I’m not 100% sure how I am going to cover everything I love about Philly in this blogpost, but here’s hoping you get the gist of it all!
Over the past couple of years, Philly has completely grown on me. My sister is studying there, and my entire family (besides my parents) live in that general vicinity. Basically, I’m always there for one reason or another. And, over time, I have visited and found some down right delicious spots that are a MUST GO when in town. I am so happy and grateful to have been able to spend a full week there for part of my spring break this year. I got to try new things and places and I can’t wait to share everything with you all!
Since I’m a die-hard foodie, let’s start with
E A T + D R I N K
Where? Rittenhouse Square, South Broad St, UPenn
What? entirely vegan fast casual lunch spot w/ drinks, milkshakes + breakfast (only at South Broad St.) Menu
I love this place so much, that’s why it’s the first restaurant. I go here several times when I visit, as it is affordable and fresh. So what’s good here? My go-to order is the Jerk Caesar salad (sub grilled tofu) w/ either the Kale Lemonade or a chocolate soy milkshake. Bonus: for the month of March they are offering a Mint Matcha Madness milkshake (basically a thin mint milkshake SO GOOD).
Other great things on the menu: Crispy HipCity Ranch (contains gluten) and the Chipotle Fajita Wrap (contains gluten)
For my gluten free people, many of their entrees (salads mostly) can be made gluten-free, just inquire! The chick’n in their salads and sandwiches contains gluten so be aware of that!
Insider Notes: The Rittenhouse Square location is the smallest so it can get really crowded very quickly around lunch time. Take your order to the park! The Rittenhouse Square park is less than 5 minutes away.
Where? Drexel, Rittenhouse Square, Locust Street & 11th
What? Millennial/College-focused coffee shop w/ breakfast items
The Drexel location is definitely the best. This is the one I constantly go to while staying with my sister! The vibe is very relaxed and cozy and there is lots of spots indoor and outdoor for sitting. There are also tons of outlets, as it is in a college area so many students go there to study.
My Faves: Cinnamon Chai Latte w/ Almond Milk (small/medium) + GF everything bagel (BYO vegan butter)
Other great menu items: coffee, bagels, hot chocolate
Insider Notes: if it’s finals week for Drexel (aka last week), it’s crazy busy and you generally can’t sit inside. Also, be direct about food allergies and confirm with the person who made your drink/bagel. They offer gluten free vegan bagels by The Greater Knead which are very good (and small in size), so be sure to double check! Also, for frequent flyers, they offer a Saxby’s app that is basically a rewards program that helps you save money and get free drinks! Few know about this so if you live nearby, definitely download it. Also, if you bring a mug/thermos you save on your drink!
Where? UPenn, Rittenhouse Square, 10th & Walnut
What? Build-your-own salad bar chain store Menu
Sadly, I don’t have a Sweetgreen here in Jax, so I always hit up one in the city. The ingredients are generally local, and always very fresh. Additionally, they rotate the menu every season which is a great way to eat seasonally.
My Fave: arugula, mesclun greens, carrot, cabbage, bean sprouts, cucumber, almonds, avocado, cilantro + miso sesame ginger dressing
Insider Notes: if you are picky, and also need to know what’s vegan and/or gluten free, order through the app or online and go pick it up. Both locations also have lovely sitting areas so stick around! This is also the best thing to bring to the airport for travel days. It’s quick, less expensive than airport food, and SO fresh and satiating.
4. P.S. & Co
Where? Rittenhouse Square (Locust & 17th)
What? Entirely organic, plant-based and gluten free breakfast, lunch + smoothie/juice cafe. Menu
First of all, if you are a plant lover like me, you have to go here. The aesthetic of the cafe is cozy, old, and covered in plants. They offer a lot of different options for both breakfast and lunch. Some things are prepared and kept in a visible fridge, while others are made to order. They also offer some sweet baked goods.
My Faves: Carrot Ginger Kraut salad, Mango Lassi + Greens smoothie
Insider Notes: This is on the pricier side, so I tend to go less often. Going with a friend would be a great idea if you want to try a couple things when you visit! Their smoothies also make the best snack, even in cold weather. Sadly, they are not customizable, but full ingredient lists are provided!
