Your city … by the book

The Temple News shows it knows its alphabet when it comes to the City of Brotherly Love. From restaurants and bars to landmarks and “Rocky,” this list can help you begin to get situated in

The Temple News shows it knows its alphabet when it comes to the City of Brotherly Love. From restaurants and bars to landmarks and “Rocky,” this list can help you begin to get situated in your new home.

A.K.A. Music
27 N. Second Street
If you think the only place to buy CDs in Philly is FYE, think again. Located in the heart of Old City, A.K.A. Music is Philadelphia’s largest independent record store and offers the most up-to-date selection of new and used CDs, vinyls and DVDs. Open seven days a week, the two-story shop is pricier than its corporate counterparts but provides a more diverse collection.
– Carlene Majorino

Big Jar Books
55 N. Second St.
Cozy and quaint but with a necessary Philadelphia edge (and delicious hot cider and coffee), it’s no wonder Big Jar Books is an Old City favorite. Unlike other used book stores, the shop doesn’t fill its shelves with junk. No dollar romance novels or David Hasselhoff autobiographies in this baby. Instead, you’ll find nooks and crannies full of the New York Times best-sellers, dusty history books, poetry anthologies and some of the most charming children’s literature you’ll ever see. The prices may be a tad higher than ideal, but you won’t find any suspicious-looking stains on your pages and, come on, you’re supporting local business, right? Don’t leave the trove without a treasure.
– Anna Hyclak

Even a blind man can tell when he crosses 12th Street into Chinatown. The pungent, salty smell of sidewalk fish markets pummels its way into your unsuspecting
senses even before you notice the Chinese symbols on street signs. Stretching from Eighth and 12th streets and Filbert and Vine streets, Chinatown is easily accessible by public transportation from the Race-Vine stop of the Broad Street subway. While cavorting around this cultural jungle, be sure to check out Ho Sai Gai, a favorite Chinese restaurant for pre-Troc show feasts at 10th and Cherry streets. Charles Plaza, located at 10th and Vine streets, specializes in wholesome organic Chinese delicacies that will appease even the sternest vegan appetite. New Century Travel is also located in Chinatown, at 11th and Arch streets, servicing Philadelphians with $20 fares to New York City round-trip.
– Julian Root

E-A-G-L-E-S! Eagles!
Whether it’s at a Phillies, Flyers or Sixers game, Birds fans have to make their love known. On Sundays in the winter, this city is only thinking about green. Eagles fans can sometimes look like idiots, but there isn’t a more beloved team in professional football. Their ability to spell S-O-B-E-R, however, is questionable.
– Chris Zakorchemny

Fillmore at the TLA
The Theater of the Living Arts is an affordable venue where patrons will see some of the most interesting and original shows in the city. Which is appropriate, considering its location on one of Philadelphia’s most interesting and original corridors. Recently taken over by legendary San Francisco venue, The Fillmore, the TLA underwent a bit of an interior makeover but still retains much of the style and punch that originally made it a South Street staple. Check out a show, and then have a bite to eat at Ishkabibbles, a meat lover’s dream, directly across the street.
– Dariel S. Johnson

When walking around the streets of Center City, you might find yourself in the presence of some odd-looking signs. Accompanying the usual name or number on these sign is a rainbow pattern, a clear indication that you have entered the Gayborhood. Stretching from Chestnut to Pine streets between 11th and Broad are a series of gay-friendly bars, restaurants, bookstores and businesses. Gay and lesbian-oriented bars are a focal point of the area and places like 12th Air Command, Pure and the classic and ever-popular Woody’s, all located in Washington Square West, are not to be missed.
– Leeann Hamilton

Hookah Bars
Anyone can sit around with friends on the residence hall steps and smoke cigarettes. For a true tobacco experience, check out one of Philly’s many hookah bars. The ambiance at these bars helps you enjoy the flavored scents and tastes of the tobacco while forgetting about the potential harm being done to your lungs. Places like Byblos and Fez in Center City and the Aromatic House of Kabob in Old City offer hookahs, tobacco, music and relaxation for an average price of $20. That includes the priceless knowledge that what you’re doing is perfectly legal.
– Leeann Hamilton

Italian Market
You don’t have to study abroad to get a little taste of Italy. You will find all the culture and charm of the nation along Ninth Street from Fitzwater to Wharton streets at the Philadelphia Italian Market. The history of the area, which dates back to the 1880s when Italian immigrants made their own Little Italy, is reason enough to check it out. But if you need a less educational, more recreational reason, boycott the pasta station at J&H for a day and enjoy some authentic Italian cuisine served up by small scale street-vendors and cozy restaurants. Under the signature awnings are butcher and cheese shops aplenty, featuring specialty meats and pastas that could spruce up your mini fridge and make you the envy of your SpaghettiOs-eating roommates.
– Leeann Hamilton

