Guide to Philadelphia’s Ethnic Neighborhoods
Guide to Philadelphia’s Chinese, Latinx, Polish and West African neighborhoods
Philadelphia has long been celebrated for its diversity. In fact, the city’s foreign-born population increased 69 percent over the past two decades. From its southwest corner, up to the Delaware River and in between, cultural communities have established neighborhoods complete with businesses, restaurants and gathering spots. These enclaves not only provide a place for residents to connect to their heritage — they’re also a great opportunity for education and exploration, teaching kids the importance of diversity along the way.
The giant Friendship Gate at 10th & Arch Sts. welcomes passersby to this neighborhood adjacent to Center City. The lively locale is packed with shops, restaurants and cultural organizations frequented by the city’s Asian-American residents and visitors alike. Discover local arts and culture at the Asian Artists Initiative. This hub of creativity boasts a busy calendar of exhibits, performances and kids’ workshops. Plus, don’t miss festivals, family programming and walking tours at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. If you’re feeling spontaneous, this is a fantastic area to simply wander. Duck into shops with gifts, crafts, jewelry and baked goods; grab bubble tea at a café; explore markets; and dine at restaurants such as Banana Leaf Malaysian Cuisine, Dim Sum Garden, Terakawa Ramen and rolled-ice-cream shop Ice Land.
El Centro de Oro
This section of the Fairhill neighborhood is a nexus of Latinx culture. Translating to “the Golden Block,” it’s home to family-owned shops, restaurants, community centers and arts spaces. Make HACE Business and Visitor Center your first stop for a primer on what the area has to offer. Popular picks include Esperanza Arts Center, which features community events and workshops; museum and cultural center Taller Puertorriqueño; and Centro Musical, a music store with an array of Latin CDs and performances by local artists. Hungry? Hit El Bohio and Freddy & Tony’s Restaurant for Puerto Rican fare, or grab Mexican street food at Taco Riendo Restaurant. The spot also hosts the annual Feria del Barrio festival. The massive celebration of arts and culture includes live music, dancing, games, crafts, kids’ activities and vendors.
You’ll know you’ve hit this Southwest Philly district when you see telephone poles with the flags of African and Caribbean countries. The community houses a large population of West African immigrants, as well as grocery stores, salons and restaurants that serve up a taste of home. No fork needed! Use your hands to dig in at Mandingue African Restaurant, which showcases a variety of West African classics; Kilimandjaro, where you can enjoy thieboudienne — a blend of fish, rice and tomato sauce — the national dish of Senegal; Liberian-style eateries Nafisa’s Kitchen and Emma’s Liberian Kitchen; and Little Delicious, a longtime-favorite Jamaican joint.
Part of the city’s River Wards section, the neighborhood’s culture is influenced by the large presence of Polish, Irish, German and Italian residents. Streets are lined with small businesses, religious institutions, eateries and rowhomes that provide a tight-knit, family-friendly feel. Good food is a point of pride for Port Richmond: Take Tacconelli’s Pizza, for instance — the restaurant has stuck around for five generations and earned an accolade from Food & Wine magazine as one of the country’s best pizzerias. And the neighborhood isn’t called “Little Poland” for nothing; spots such as Czerw’s Kielbasy and The Dinner House dish out kielbasa, pierogies and other Polish grub. Cultural events also abound here, many of which take place at Campbell Square. Stroll by and you might encounter festivals, flea markets, concerts or theme nights.