After my Rocky impression, what should I check out in Philly?
October 24, 2015 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Hi fabulous mefites familiar with Philly! Work is sending me to your lovely city for a week. I will have some time do do things, and could also use advice about food and tea. I am a special snowflake traveler.

Food: vegetarian, no gluten, no soy, no tomatoes. I like Indian, Ethiopian, Mexican, and anywhere that it's easy to ask questions.

Tea: the magic leaf water that gives me life and powers my mutant brain! I love tea and would especially like to know about tea shops that will let me sit around with my laptop and do work while drinking gallons of the stuff. Bonus for allergy-friendly snacks and non-scary bathrooms.

Cool stuff: I love art, comic books, knitting, zines, museums, and the like. I can walk indefinitely on a flat surface but can't do a lot of stairs.

I am staying inside the city and will have a car, but am also comfortable using public transportation. If there are safety concerns for being visibly queer in certain parts of the city or places that I should know to avoid as a non-resident, I would also appreciate knowing about that.

Thanks everyone!
posted by bile and syntax to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
We have you set for vegetarian, not sure on the other restrictions:

Vegetarian Restaurants: Charlie Was a Sinner, V Street, Vedge, many others that i don't know about

Museums: Mutter museum. medical oddities and such. penn museum, art museum etc.

I think the public transit is fine safety wise, but thats a straight white male talking. Google maps for the buses, the subways are mapped fine on septa's page.

We even have a gayborhood in town,
posted by TheAdamist at 9:47 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Reading Terminal Market is pretty cool. Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are worth a visit. I have good memories of the Rittenhouse Square area, although it's been a dozen years since I've been there. And the Locust Walk on Penn's campus is really beautiful.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:47 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't recommend the Mütter museum unless you have an extremely high tolerance for looking at super horrifying shit.

Eastern State Penitentiary is cool and worth doing a tour of.
posted by a strong female character at 9:55 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I went to HipCityVeg more than once when I was in town for a conference. For good Middle Eastern fast food (all vegetarian, mostly gluten free and all soy free) there's Maoz Falafel. It's buffet style and they're friendly about questions.
posted by Beardman at 10:11 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I will forever be in love with Philly's Magic Gardens.

I'm also a knitter, comics person. There was a great shop on South Street, but I remember hearing it closed. But if you're into Zines you should check out Wooden Shoe. Which is also on South Street.
posted by KernalM at 10:14 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Barnes museum in the parkway is great! Definitely one of my favorite museums in the city.

Reading terminal has a loose leaf tea stand where I get all my teas - but it's a small counter and not really designed to hang out. It may be good to get some tea for your hotel.

Vegetarian food is great here - definitely hit up Vedge which is one of my favorite restaurants in the city - and I'm not a vegetarian. I also like Mi Lah in china town - vegetarian Chinese although you will have to be careful with the gluten there.

Oh - 2nd Maoz as a lunch spot - love the falafel sandwich and salad bar!

My favorite Indian place is "saffron" (but I usually go to their Bala cynwyd location). Definitely delicious and not overly greasy with tons of vegetarian options.

Generally stay away from North Philly - but otherwise the city is pretty decent. The gayborhood and center city and old city are all queer friendly (from my experience as an ally hanging out with friends).

Good luck and enjoy Philly!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 10:48 AM on October 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Abyssinia or Almaz for Ethiopian. Sweet Freedom for baked goods, and also the super nice owners. You would probably enjoy West Philly a lot, there are a huge amount of restaurants (including many very good Indian places) and food trucks and lots of them are vegetarian friendly.

The Shofuso house and gardens in Fairmount Park are great and will be accessible since you have a car.
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 1:14 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Food: Capogiro gelato, happy hour at IndeBlue (they have early and late happy hour at the bar, I recommend the spinach chaat salad), old timey ice cream at the Franklin Fountain, Reading Terminal Market.

There are a bunch of bubble tea places sprinkled across the city but there are far more coffee places where people are working (Good Karma, La Colombe, Elixr). I can't think of any mainly tea focused places.

I like the Mütter museum, Rodin museum, Barnes, PMA. If you are in town on a first Friday of the month, the art galleries in old city stay open until 8 ish and hold most of their opening receptions, you can walk from gallery to gallery.
posted by tangaroo at 1:23 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've never actually been in but I've noted the existence of this place in passing:
posted by somedaycatlady at 1:56 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not to be obvious: The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Check their easy-to-find web site for info including fees, hours, and current exhibits. They seem to be connected to the Rodin Museum.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:14 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

The house of Tea on 4th St below South Street is a wonderful quirky tea shop, but they don't actually serve it there, just sell loose. Nearby is Brickbat Books, a great used bookstore.

In center city there's a little Ethiopian place called Almaz, if you don't make it out to west Philly.

Vedge is amazing
posted by sepviva at 2:23 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I totally forgot about random tea room, which has fantastic chai, but the atmosphere is like low key tea parlor and I think they might not have wifi
posted by tangaroo at 2:31 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't necessarily need wifi, but a power outlet would be good.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:36 PM on October 24, 2015

We were in Philly visiting friends in the Spring and one of the surprisingly fun (and geeky) activities was a tour of the Federal Reserve. It's a self-guided tour where, among other things, you get to observe the working factory from above. You stroll down a long glassed-in hallway and the exhibit points out the purpose of every machine as the huge rolls of metal at the start are transformed into polished coins. It was uber informative and we spent longer there than anticipated because it was just so cool to see every step of the process happening right in front of you. ymmv
posted by jenquat at 6:53 PM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

For food - seconding that V Street and Vedge are both wonderful. I also love the Sahara Grill for Lebanese.

The Barnes really is a beautiful museum, you should definitely go if you have any interest in art museums (also check out The Art of the Steal for the full backstory of the museum!). The Mutter museum is way past my ability to tolerate medical oddities/kind of gross displays, but I sort of love it anyway. So, if you're not super squeamish, it's worth a look (it's also not very expensive to get in, so if you bolt after 10 minutes it's not a terrible loss). The art museum is great, and I'm shocked no one has mentioned the Franklin Institute (science museum) yet. It is pitched to kids, but the special exhibits are sometimes very good.

The Eastern State Penitentiary is a great suggestion too!

Most of Philly is also super walkable, you can get from Center City to pretty much any neighborhood you'd be interested in as a tourist in no more than 45 minutes walking (and often much less).
posted by snaw at 6:20 AM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks so much, everyone!
posted by bile and syntax at 1:34 PM on October 26, 2015

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