          I think there may be more restaurants in Old City than QV, but most of them aren't very good. Old City is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the city and the restaurants in the area reflect that. That's not to say there aren't some great places there (Zahav and Amada come to mind), but it's close enough to QV that you can walk there in 10 or 15 minutes.

          1. re: Buckethead

            yep, i'm going to second that. if i were in the housing market now, i would be looking in queen village. best walkability to the city's finest eats coupled with one of the best neighborhood vibes, in my opinion. close runners up would be chinatown and west philly around 47th & baltimore.

            i live in northern liberties where i do love my food options; they're definitely above-average and we definitely have IMO the best bars & gastropubs! as an aside i have some of the most lovely neighbors you could ask for, and i love the character of the neighborhood. however the highest concentration of the best food the city has to offer is found in those three above-mentioned neighborhoods. old city has a few fine finds, but the mediocre restos that turn to dance clubs at night outweigh those, for me.

            1. re: Buckethead

              old city is soulless, but it is pretty, and it is nice there in the day time. the restaurants do reflect that to an extent as well, so you are wise to feel cautious about moving there. i would pick queen's village or bella vista over any of those neighborhoods since we have 9th street, supermarkets and tons of restaurants. if you are worried about being lazy in the winter, you will definitely want as many amenities around you. there are no supermarkets in old city (with one small expensive one in society being the exception) and the markets in rittenhouse are fairly small too (trader joe's is great, but pretty small as well).

              i will apologize first for my nitpickiness (i am a born and raised bella vista-ite), but some of buckethead's restaurants are in bella vista and no part of the italian market is in queen's village. other than demographics, the restaurants he/she mentioned are all delicious and should definitely influence you in favor of those two neighborhoods. you should definitely check out both neighborhoods. wikipedia has their parameters if you are interested.

              1. re: mazza3

                I always get BV and QV muddled up, the neighborhoods are so small around there. I can walk 5 minutes and go through 3 named neighborhoods. I heartily agree with mazza3's point that QV/BV's food amenities extend far beyond restaurants. There are at least 2 good specialty grocery stores (Essene and Chef's Market), a small SuperFresh, a Whole Foods, the best farmer's market in the city at Headhouse Square on weekends, another one at Passyunk and South on Wednesdays (I think), a couple good bakeries (Pink Rose and Famous 4th St.). And, of course, all the great stores in the Italian Market. All of this is within a 5-15 minute walk.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  The Passyunk/South farmers market is on Tuesdays starting at 2 pm. And, not to be too nitpicky myself, but it is Queen Village, not Queen's Village (it's my neighborhood and I love it and agree it is the best, especially when combined with our neighbor Bella Vista. I lived in Old City 1988 to 1998, before the construction boom and when Steven Starr was a newbie, it was great then but it has changed, it has certainly lost some of its "neighborhood-ness")

            2. re: kasiav

              I used to live in Rittenhouse, now live on the edge of Society Hill (near Queen Village, but more accessible to public transportation for those cold winter months!). Rittenhouse was great (convenient, Trader Joes nearby and plenty of excellent restaurants), but I moved because I like the character of Queen Village more. Besides all of the restaurants Buckethead mentioned, you are within a 10-15 minute walk to some excellent (and cheap!) Mexican and Vietnamese restaurants in South Philly (on Washington St if you're looking at a map) plus the Italian Market plus the Headhouse Sq farmers' market. I am really happy living here. i'm also not a huge fan of Old City- there are some good restaurants there, but I'm happy to venture up there when I feel the need and live somewhere else.