NFT Philadelphia Spring Garden / Francisville

Spring Garden / Francisville

By day this area is dominated by students of all kinds, but it gets pretty quiet after dark. Housing is still affordable, excluding the loft/studio condo spaces that dot the landscape. It's less friendly at night thanks to the abandoned Reading railroad tracks, so put away the map, yeah?

There's a ton of quick and easy all around here, it's just that most of it is ONLY accessible by foot. There are food trucks galore, and random taco spots that will blow you away. Get a bangin' breakfast at Café Lift--the atmosphere is casual, the food is crazy decadent, and the space is rarely crowded. Vetri's Osteria is much easier to get seated at than his 30-seat namesake spot somewhere south of hereabouts; oh, and it's good, too.


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Abandoned North Broad

By Blythe Davenport
Just because it's been left to fester doesn't mean you shouldn't care.


On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Meg Favreau
Photo:  Meg Favreau

Cafe Lift
I love a good brunch. I also love GSD (Gettin' Shit Done), or, at the very least NSiaFLfaFHoSM (Not Standing in a Fucking Like for a Fucking Hour on Sunday Morning). Thus I tend not to patronize certain darlings of the Philadelphia morning-meal scene, at least on the weekends (Wednesday breakfast at Honey's or Sabrina's is amazing; Sunday brunch can be an exercise in patience so great that Yoda should have used it when training Luke). But let me introduce you to my new friend in GSD, NsiaFLfaFMoSM, and EABF (Eating Amazing Breakfast Food): Cafe Lift. Tucked up in the tumbleweed-feeling area known as Callowhill, Cafe Lift is a "Euro style cafe" owned by the same fine folks who opened another surprise in the area, the Prohibition Taproom. Cafe Lift's breakfast foods are big, rich, and satisfying--the last time I was there, I had a rich, wonderful pesto-swirled frittata that could have lasted me for three meals. And? No line. IDoETED (I Dream of Eating There Every Day).

Posted By:  Abby Baker
Photo:  Abby Baker

The Institute
If you think you're on the wrong side of town, you are. Although this area north of Chinatown is what some might refer to as "sketchy," the beer at The Institute is beyond creative. Nestled on the corner of 12th and Green, this hole-in-the-wall bar is quite cozy. If you go on a Saturday night, you're likely to hear your favorite '80s tunes been spun by a young DJ, which will supplement the amazing buzz you'll have going after trying the bartender's concoction of beers. "Christmas Ale." What's in it? I have no idea, but the bartender did mention he threw in a splash of bourbon. If you honestly can’t make up your mind, get a beer flight. This alone will make you forget about the homeless dude who's smashing his face against the bar's door. Oh, and look for an upstairs to open up, complete with Nintendo Wii's at every booth. I just hope they have a good alarm system.

Posted By:  Rob Tallia
Photo:  Rob Tallia

Khmer Art Gallery
Tucked away in a former slaughterhouse basement on North 11th Street, Khmer Gallery is one of those fabulous places you can spend an hour in, just starting at some brilliant Cambodian art while also (gently) playing on some hand-crafted Cambodian instruments (the wooden marimbas pictured, for instance) and talking to insanely nice gallery owner Bonna Neang Weinstein (make sure you read the articles on the wall of Bonna's harrowing escape from the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s it will give you a whole new perspective on the gallery, we promise). Hit the website or sign on to their newsletter for random openings/events definitely a must-stop at some point.

Posted By:  Nikki Volpicelli
Photo:  Nikki Volpicelli

The Institute
The corner bar on 12th & Green Street, unofficially dubbed "the 40 spot," has been bought out and turned into The Institute, equipped with bike racks to appeal to the local hipsters. Only the racks are always empty. Why does this place suck? Strike 1: No Lionshead. This is Pennsylvania, damnit! If I can't sample local brews at a bar of my choosing, then I'll have to take my two dollars elsewhere. Strike 2: Bad business calls for cutbacks. Like an air conditioning system. Strike 3: They enlisted the help of some shitty deejay who didn't make the cut at Samba nightclub. Strike 4: They ran out of Yuengling. Now I could understand if this place was poppin' but there were about fifty people in and out during the course of the night and probably ten of them were drinking Yuengling. Due to the fact that I had a lot of "let's try to make this fun" ale-ixers my vision could've been a little blurred, but as I looked at a picture of the old bar hanging on the wall, I could've sworn I saw its patrons looking back at me mouthing the words, "I told you so"

Posted By:  Virginia Blond
Photo:  Virginia Blond

So you want to appear hip, savvy, more cosmopolitan than most and gastronomically adventurous, but you’re cash flow is low—you’re not really all that adventurous, are you? Go to Sazon for what I would call Venezuelan comfort food. This is one of the best restaurants in the city. Great, fun, friendly service and some of the best food you’ll find in your price range (and pretty good for any price range). Here’s some things to know before you go: 1) You’re going to encounter the word “Guasacaca”. Yep. So get over your giggling fit now. It’s Venezuelan avocado dip. 2) Get something with Sweet Plantains 3) The drinks are unlike anything you’ve tasted before unless you’ve had these exact drinks. Consider the Malta Polar. They don’ even know what’s in it. Really. 4) You can’t pronounce this stuff unless you’re a native speaker, so don’t embarrass yourself trying. 5) Get the hot chocolate. 6) Everything else around Sazon looks like crap. It’s next to a shooting range and police equipment store. 7) It’s BYOB. You bring the Tequila, they’ll do the rest. The End.

Posted By:  Allison Lowrey
Photo:  Allison Lowrey

Meg Favreau recently recommended a great auto repair shop in Fishtown (see her Radar on B&D Auto). Now I'd like to do the same for you car owners closer to center city: Philly Tire & Auto, at Broad and Spring Garden (look for the Goodyear signs). I initially brought my car to Philly Tire when construction on my street led to a nail sticking out of one of my tires. They won me over when, instead of selling me a new tire as I'd initially asked for, they suggested patching the tire, and successfully did so (thus saving me about $100). In my book, any mechanic who offers to save you money on a repair instead of robbing you blind warrants a return visit for future work. Since then, I haven't trusted my car to anyone else, and I'm very happy about that. The mechanics couldn't be friendlier, they're always on-target with their estimated time to finish the job–if anything, my car is ready earlier than promised–and their work is top notch. And for anyone who's wondering, yes, my patched tire held up just fine (until an inattentive driver totaled the entire car last year). And yes, I take my new car to Philly Tire too.

Posted By:  Jason Villemez
Photo:  Jason Villemez

Gum Trees
Perhaps the inspiration for Snakes on a Plane, South Street’s gum trees prove that consumers, or in this case local drunkards, can give wings to any bizarre idea, no matter how unsanitary. They sit between 3rd and 4th Streets, with Lorenzo’s Pizza, Three Stooge Larry Fine’s childhood home, and a whole host of B-list shopping. And who can resist the idea of hundreds of saliva-soaked colorful gum wads congregating in one place? The local Duck Tours, which drive by the trees every half hour, duly note their existence to all the skeptical tourists who thought preserving used gum was only meant for Violet Beauregard.

Powered By Subgurim( Maps ASP.NET

See Spring Garden / Francisville...
Restaurants (11)
Nightlife (4)
Shopping (1)
Landmarks (3)