Northern Liberties has seen an influx of young professionals, students and designers in recent years, establishing itself as one of Philadelphia’s up-and-coming areas. Now known for its interesting dining scene too, Northern Liberties’ ten best restaurants are well worth working your way through.
Bar, Gastropub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, American, $$$
Jerry's Bar, Philadelphia | Courtesy of Jerry's Bar
Jerry’s Bar, a historic corner-bar in the center of Northern Liberties, has been transformed into a modern gastropub, with lingering, charming touches of its past, such as exposed brick walls and its well-stocked, traditional bar. The restaurant has become known throughout Philadelphia as one of Northern Liberties’ best brunch and there are a range of sweet and savoury options, including Eggs Jerry, poached eggs, gravlax, potato latke and caper dill hollandaise, and French toast stuffed with spiced raisins and crème fraiche. On Sundays, brunch is accompanied by a live jazz quartet, making it the ideal lazy start to anyone’s Sunday. Bar Ferdinand
Bar Ferdinand describes itself as a ‘traditional yet creative’ tapas bar and this description is well deserved. Classic tapas options such as tortilla española or a Spanish charcuterie board vie for attention with delicacies such as seared scallop and lobster with saffron orange butter. For the adventurous, there is a Chef’s Tasting Menu of hand-picked dishes. A range of delicious wines and speciality cocktails accompany the food, as do Spanish guitarists and flamenco dancers on the first Friday of every month.
Although its name is a bit of a giveaway, the location of North Bowl restaurant may still come as a surprise. Located in a former mechanics garage, the restaurant shares its space with a number of bowling alleys, arcade games and pool tables. These, however, only add to its abundant charm: the 1950s-style alleys and games lend the venue a fun, retro feel, and make the dining experience all the more laid back and unique. The menu is classic American comfort food, from customisable burgers to hearty mac-n-cheese, while the colourful cocktails both complement the bright lights and nostalgic décor, and firmly class it as a trendy, grown-up experience.
For the quirky diner in search of soul food, North Third is the place to be. The restaurant’s walls and ceilings are covered with eye-catching décor, from tribal masks to fairy lights to a large, sequinned eagle hanging over the bar. The funky atmosphere sets off the traditional comfort bar food, including rich tomato soup with grilled cheese and a range of club sandwiches and burgers. For the more experimental, North Third has international-inspired dishes such as fish tacos and an Asian tuna burger, as well as an impressive array of new specials advertised daily on their board and Twitter.
PYT is a burger-lover’s paradise. Quality, creativity and excess are the order of the day at this quirky, burger-obsessed diner. Highlights from their menu include The Doh!Nut, a homage to doughnut-loving Homer Simpson with a beef patty, American cheese and chocolate covered bacon stuffed into a glazed doughnut, and their Cheesesteak burger, a twist on the classic Philadelphia cheese steak sandwich. PYT also runs a Burger of the Week club, demonstrating a keen sense of creativity by experimenting with new and often shocking combinations of ingredients to create a memorable burger experience. Burgers are accompanied by ‘adult shakes’: delicious mixtures of ice cream and liqueur that set the tone of this outrageously fun and distinctive establishment.
Situated on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place, R2L is one of Philadelphia’s most stunning and dramatic restaurants, offering unimpeded views of the city for over 40 miles. The interior is a modern reflection of the building’s Art Deco heritage and adds sophistication and charm to the awe-inspiring views. The dining room is bordered by floor-to-ceiling windows, creating the impression for the diner of being suspended in the sky. The restaurant’s website keeps a daily reminder of sunset hours, encouraging visitors to experience the most spectacular views. The food only ameliorates the aesthetic experience; owner and chef Daniel Stern is well-known for his elegant twists on American classics, with highlights from the menu including the grilled red wine-braised short ribs and the pumpkin French toast with oatmeal ice cream.
A family-run establishment, Saloon has been offering new interpretations of Italian and American cuisine since 1967. The family atmosphere is reflected in the quality of the food; all ingredients are fresh and either sourced locally or imported specially. Great care is put into the creation of all dishes, whether the regulars or the vast range of daily specials and an updated selection of homemade desserts that are available each day. Seafood is prominent on the menu, from fresh clams to calamari to linguine tossed with jumbo shrimp, scallops, and mussels. Saloon also offers an impressive collection of art and culturally significant antiques, which are displayed throughout its dining rooms, creating an elegant, beautiful atmosphere which entirely complements the menu .
Silk City has been a feature of Philadelphia’s restaurant scene since 1954, when the diner car was first installed at 5th and Spring Garden. The original diner closed in 2006 and was reopened in 2007 as a combination of diner, bar and nightclub, with an enormous 3000 ft beer garden at the back. Visiting the diner is a sensory experience: the eyes are caught by the painted murals in the beer garden, the neon signs and the disco balls, a range of traditional delicious diner options such as buttermilk fried chicken and waffles are on offer for the tastebuds, and the sound of a wildly nostalgic 1990s playlist fills the air. Silk City offers itself as a one-stop venue for one of the best nights out available in Philadelphia; start off with dinner, order a drink, head to the dancefloor and watch how the night unfolds.
Standard Tap has made a name for itself as one of the best gastropubs in Philadelphia. The restaurant advertises itself as a ‘neighborhood tavern’ and this community emphasis is evident in its selection of craft beers, all sourced from nearby breweries, and the locally sourced produce. Traditional, generously portioned dishes such as pulled pork sandwiches, award-winning beers and the cosy wood-panelled interior, all contribute to the pub’s hearty atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for parties and family get-togethers.
Bar, Diner, Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Set up by chef Jose Garces, Volvér offers a unique dining experience, setting out to define dining as a culinary performance. Drawing on Garces’s global travels and encounters with a variety of international cuisines, guests can choose either the 10-course or 12-course tasting menu, made up of a range of regional and more exotic specialities, each carefully devised and prepared at the restaurant. Great emphasis is placed on both the service and the presentation of the food, each dish is assembled with great artistry, creativity and precision and attentively presented to the diner, making the experience at Volvér very much a luxurious and unique performance.