What “Food and Wine” didn’t have to tell us about East Passyunk Avenue

Singing Fountain
Around the “Singing Fountain” and up and down East Passyunk Avenue are some of the city’s most creative restaurants, including three on this year’s Philadelphia “50 Best Restaurants” list.

By now, all Philadelphia foodies are cheering – and rolling their eyes just a little. Last week Food and Wine magazine listed East Passyunk Avenue as one of the top foodie streets in America.

But we already knew that.

East Passyunk is sprinkled with an array of culinary tastes. You can start with high-end Italian at Le Virtu and move all the way up to former Le Bec Fin chefs at Fond, then pop into P.O.P.E. for “enhanced” bar food and the bar staff that makes choosing a brew more like show-and-tell. You can top you trek off with the classic Philly cheesesteak, wit or wit out, but you probably can’t eat another bite by this point anyway.

Local food writer and former Philadelphia magazine critic Joy Manning’s Food and Wine writeup lists only a few of East Passyunk’s top restaurants and some of the places you can go to make your own foodie paradise. But before gastropubs and casual fine dining, was East Passyunk always a gourmet cheeseburger paradise?

According to the South Philly Review, the neighborhood can trace its roots back to the 1700s, when George Washington housed soldiers on the 800 and 900 blocks of Federal Street.  The Review also states that the stretch of the avenue from Tasker to Broad streets began as an upscale shopping area: “Restaurants, specialty food stores, pharmacies, furniture shops, clothing, shoe and jewelry stores dotted the avenue.”

In the past decade there has been an effort by local merchants to revitalize the area. The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District was developed and modeled after the merchant-funded programs in Center City and Manayunk. A variety of community groups, such as the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association & Town Watch and the Passyunk Square Civic Association regularly sponsor events to improve the cleanliness and greenness of the area.

The effort has paid off, as demonstrated by accolades like the Food and Wine nod, but if you cook it, will they come?

The answer is yes.

While properties in Point Breeze and Pennsport list for around $200,000, homes in East Passyunk run from $250,000 up into the $300,000s. Rental prices also reflect this change; after all, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and the increase in property values sometimes correlates with rental demand. Our research also uncovered a vacant lot near Passyunk Square listing for $650,000, but it’s a lot closer to Cheesesteak Corner than the latest brunch spot.

East Passyunk will be celebrating the Food and Wine honor Wednesday, April 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. Straight out of Philadelphia magazine’s “50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia,” Fond (#7) and Stateside (#1) will have happy hour specials and Le Virtu (#5) will be providing live music from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Newcomer Noord will have its doors open as well to give foodies a preview of the place.

For more of East Passyunk’s culinary offerings, don’t forget about the Flavors of the Avenue event on Saturday, April 27.

25 chefs. One big tent. Lots of food.

VIP tickets are $50 and general admission is $30.