Sorry Freshmen, but the Penn dining halls are NOT where it’s at (except for you, Beefsteak). That’s why we’ve made you this definitive list to drinking at eating at Penn. Whether you are a senior trying to hit all the hot spots before you graduate or a freshman wondering why the line at Magic Carpet is so long, we have made the ultimate guide for you. Say goodbye to 1920 Commons, and say hello to all things food and drink in West Philly's University City.
1. When You Have the Drunchies – Allegro’s
Location: 39th and Spruce (but you already know this)
What to Order: A slice of pepperoni pizza, chicken fingers, and fries. It’s college food for a reason.
Does it surprise you that Allegro’s is the first stop on this list? If you ever end up at Allegro’s at the end of a night of going out, you know you’ve done something right. There’s a reason that Allegro’s is open 24 hours and sells over 500 slices of pizza on a typical Friday or Saturday night. A slice of Allegro’s pizza (and perhaps a chocolate milkshake and fries on the side) will solve all of your problems; plus, you will run into approximately ten people you know while waiting in line.
2. When You Need a Pick-Me-Up – Federal Donuts
Location: Sansom between 34th and 36th Streets
What to Order: Fried Chicken with sweet chili glaze, a 6-pack of donuts (make sure to try the coffee cake flavor if it’s in stock!).
Although Federal Donuts is only open until 7 pm, it is imperative that you try as many of their seasonal flavors before you graduate. From classics like cinnamon sugar and vanilla spice to fancy flavors like guava poppy and chocolate éclair, you cannot go wrong - trust us, we tested them for you. What many people do not know, however, is that Federal Donuts also sells AMAZING fried chicken. And, with any order of fried chicken, you get a free donut. #Winning.
3. When Your Parents Are Footing the Bill – White Dog
Location: Sansom between 34th and 36th Streets (down the street from Federal Donuts)
What to Order: Although the brunch is amazing, also try the Kennett Mushroom Soup, the Deviled Eggs, or the Green Meadow Double Cheddar Burger.
There’s three great things about family weekend: you get to see your parents, they bring you the boots you forgot at home, and they take you out to nice meals. White Dog, a farm-to-table establishment with dog-themed decorations, is the best place to take your parents. Dishes like the Spicy Lamb Bolognese and the Mushroom Soup will distract them as you talk about your very academic Penn experience.
4. When You’re Craving a Home Cooked Meal – Greek Lady
Location: 40th Street between Spruce and Locust
What to Order: An omelette with toast and tater tots
Greek Lady has everything – whether you are in dire need of a ham and cheese omelette on a weekend morning or need a pick-me-up in the form of 12 mozzarella sticks. Whatever you crave, Greek Lady has it (their menu is 6 pages!).
5. When You’re Feeling Healthy – Sweetgreen
Location: Walnut between 39th and 40th
What to Order: The Hummus Tahina, the Kale Caesar, or the Guacamole Greens. The world is your oyster.
Once you go Sweetgreen, you never go back. With dozens of salads to choose from, as well as a make-your-own option and a selection of soups when it’s winter (their chickpea lentil soup is divine), Sweetgreen is the perfect place for a quick lunch while you’re running to Huntsman.
6. When You’re Running Late to Your 9 AM – Lyn’s
Location: 36th and Spruce, just outside the lower quad gate
What to Order: An everything bagel with egg and cheese, hot sauce optional.
Lyn’s is the real bae. She and her husband operate arguably the best food truck on campus, whipping up dozens of orders – from cheesesteaks to breakfast sandwiches to omelettes – at the same time. How does she memorize every order? God only knows. But know that whenever you bring Lyn’s to your 9 am Psych lecture in Irvine, it is socially acceptable to eat in class.
7. When You Need to Cram with Caffeine – Starbucks
Location: 39th and Spruce, under 1920 Commons
What to Order: An iced coffee and a Megpie (Starbucks’ version of a pop-tart!).
The Starbucks under Commons is great, yes, but the new Starbucks on 39th and Walnut is the perfect place to study and much less crowded. With outdoor seating and a quiet side room, Starbucks provides a tranquil and caffeine-filled place to study.