Johnny Brenda’s
1201 N. Frankford Ave.
Haven’t got a fake ID yet? Well, listen up, McLovin, J.B.’s might be your best reason to get one. Located on Girard Avenue on the outskirts of Fishtown, this bar and music venue feels like it’s straight out of Nashville. A mix of locals and hipsters shoot pool and sip Philly Pale Ale downstairs, while the ballroom stage and balcony on the second floor will keep your ears ringing. The acts that pass through are just under-the-radar enough to impress your friends, but not so elite as to annoy your roommates. Shows are usually under $15, so you’ll have plenty of money to blow on their extensive selection of craft beer. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, straight shooter.
– Brian James Kirk

58 S. Second St.
Khyber [Kiy-ber]:
– noun
1. Bar, music venue and dance club located in Old City, Philadelphia. Arguably the only reason to make the trek to the historic district after sundown.
2. A building where cheap drinks, great DJs and awesome events keep it freshly inked in day planners all over the city. Too bad the bands that play at the Khyber are usually as bad as the decor.
– verb
1. To get wasted, foolishly interrupt a Quizzo tournament and end up making out with a stranger at the bar.
See also: Cut-off jeans, Dance-Your-Face-Off, Shame.
– Brian James Kirk

Last Drop
1300 Pine St.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret. You will get sick of Starbucks. But those late nights, 8 a.m. classes and mid-afternoon lulls will demand some caffeine. Sure, it’ll be kind of cute when the cashier eventually nicknames you after your favorite drink, but c’mon Mocha Berry. Quit giving in to the man and grab a grande from The Last Drop, located in the heart of the Gayborhood. No, it’s not what you think (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s a chill coffee joint that is bound to be playing your favorite Ben Gibbard track sometime between your first cup of coffee, your second giant chocolate chip cookie and the espresso-to-go.
– Brian James Kirk

Michael Nutter
Say hello to Philly’s new mayor. Well, um, probably. Nutter is the Democratic candidate for the 2007 mayoral race. Granted, that doesn’t mean Republican hopeful Al Taubenberger doesn’t have a chance. But seriously, the last time a Republican got elected in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin and crew were rep’n’ Philly from Indy Hall. He’s a hip dude (he used to DJ) and a family man who wants to clean up the city. He’s looking to fight violent crime, fix public education, make Philly greener and promote arts and culture. Sure, the cynic would say that any candidate wants to make good. But Nutter makes it look good, too.
– Brian James Kirk
This year, make your Bible. The popular blog is one of the snarkiest and most Philly-aware out there. After just a couple of readings, you’ll be seeing editor Joey Sweeney’s face on toast, I promise. Unsure about whether or not a concert is worth attending? Feeling bitter about the fanny-pack-wearing tourists stomping around City Hall and taking pictures? Lookin’ to talk some bananas? Lookin’ for a crocheted hat? Philebrity will guide you. They might poke fun at you while they do it, but you’ll receive an education in street smarts and culture in no time.
– Anna Hyclak

Ritz Theatres
Yes, there is a movie theater at Temple. But if you want to see a good movie, whether it’s indie, foreign or mainstream, go to one of the three Ritz Theatres scattered about the city. These theaters actually maintain their facilities, don’t litter previews with advertisements and provide student discounts that bring ticket prices down to $6.50 a pop. Note: the consumer conscious should best avoid The Bridge: Cinema De Lux on 40th and Market streets near Penn and Drexel. They don’t provide student discounts on weekends and evening tickets can run up to $12, sometimes higher on opening weekends.
– Chris Zakorchemny

Sitar India
60 S. 38th St.
If you want to spice things up in the food department, take a ride down to Sitar India on 38th Street to indulge in some extra zest, both literally and figuratively. The dishes served at Sitar India’s $9.95 all-you-can-eat buffet allow patrons to experience a variety of Indian foods at their leisure for a student-friendly price. Many Indians are vegetarians, so a wide variety of cruelty-free items are offered, in addition to several meat dishes. The dining area is relatively small but the staff is prompt and consistently friendly. If you’re with a large group and seating is a problem, no worries. Sitar India offers a delivery service that can bring the charm, spice and incredibly pungent scent of Indian food right to your doorstep.
– Leeann Hamilton

After a SEPTA trek, consider yourself lucky if your pant legs aren’t covered in urine, a SEPTA employee doesn’t search-and-destroy your self-image and you arrive at your final destination on time. Put simply, Philadelphia deserves a better public transportation system. This year alone, SEPTA upped some of its fares by 11 percent and tried (in vain) to gyp the city of its transfer passes. My advice to you is this: avoid the flaky buses at all costs, buy your tokens at Temple’s 7-Eleven or bypass the money-swallowing rat race altogether and ride a bike.
– Holly Otterbein

