Your guide to eating like a local in
one historic South Philly neighborhood
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHLOE BERK
Italian for “beautiful sight,” Bella Vista is the name of the quaint neighborhood between Sixth Street and 11th Street, and between South Street and Washington Avenue. This part of the city is probably best known for being home to the Italian Market (celebrating its centennial this year), but with Mexican, Asian and American influences it is really a multicultural place to chow down. Tucked among the tree-lined streets you’ll find eating spots from a breadth of cultures rounding out this historic neighborhood. You can pop in during the week for lunches, happy hours and late-night drinks, but the weekend is the perfect time to take advantage of all that Bella Vista has to offer.
9am: Power up at Shot Tower Coffee
We’re starting our day at Shot Tower Coffee on the corner of Sixth and Christian Streets. Boasting Counter Culture coffee along with fresh-made pastries and bagels, this sunny and modern café is the perfect spot to read a book or knock out a blog post on your laptop. Thanks to the large windows on all sides, sun floods the space, giving the room a warm, bright energy. Grab a seat at either the long bar facing the windows or the large communal table in the center of the room, and watch the joggers dodge Italian Market shoppers. Be prepared for lots of babies and dogs.
10am: Crepes at Beau Monde
Most tourists flock to Sabrina’s or Morning Glory to get their brunch on, but those teeny places have both overly long lines and oversized portions that will make you want to go back to bed for a nap as soon as you leave. Bypass the crowds and walk north on Sixth Street toward Bainbridge, where you will eat the best crepes of your life at Beau Monde. Along with sweet or savory crepes, they have a robust selection of salads and main dishes. If you close your eyes, you might just feel like you’re in Paris.
11:30am: Selfies and art at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens
After your crepe feast, stroll up toward South Street and hang a left. Past the funky shops and boutiques and across the street from Superfresh, you’ll see Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. The tiled indoor space and massive outdoor sculpture garden are a wonderland that will add a bit of whimsy to your day. Explore the grounds, marveling at Isaiah Zagar’s mosaic art environment. As a bonus, it’s a perfect place to take a selfie with the glittering walls shimmering behind you.
1pm: A cold-pressed juice infusion at Sip-N-Glo
Now that your new Facebook profile photo is taken, cross Tenth Street and head to Sip-N-Glo, across the street from Whole Foods. Here they use the freshest ingredients to blend a custom juice for you. My favorite is the One Love, a green juice spiked with pineapple and ginger. If a spinach smoothie’s not your thing, Sip-N-Glo has a rotating menu of seasonal specials. Feel a cold coming on? Slam an Immunity Zinger shot. Trust me, it’ll make your sniffles hit the bricks.
2pm: Italian Treats at Talluto’s and Isgro’s
Now that you’re energized with your juice boost, it’s time to tackle Bella Vista’s main attraction, the Italian Market. Shuffle down Tenth Street to Christian and hang a right. You can’t miss Isgro’s huge green sign. Some say Isgro’s has the best cannolis (their website is bestcannoli. com), so if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, pop in and put their cannoli to the test. Now you’re truly ready to enter the Italian Market. Keep going down Tenth Street and hang a left at Carpenter. On the corner of Carpenter and Ninth is Talluto’s, a fresh pasta emporium. I have a legit crush on their pumpkin ravioli, but everything there is terrific. Stuffed shells, manicotti, pasta; they seriously have it all.
2:30pm: Tacos at Los Taquitos de Pueblo
Ready for lunch? Take a right outside Talluto’s, making your way down Ninth Street. You should be experiencing the hustle and bustle that characterizes these few blocks. Most people don’t know that the Italian Market is smooshed up against some of the city’s best Mexican restaurants. Duck into Los Taquitos de Puebla and jam on some authentic Mexican fare. Their signature tacos al pastor combine grilled pork, juicy charred pineapple and some spicy salsa. You have to try it at least once in your life.
4pm: Exploring Culture at Fleisher Art Memorial
Head right on Ellsworth Street and take a left on Eighth Street. Stroll up a few blocks past Christian Street and hang a right on Catharine. Halfway down the block you’ll find the Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia’s oldest community arts center. They offer free and low-cost workshops. Check the schedule ahead of time to see what exhibitions they’re showing and what activities they’re offering. It’s a cool way to experience the intersection of history and art while your tacos settle.
7pm: Dinner at Percy Street Barbecue
Bop back up to South Street and grab a table at Percy Street Barbecue. As part of the Cook & Solo culinary empire (alongside Zahav, Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher and Dizengoff ), Percy Street stands out among barbecue places in the city. The meat is succulent and their bourbon selection is top-notch. If you’re a brisket fan, this is the place for you. Whether you get it on a platter or on a Martin’s potato roll, you can’t go wrong with this flavorful, tender meat.
10pm: Wine and Motown at Good King Tavern
The perfect end to a perfect Bella Vista day can be found on a barstool at the Good King Tavern. Take a right on South Street and hang a right on Seventh. You’ll see the Good King Tavern a block in. The menu is inspired by the South of France—think escargot and steak tartare— and the soundtrack is usually a groovy mix of Motown songs. Add those factors to the dark, candlelit room and you get a cozy, romantic vibe. The wine menu is the real winner, with price points labeled Good, Better and Best ($6.50. $7.50 and $8.50, respectively). If you’re in the mood for dessert, their chocolate pot de crème is one of my favorites. Sink your spoon into the silky custard while the wine warms your insides and the music warms your soul.
SHOT TOWER COFFEE
542 Christian St.
CRÊPERIE BEAU MONDE
624 S. 6th St.
PHILADELPHIA’S MAGIC GARDENS
1020 South St.
932 South St.
ISGRO ITALIAN PASTRIES
1009 Christian St.
TALLUTO’S AUTHENTIC ITALIAN FOOD
944 S. 9th St.
LOS TAQUITOS DE PUEBLA
1149 S. 9th St.
FLEISHER ART MEMORIAL
719 Catharine St.
PERCY STREET BARBECUE
900 South St.
GOOD KING TAVERN
614 S. 7th St.