Dubbed the “Loft District” by real estate developers and “The Eraser ’Hood” by locals referencing the once-dark landscape that inspired former resident David Lynch’s 1977 cult classic Eraserhead, Callowhill is something between these two extremes. The stylish-yet-still-transforming neighborhood attracts both young professionals who enjoy its high-end condos and close proximity to Center City and artists looking for affordable studio and gallery spaces. The formerly industrial neighborhood charms with a rich stock of large, urban buildings, remnants of cobblestone streets, edgy rock clubs, emerging galleries and hidden cultural gems.
Just north of Center City, Callowhill’s boundaries run from 8th to Broad Streets, spanning Spring Garden and Vine Streets and running along the northern border of Chinatown. Bisecting the neighborhood are the distinct elevated train tracks of the dormant Reading Railroad, which will become a four-block park in the spring of 2018, promising further development and creative activity.
Neighborhood tips, itineraries and maps are available at visitphilly.com/neighborhoods.
Food & Drink:
- Bufad – Callowhill power couple Mike and Jeniphur Pasquarello of nearby Café Lift and Prohibition Taproom run this 30-seat, Neapolitan-style pizzeria that serves up seasonal specialty pies and plenty of smaller plates in a bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) setting. 1240 Spring Garden Street, (215) 238-9311, bufadpizza.com
- Café Lift – One of the earliest eateries to capitalize on Callowhill’s boom, Café Lift is an urbane brunch and lunch spot in an airy, post-industrial space. The menu includes panini, frittatas and crespelle, including the irresistible Nutty Monkey with bananas and Nutella. 428 N. 13th Street, (215) 922-3031, cafelift.com
- El Purepecha – This corner taco-tostada-burrito nacho spot is authentic yet familiar, cozy but not cramped, spicy and colorful—just right for an affordable, yummy, anytime-of-day meal. BYOB. 469 N. 10th Street, (215) 765-2369
- Foo Kitchen – George Pan’s funky food truck—or Foo Truck, rather—turned into this fun spot for approachable, indulgent Asian fusion breakfasts and lunches. Popular here: coconut curry eggs, General Tso’s eggs Benedict, shrimp toast, chicken satay with bacon, chilaquiles with Foo meatballs and chocolate covered velvet cake balls. 1301 Vine Street, (215) 413-0133
- The Institute – The main subject matter this institute studies is beer, and a 16-tap draft list offers a wide-ranging selection. The corner bar, featuring two floors of private booths with their own TVs, also serves up quirky meals such as burgers with balsamic onions and special sauce and classic Cubano sandwiches. 549 N. 12th Street, (215) 787-0888, institutebar.com
- Parada Maimon – Rice and beans accompany most any order at this authentically Dominican eatery, with wood paneled walls and checkered-cloth tables, a great setting for pork mofongo, fried plantains, stewed chicken, ropa vieja and patties. 345 N. 12th Street, (215) 925-2000
- Prohibition Taproom – The owners of Café Lift branched out into the gastropub scene with their rehabbed taproom, outfitted with retro-funky filament bulb lighting fixtures and a killer jukebox. The menu includes a solid tap list of domestic microbrews and a rotating bottle selection, along with eats from the rotating seasonal menu. 501 N. 13th Street, (215) 238-1818, theprohibitiontaproom.com
- Roy-Pitz Barrel House – Born in Chamberburg, PA, this 130-seat brewpub stands atop old truck docks and serves 15 house and local drafts (especially sour, barrel-aged, funky brews), regional craft wines and spirits and a casual, clever lunch, dinner and weekend brunches. The food here starts basic—wings, fries—and gets funky—fried persimmons, chicken schnitzel sandwiches, root vegetable gratins, pork belly BLTs. 990 Spring Garden Street, (215) 995-6792, roypitzbarrelhouse.com
- Sazon – Venezuelan cuisine comes alive at this homey BYOB. Hearty platters of steak, rice and beans; grilled tofu; and arepas stuffed with cheese draw dedicated fans made up of gluten-free eaters and vegetarians—all of whom end their meals with serious, house-made chocolate, including drinking chocolate. 941 Spring Garden Street, (215) 763-2500, sazonphilly.com
Culture, Shops & Galleries:
- Asian Arts Initiative – This community‐based arts center engages people to create art that explores the diverse experiences of Asian-Americans, addresses social context and impacts the community in a positive way. The organization offers a full calendar of events, including exhibitions, public performances, an out-of-school youth program and more. 1219 Vine Street, (215) 557-0455, asianartsinitiative.org
- Grizzly Grizzly – Practicing, risk-taking artists run and curate an engaging series of exhibitions and alternative events in this small exhibition space. 319 N. 11th Street, 2nd floor, grizzlygrizzly.com
- Khmer Art Gallery – One of the first Cambodian art galleries on the East Coast, Khmer displays and sells contemporary art that draws from traditional practices. The collection includes painting, sculpture, textiles, pottery, traditional musical instruments and more and is open by appointment only, with free educational tours for individuals and groups. 319 N. 11th Street, (215) 922-5600, khmerartgallery.com
- Marginal Utility – Showcasing locally and internationally recognized emerging and established artists, Marginal Utility shares a building with Vox Populi. A similarly fresh, contemporary aesthetic is at play here as well, with works on canvas, paper and new media. 319 N. 11th Street, 2nd floor, marginalutility.org
- PhilaMOCA – The Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art is a gallery space and performance venue located in a former showroom for mausoleums and tombstones. The curators’ sense of humor comes out in their selection of film, music, performance and visual art events, such as an annual David Lynch-themed art show and retrospectives of public access television programs. 531 N. 12th Street, (267) 519-9651, philamoca.org
- Vox Populi – A collectively run gallery founded in 1988, Vox Populi is devoted to experimental and under-represented contemporary art and comprises a rotating membership of artists of various genres. The Callowhill space hosts monthly exhibitions, gallery talks, performances, lectures and other programming. 319 N. 11th Street, 3rd floor, (215) 238-1236, voxpopuligallery.org
Nightclubs & Entertainment:
- Electric Factory – One of the larger venues in Philadelphia, this music hall draws local and national acts that to the 2,500-person capacity venue. Standing room at stage level is typically all-ages, while a balcony with unbeatable views and a full bar accommodates the 21+ crowd. Recent headliners include Kraftwerk, Miley Cyrus and Faith No More. 421 N. 7th Street, (215) 627-1332, electricfactory.info
- The Trestle Inn – This under-a-trestle spot for whiskey and go-go presents 1960s and ’70s-inspired music, entertainment and drink. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night the in-house go-go dancers shimmy and shake to all-vinyl soul, funk, disco and more spun by house DJs. The beverage list features 18 craft cocktails—they’re known for their whiskey sour—over 70 domestic and international whiskies and 13 craft beers on tap. 339 N. 11th Street, (267) 239-0290, thetrestleinn.com
- Underground Arts – Tucked into the burgeoning Callowhill neighborhood, this multi-use performance venue caters to an artistic and creative crowd. The genres of live music run the spectrum, which is one of Underground Art’s greatest assets. 1200 Callowhill Street, undergroundarts.org
- Union Transfer – Local and touring indie, punk, hardcore and hip-hop acts take to the acoustically awesome stage at this ultra-spacious venue, a scalable capacity room that can hold from 500-1,200 people depending on the stage configuration. Each concert finishes with a post-show happy hour. 1026 Spring Garden Street, (215) 232-2100, utphilly.com
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