Guys, now that’s it’s basically been two months since I went to Philly (where has time gone? LMK), I figured it’s now or never that I give you my #ChickpeasGuidetoPhilly. At the beginning of March, I took a trip to Philadelphia to visit one of my best friends, Alexis. Plot twist is that it was literally our first time meeting as we became friends off of Instagram (naturally, would you expect anything less from me?). I’ve met so many of my friends through blogging and Instagram within the last three years that I’m forever grateful for these kinds of relationships. Even more so when I can travel to new cities to visit them.
These are the types of friendships where you can bond with someone over music and food and then you turn out to be the exact same person, talk every single day and they become your sister pretty much. That’s kind of how Alexis and I are and I love it. We’ve been friends since last October and it’s funny because she actually found me through SoulCycle’s Instagram page which to that I say, another reason I’m grateful for SoulCycle in my life. Goes to show the power of social media can be incredibly positive at times.
Not only was it my first time meeting her but also my first time in Philly in general, so I was super excited. Like all of my #chickpeatravels, I always lock down a few places I want to go to beforehand so that I’m not scrambling in the moment but at the same time, when I visit a friend I kind of like to just take it day by day, ask them for their recommendations and go with the flow. I used to want to eat every meal out and do every activity under the sun but sometimes it’s nice to just make tacos together and watch movies on the couch eating hummus.
I was there Thursday afternoon to Monday morning and I feel like we got a lot in. Pro tip for whenever you’re traveling: you really can pack a lot into 3-4 days and that way you don’t feel completely out of your routine or schedule. You also don’t feel guilty for only taking 4 days off of work as opposed to 7-12.
For reference, Alexis lives about 30-40 minutes outside of downtown Philly so we hung out a lot around the Ardmore area, did a lot of SoulCycle (as you could imagine if you know us) and hit every matcha/coffee we could. If you follow me and don’t know by now, La Colombe is my favorite coffee shop ever and there are a few in Chicago but they’re actually based out of Philly. So naturally what did we do? Got oat black + tans pretty much every chance we could. For those who are unfamiliar, an oat black + tan is half their oat draft latte and half cold brew. It’s the most magical delicious beverage and I recommend even non-coffee drinkers try it.
I am obsessed with the way light hits surfaces (I just think it’s so pretty and shows how beautiful nature can be) and the below photo was at the La Colombe in Fishtown and I just about DIED of happiness. How dreamy.
Since we spent most of the weekend hanging out together, driving around and basically doing what we would do apart but together – listening to music in the car, going to La Colombe and going to SoulCycle – I’ll share with you guys the spots we went to that I really loved and the spots everyone recommended to me that I wasn’t able to hit because I mean… one can only eat at so many spots in a 4 day time-span.
Green Engine Coffee right in Haverford, PA – a cute little suburb of Philly. Honestly you guys, this place. The best of both hip and modern but also a cute and cozy neighborhood spot. I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to meet a friend for matcha or coffee (I got their matcha with oat milk – they use Minor Figures Oat Milk, very similar to Oatly), a donut or even their toast with nut butter, granola, honey and poached fruit was insane. They have paninis, gelato and source from local farms for their ingredients. I regret not shooting photos in their window nook because it was the cutest thing ever.
Bluestone Lane at King of Prussia Mall — there are two locations of Bluestone Lane (this mall and in Rittenhouse Square) and it’s actually originally based in New York but after SoulCycle on Saturday we wanted something quick and simple to eat, both had no idea where to go so Alexis offered up Bluestone Lane and I was sold. I had never been before in New York and I figured it would be your basic but delicious toast and latte situation so we went to the Mall of Prussia location.
The Mall of Prussia is very similar to the Mall of America (I think it might even be bigger?) and has a million and one restaurants. They had a Shake Shack, True Food Kitchen, and a bartaco (healthy taco options) among others. I high-key hate malls but would come here just for the food options alone.
We ordered the avocado toasts (gluten-free bread available) with a poached egg and tomato on top. I also got an oat milk matcha latte. The poached egg was slightly too runny/under-cooked which is one of my worst pet peeves so can’t say I would order it again but for baked goods like their gluten-free cookies or granola AND a decent latte, I’d say it’s a steal.
La Colombe (Fishtown location) – There are not one but FIVE locations of La Colombe in Philly (and there are actually 5 here in Chicago too) but the location in Fishtown (neighborhood similar to Brooklyn, NY) is the biggest as it’s also where their headquarter offices are. Not only do they have a coffee bar but a whole entire food menu and alcoholic beverages, on top of a little space for retail. The seating space extends far back into the back of the shop but the only downside is there are few outlets, similar to the ones here, ha! I’d say La Colombe in general is definitely more of a “meet up with a friend” or “go on a date” coffee shop as opposed to working/studying due to lack of outlets and most (at least in Chicago) don’t have WiFi.
