Manayunk shows its funky side

Just a short train ride from Temple on the R6, Manayunk is an escape for students who are tired of hanging out around campus. Shopping, fine restaurants, great bars and live music await those willing

Just a short train ride from Temple on the R6, Manayunk is an escape for students who are tired of hanging out around campus. Shopping, fine restaurants, great bars and live music await those willing to make the journey to this historic district of Philadelphia. Manayunk is now a booming nightspot for many Philadelphians. It was once a booming mill town. Two mills and a dye works still exist as a testament to Manayunk’s success in the textile industry.

The name Manayunk comes from a Lenape Indian word meaning, “where we go to drink.” Presumably, the Lenape Indians were referring to water. Today Manayunk is where people go to drink alcohol, and for good reason. With countless hotspots to choose from, it would take a long time for the average Temple student to get bored with Main Street.

Like live music? Then look no further than 4100 Main St. for the Grape Street Pub. With a diverse group of local musicians playing regularly and several rooms offering different types of music, Grape Street is the best choice for audio pleasure.

Kildare’s Irish Pub at 4417 Main St. has the small, hometown bar feel that you get when you go home for winter break. It offers authentic Irish food-the chefs were actually trained in Ireland-and beer. The food isn’t anything to go crazy about, but the occasional specials on drinks are. Kildare’s draws a surprisingly large crowd just about every night, so wear shoes that you don’t mind getting stepped on.

If you like a bar that has a little more class, try the Manayunk Brewery at 4120 Main St. Philadelphia’s largest brewery is slightly more elegant than the other bars on Main Street, but don’t be intimidated. It offers an atmosphere that is welcoming to both students and the young professional crowd. You’ll have a fun night at the Brewery, but prepare yourself for a cover charge that may seem slightly excessive.

Rounding out Manayunk’s best bars is Beat Street at 4401 Cresson St., a typical college bar that isn’t distinctive but can be fun, and Bourbon Blue at 2 Rector St., quite expensive but highly enjoyable.

There’s more than just partying in Manayunk. There’s also tons of fine food to choose from. Le Bus offers terrific traditional American cuisine at bearable prices. For most people, it’s not really standard practice to order meatloaf in a restaurant, but if you get the meatloaf from Le Bus you won’t be disappointed.

Looking for a movie-and-a-bite-to-eat-afterwards kind of meal? The Manayunk Diner, right across from the Main Street 6 movie theater, is one of the best places in Philadelphia for diner food. If you need a late night snack at 3 a.m., they’re open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

If you’re looking for something that’s a little less diner and a little more flair, try Hikaru. It offers an extensive sushi menu with terrific prices and just about everything is tasty enough for any sushi connoisseur.

Then there’s Chloe’s Corner. This small stand that offers hot and cold food has some of the cheapest and best food on Main Street. Admittedly, it’s a bit more delectable in the summer when water ice is edible outside, but it’s delectable nonetheless.

In terms of shopping, Manayunk has everything from Pottery Barn to Main Street Music to Nicole Miller to Lucky Jeans. If you have trouble keeping money in your wallet, you might want to stay away from Manayunk during the day when all the shops are open. You could very well become poor rather quickly.

For the thrifty, check out the Salvation Army super store at 4555 Pechin St. It’s a hike away from Main Street if you’re walking, but if you’re looking for offbeat T-shirts and once-expensive-but-now-cheap furniture, look no further. They also accept donations if you’re looking to get rid of a few things.

For an escape that will cost you less than $5 on the train and offers boutique shopping, first-rate restaurants and exciting bar fare, Manayunk will hit the spot.

Mike Benner can be reached at

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