Neighborhood Guide

Where to Find the Best Healthy Food and Workouts in Old City

According to Natalye Cohen, Old City resident and yoga instructor at TORC Yoga.


Photograph via iStock user littleny.

Philly has an insanely wonderful fitness scene, but the truth is, many of us tend to stick to our own neighborhoods — we’ve all got our favorite corner coffee shops, yoga studios, running trails, and more. That’s why we’re asking local fitness pros to give us a tour of their neighborhoods — and to spill all their secrets on the hidden gems they can’t quit.

Natalye Cohen was born and raised here in Philadelphia until she was 12, when her parents made the decision to move to South Jersey. After some time away, including a yoga teacher training in Bali, Cohen has made her way back to the city and now resides in Old City. Here, she teaches sweaty power flows a couple times at week at TORC Yoga when she’s not helping out at Bleu Martini, her family’s business.

Cohen has a handle on what it’s like to live a healthy life in Old City, and she’s decided to spill on all her favorite spots for healthy meals, workouts, meditation, and more. Read on for your guide to living well in Old City.

The Best Places in Old City for Healthy Food and Drinks

Coffee shop: Menagerie — this place just makes me happy. I love the wooden benches and rustic vibe. The staff is super friendly and patient when I get distracted by the mouth-watering cookies on display. My go-to is a dirty matcha latte with oat milk. I like that it’s lighter than a typical latte. It’s my savior when that afternoon slump sets in, giving me the energy kick without the crash.”

Healthy breakfast spot: “TBH, I’m a bit reluctant to reveal this adorable hidden gem, but it’s Café Frieda. You can’t go wrong with the food. My go-to is their avocado toast with poached eggs and pesto served on wonderfully healthy bread, or their roasted veggie dish served with poached eggs and pesto. My boyfriend and I recently shared the chocolate croissant, but one bite in and I wished I’d gotten my own.”

Healthy lunch spot: “I moved back to Old City from Tel Aviv in August, so you can imagine the happy surprise when I found out the café next to my apartment (Café Ole) is an Israeli-inspired café! Couldn’t get over the irony as I sipped on my dirty chai latte. If you’ve never had Israeli shakshuka (eggs baked in a tomato sauce), you need to come here. I suggest the vegetable shakshuka, which adds in spinach, chickpeas, potatoes, and mushrooms. Pro tip: Ask for tahina on top — you will thank me. Luna Café is my other go-to. Now that it’s FINALLY sunny out, I plan to go ASAP and try their açaí bowl while sitting outside.”

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Healthy date night spot: Positano is totally underrated. The food has never let me down — always delicious, super fresh, fast service, and reasonable prices. I love their tuna tartare, artichoke salad, salmon, branzino — I could go on. I recently got this spicy mezcal cocktail (ordered extra spicy), and it was perfect. For a more vibe-y date spot, sit at the bar.”

Bar: “In the nice weather, Morgan’s Pier or Old City Beer Garden are my go-to’s. Morgan’s Pier is right on the water, so you get awesome views of the Ben Franklin Bridge, and the breeze from the river feels great when those hot summer nights kick in. The Old City Beer Garden is just plain cool. It’s super chill, and the perfect spot for happy hour time with picnic tables and games. Probably my favorite part is their beer pong set-up using huge trashcans and basketballs. Essentially, you get a little workout in while you drink. Healthy, right? When you get hungry, head around the corner to National Mechanics. Sip on their Bad Hombre margarita (extra spicy for me) while you wait for your order of plantain chips and guac, Brussels sprouts, sesame-encrusted salmon salad, or grilled salmon.”

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Healthy takeout: “Yes, Farmicia is a nice sit-down restaurant, and YES they do takeout! While I love eating at the restaurant itself, especially outside, I enjoy it just as much when I pick up lunch to bring to my office. I usually order the pan seared tofu entrée: a delicious mix of kale salad, chickpeas, black olives, fennel, and a tomato jam. I add avocado to the dish and they give a generous amount, which is annoyingly uncommon nowadays.”

Grocery store for healthy foods: From May through November,  there is a farmer’s market by Christ Church that is awesome to grab some fresh, local food! Snap Kitchen (although not exactly a grocery store) is also a good, fairly priced place to get some items or pre-made, healthy meals. I’ve enjoyed their Chai Cashew Shake (one of those “I can’t believe this isn’t a terribly unhealthy dessert” shake) and their salmon dishes.”

The Best Workouts in Old City

Gym: “I’ve gone to a few classes at Sweat Fitness on 3rd Street and enjoyed them. I had my butt kicked at Boot Camp, an awesome cross training style class.”

Workout class: “I recommend trying Allongee out. At Allongee, I went to derriere and bikiniLOGIC, which both incorporated cardio bursts into the barre-style sculpting techniques. I was happy to find myself sweating, heart pumping, and muscles shaking.”

The Best Self-Care in Old City

Meditation studio: “I prefer finding a place outside for my meditation. I usually start by strolling along the Penn’s Landing Walk, [then I pick] a bench overlooking the water or finding a spot around the Penn’s Landing Great Plaza.”

Salon: “After a bad haircut, I refused haircuts for over two years. However, it finally hit a point where my hair was more dead than alive, and a haircut was necessary. I found my way to Moko Salon where a little angel named Savannah saved my hair. I was totally that client who walks in with about 20 different photos of how I wanted my hair to look, confused and incredibly nervous. Basically, a hair stylist’s nightmare. Savannah, if you’re reading this: I sincerely apologize and you’re amazing.”

Place you go for self-care:
“I don’t have just one place for self-care because there are just so many different types of self-care! The other week I went with friends to Pinot Boutique for a wine tasting. I was trying something new, exploring my neighborhood, learning about wine, and spending time with great people.”

The Best Outdoor Activities in Old City

Nearby running trail: The Pier, duh! I love living three blocks from the water. It may be one of my favorite parts of Old City — a little escape from the busyness of city life. Just walking along the water makes me feel connected to nature.”

Park: Spruce Street Harbor Park: hammocks, sunshine, river views, drinks, and food stalls (even a Franklin Fountain ice cream truck, can I get a hallelujah?). This place is just wonderful and finally open again! Lots of positive energy and happiness fill this park.”

Annual events: “Old City restaurants and bars take over 2nd Street from Market to Chestnut, which is closed to traffic for Old City Eats Block Party. What could be more fun than sampling bites from Old City’s best restaurants while sipping on a delicious cocktail? This year, it’s on June 21, and I’ll be there working the Bleu Martini stand so come say hi — I love meeting new people! Old City Fest is another awesome event. In October, multiple blocks along 3rd Street close to traffic and open to local designers, retailers, galleries, restaurants, and many other businesses.”

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