My favorites include their oat black and tan (half cold brew, half oat milk draft latte), turmeric ginger tea and their Pure Black Colombian Organic Roast.
A&M Factory – Someone recommended this café to me when I actually got to Philly and when Alexis and I passed it we were honestly surprised it even existed. It’s next to The Classic Diner which is apparently a top neighborhood gem. A&M is an all gluten, dairy and grain-free café that serves salads, sandwiches, smoothies and açai bowls all made with high quality, real food ingredients. Their sandwiches are made on their own homemade grain-free focaccia and they even have grain-free tortilla chips for vegan nachos. I can’t even you guys it was so dreamy!
When we came in there were maybe only 2-3 other couples that came by on the Sunday morning but just because I think it’s still rather unknown. I never ever get sweet breakfasts out because I always feel like they’ll be too sweet for me but I ordered their grain-free waffle with a berry compote and homemade almond butter and it was to die for. Alexis got it too and loved! They even brought out organic grade A maple syrup… that is unheard of.
I knew I had to get something to go so I got the Kalifornia wrap that had sauteed kale, carrots, pistachios, an avocado pesto and chicken. I had it on my flight home and loved it!
Malvern Buttery – Okay maybe my favorite place Alexis and I went to during our trip to Philly. It is so so perfect for a weekend brunch as they’re pastries and breakfast bites are set up similar to a buffet. You pretty much walk in and you grab your food on a wooden board, bring it to your own table and then pay afterwards (unless you want coffee, then you order from a barista at a register). The Buttery focuses on using local ingredients, coffees and teas including coffee from Passenger Coffee (a roaster from Lancaster, PA) and matcha from Ippodo Tea (I’ve personally bought this matcha before and it’s my favorite – straight from Kyoto, Japan). They have dairy-free options (like oat milk!) and also used 100% grass-fed milk and cream in their pastries/baked goods.
It’s rare you can find a bakeshop that cares this much about their sourcing and ingredients and there is truly I love nothing more. I always tell people I will happily eat baked goods, pastries, etc when I know the ingredients are coming from a reputable source because the quality is so much higher (and FRESHER!).
Alexis got a cold brew and I got a matcha but LOOK at that color green. It was absolutely stunning and actually tasted like a rich, not-sweet matcha.
I can’t wait to visit again so I can get all the goods.
PS & Co. – One of the cutest coziest spots with an entirely vegan, predominately gluten-free and plant-based menu. If you’re going for brunch, don’t forget to make a reservation because this little space gets very packed. The front has the cutest pastry case filled with cakes, cinnamon rolls, poptarts… most of which are gluten-free (including a $10 poptart I wish I would have snagged, ha!)
The menu has labels for everything including SF for soy-free and NF for nut-free as a ton of their menu items either have tofu or cashew/almonds but it’s super easy to modify.
Alexis got the organic quinoa-oat waffle with melted 77% dark chocolate (oh my god) and it literally looked insane. I ordered the organic breakfast tacos on sprouted corn tortillas, greens, raw red pepper cheese, pico de gallo, miso cashew cheese and guac. Instead of the tofu, I asked for their mushroom bacon (just seasoned crispy mushroom) and it was the best thing ever. I couldn’t recommend it more and as a taco enthusiast I can be very picky with tacos but these were amazing.
If I could go back I’d definitely go for dinner to try their organic kale pesto pizza on their sweet potato millet crust with a side of organic japanese sweet potato fries (can you tell I like sweet potatoes?).
In addition to their breakfast, lunch and dinner they also have a menu filled with açai bowls, smoothies and milkshakes all containing real food ingredients. The Tiramasmoothie milkshake with their cashew-coconut tiramisu and fresh nut milk sounded absolutely absurd in the best way.
Elixr Coffee – So many people recommended this spot to me and unfortunately I didn’t get to go but it’s definitely on my list. We actually walked right past it after going to SoulCycle’s Rittenhouse Square location the Saturday I was there and it looked super cute. They’ve been on Business Insider’s 50 Best US Cafes list, the Best Cold Brew in America and have 3 locations in Philly, along with selling wholesale to other coffee shops in the Atlantic Northeast.
Parliament Coffee – We passed by this little spot when we were driving into downtown and just thought it looked like a solid coffee shop. They have pastries, coffee is served in huge mugs and apparently I’ve heard they have numerous outlets which is always a plus in my opinion. If you’re looking for a photogenic coffee opportunity I don’t know if this would be the best bet since it’s pretty dark but a good place to get work done nonetheless. Ps multiple locations including ones in NYC!
