The Village People released a single called “Go West” in 1979. The lyrics for the chorus were “Go west, life is peaceful there. Go west, lots of open air. Go west, to begin life new. Go west, this is what we’ll do.”In honor of the 70s group, I traveled to University City this week.I’m not expecting you to pack up and move out of North Philly, but I am hoping that you’ll venture beyond the boundaries of Main Campus to see what else this city has to offer.
1. To savor some greenery and pleasant-smelling air, make a stop at Clark Park for the final open-air flea market of the season. Once a month from April to October, the park holds 75 to 80 vendors selling everything from jewelry to vintage clothing to crafts and artwork. In its third year, this market raises money from vending costs to support the Uburu Solidarity Movement. Uburu – meaning freedom – educates and implements programs for social justice and economic development for African people.
To clarify, the vendors keep the profits they make from the sales. And, for some of them, this exposure aids in the development and expansion of their own businesses, explained Deidre Martin, the coordinator of the flea market.
“The whole sense of community and diversity of the flea [market] is the thing that people in the community really
enjoy about it,” Martin said. She mentioned only one-third of the vendors register for the entire season, so the mix of goods varies from month to month.
2. If you’re heading back to the Market-Frankford Line around 34th Street Station, stop by the new Eastern Mountain Sports. Yes, it’s a franchise, but this is the only location in the city.
EMS is a store for all things active. Whether you fancy camping, cycling, hiking, snowboarding or running, this spot should have everything you need. Interestingly, they also offer freeze-dried food and women’s underwear with three different levels of warmth.
The clothing department is well-stocked for both men and women. Personally, I liked the wide array of beanies and hats.The store was originally located on South 36th Street, but they recently moved to a better spot and celebrated their grand opening during the last few days of September. If you missed the grand opening weekend of deals and giveaways, fear not. EMS will offer a 15 percent discount on all regular-priced merchandise for students with a valid ID until the end of the year. This discount should come in handy, since their high-quality, name-brand goods are not cheap.
3. Many have heard of White Dog Café, but few have actually stopped there for a drink or food. I don’t understand why: the prices are mid-range and my recent visit there was pleasant.
I ventured in on a Thursday night. The place was busy, so I decided to sit at the bar. My drinks, a $4.50 Woodchuck Cider and water with lemon, came quickly.As an appetizer, I ordered the $9 grilled citrus-marinated tofu on pita. It was served with curried slaw in a subtly sweet yogurt sauce and a side of yellow-spiced lime and chickpea salad, which was bitter at first but desirable in the end. The sandwich was good, but not exceptional. The tofu was very dense and the combination of that with the pita made the sandwich somewhat dry.
For my entrée, I ordered the $17.50 pan-crisped local seitan with roasted pepper sauce, served with soft ginger carrots and curried lentil puree. Now, for that price on a student budget, you want heaven in the form of food – and it was. Every bite was amazing and each flavor compemented the others perfectly. My seitan pieces were tender and my mouth said “Oh my God!” with each bite.
The bar service wasn’t exemplary, but it was good. What I like about this 24-year-old restaurant is that they support locally- and organically-grown produce. White Dog Café is socially conscious and plays an active role in community education, local environment and community development programs. I felt good about my purchase, knowing that 20 percent of what I paid would support non-profit organizations.Luke Blair, a third-year Ph.D. student studying modern religious thought, has visited White Dog Café five times. He only orders off the small plates and grill menu because he feels the other items are expensive.
“If you want a good hamburger without people bothering you too much, this is a good place to be,” Blair said. He recommends ordering guacamole on top of the burger.
Colleen Dunn can be reached at email@example.com.