Planning a Trip to Philadelphia? A Guide to Fabric Row (+ Other Local Favorites)
First, let me preface this by saying that Afar Magazine scooped me. Eleven-ish months ago I had a plan in place to do a post featuring all of my favorite spots along Philly's Fabric Row. Open up the May/June issue of Afar, and...
I'll vouch for it, it's a solid overview. But readers, take note: the adorable illustration is not reflective of the actual locations of these places on Fourth Street. And I'm not sure why they didn't keep up the branding either ("Fabric Row" is actually what people call it and that's way catchier than "South Fourth Street").
My first experience with this small stretch of the city was as a junior in high school. My Mom, an incredibly accomplished seamstress, was going to make my prom dress. We went to Fabric Row looking for this particular shade of pink fabric that was trendy that year. At that time the street was purely fabric shops. Fourteen years later and you'll still find plenty of fabric to buy, but also a new generation of boutiques and restaurants.
Since Fabric Row is one of my favorite blocks in the neighborhood, I have some 2 cents to add to Afar's list, and a few more recommendations:
1- Hungry Pigeon
I'll wake up some weekend mornings craving their "Breakfast Salad" (I like green things with my eggs). There's usually a little line, but we've never waited very long. If needed, they'll take your number and you can go across the street and check out Moon & Arrow while you wait.
Come for: a sit down breakfast in a bright and bustling room straight out of Folk magazine; joining diners who appear mostly to be urban creatives (sometimes with kids) and eclectic longtime neighborhood locals. Or, grab pastries to-go. Pigeon's Pat O'Malley was named Best Philly Pastry Chef in 2016.
2- Bus Stop
My favorite pair of shoes came from Bus Stop. Owner Elena is cooler than I'll ever be and always very happy to help.
Come for: a curated selection of well-crafted and unique boots, sneakers, and flats for both men and women you won't find anywhere else.
3- Kawaii Kitty Cafe
Dedicated dog person here. So, not a place I would particularly choose to go, but I appreciate their mission of helping stray cats find homes.
Come for: cats.
3.5- Red Hook Cafe
Afar missed this one. The freshest to-go breakfasts come from this nondescript coffee & tea spot a few storefronts south of Kawaii. It's got a locals-only vibe so if you don't know to go, you might not...go. I usually get Shades of Egg, minus the mustard, add bacon (it's a sandwich on your choice of bread, with fried eggs, sprouts, tomatoes, avocado, and the added bacon). All sandwiches come with a small side of Red Hook's ever changing daily salad (fresh potato, quinoa, chickpea, etc.). I'm also hooked on their iced peach green tea with basil simple syrup (which will hopefully reappear for the summer season).
Come for: the freshness and inventiveness of their food and unique specials. Cash only, but there's an ATM inside if you forget.
4- Moon & Arrow
I first visited Moon & Arrow after coming back from Joshua Tree last year. I describe it as if JT threw up (in a good way). It always smells like the desert too. It's the kind of store I wish actually was in JT.
Come for: handcrafted goods, housewares, vintage clothes, chill vibes, and to support another woman-owned business on the block.
5- Paradigm is cool! What they said!
6- Philly Typewriter
The inclusion of this one confuses me. In the storefront there's a typewriter display but I think Bryan is only there on Fridays during a short window of time in the afternoon. Seems like a place you'd go if you lived here and needed typewriter expertise, not a visitor's destination.
Come for: a look at the many typewriters on display in the window. Or to find Bryan, on Friday afternoons.
6.5- Famous Fourth Street Deli
Diners come for comedically sized portions, but the Famous Fourth Street chocolate chip cookies are what it's all about. They close at 9pm, so sometimes we'll run over at 8:45 just to get our fix. We've had their cookies at other restaurants (no good, for some reason). You need to get them from the source.
Come for: A reuben that will last you for days, or (better yet) chocolate chip cookies. Pat is also obsessed with their poppy-seed hamantaschen.
Southwark has a sexy get-a-cocktail-and-have-a-deep-conversation-on-a-rainy-night sort of vibe. It was called out for it's cocktails in a round-up by Esquire a few years back. More of a nighttime destination, than a day. A nice spot to end up if you're staying in the neighborhood.
Come for: Aforementioned sexy cocktails (and some splurge-worthy food).
You're technically no longer on Fabric Row if you walk a block north, but at the intersection of Fourth and South there are a few more places I'd be remiss for not mentioning. Order a cheesesteak "wiz wit" (only way to do it) at Jim's Steaks, arguably a competitor for the best in the city. Often there's a line out the door on the weekends, but it moves fast, and inside you can look at the '80s and '90s celebrity autographs and cool art deco design while you wait (cash only, ATM inside).
Next door is Eye's Gallery, a unique boutique featuring 3 floors of vibrant handmade goods from around the world. Owner Julia Zagar's husband is the man behind Philly's many mosaics, like the Magic Garden (further down, on 10th & South).
Across the street is Milkboy, which has a few locations in the city. On nice days they open their garage doors, so you're basically drinking outside--perfect for watching all of the characters that walk down South Street. Good for great beers.
For more of my Philly recommendations, check out my annotated map (below)! I'll continue to update it, but travelers feel free to also leave questions in the comments below. I'm always happy to help (I once spent 20 minutes pointing things out on a map to a visiting couple while we waited in the Apple store; they only asked me where to get cheesesteaks).