Hidden Gems in University City
February 22, 2018 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Spending tomorrow in the University City district, what is there to eat, drink, see, do?

My mom works at UPenn and I'll just be hanging out. What's good in the area or a short walk (30 min or less) away? I want to stay in the area because I've already promised to have lunch with her and she finishes with work pretty early. So what are some close buy museums or funky little shops? What places have the best takeout so i can bring my mom some lunch? Any food trucks of note? Thanks!
posted by FakePalindrome to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Penn Museum is right there!

People closer to UPenn itself will probably have food truck recs, but I'm continually blown away by just how good The Hummus Grill is for takeout. If you can go even further out, Saad's at 45th and Walnut is likewise fantastic, and I believe they do takeout.
posted by kalimac at 5:46 PM on February 22, 2018

(Sorry, I should have said -- The Hummus Grill is at 39th and Walnut.)
posted by kalimac at 5:47 PM on February 22, 2018

The best food truck on campus is at 34th and Walnut - there’s several trucks right there, it’s the one with the line.

There’s also the Insomnia food truck by Drexel’s library at 33rd and Market, if you think she’ll be in the mood for a hot fresh delicious crazy cookie (they have S’mores cookies, just saying).

For things to do... definitely the Penn Museum is THE thing to do. If you need more to do... um... there’s a cute little bookshop at 3920 Spruce that’s in a brownstone. And if you end up thataways, you should totally go to Greek Lady for lunch. My god I miss their salads. Or you could go to Hai Street kitchen, if you’re into sushi burritos.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:14 PM on February 22, 2018

Magic Carpet is my favorite falafel/vegetarian in the city but it's only open til 4. Bui's at 38th and Spruce if you have a desire for a truly gargantuan and delicious breakfast sandwich. HubBub coffee. The big Penn bookstore is nice if you want to kill time, as is Penn Book Center. Avril 50 is a very funky little French shop that sells magazines from all over the world and knicknacks and coffee. International House shows weird movies for free and may have an art exhibit or two up.
posted by colorblock sock at 7:44 PM on February 22, 2018

If art museums are more your speed than archaeology, the Institute of Contemporary Art is solid. Also seconding A Home of Our Own, the bookstore in the brownstone that DoubleLune references.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:10 PM on February 22, 2018

Seconding the bookstore on Spruce, House of Our Own; it's probably one of the better used bookstores in the area, and will definitely scratch the Used Bookstore near a Big University itch if you have it.

Also, bear in mind that the trolley from Center City is truly fast, and you could get to UPenn from downtown in about fifteen minutes or so.
posted by Stilling Still Dreaming at 9:16 PM on February 22, 2018

If you’re not vegetarian, my top pick would be a burrito from Don Memo on the northeast corner of 38th and Spruce (actually maybe 100 feet north of that corner). Call ahead— phone number is on the Yelp page. My go-to order is pastor burrito, medium, no beans.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you could do a lot worse than either of the on-campus Magic Carpet trucks. (I assume that’s the one referred to at 34th and Walnut, though I have a soft spot for the truck on the left in that same courtyard.) There are a ton of trucks on Spruce between 36th and 38th; if you’re not feeling picky, go for the one with the longest line. Same for the trucks on Market between 33rd and 37th, or going north from Market on 33rd.

Or, if you’re not based in Philly, the Federal Donuts outpost on the 3400 block of Sansom. (If you are, there are a million Federals Donut scattered around.)

ICA is good, Penn Museum is good. I like just chilling in the Furness-designed Fisher Fine Arts Library with a book or podcast.
posted by supercres at 11:56 PM on February 22, 2018

A quick visit to see the traveling exhibit of microscopy images at the Wistar Institute might be nice: Nikon Small World Exhibit.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:37 AM on February 23, 2018

If you're on a museum tip and want the intersection of art and science, the Esther Klein Gallery is at 3600 Market St.
posted by knile at 4:40 AM on February 23, 2018

Stop by Federal Donuts! Man, I wish I had some donuts right now.
posted by ferret branca at 7:58 AM on February 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

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