The intersection of Front and Berks The hub of the most iconic piece of public transportation in the West Kensington area--the El. Berks Street Station.
Here you'll get off the El on the Market-Frankford line, walk down the open-air stairwell, and place your feet on the semi-stony Front St. concrete. Breathe it in, ladies and gents--that's the fresh. air. (Well, as fresh as any city can get.) Get used to it, 'cause this blog is all about weaving your way through the streets and into the Kensington culture. That's right. We're going for a walk. Consider this your electronically-led immersive tour of this 'hood. Lace up.
Today we're gonna cover a total of 5 categories:
1. Physical Activity - Trust me on this one. You'll feel good afterward.
2. Solid Nourishment (a.k.a. Food) - the Fishtown Foodie competition
3. Drinks - Whether it's alcohol, caffeine, or whatever else is left. Water? Sure. Nah, we'll just go with alcohol.
4. Some good ol' fashioned culture - We've got lots of art, okay?
5. Photo opps - Because you wanna be able to say you came here and did some stuff
Category 1: Physical Activity
Immediately to the right of you (Okay--depending on which side you're walking on), you'll find a rack of rentable Citibikes. Now, you can rent one and travel all around to your destination (if you're into killing two birds with one stone, figuratively speaking).
However, if you're looking for something a little more deliberate, you can take a pole dancing class at Pole Basics. For this, I advise you not to knock it til you try it. It takes major strength in all areas, plus it's fun, probably out of your comfort zone, and something you can say you did once. How cool would it be to say that yeah, you've tried it, and yeah, you weren't half bad? I rest my case.
Category 2: Solid Nourishment
Mama Mia, there are so many places to choose from. But it's hard because each place tends to kind of blend in with the original architecture. I think this area makes an entirely solid use of what they've got (which is why you'll see things like warehouses, churches, old hotels, etc. being turned into modern commercial entities. Anyway, this option won't be hard to miss.
Tandoor India's right on Front Street with a small parking "lot" decorated with string lights, so even if I didn't tell you to come here, you'd still probably find it and be intrigued. If you like Indian food or want to try it, this is a great place that serves all the classics in "warehouse-like digs." The inside is spacious, and they've got a 4.0 rating on Google. Sweet.
If you're not looking to venture out into ethnic food, maybe try Good Spoon Soupery. They're on Front Street as well, and what's interesting about them is that they push out a new menu daily posted right on Instagram (so I'd follow them if you'd like updates). To answer your question, yes--they serve more than soup. They serve the typical lunch-type foods, and they're damn good. Check it out for yourself.
Category 3: Drinks (on Drinks on Drinks)
Okay, so there are an infinite amount of bars around here, so I'll give you the option of some great cocktails vs. some cheap beer. Feel free to hit 'em all up.
Some great cocktails--well, you can start at Stateside Vodka's very own Federal Distilling Room. They've got a full bar and food truck, but the cocktails are the "meat" to the joint, menu rotating with the seasons (of course). Each cocktail's a good ten spot, but come either during their happy hour (Thursday or Friday) or during brunch (Saturday or Sunday) for some hefty discounts and a lot of fun. You're also free to do a "shot ski" shot there for three bucks. You're gonna wanna get a boomerang of that. This is on Hancock and Cecil B. Moore.
Another place for a good cocktail is the International, right back on Front. I got a Jessica Rabbit, and it was delicious. The atmosphere is a mixture of sultry and eclectic, and it's definitely worth checking out.
Now for the gritty West Kensington feel, I'd recommend the El Bar or Kung Fu Necktie. The El Bar's got a shit ton of stickers on the wall, string lights, a pinball machine, music to bop your head to (sometimes live), and a pool table. If you're looking for lowkey but exciting, this is your spot.
Kung Fu Necktie has a similar feel, but it's more spacious (in my opinion. Unless it's packed). They've got a city wide special, a bunch of beer, and two distinct rooms. The front room's got a bar, some booths (off to the side), but mainly an area to chat and fill up the space. Now, the second room is where you'll find live music occasionally up on stage or a DJ in the booth playing for the off-beat crowd. If you ever go to an Emo Night there, expect sweat (because it draws in an awesome crowed, and ideally you'll be dancing). You'll also find graffiti and stickers on the walls here as well. It's as to be expected around here, which makes Kensington the place it is, I'd argue.
Category 4: Culture, baby
Speaking of graffiti and types of art, if you're looking for culture, I'd recommend checking out the Common Room, which is an art gallery with areas to shop, sit on the floor, and come for events. Sometimes they'll do Japanese book binding workshops, and other times you'll be doing some stuff with essential oils.
You could also head over to Little Berlin if you happen to be in the area on a Sunday between 1-4pm. It's a pretty hidden space on Coral Street, so between its remote location and easy-to-miss hours, this place seems pretty exclusive to me. They've got different exhibits or themes going on at different times, so make your own luck, and check out the gems they've got.
Category 5: Photo Opps
Whether it's Instagram culture or the purpose of keeping mementos, a good picture in a hip area doesn't seem to be off many people's itineraries these days. You'll find murals and art all over the place, but if you're looking for a LOT at once--Cecil B. Moore and Front Street. There are several murals all along the wall that you can take your pick (and pic) from, and they all surround a lovely pick-up window belonging to the little Honeygrow spin-off, Minigrow (for those of you who don't know--it's food).
*BONUS: Where to take the kids--PlayArts. It's basically a children's-wonderland-turned- daycare. You can drop in at any time for a fee, and you can trust that your child is in good hands (if you're not sticking around). More to come on that someday!
Now go bring your friends here and tell them you know all the cool spots. I think you'll find it very rewarding. Adios!
B.A. Media & Professional Communication
Blogger of All Things Fun
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