8. When You’re Craving Mexican and Don’t Want Chipotle – Honest Tom’s
Location: 44th and Locust
What to Order: A chicken burrito with rice and beans, guacamole, pico, cheese, and sour cream
Although Honest Tom’s is a bit of a walk away from campus, we can assure you that their massive burritos and tacos are worth it. Make sure you’re hungry, as these burritos are easy to split. From sweet potato burritos to plain old rice and beans, Honest Tom’s will fill you up with guacamole and cheesy goodness. Plus, they have breakfast burritos with homefries, bacon, sausage, and eggs. That makes it healthy, right?
9. When You Need A Lil’ Something Sweet – Lil Pop Shop
Location: 44th and Locust
What to Order: Vietnamese iced coffee popsicle – full of intense flavor and even a few coffee grounds.
Just steps away from Honest Tom’s is Lil Pop Shop, a store with small-batch ice pops made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. They have an array of flavors, from lemon blueberry buttermilk to Vietnamese iced coffee to green tea mocha to mango sriracha. You can dip any of their popsicles in sauces ranging from chocolate to salted caramel, and add eclectic toppings like sprinkles, potato chips, and even bacon. In the winter, their hot chocolate – not too thick, not too thin – is the perfect beverage for the cold weather.
10. When You Want to Be a Typical Penn Student – Smokes
Location: 40th and Locust
What to Order: Honestly anything alcoholic (though we can hook you up with their secret menu).
Smokes, a Penn establishment since 1952, is the go-to college bar. In fact, President Gerald Ford even mentioned the bar in his that Penn consists “of 16 institutions of higher learning and personal enlightenment – 17 if you include Smokey Joe’s.” President Ford was right – Smokes, with its pizza, murals covering the wall, and plenty of cheap drinks, is the quintessential college bar.
11. When You’re Vegetarian – Magic Carpet
Location: 34th and Walnut and 36th and Spruce
What to Order: Veggie Burger, Falafel Salad, Chili, and any of their cookies (the pumpkin dark chocolate chip or the banana dark chocolate chip are always to die for).
There’s a reason the Magic Carpet line wraps around the block come lunch time. People are obsessed with their wraps, salads, and yes, their $1 cookies that are considered healthy. With a diverse menu and pretty reasonable prices, Magic Carpet is a great place to pick up lunch on your way to class. Be wary of the line, however, and try to avoid Magic Carpet on weekdays from 12-2 pm.
12. When You Want to Be Healthy but Sweetgreen Won’t Cut it – Honeygrow
Location: 38th and Walnut
What to Order: The Red Coconut Curry Stir Fry – rice noodles, organic roasted spicy tofu, pineapples, jalapeños, bean sprouts, scallions, and cilantro. YUM.
Sometimes we crave healthy food, but a salad just won’t fill us up. Honeygrow solves this problem, as they offer an array of somewhat healthy stir fries as well as a “Honey bar” – a make your own fruit salad with toppings like honey, dark chocolate chips, yogurt and whipped cream. You can also make your own stir fry, choosing from different proteins, sauces, and noodles.
13. When You’re Vegan – HipCityVeg
Location: 40th and Locust
What to Order: The Udon Noodle Salad, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a soy milk milkshake.
HipCityVeg – specializing in plant-based foods – puts a vegetable twist on all your favorite foods. My personal favorite? Their chicken nuggets (obviously not actually made of chicken) and sweet potato fries combo. Plus, their Groothie – a smoothie packed with organic leafy greens, apples, bananas, and seasonal fruit – is the perfect post-workout snack.
13. When You’re Craving Sushi – Ramen Bar
Location: 41st and Locust
What to Order: Spicy Tuna Roll, Veggie Miso Ramen
With 12 different types of Ramen, as well as classic appetizers like edamame and shumai (steamed shrimp dumplings), Ramen Bar is a convenient one-stop shop for all your sushi needs. They offer a variety of specialty dishes, from vegetable tempura to Japanese fried rice, as well as a number of specialty rolls.
Freshmen, start counting down the days until the dining plan is over (although Frontera will always have our hearts). After all, this list is just the beginning - stay tuned to Spoon for even more Penn tips!