Cheerful light-orange and robin’s-egg-blue walls greet customers at the High Point Café, a cute espresso bar and pastry shop serving crepes and baked goods to West Mount Airy patrons. Sit at one of its handful of tables to dig into a rotating collection of savory crêpes, which might include anything from ham, cheese and spinach to turkey and caramelized onions. Sweeter-sized versions tackle chocolate sauce, lemon zest and endless sprinkles of powdered sugar. Popular pastry options include brioche breads and dense scones, though customers often opt for a slice of quiche, all of which can be enjoyed beneath the original artworks hanging on those brightly colored walls.
Yes, there actually is a trolley car at Philadelphia’s Trolley Car Diner. It’s a 1948 model, and it now sits in the parking lot and serves as a takeout stand for ice cream and water ice. The structure of this classic diner was actually relocated from a small Pennsylvania city 100 miles away, and now the myriad throwback touches make the Trolley Car a treasured Mount Airy establishment. Booths line the large L-shaped space with its black-and-white tile floor, and the menu is a page-turner, literally: numerous options each of salads, burgers, hoagies and larger entrées line the hefty book of options, including dishes like homemade chicken croquettes, pan-seared calves liver, meatloaf and Cajun catfish. Before you leave, pick up some meat or cheese from the onsite deli to take home and enjoy.
On Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, a royal-blue awning dotted with white stars heralds the Night Kitchen Bakery, a combination café and artisan bakery. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or brunch in an old-fashioned room decorated with white subway tile, pale furniture and light-blue patterned wallpaper. The soups, salads and quiches are freshly made on site, though lots of diners opt for the “Tea Time” selection of scones and breakfast cakes, served with your choice of lemon curd, Nutella or raspberry butter – and a cup of tea, of course. Pick up an individual-sized sweet like a brownie or cupcake, or grab dessert for the whole family in the form of luscious tarts, pies and cakes that are ready to go. Or just watch in awe as the delectables are prepared, thanks to the wide plate-glass window next to the takeout area that gives viewers a peek into the commercial kitchen.
InFusion Coffee and Tea Gallery is much more than just a coffee shop; it’s a meeting place for creative types, who can admire or perhaps be the source of the regularly rotating artwork that makes InFusion a gallery as well as a purveyor of espresso. This shabby-chic Mount Airy café’s mismatched furniture includes bistro tables, sofas and red metal bar stools at the counter, each lit by bejeweled pendant lights. The walls offer shades of sea foam, eggplant and mustard, a far cry from some other, stodgier third-wave coffee shops in town. Along with the coffee drinks, organic teas and smoothies is a small selection of munchies, including bagels and paninis. For a nice touch, a free cell-phone-charging station sits just inside the café’s entrance.
With its red-and-cream striped awning and mansard roof, the building that houses Bredenbeck’s Bakery is just as quaint and historic as this Chestnut Hill merchant itself. Founded in 1889, Bredenbeck’s sells cookies, cakes and pastries decorated with awe-inspiring care and precision. The shop is small — a line of ten people will reach all the way to the entrance — and mostly unadorned, except for a dozen spools of brightly hued ribbons hanging in a line behind the counter, waiting to tie up sweet packages. This simplicity keeps the peanut-butter mousse tarts, the chocolate cupcakes, the éclairs and the rows of other treats in the spotlight. Elaborate wedding and custom cakes can be ordered in advance, and a tiny separate space selling Bassett’s ice cream is open seasonally.
The flavor-savvy guides of Chew Philly Food Tours acquaint both visiting and veteran Philadelphia taste buds with the dishes that encapsulate the city's culinary heritage. During each 2.5-hour journey, groups visit family-owned restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores? many of which have been around for decades?where merchants show off their specialties to curious palates.
Tidbits about local architecture, city history, and the philly cheesesteak's historic boxing victory against Chicago-style pizza spring from tour guides as tasters proceed with their 1.5-mile jaunt, which keeps feet moving at a moderate pace to accommodate guests of all ages and fitness levels.