The Key's Year-End Mania: Dylan Eddinger's top places to grab a pre-show snack - WXPN
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Love City Brewing | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, Key photographer Dylan Eddinger shares his favorite spots to grab food before a gig.

When you head out to the city for a great gig, there are usually two things on your mind. One is evaluating just how awesome the show is going to be, and two is wondering what you’re going to do to satisfy your hunger before standing through a two-hour concert. To help out with that second question, here are some of my favorite places to get a pre-concert snack.


For those of you going to the TLA, Tattooed Mom is a local spot with some out of this world food and drink options. The vibe is extremely punk with walls covered in stickers, tacky decorations, and rotating art exhibits showcasing weird but pleasing pieces complimented by heavy metal and garage rock playlists. The menu features delicious bar food with a whole vegan menu as well. If you’re feeding a small group the ASS BASKET is for everyone, with a big helping of mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and their killer waffle fries all for $12. Tattooed Mom’s Cajun Chicken Sammie and Mom’s Burger are also hits. The kitchen runs from 12 p.m. til 2 a.m., making it the ideal space to grab food before or after a show.

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There’s one place that reigns supreme in the Fishtown area for me, and that is Joe’s Steaks & Soda Shop on Girard and Frankford. This isn’t the place to get into a cheesesteak war, but Joe’s may be one of Philadelphia’s best. Walking into the restaurant you gives you a classic diner feel from the retro orange and baby blue theme and booths covering the walls. Joe’s does cheesesteaks and crinkle cut fries best, but also offers menu classics like hamburgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese, milkshakes and more. They also serve a vegan option for their steaks. Die-hard Gritty Fans can even indulge in the “Getting’ Gritty Wit It” special steak packed with ribeye, philly wiz, French fries, raw onions, and Cheetos. A steak truly fit for the King of NHL mascots. One of the best parts about Joe’s is the open topping bar because their pickles are the best. They also promote a BYOB policy on their menu, making it a great place to sit, eat and drink before heading to your show at Johnny Brenda’s, The Fillmore, The Barbary…wherever!

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If you want to class it up a little bit before a Fishtown show, right next door to Joe’s is Fette Sau, specializing in locally sourced barbecue and hand-crafted cocktails. Fette Sau doesn’t look or even feel like a BBQ joint, but you’ll feel like your down in the south with one smell of the dry rubbed all day smoked meats. This joint is pricier than others on this list, but you will get the bang for your buck regarding quantity and flavor. Top picks include their beef brisket, pork belly, and organic half chicken. All meats are raised hormone, antibiotic and steroid free. They also offer vegetarian options on their sides menu. Happy Hour runs  5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday where you can enjoy half priced drafts, and $5 Old Fashioned’s and Manhattan’s.

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One of the best places to spend time before a Union Transfer or Underground Arts show is Love City Brewing. This new space as of April is almost hidden on a cobblestone street right behind Union Transfer, I was blown away that I had not known about it sooner. The vibe is extremely industrial – they literally re-vamped an old factory/warehouse building, and there’s exposed brick galore. A gigantic bar, and plenty of beer hall long tables welcome you to take a seat. Love City is the best place to grab a drink before a UT show because of their wide variety and great prices. Aside from drinks, they offer light bar snacks like pretzels and hummus daily. To support local businesses, they wheel in a different food truck for almost every night of the week and serve meals out of the back where they brew the beer! I have not been disappointed.

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