I love streetscapes designed with the needs of people in mind. Additionally stores and restaurants built on a warm and welcoming scale tend to work their way into my heart, assuming they serve good food and sell good products. Thirteenth Street in Philadelphia and specifically the single block between Chestnut and Sansom is a small area that is packed with some great eats and shops.
(That’s not even taking in the small, dynamic collection of murals on the sides of some of the buildings- take a look up or the fact that this street is right around the corner from the gorgeous Macy’s taking up the full block of Chestnut and extending to Market (owned by Macy’s now but it will ever live in the hearts of Philadelphians as the former John Wanamaker Department Store and is a remnant of the era of the Grand Department Stores and worth a peek if even only for the grand 5 story central court and the world famous pipe organ that still gives concerts daily.) The street is clearly worth the trip.
Barbuzzo (mediterranean kitchen & bar) – I have been here for lunch numerous times although I have yet to come for dinner- something that I’ll have to rectify. I always leave happy and well taken care of. The restaurant is warm inside and snug- although not unpleasantly so. The bar and open kitchen run along one side with the seating along the other. I’ve been here with both Eric and Emily (separately) and always get a glass of wine or a cocktail. I’ve usually been able to convince my dining partner to split an antipasto plate – which changes seasonally and a pizza or pasta (all of which are satisfying and delicious). I always look at the dessert menu but wind up splitting the Salted Carmel Budino – which is something of a local legend – and if you’ve had it you know why (dark chocolate crust with vanilla caramel and sea salt -all which blend in a magical combination even more than the sum of their parts…) wouldn’t mind one now…
110 South 13th St., M-Sat 12-3, 5-12; Sun 5-12 barbuzzo.com
Verde (& Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates) (The Marcie Blaine of the chocolates also happens to be the Head Chef at 5 restaurants including the above mentioned Barbuzzo, two others on the street, Lolita and Jamonera and 2 close by – Little Nonna’s and Bud & Marilyn’s – I’ve been to 3 of these, all of which have had excellent food, service and atmosphere and I plan to make it to the other two. (Her partner is Valerie Safran and she runs the business of the restaurants along with several other retail establishments including Verde and Home Goods mentioned below. Their partnership has had a huge impact on the revitalization and redevelopment on 13th Street and the whole Midtown Village in general over the past 15 years.) The chocolates are delicious and come in great luxe but approachable mediterranean inspired flavors, and there is fun line of Philadelphia “themed” Chocolates – which I personally think make an awesome souvenir from Philadelphia. (There is a glass window in the back that you can also find the chocolates being made sometimes – the scent is heavenly). There is also a small but well edited selection of clothing, accessories, great jewelry and toiletries. One of my very favorite pair of earrings came from here and when Emily comes in with me- she always leaves with something.
108 South 13th Street Mon-Sat 11am-8pm; Sun 12 pm-6pm verdephiladelphia.com
Open House – owned again by Blaine & Safran, is dedicated to small home goods, a small bit of baby/toddler gifts, again a bit of jewelry and toiletries, great items for house gifts and my absolute favorite section, the excellent selection of Philadelphia related items – all either tasteful as souvenirs or gifts for that someone who likes to show off their Philly pride (and yes I’ve acquired a few things here.) This is a great place for locals and tourists who want to up their souvenir game and actually want to be able to use/put out the the Philadelphia items they acquire or gift; There are also usually seasonal items (a small but lovely Christmas display) and sometimes items that coordinate with things going on in the city- like when the Pope visited Philadelphia or more currently things that coordinated with the National Parks theme of the Philadelphia Flower Show.
107 South 13th Street Mon-Sat 11am-8pm; Sun 12pm-6 pm openhouseliving.com
Duross & Langel – a fabulous smelling “soap” shop full of all the bath & shower lotions and potions you could possible ever want. Everything they make here is handmade on the premises. Everything here is very fairly priced for the quality and you can find small whimsical things that are seasonal like $5 Easter soap in the form of chocolate bunnies or small bath bombs for $3.50 up through a variety of more luxe items. They have some really lovely Philadelphia Love soy candles here in a variety of yummy scents names after different Philadelphia neighborhoods like Society Hill, Rittenhouse Square, Boathouse Row, etc. There is also a Salon and a Yoga Studio on site.
117 S. 13th Street Open Daily durossandlangel.com
Capogiro (Midtown) – one word – GELATO. This is not just any old gelato … this is EPIC gelato. Seriously delicious change your world if you’ve never had real gelato, gelato. Capogiro has received a variety of accolades from food writers and magazines since it’s been open. The owners learned gelato making in Italy and take their craft very seriously. They marry traditional Italian technique to local milk and other ingredients. The colors of the gelato are lovely and sometimes delicate – since those crazy bright colors you sometimes see are usually the result of food dye. The product is delicious and speaks for itself. Even if you order a small (piccolo) you can get two flavors in your cup or cone. Not only do you get the choice of two flavors – it’s fun to find the best combinations. On the day pictured, I had chai tea with Nutella and Eric had a cup of caramel and blood orange. Both were delicious. (If you are in other neighborhoods – Capogiro has locations near Rittenhouse, in University City, on Passyunk Avenue and a shop attached to their Pizza endeavor at Cappofitto in Old City (Check their website -they also update flavors.)
119 S 13th Street Daily capogirogelato.com
There are other fun shops and restaurants on this small bit of 13th Street that I didn’t even get to. It’s undoubtedly worth a trip for a bite – be it a meal or snack as well as a bit of shopping.