Stephen Starr
For Stephen Starr, eating out is a fashion statement. The middle-aged, greasy restaurateur believes that swanky interior design, celebrity chefs and “escaping reality” are key to a unique dining experience. His 19 restaurants boast abnormally attractive staffs in spiffy Urban Outfitters clothing, flat screen televisions and sleek furniture. So what about the food? It’s hit or miss, and quite pricy. The mashed sweet plantains at Alma de Cuba are nature’s candy, but take caution: Continental’s string fries will exit your body before you exit the building.
– Holly Otterbein

Tower Theater
Upper Darby, Pa.
The Tower Theater is easily the best music venue associated with Philly that’s not quite in Philly. About two minutes off the 69th Street stop on the Market-Frankford subway, this venue is an actual theater, not an old movie theater or warehouse. Expect high quality acoustics and more character than any of the other Live Nation-owned venues in Philly. This is the perfect place to see a more popular music act without sacrificing a reasonable amount of intimacy. Tickets are usually at least $25. Most recently, this venue hosted shows for bands like Radiohead, Sigur Ros and Arcade Fire.
– Chris Zakorchemny

The Trocadero
10th and Arch streets
While this privately owned venue has hosted less mainstream acts in the past year (thank Live Nation and its strangling grip for that), it deserves more action than everything its South Philly brother, the Fillmore at the TLA, is getting. There’s usually an indie act playing or a local happening going on here. It’s also home to cheap, sometimes themed 21-and-over “Movie Monday” nights, and there are still remnants of its days as a performing arts theater. Inside, a huge chandelier hanging swings from the ceiling and a second level of seating wraps around the standing-room-only section.
– Chris Zakorchemny

13th and Walnut streets
Located in the heart of Philly’s Gayborhood, Woody’s is the top gay hangout in the city and features a bar downstairs and a dance club upstairs. Nightly specials include karaoke on Mondays, country line dancing on early Friday and Sunday nights and College Nights that allow 18-year-olds to enter. Philly was recently named one of the most gay-friendly cities in America, so check out Woody’s and join in the love.
– Andrew Franklin

The World Café Live
30th and Walnut streets
Recently named one of the top 50 live music venues in the nation by Paste Magazine, World Café Live hosts a wide array of acts from KRS-One to North Mississippi All-Stars. Located at 30th and Walnut streets, the café features two levels of entertainment. Upstairs is a restaurant and bar featuring food and drink specials with some of the best local acts. Downstairs is the 1,100-person venue where top national musicians come to perform in an intimate theater setting to the Philly faithful.
– Andrew Franklin

Washington Square
Designed by William Penn as one of the five squares on the original city grid system, Washington Square, located in southeast Center City, is a peaceful oasis in the midst of the bustling downtown area. Part of the original city design, along with Franklin, Rittenhouse and Logan squares, Washington is located just south of the Historic District and includes Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.
– Andrew Franklin

“Wooder” Ice
You may have had Italian ice, you might have even had water ice, but you haven’t had “wooder” ice until you’ve been to Philly. A Philadelphia tradition since it was created here in the early 1960s, the most popular place to pick up “wooder” ice is at your neighborhood Rita’s. But don’t be afraid to try a local version of this summer treat. If you aren’t from the city or close by, you might not know the difference between “water” and “wooder,” but after a few weeks in the City of Brotherly Love, you will.
– Andrew Franklin

3025 Walnut St.
Regarded as one of the top public radio stations in the nation, WXPN plays the music you won’t hear on commercial radio. From deep cuts by Bob Dylan to the newest track from Wilco, XPN is home to “World Café with David Dye,” and every Friday puts on a Free at Noon concert at the World Café Live (with whom they share a building). XPN can be found on your dial at 88.5 FM or
– Andrew Franklin

Y-Rock on XPN
Remember driving around in your car listening to Weezer and Pearl Jam on Y100? Remember how much it sucked when the station was shut down? Well, Y100 is back in the form of Y-Rock on XPN. After spending about a year as an Internet radio station at, it joined forces with XPN and broadcasts Wednesday through Friday nights from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on 88.5 FM. If you’re lucky enough to have an HD radio, you can listen all the time at 88.5 HD-2 or online 24/7 at
– Andrew Franklin

Z The Philadelphia Zoo
Chartered in 1859 and opened in 1874, The Philadelphia Zoo is the first one in America and home to over 1,300 animals. Jump on the Girard Avenue trolley to get to the zoo at 34th Street. At the price of $17 until October and only $11 starting in November, it’s affordable even for college students. Make sure to check out the new Big Cat Falls exhibit, which brings you up close and personal to tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars. Then take a ride on the Zoo Balloon above the park to get a different view of the city we call home.
– Andrew Franklin

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.