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Short Philadelphia Trip: Bar Ferdinand, North Bowl, Brown Betty's

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On a quick weekend trip to the East Coast from San Francisco, my friend and I drove up to Philadelphia and visited a few spots in the Northern Liberties neighborhood.

***Bar Ferdinand***
Bar Ferdinand offered decent tapas in a nice atmosphere--it was a good choice for a girl's night out. Like most tapas places, the number of dishes our waiter recommended was absurd--2-3 per person, appropriate if you're a lumberjack. We ended up ordering 5 plates for 4 people to share, and while we didn't have huge appetites, it was ample--these portions were much larger than anything you'd find in Spain. The table favorite was the mushroom special; I liked the perfectly cooked pulpo a la parilla a lot . The date and bacon empanada was a bit heavy-handed (though that may be a ridiculous complaint about a dish with ingredients that include cream cheese, bacon, dates and puff pastry). Cocktails looked interesting, but were unbalanced and way too sweet for my taste.

***North Bowl***
...which is, yes, a bowling alley, but they also serve food and have a full bar. We ordered garlic tater tots and pretzel bites to go with our beer. Both were excellent compliments to a couple rounds of bowling, akin to what you'd eat if you were playing shuffleboard in your grandma's rec room circa 1978 and she brought down some snacks cooked in a toaster oven.

***Brown Betty's Dessert Boutique***
Because what's a day of tater tots, bourbon and grilled squid if you don't top it off with cupcakes? I loved about this place that they encouraged us to sample--almost every type of cupcake was available to try before we bought. We shared the strawberry cupcake with chocolate frosting and red velvet cupcake. The texture of the cakes was quite dense. While the red velvet had a distinct dry cocoa taste, the strawberry flavor was barely detectable in the other cake. I could have used a tad more frosting on each type.

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  1. though i don't often rave about them here, i've made many a meal of those pretzel bites. whenever i order them, no one in my group can resist.

    sounds like you had a good weekend!

    5 Replies
    1. re: rabidog

      Both delicious and cheap! I don't know what I'd rather eat when visiting a hipster bowling alley in Philadelphia.

      1. re: pane

        north bowl actually has delicious sliders too. i know there is something else that i love there, but i am forgetting.

        1. re: mazza3

          And *I* forgot that we went to an excellent bar called They Gray...Something, which offered an amazing selection of beers and a great cheesesteak that we shared, post cupcake-tater tot-and tapas.

          I wish I could remember the name, but it was a long night.

          1. re: pane

            The Grey Lodge? In Northeast Philly? It's a great place and sounds like what you are describing.