It really wasn’t that long ago that Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood wasn’t all that special. There were a couple of music venues and bars but there wasn’t much else. Those times have certainly changed. While the neighborhood isn’t quite bustling, it’s still pretty darn full of restaurants, bars, and shops as well as plenty of residences. It shouldn’t be surprising that things are looking up in the neighborhood given they’ve now, since 2011, got a restaurant from longtime Philly (and now NYC and Miami, among other cities) restauranteur Stephen Starr. Called Frankford Hall, the restaurant and biergarten fills a void in the city’s relative lack of German food. Admittedly, there are a couple others — namely Brauhaus Schmitz. After our recent trip to the Barnes Foundation, we made the trip over to Fishtown for a late lunch at Frankford Hall.
We went in the early afternoon on an overcast Saturday. The place was relatively empty when we arrived but busy and loud by the time we left. There’s a large indoor area with picnic tables and smaller round tables as well as an outdoor area with heat lamps that were keeping it toasty on this autumn day. The atmosphere is very casual: there are several tables for Tischtennis (ping-pong, one of Germany’s favorite past times) and Tischfußball (foosball). If you really need to be kept occupied, they offer Jenga games you can borrow for your table. (Sadly the wooden blocks on the game we used — and likely all the others — have all been written on.) The provided entertainment and the beer seemed to skew the clientele on the young side.
Customers order their drinks from one of several bars (there’s one outside and one inside) and their food from a separate window that’s outside. Wait staff then bring the food to you. My husband and I both had the Wiener Schnitzel, which came with German potato salad. The Schnitzel was decent but the extra salt they added after frying was a bit much. My husband also had a side dish of red cabbage that was only OK. As you’d expect with a Stephen Starr restaurant, it wasn’t super cheap — but it wasn’t super expensive either. But, I couldn’t rationalize $4 for a regular, standard-sized pretzel. I was also disappointed at the dessert options. I wish they had apple strudel or something German instead of just cupcakes. Similarly, my husband had no issues with the beer selections but there weren’t many German options. That said, I’d probably be willing to try the restaurant again but I’m in no big hurry. They need to double down on the Deutsch and make it a bit more German, in my opinion.
If you’re planning to drive to Frankford Hall, you might want to think again. It’s difficult to think of anywhere in Philadelphia where parking is easy and ample and Fishtown is no exception. The restaurant does not have a parking lot. Parking is along the street and in the neighborhood wherever you can find it. On the Saturday afternoon we went we were able to find a couple spots here and there. But I can’t imagine what it’s like on a busy night with a concert around the corner at Johnny Brenda’s and people at the other bars in the neighborhood.
1210 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
All photos from the Frankford Hall Facebook page.