Charlie Was A Sinner – While I had heard so many things about this spot for a few years, I was not super impressed with it to be honest. I think it had this hype of a really everything-is-to-die-for vegan restaurant but the food felt kind of mediocre, as if I could have made it better myself. We got there on a Friday night and I was super shocked at how narrow the restaurant was and there were also candles EVERYWHERE. I’m going to sound like a total spaz but super small spaces with tons of candles give me the worst anxiety so right there and then I knew this restaurant would give me bad energy, ha!
As for the ambiance overall, I’d say it’s a perfect spot for a date night or a drink if you’re into alcohol. Their “midnight special” drink is vodka, purple sweet potato, lime and soda and their mocktails are incredible too. Alexis got the blackberry ginger soda and it was super tasty. That’s the one thing I noticed about the spots we went to in Philly.. SO many options for mocktails that actually taste good, have fresh ingredients and make you feel like who even needs alcohol?!
We ordered the grilled baby carrots, zucchini “crabcake” sliders, artichoke frites and the potato gnocchi with english peas. Honestly I think the crabcake sliders were the best because they actually tasted like crab cakes but were entirely made from zucchini.
I’m curious to see what their other menu items would be like but if anyone has tried anything else and was absolutely in love I’d love to hear it for the next time I visit Philly.
Vedge – This place. No words. Truly speechless but at the same time so many words. I truly wish we could have ordered everything off of this menu because it was so dreamy. Vedge is a vegetable-focused, James Beard nominated restaurant that focused on using seasonal vegetables and ingredients. Their menu is constantly changing and has different sections including The Vedge Bar (cold dishes and vegetable charcuterie), The Dirt List (single seasonal vegetable plates) and The Hot Kitchen (richer, more complex dishes). We got a few different items to try including a stuffed avocado with pickled cauliflower and romesco, the rutabaga fondue with a soft pretzel (if only this was available at the pools I belonged to as a kid because OMG) and the crispy brussels with shittake mushroom. Overall everything was incredibly fresh tasting but also was delivered to our table at what felt like lightning speed.
Alexis and I had mocktails but their cocktails looked above and beyond. “Into the green” was so very me — gin, carrot, lillet and matcha (gin is my favorite alcohol when I do drink and of course anything with matcha I love).
I really couldn’t recommend this place enough and I hope you go (and get the rutabaga fondue because holy. shit.)
Plant-based restaurants like this make me realize how many good options exist and how I wish people who didn’t like plants could appreciate them. It truly shows how food can be both art and enjoyable at the same time.
Weckerly’s – If there’s one thing I love to do when visiting different cities it’s finding new ice cream shops. Ice cream is my absolute favorite to scout out when traveling and when I heard about Weckerly’s I knew I had to try it because the entire vibe seemed very similar to Jeni’s or Van Leeuwen (my favorite ice cream shops already).
Weckerly’s is a French-style ice cream shop in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly, selling ice cream and ice cream sandwiches . They use organic milk from Camphill Village Dairy (less than 50 miles from their storefront) and use herbs through the seasons from West Philadelphia’s Heritage Farm. Their storefront is super tiny but Alexis and I managed to grab a seat by the front – filled up with succulents and plants – right when we walked in. The menu is ever-evolving and changing based on availability and seasonality as well.
Goldie’s – Although I didn’t get a chance to go to Goldie’s, so many people mentioned it to me saying to go because they’ve got falafel, fries and apparently the best vegan and gluten-free tahini shakes ever. I have yet to have a tahini shake anywhere but I’ve heard in general they are SUPER tasty so… this is on my list the next time I’m in Philly!
As for workouts in Philly, Alexis and I rode at SoulCycle in Ardmore and Rittenhouse Square (equally obsessed with both locations) and I absolutely couldn’t recommend Nick and Lauren’s classes enough. Since my trip has passed one of my friend Meg also moved to Philly to teach SoulCycle and I love her too so all three of them – take their classes! We also took Nick’s Solidcore class the Sunday I was there and by the end of the weekend we were dying.
I wish I could’ve had time to fit in a yoga class somewhere but next time I’ll be on the hunt for good spots.
Additionally, I know Philly has a Rumble boxing studio and Barre3 (one of my favorite barre studios) if cycling/pilates aren’t your thing. Walking through downtown is also an effective way to get a workout in while also seeing so much culture, so many shops and all of the things!
P.s. There’s a La Colombe in the Philly airport and they have avocado toast, matcha lattes and although you can’t the oat black and tan (half cold brew/half draft latte), you can ask for half cold brew and half oat milk. It is MAGIC. It was such a perfect way to end the trip and I cannot freaking wait to go back.