Standing in the middle of downtown, it can be easy to think of Philadelphia as a fairly small place. But real locals know Germantown – a few miles from downtown, in the often overlooked northwestern part of town – has some of the best vibes. It’s a community driven neighborhood with plenty of options, cozy bookstores, and plenty to eat and drink, making it a beloved pocket of Philly. To help us get to know Germantown better, we’re letting three savvy residents tell us about their favorite places in the second installment of the Eater Philly monthly series. Ask a local.
Rasheed Ajamu, community activist
If you’re interested in community activism in Philadelphia, you’re probably following Rasheed Ajamu, perhaps best known by his Instagram handle. @PhreedomJawn. Ajamu describes himself as a curator of Phreedom Jawn, a social media presence from which they raise self-help programs, community events, and local and national stories that they see as educational or fun.
Why they like Germantown
âI like Germantown because it’s my home. It’s a model example of how local businesses thrive when they support each other.
Their favorite neighborhoods
Ed’s Pizza House
5022 Wayne Avenue
âEvery Friday I don’t cook and I order – I always get cheesesteaks. One Friday my usual place was closed, so I took a chance at Ed’s, and the cheesesteak became my favorite. This is now the only place in Germantown where I want a cheesesteak. I take them with salt, pepper, ketchup, mayonnaise, fried onions, extra meat, and American cheese and provolone.
A & N Product House
5929 Greene Street
âMy grandmother always used to go here when we were younger, and they’ve been there since I was about 5 years old. My favorite when I go, they are usually strawberries, bananas, raspberries and blueberries for my smoothies.
5946 Germantown Avenue
âWhen my partner and I were stuck in the house we would make more orders and we were fed up with our usual places. One day we decided we wanted something new for breakfast, so we gave our luck at Newman’s Grill, and they were amazing. Their pancakes are to die for. These are probably the most buttery pancakes in Germantown. I love them.”
5445 Germantown Avenue
âI started going to Uncle Bobbie’s when I was in college because I needed a place to work and I love books. I buy a book at least once a week and I love to be there and drink coffee or hot chocolate and just read a book and meet people.
Daaiyah’s delicious restaurant
5052 Germantown Avenue
âTheir lollipop lamb chop platter is my favorite. They use a really good marinade, then I usually accompany macaroni and cheese with candied yams. They also make an amazing banana pudding – they use Chessman cookies in the banana pudding and it’s perfect.
5714 Greene Street
âAlthough they’re called Quality Donuts, you can get other things like burgers and cheesesteaks. They have been there since I was a child. I don’t go there all the time, but it’s one of those things where – when you’re shopping – you know you can get donut holes, which is my favorite, or ice cream. water in summer. I like the strawberry with mango and kiwi.
Jasmine Thompson, urban farmer
Last year, Jasmine Thompson founded Philadelphia Forests, a three-acre farm in northwest Philly, on the grounds of the Awbury Arboretum. She operates a farm and offers a CSA program and operates the Germantown Farmer’s Market. In addition, Philly Forests runs an urban forestry program, which aims to plant more trees in low canopy areas.
Why she loves Germantown
âI was born and raised four blocks from where I am growing up now. I didn’t start to appreciate Germantown until I came back from the West Coast. When I got back I started to meet new people from the neighborhood and fell in love with the people here – I love the diversity. I love that everyone seems to be an entrepreneur, and there is so much community organization and support.
His neighborhood favorites
Germantown Espresso Bar
26 Maplewood Mall
âI discovered the Germantown Espresso Bar on my return from California. I got in there and I was working on dreams related to food and farming, and I continued to be drawn into different projects and conversations with the people there. They have become my core of friends. I worked there for a few years, and they just have a great community energy. My drink is an iced chai latte with oat milk and vanilla.
Linda’s Vegetarian Village
6381 Germantown Avenue
âIt’s owned and operated by Linda herself, and she’s there all the time. It’s a cafe-like vibe because she knows all the customers and what they do so well. I really like their kale smoothies. They are really well balanced. She also has these cooked black beans which are really good – they are very well spiced and so delicious.
Germantown Farmer’s Market
5501 Germantown Avenue
“I run the Germantown Farmers Market, so I’m biased, but objectively I love it because everyone I met at the Espresso Bar years ago, and everyone I’ve met since, sort of [gathers] there every Saturday. There is grass, and people are having picnics, playing cornhole, and just talking about food. It’s just a very beautiful environment. We have live music and Adirondack chairs. It is sometimes really dreamy.
The farm at Awbury
6336 Ardleigh Street
âSo yes my farm is there, but overall I feel like it’s just a gem to have in Germantown because it’s a cooperative space of different food and farming projects. We are here, Way of the weaver is there, the Philly Goat Project is there, the Philadelphia Weavers Guild is there, the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild is there. It’s really cool to pick each other’s brains out on what they’re doing because you’re bound to learn something.
Birdie Busch, musician and visual artist
Birdie busch is a musician and visual artist who has lived in Germantown for eight years. His projects range from working as a recording artist to designing a beer can for Attic Brewing Co.
Why she loves Germantown
âI love Germantown because it’s an incredible mix of plants, people, architecture, rich history and stories. It’s like a city within a city and I love the way my neighbors challenge me for the best ways to creatively live life with an open mind and heart.
His neighborhood favorites
5532 Greene Street
âSalam Cafe is a hybrid Ethiopian and Middle Eastern type of coffee that also has a dry section at the back, with strong Ethiopian black teas, herbs and spices. I really enjoyed everything – from a quick to-go falafel sandwich or little triangles of their pistachio baklava, which is my favorite baklava I’ve had in Philly.
Bistro on the mall
40 Maplewood Mall
âThey’re open for lunch and dinner (and they have a very popular brunch), but what I like to do is sit at tables outside with a bottle of wine. It is a very nice place to sit, eat and meet up with friends.
Grenier Brewing Co.
137 Berkley Street
âI live up the street from Attic Brewing Co. and it’s kind of like my Cheers. Especially during the pandemic, they have a lot of outdoor space. I like to go grab different food trucks – my favorite is Burrito Feliz.
4530 Germantown Avenue
âObviously their baked goods are really good, but on the weekends they make this thing called Earth to Pizza and you can order pizza and take it to the attic to eat. They make classics like a cheese or pepperoni pie, but they also make revolving pies every week with local produce.
Young American Hard Cider
6360 Germantown Avenue
âThey serve some really amazing and delicious hand pies. They make vegetarian and meat pies, soups and really good coleslaw. You can get a plate with a bit of everything and a dry cider [on the side]. “