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Northern Liberties, or “NoLibs” as some call it, used to be the Fishtown of Philly—edgy, artsy, hip, and “up-and-coming.” No longer a burgeoning neighborhood as it was in the ‘90s, Northern Liberties has come into its own as a go-to destination for food and entertainment in Philadelphia.
Sectioned by Girard Avenue and Callowhill Street north and south, and the Delaware River and Sixth Street east and west, Northern Liberties is a former manufacturing neighborhood that has grown into a trendy web of bars, restaurants, and boutiques. An elegant mix of enviro-friendly and industrial construction creates an artistic and unique look on every street, and the neighborhood—with its convenient location near Center City—has solidified itself a cultural influence.
WHERE TO EAT
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With a myriad of international and local cuisine on every block, there are an abundance of culinary options in Northern Liberties. Here are some of our favorites:
Considered one of America’s first gastropubs, “the Tap” is beloved for its locally-sourced and flavorful American fare, and is recognized for its charmingly aged multi-level setup, and late-night hours.
WHAT TO ORDER: Menu Items change frequently, but check out perennial favorites like chicken pie or mussels and sausage.
A neighborhood favorite, North 3rd offers an ambitious and straightforward New American menu in a funky setting with mismatched decor. Creative bar food, an extensive beer and cocktail list, and reasonable prices make it all the better.
WHAT TO ORDER: You can’t go wrong with the Asian-style buffalo wings, potato pierogies, and veggie spring rolls.
Homestyle Southern-Jewish fare is the highlight at this cozy brunch and lunch spot that’s open until late afternoon.
WHAT TO ORDER: For brunch, the Honey Cristo is a sweet-and-savory combination of Challah French toast stuffed with double smoked ham and Swiss, and topped with two sunny eggs. For lunch, the open-faced Reuben with your choice of pastrami, corned beef, turkey, or seitan is always delectable.
Tasty Mexican classics and 11 different margaritas, paired with a cool vibe and lots of chips and salsa, make this a south-of-the-border-themed favorite.
WHAT TO ORDER: The chimichanga tacos come with your choice of meat or veggie. We suggest the succulent, slow-roasted goat.
“Casual” and “chic” define this Spanish-inspired tapas venue, dried roses and Picasso-esque paintings adding to the ambiance. Hot or cold small plates are complemented by a sherry wine list and Monday half-price bottles.
WHAT TO ORDER: The chickpea frites come with with pickled beets, red onion, and Sobrasada aioli offering a creative flavor combination.
WHERE TO HANG OUT
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Whether you love craft beer, a night out, or literature of the Poe variety, Northern Liberties has many entertaining attractions. Here are some of our favorite places to grab a drink or to have a good time:
With 17 regulation bowling lanes in a multi-level space, a retro photo booth, a billiards area, and an arcade make this sprawling throwback spot a fun hangout. Cocktails, local beers, corn dogs, and tater tots served nine different ways are added reasons to stop by for a few games.
One of the neighborhood’s coolest night destinations, Silk City is simultaneously part diner, bar, dance club, and beer garden. During the day, grab a milkshake and some unique diner food; at night, head to the red-neon-lit dance floor for a party scene or out back to the beer garden for a more relaxing atmosphere.
Crowds flock to one of Philly’s favorite music venues for national acts. Stage level is standing room, but guest at the Factory’s balcony are privy to unbeatable views and a full bar. Past headliners have included Weezer and Wu Tang Clan.
It may not be a bar or a concert hall, but the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site offers history and intrigue you won’t find elsewhere. You can tour the red brick house where Poe lived with his wife and mother-in-law for about a year, as well as take a tour and enjoy a short informative film on the mysterious and troubled literary giant.
WHERE TO SHOP
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There are countless shops and hidden treasures in Northern Liberties. Some of the best are part of two of the neighborhood’s open spaces. Check them out:
This European-style open-air space is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and galleries. Some of the dozen of artisans and boutiques around the plaza include: Jinxed, with art and design-based books and vinyl toys; Millesime, a fashion and home design spot; and Toothless Cat Gallery, featuring pop surrealist art and more.
Head to this four-block, mixed-use space for a variety of shops and boutiques. Delicious Boutique offers corsets and alternative fashion, Art Star features handmade clothing, fine art, jewelry and home decor, and One Shot Coffee is the perfect stop for a caffeine fix.