Neighborhood Guide: Girard Corridor

Weaving between the borders of Northern Liberties and Fishtown (or acting as the dividing line, depending on whom you ask), the eastern part of Girard Avenue is thriving in a way that's somewhat indicative of the two neighborhoods it crosses. Packed with an emerging cluster of bars, restaurants (including Sketch, left) and live music venues that tend to appeal to a crowd that's on the young, grungy and artistic side, the Girard Corridor, as it's called, is cool enough to bring in out-of-neighborhooders, but not gentrified enough to allow for much retail or service beyond a few dingy groceries and unremarkable thrift stores, banks and tattoo parlors. (Photo by Tara Nurin)

Updated: February 22, 2010

Restaurants


Ekta Restaurant

250 E Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Much like Tiffin, this Indian restaurant specializes in take-out and delivery. That fact is plain to see by the two plastic tables that call themselves the dining room. But the food is critically acclaimed and it's nothing if not authentic and delicious.


Tiffin Etc

710 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123

One of the city's favorite Indian restaurants was originally conceived to be a home-base for a thriving delivery business. But now diners who are hooked on the quality and flavor of Tiffin's South Asian food crave it when they want to go out to eat, and so they end up here. The space is cheerful, brisk and oh-so-good, and you don't have to clean up after yourself.


Sketch

413 E Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Every vegan in town knows this small spot, famous for its humungo meat patties and, ironically, also its vegan ones. Vibe is casual and often harried but it's a good spot for the kiddies, what with its crayons and chalk board. The kitchen's wide open and the service is sort of a hybrid between counter and table, while the food, with its eclectic mix of vegan desserts and buffalo burgers, draws the curious and the converted.


Paesano's

152 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123

One of the city's favorite hoagie and pizza shops is easy to miss when you're driving by but hard to forget once you've been in. It doesn't get any more Philly than this: counter service, cheesesteaks and guys who call you "hon" when you place your order. Prepare to fight for a seat, as there are only a few.


Bars


Johnny Brenda's

1201 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125

This bar and music venue was cool before anyone thought the words "Fishtown" and cool would ever be used in tandem. Serving local draught beer only, this sister (or brother, as the case may be) to Northern Liberties? Standard Tap packs `em for local and national musical acts and a menu that was among the first to define "gastro pub" for Philadelphians--cooked by a staff that resembles the crowd: pierced and tatted.


The Manhattan Room (M Room)

15 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123

This family-owned bar, restaurant and music venue is housed in a former diner and hosts concerts and special events every night of the week. The space is crowded, the jeans are skinny and the beer is quality. Yup, just another night on the fringes of Fishtown.


Fire, The

412 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Some of the country's best unknown hippie bands play at this dive that makes its politics clear with flyers for PETA events and stickers that still demand "Impeach George Bush" on the walls. In one room is the stage and music space and in the other is the bar, where music lovers jammed for cash can watch the band on closed-circuit TV for the price of a beer.