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The Ideal Philadelphia Cheap Date

Who wants to be known as 'cheap'? Please! Cheap individuals are the subject of mass excoriation in the comments of 'Dear Prudence.' 'Cheap' is not a word that springs to mind in the same sentence as 'dashing, free-spirited Girl About Town.'

So if a girl is short on funds, she must employ all her energy toward re-framing the context, by kindling her own sense of adventure. This is wildly simple to do. She need merely send herself and her chosen companion to the bohemian neighborhood of East Kensington on a Saturday afternoon.

There, she may wittily alarm her partner by announcing, 'Let's go to the Soup Kitchen.'

Soup Kitchen
Photo Credit: Stephanie L Jackson

If the date has any intelligence at all, judgment will be restrained until she has sampled brunch at this cozily appointed bistro, perhaps with a goat cheese, arugula, walnut pesto and avocado sandwich on multigrain ($7.50). Thriftier options are no sacrifice – breakfast sandwiches on a bagel (bacon or asparagus extra!) start at $4.50, and will get you through till dinner with an adequate glycemic index.

Then you may suggest a drop-in tour at the Philadelphia Brewing Company.

This antique and fragrant hideaway may as well be in Napa, for all its laid-back elegance and solid understanding of fermentation processes. The tasting room is the best-kept secret in Philadelphia – vaulted, burnished and engendering the sense of intimate privilege that every rake must conjure. Best of all, tours (Saturdays from 12-3pm) are free. You may be forgiven for suggesting that the owner is a friend of yours.

Mildly intoxicated as you now are, conversation may flow sufficiently well for you to wander down Frankford Avenue, taking in the sights. You may want to stop at the legendary Atlantis: The Lost Bar, and remain there till evening. You may want to stop in at the Rocket Cat Café, a bastion of avant-garde culture. You may wish to grab a latte at Leotah's. You may poke your noses into any of the budding art galleries or boutiques that have arisen – seemingly overnight. The options are endless!

Or, if you are feeling superbly adventurous, you may wish to venture all the way to Bookspace, and prove your cutting-edge credentials beyond a doubt.

Photo Credit: Stephanie L Jackson

This barn of a coffee house intellectual's pipe dream is hot. It is dusty. It is cluttered floor to skylight with disarranged works of literature, obscure bric-a-brac, and remnants of someone's failed installation art project. It features jazz on Thursdays, circuses on First Fridays, and random shows on random occasions.

You can tell a lot about your date by how they respond to this. If they dive enthusiastically into the nearest stack of clutter and fail to re-emerge for half an hour, they're worth the walk. If they roll their eyes and complain about the heat, you may pack them gently onto the Market-Frankford el train at the Girard Avenue station, retire to a café with your bargain used book, and congratulate yourself on an afternoon well spent.

Soup Kitchen
2146 E. Susquehanna
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 427-1680
Hours: Mon 7:30am-4pm; Wed to Fri 7:30am-4pm; Sat to Sun 9am-4pm (brunch menu)
Prices $2-$8.50

Philadelphia Brewing Company
2439 Amber St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19125
(215) 427-2739 (BREW)
Hours: Free tours on Saturday 12-3pm; Retail Beer Sales: Tues to Fri 10am-6pm; Sat 11am-5pm

1113 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Hours: Tues-Sun 12-5 pm
see website for evening events:

Stephanie Lee Jackson is a lapsed artist, blogger and owner of Practical Bodywork in Philadelphia. You can find her archives at, and her thriving massage practice at Practical Bodywork

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