Rocky Statue, here I come.
September 16, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

One night in Philadelphia - looking for awesome bookstores, restaurants that won't kill my stomach.

I'll be in Philly this weekend for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon. Staying overnight downtown. I get to town approx. 2pm Saturday. Obviously, I'm not staying out too late, as I've got a 4:30 AM wake up call. Looking for the best independent bookstores, maybe a cute restaurant for dinner that's not a Chili's. Walking distance from Market St. preferred. Free events also welcome!
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
*SQUEAL!* I hope you like our city. It's belligerent and urine-y, but has a charm all its own.

It would help to know what you're into, food-wise... any preferences, any restrictions, any concerns? It would also help to the rough area where you'll be staying.

Personal favorites:

- New Harmony and Kingdom Vegetarian in Chinatown (awesome vegan Chinese food).
- Nan Zhou Hand-Drawn Noodle House for pho (and entertaining noodle-makin'); also in Chinatown.
- Good Dog or Nodding Head for quality beer and decent pub food (eat it, Chili's!).
- Reading Terminal Market (a huge, old indoor farmer's market/food mecca with tons of vendors) for any and EVERYTHING - it's a must-visit.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:35 PM on September 16, 2010

Oh, and pick up copies of both Philadelphia Weekly and the City Paper to peruse for free/cheap events - they're in honor boxes on many corners.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:36 PM on September 16, 2010

I like all kinds of food, but would prefer something not spicy. No Mexican, no Indian, when I've got 13.1 miles to run. Cheesesteak would be fine, burgers, chicken, etc.

I forgot to mention that my partner will be home working, so I'm a single girl for the weekend.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:39 PM on September 16, 2010

Market St. is a long street; whereabouts on Market will you be?
posted by The Michael The at 12:45 PM on September 16, 2010

Market Street runs E-W through pretty much the length of the city, so walking distance is a pretty big swathe.

My favorite indie new book bookstore is Joseph Fox, which is very tiny, but very well-curated and has wonderfully knowledgeable staff.

My favorite indie second-hand bookstore is not quite in Center City, but very close to Market Street and the 2nd Street station, and it's two very densely packed floors of goodness. Bonus is that it's a hop, skip, and a jump away from my favorite BYOB in a city with a very lively BYOB scene (thanks, liquor laws!), Chloe. The set menu may not terribly impress, but the small plate specials are absolutely delightful and a pretty good value. And the desserts are straight-up dreamy.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:47 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll be at the Downtown Marriott (1201 Market)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:52 PM on September 16, 2010

Then you're right by Reading Terminal Market, and not terribly far from lots of other places. Tria is just down 12th St at Spruce for sandwiches and drinks, and Amis is down at 13th below Pine if you want to spend a little coin and have a great Italian dinner. Burgers, hie thee to Good Dog on 15th below Walnut. All of these are a 15 minute walk at most.
posted by The Michael The at 12:59 PM on September 16, 2010

- Nan Zhou Hand-Drawn Noodle House for pho (and entertaining noodle-makin'); also in Chinatown.

Just as a correction, that's not pho. It's absolutely delicious soup, but not Pho.

Reading Terminal is usually a great call, but more for lunch/brunch than for dinner.

You are really close to Chinatown, so that's where I would go. IF you don't mind a little walk or a cheap cab ride, you can go eat Venezuelan food at Sazon. It's the best Venezuelan food I've found outside of Venezuela (it's pretty authentic, it is a little bit more refined/healthy than some of the stuff you get in Venezuela but it's really delicious). That's near 9th and Spring Garden. If you want actual Pho, viet town near 11th and Washington (another short cab ride) has some really great places.

Within Chinatown, Nan Zhou is great, I like XO cafe (I think that's what it's called, my friends call it Choo Choo's because of the train sign), Jade Harbor and Peking Duck House are good but better for groups, Rising Tide is a bit overpriced...

If you don't want to go for Asian food, you could always head down to Eulogy at 2nd and Market to enjoy some delicious fries and a great beer selection (I know you have a run but you could do an early dinner and have one beer at a good bar I guess). There's a lot of great food in Philly...
posted by wooh at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hearts for Philly:
Monks Cafe (16th & Spruce)
Reading Terminal is across the street
Zavino pizza & wine bar (13th & Walnut)
cute shops (13th & walnut)
Fro Yo (13th & Walnut)
posted by UltraD at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Joseph Fox, recommended above, is a fantastic small bookstore.
posted by chinston at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2010

Nthing Reading Terminal Market (closes at 6 on Sat), more specifically the roast pork or brisket sandwiches at DiNic's or the ribs +potato wedges from the Amish rib place in the corner of the market

I like the pastas at Amis (usually Very Rich and amazingly delicious) but avoid the appetizers (too small for me).

Definitely go to Capogiro at 13th & Sansom for gelato (you can try a bunch before deciding on what you want- sometimes gets very busy).

Weather looks like it will be nice- very good people watching at Rittenhouse Square, 18th/Walnut.
posted by tangaroo at 1:50 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

N'ing Reading Market. I also had some awesome Peruvian-Chinese at a place called Chifa, which was about a half-mile from the hotel, I believe (I was also at the Downtown Marriott). It's a little pricey, but very good quality. Mmmm, lychee sangria...

If you're jonsing for Italian do NOT go to the place right across the street from the hotel next to the fondue place. Our disappointment in the food was a great as the portion sizes.
posted by smirkette at 2:15 PM on September 16, 2010

Not so close, but no one mentioned Brickbat Books.

Also seconding Sazon, it's cozy, the food is great, and the owners are very nice.
posted by sepviva at 3:31 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I definitely recommend Bookhaven, which has a great selection and a lovely cat. It's right near Mugshots, if you feel like getting coffee, a sandwich, or an outrageously delicious muffin. And they are right across the street from Eastern State Penitentiary, which is an interesting place to take a tour, to say the least.
posted by mlle valentine at 5:06 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one's mentioned Robin's Bookstore. And yeah, hit Reading Terminal Market for food - it will not disappoint.

Oh god I miss Philly.
posted by item at 5:47 PM on September 16, 2010

If you are looking for smaller, stranger bookshops Germ Books or the Wooden Shoe are both awesome and worth visiting. The former specializes in conspiracy theories, UFOs, etc. and the latter in anarchist, feminist, political and LGBT literature.
posted by troublewithwolves at 9:28 PM on September 16, 2010

For books, nthing Robin's Bookstore and Bookhaven! There's also The Book Trader and Mostly Books.

The greatest food spectacle in Philadelphia is Reading Terminal Market. It doesn't even matter if you taste any of the food (though, you should, of course)! It's just a marvel to be there.
posted by Mael Oui at 11:08 PM on September 16, 2010

If you're hitting up the Reading Terminal Market (highly recommended), be sure to check the hours.

I may be remembering incorrectly, but I believe they have some odd hours. Like, they are not open for dinner, unless you want an early dinner.

Have fun!
posted by kellygrape at 6:32 AM on September 17, 2010

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