Sketch Burgers


By: Billy BeerSlugger

Sketch gets a lot of hipster clientele and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Hipsters have to eat too and some of them are so emaciated that I think they should probably get two Sketch burgers when they go in there. There’s hand drawn “Sketch”es by customers postered all over the wall and is where it gets it’s name (I’m taking a shot in the dark on this one).

Sketch is a Burger joint at it’s heart but does some things that a traditional burger place might not get into: Kobe beef, eggs, horseradish cheddar cheese, salsa verde. It’s right on East Girard st between Earl and Columbia though the sign doesn’t really jump out at you while driving down Girard. The fries are good, the milshakes are good and certainly the burgers are good. My roll might have been a little greasy but I did get it to go so a lot of the grease may have seeped in while contained in the wrapper. That’s about the only complaint I have about the place, maybe it’s a tad expensive though. But if you want an inexpensive burger there’s a McDonalds down the street.

Overall it’s some of the best food I’ve had in the Fishtown section of the city. Next up to try when I go there, Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork!

The Rise of the Tater Tot

Tot's are so hot right now.
Tot's are so hot right now.

By: Billy BeerSlugger

Tater Tot’s are so in vogue right now it makes me want to boycott them, however, they’re just too fucking delicious. This simple food is served to you in a restaurant/bar essentially the same way they come out of your oven. There’s really no difference except the price and maybe some chives or scallions you’ll get when eating out somewhere that serves them.

So where did the popularity of the Tater Tot come from and why in recent years have I seen a steady increase in places offering them, especially the hipster places.

Notably, I worked at the Barclay Prime circa 2006 and noticed they were serving them there.  One of the more fancy and best steakhouses in the city and they’re serving the same thing that run down diners serve to their patrons (granted at a bigger markup).  Other places I’ve seen them on the menu is the Urban Saloon and North Bowl, so much so that when my friends and I go either place it’s always brought up how multiple orders of “tot’s” were going to be consumed that night.  My comrade has told me that they are available at Sonic Fast Food Restaurants but I’ve never actually seen one of those. My guess is that Sonic is a fictional corporation akin to one of those companies in the movie Boiler Room.

Where did this phenomenon come from?  Was it the cult classic Napoleon Dynamite that brought the tot back into mainstream America?  Has the tot in some ways always been part of large part of American Culinary Culture?  Americans consume approximately 70 Millions pounds of tot’s per year to the French Fries 2 million tons so the tot does have some ground to make up.  If the tot continues to be adopted as the potato product of choice for the hipster set and the trendy establishments they frequent, you may well see the tot challenge the fry for it’s dominance. Will we see McDonalds, Burger King and other fast food places start to carry the tot? Only time will tell, in the mean time grab yourself a big bag of tot’s at the supermarket, a pack of your favorite shredded cheese and get totted up!

The Foodery – Northern Liberites

The 2nd Street Establishment
The 2nd Street Establishment

By: Billy BeerSlugger

The Foodery is really a beer store that also has a deli. Though when I say beer store, we’re talking about six packs and more so singles of the best beer you can find in Philly. There’s 10 or so coolers that have some of the finest imported beer from Belgium, Germany, England and anywhere else that makes stuff worth drinking.

You can sit down and have a beer and a sandwich there, it’s not a bar but they will give you glassware.  And I believe it’s open until 10pm which is crucial for those for a halftime beer run on a Monday Night Football game or a Tuesday night when you’ve just had a really bad day.

So overall, one of the best selections of beer I’ve ever seen in one place. The bad part is that most of the single beers there run $4.50+.  Yes imported beer is a little more expensive but it’s more or less a 300% markup for single beers. I walked out of there with a $20 dollar sixpack last week. If I was smart I would have went to the beer store earlier in the day and had at least 18 more beers but such is life sometimes.

Overall though you can’t really knock the price given the selection and trendy 2nd street location in Northern liberties. Maybe the City has a tax on single beer?

Another great thing is that I didn’t see any Budweiser or Coors there. Kudos to you friends. Viva le Beer!

837 north 2nd street (2nd & poplar)
(215) 238-6077
philadelphia, pennsylvania 19123
hours: sun-thurs 10:00am to 10:00pm
fri-sat 10:00am to 12:00am

They also have a location at:

324 south 10th street (10th & pine)
(215) 928-1111
philadelphia, pennsylvania 19107
hours: everyday 9:00am to 12:00am

I wish I had frequented that establishment a little more when I was living near Broad and Spruce St.

Center City Restaurant Week

By: Billy BeerSlugger

You know this thing seems like a great idea in theory much like a lot of other ideas seem good in theory like Communism  or a Utopian society.  However, like a lot of these great ideas, when put into practice disappoint mightily.

I’m not saying that Center City Restaurant Week is a completely bad endeavor but I think on the whole you don’t get the full experience of the restaurant that you go to during that week.  The price is right $35 per person for a 3 course meal but the portions are usually much smaller than normal and there’s more of a rush to get you in and out during the predetermined seating times.   What you thought was going to be a great evening taking your significant other to a nice romantic dinner in center City for a few less bucks than you would normally spend turns into a quasi-diner experience.

You’ll see all the cheap “tourists” from the surrounding counties and Philly locals who would not normally dine in Center City strewn about the Center City Streets not knowing where they’re going.  Usually it a woman nagging their boyfriend/husband to Center City during this week with the pretense of, “You never take me anywhere”.

So here we are “tourists” in my city streets, “tourists” in restaurants and bars I frequent, smaller portions, rushed dining, inattentive service because there’s a billion people in the place and probably a pissed off server who just got $5 on a $115 check.

Trust me, I’ve worked a few Restaurant Weeks in my time and it is great in theory bad in practice.  Now that’s not to say you can’t have a good time of it.  You may be happy just hanging out eating and drinking in Philly and enjoying the ambiance and swankiness of a Steven Starr restaurant, if that’s the case so be it.  All I’m saying is wait an extra week, spend the extra $30 and get the real experience of the restaurant you want to go to because it’s not the same during  Tourist Restaurant Week.


Ben Franklin Bridge Run

View From The Bridge

By: Billy BeerSlugger

The Ben Franklin Bridge is 9,573 feet long which equates to about a 3.5 mile run up and back from Philly to Camden. If you’re like me right now and are scrambling to lose weight because summer already started, this is a great workout.

The Bridge walkway is open from 6am to 9pm so you can even get a run in after you get home from work.

There is an even mix of hills and declines with the middle span of the bridge being more or less of a straight away.  Along your journey you may encounter other people walking, running or cycling.  Please watch out for them if you are wearing headphones and are blasting music on high, you may just run into a biker.

The Ben Franklin Bridge was originally named the Delaware River Bridge but was later renamed for statesman and Philadelphian, Benjamin Franklin.

When the bridge opened in 1926 it was the deemed the World’s largest Suspension Bridge Span (533 meters) until that distinction was taken away in 1929 with the opening of the Ambassador Bridge.

Originally one lane of the bridge, in each direction, was fitted with Streetcar/Trolley tracks and the anchorages were outfitted as boarding stations.  These stations were never used though since the company owning the Camden Streetcar system ceased operations in 1932.  The streetcar rails were taken up and replaced with another lane for vehicles going in each direction.  Eventually rapid transit tracks were laid on outbound sides of the bridge completed in 1939.  The Bridge Line Subway connected Broadway and City Hall in Camden with 8th and Market in Philadelphia.  The Bridge Line expanded to 16th and Locust in 1952 and began carrying PATCO trains in 1969.

While using pedestrian means to cross the bridge is free, it now costs $4.00 to use the bridge coming from the Camden side into Philadelphia by car.