Philadelphia - Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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These days Philadelphia’s footprint steps far beyond its famous cheesesteak. Three neighbourhoods, instilled with ethnic flavours and relatively low levels of gentrification, reach out to willing diners.
Situated just north of Fishtown, Port Richmond shares the same Irish and Polish roots as its better-known neighbour, but this up and coming river ward has a stronger concentration of original residents and thus, remains under the radar. Things are changing here, slowly but surely, as those priced out of Fishtown migrate up and spawn cafes, boutiques and craft beer bars. However wandering around these streets with their schoolyards, their crusty saloons, their cute houses with front porches in tidy rows and you can’t escape the areas hardnosed, lovable personality. This is on display at icons like Czerw’s Kilebasy, a smokehouse treasured in the area for its plump links of sausage, and Byrne’s Tavern, whose crispy, spicy buffalo wings have a reputation that travels beyond the neighbourhood's borders.
Historically Port Richmond has been a stable neighbourhood that has been able to hold onto its legacy assets.
At Bonk’s, Scotese and McGinley, who also own popular bars in other districts, are concentrating on maintaining “the mix of a regular neighbourhood tavern and destination spot”. They scrubbed down the place, updated the beer list and are keeping the menu’s focus on hard shell crabs served three ways. Bonk’s is where you might meet Port Richmond’s latest culinary obsession and that would be frickles which are actually fried pickles.
A couple of blocks away, Mercer Café is another fantastic restaurant that toes the line between old and new. While the cheerful luncheonette opened in 2000, its owners Tom and Dina Woltjen, have deep roots in the area. The always been here vibe builds up during weekend brunch, when locals in their Sunday best, which is Eagle jerseys, fill the retro looking counter’s black padded swivel stools and cheery waitresses offer eggs Florentine with piping hot coffee, pyramids of challah French toast smothered with mascarpone, pancakes studded with chocolate chips and pecans. Mercer’s cream chipped beef poured over white toast is the best in town, but won’t win any points with your arteries. It’s loaded with so much butter, the surface shines, just like Port Richmond’s itself.
There’s Deep South Philly, and then there’s Deep South Philly. While revitalization has meandered through the southern sector into neighbourhoods like Bella Vista, Pointe Breeze, Pen Sport and East Passyunk, stitching itself into the greater Centre City’s footprint, there is still a great big part of South Philly between Snyder Avenue and the Sports Complex that remains unknown to many.
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