Photo: Alexis Olsen
THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF CORNER BARS in Fishtown, a historically working-class Philadelphia neighborhood that has been steadily mutating, these past few years, into a more upscale one (so what else is new?)
Some of those drinking establishments are decades-old dive bars. The recently renovated Fishtown Tavern, above, straddles the line between what was, offering $2 drafts to keep longtime locals coming in, and what is and will be, with ambitious bar food like warm dates stuffed with goat cheese and portabello mushroom sandwiches.
Fishtown (the name comes from its history as the shad fishing center of the Delaware) is characterized by:
- tiny 19th century row houses
- electric trollies
- abandoned industrial buildings on a massive scale
- new construction in a hyper-modern style (similar to that in the Northern Liberties area, a few blocks to the south and a little farther along the gentrification arc)
- a growing population of ex-Brooklynites, including my son Max.
On Sunday afternoon, he and I took a walk, and soon I was getting a tour of the latest developments — especially the rapidly changing Frankford Avenue corridor, a diagonal artery of mostly industrial buildings and old storefronts being adapted as we speak for use as restaurants, music venues and, of course, bars. Here’s some of what moved me to take my iPhone out of my pocket as we walked along:
Loco Pez, a new taqueria (with amazing-looking salads and $1.75 tacos) in one of many buildings with rounded or oddly angled corners
Scrumptious detail on a corner building
Little Baby’s, a new ice cream store on Frankford Avenue offering unusual flavors like Earl Grey Sriracha, next door to the also-new Pizza Brain
One of many fish-themed gates by Robert Phillips, a metal artist whose workshop was in Fishtown. He died last month at age 50.
El Bar, so named for its location under the elevated railway that runs along Front Street. It may look at first glance like an old-school dive bar, but don’t be fooled. It’s hip.
The plants on the Juliet balcony are a hint that someone lives above these commercial garages on Frankford
Above, a high-end, limited-edition motorcycle shop is coming in next to a hair salon called Parlour
A fine converted carriage house
As-yet-unrealized potential in a building next to a music venue called Barbary
Restauranteur Steve Starr’s Frankford Hall, above, an indoor/outdoor beer garden that opened a couple of years ago, has been a major turning point in the development of Frankford Avenue. A Korean barbeque spot is coming in next door.