5. Grindcore House
Where? 1515 S 4th St
What? Entirely vegan coffeehouse w/ some gluten free options
I went here once last summer with my mom and we both really enjoyed our meals! They offer lots of different beverages including coffee and tea drinks, so it’s a great stop for everyone. I don’t go there often due to the location, which is very far from where I stay, but I would gladly go frequently if I had a car in the city.
My Faves: GF everything bagel w/ earth balance + iced coffee
Other great things from the menu: donuts, non-GF bagels, iced tea
Insider Notes: the gluten free bagels here are the same as the ones at Saxby’s (The Greater Knead brand), but this cafe offers earth balance, so you don’t have to bring your own! They also have a really cool bathroom..just saying. Lots of seating here, so it could make a great location to work on your laptop.
6. New Harmony Vegetarian Restaurant
Where? 135 N 9th street
What? Entirely plant-based Chinese food
Before I even get started, this place is not gluten free and it’s definitely a comfort/less healthy/once in a while restaurant. I can’t eat here anymore because of the gluten thing, but I’ve gotten food here a couple times before and it’s REAL GOOD. Most of the menu items are wheat-based mock meats in the traditional Chinese (Americanized) sauces.
My Fave: general tso’s “chicken”
Insider Notes: order delivery through grubhub, and don’t feel guilty that it isn’t bursting with kale and superfoods. Indulge. Enjoy.
S W E A T
1. SoulCycle Rittenhouse Square
Where? 113 S 16th St
What? an indoor cycling EXPERIENCE
I just rode here this week with my longtime friend Summer, and oh my goodness. Seriously an amazing experience that you have got to try! We took Nick Turk’s class and it was challenging, fun, SWEATY, and downright amazing.
Insider Notes: as a first time rider, you get a discounted rate ($20 in Philly) and free shoes for your first ride! Additionally, they email you an offer (3 classes for $60 instead of the normal $30 per class) after your first ride, so hop on that if you live near one! Also- wear dark leggings (capri or long) + a sports bra. I started with a tank and took it off within the first 5 mins. Bye bye body image issues!
Also Nick is the best. Take his class. Now!
2. Body Cycle Studio
Where? 1923 Chestnut St (second floor)
What? amazing indoor cycling studio
I rode here with my momma last summer and had such a great ride. They also just got brand new bikes the day before we had class so it was easily the smoothest ride of my life! We took class with Jessica Sullivan who was SO sweet and really understanding of the different levels within the class. Her workout was HARD with lots of upper body included too!
Insider Notes: Your first ride is free! There are discounts for military and students as well. Also, you don’t need to have spin shoes – sneakers will work just fine on their bikes. While it may be a small studio, there is a shower and bathroom available for clients to scrub up before leaving.
P A M P E R
1. Adolf Biecker Spa & Salon
Where? 16th & Sansom (Rittenhouse Square)
What? Hair salon and spa featuring nail, facial, and body treatments. Aveda brand is used for all of the hair treatments (cruelty free)
I’ve gotten my hair cut here twice, and given that I maybe cut my hair a couple times a year, that’s pretty frequent! My mom has also gone here a couple times when she’s visited and loves this place too! This week, I chopped off a TON of my hair and went for a completely new look. Lauren, my stylist, new exactly what I was going for and even showed me how to easily style it!
Insider Notes: First of all, Lauren works magic and is super sweet and accommodating. Also, if you call ahead and ask who the junior stylists are (Lauren is one) you spend about half as much on your cut and style, with the same impeccable quality.
2. Raw Lab Spa
Where? 264 S 10th St
What? Non-toxic nail salon
This beautiful tiny salon is run by the sweetest mother and daughter. Not only was it great to find a non-toxic salon, but the service and pricing was better than comparable toxic nail salons. The attention to detail was astonishing. Nothing is over looked! My nails are looking beautiful. They shaped them perfectly, and didn’t cause any infections or raw spots which is nearly unheard of for me. Additionally, they have lots of on-trend colors and gel shellac options as well!
Insider Notes: This place is a little hard to find because it’s so tiny, but go to the address and you’ll get there. Reservations would be a good idea because there are only two chairs, so if they have customers, you’ll have to wait.