Era is a diving sports bar on Poplar Street that serves excellent Ethiopian food. Here’s why you should visit ASAP.
Growing up in Philadelphia, I split my time between Fairmount and West Philly—hopping the home base of each parent like any divorced child. We had places in the beloved neighborhood of Vermont that my family frequented. (Shout out to Zorba and the now-closed Rembrandt, which happens to be a sight for my super-chic after-party.) Eating at these Fairmount restaurants lived within a 10 block radius like I did.
So when I came back to Philly from New York City a few months ago to take a job as a food editor at this magazine, I was determined to find out what on earth is happening in Vermont now (aside from the pushchairs, Whole Foods, and beautiful museums). The more I ask, the more I hear the same thing: It’s not a hot restaurant neighborhood. A friend texted, “I love Fairmount with every fiber of my being but unfortunately, from a restaurant perspective, there’s not much going on.”
Which is why we all need to start shrugging off an era, the long-running place in Poplar that has the looks and I do not know what It’s a dive bar, but it serves a full range of Ethiopian food that you have to cross town to eat. To know an era is to love the era. Here’s why you should leave your home sometime this week and give it a try:
Walk in the afternoon on a sunny day full of blue, and the light from the outside world will be completely gone. The point here is not to enjoy the beauty of nature. The goal is to briefly join a world where Era is the only destination that matters — a world where two ceiling fans spin without a big wheel, beer emblems are pinned to wooden walls, and a picture of Benjamin Franklin hangs in the center of the room for no reason explained to me by “It’s Philadelphia, duh” “.
there Is that true Only one obvious place to place yourself when you first arrive: the long U-shaped bar that fills the center of the space. (Although Era technically has a back room.) From your bar stool, you can watch everyone else in the joint without feeling rude about it—because there’s nowhere else to stare, except for two TVs playing whatever game is working.
When you go to Era, you’ll see a handful of other customers ordering beer from a menu of about 40 options. Some chat with the bartender or wait for an appointment while sipping a pale beer in the draft or some light beer from the bottles menu. The afternoon would be a perfect setting to shoot an NBC sitcom — stimulating enough but simple, and an equally great backdrop for a Saturday night out or a not-too-special Monday in June. They serve a full liquor bar and glasses of wine, however, from what I can tell, most people order beer anyway.
But the difference between this neighborhood and diving that you might already be a regular is that Fairmount’s Era also serves delicious Ethiopian food right at the bar. The menu is broken down by protein, with plenty of vegan options as well as things like doro wot marinated in lemon and onion, and it falls off the bone without much pressure at all. Each entree comes up with two sides (one should be the gummies – made with collard greens simmered long enough so they’re tender and require no teeth to eat – and the other should be the creamy split lentils spicy in red pepper sauce), but you can always add a side Another for $2.
You can easily come to Era on your own and eat like a king of a small country for about $15. Or you can bring a friend and order one of the combo plates, which come with three entrees of your choice and three sides, plus extra rolls of sour sponge. The Era staff recommends splitting the combo dishes between four people, but in practice, it’s a defensible task for two eager eaters.
Age is a very distinct neighboring gem kind of thing, I probably shouldn’t tell you about it. But I’m not here to stand between you and something good. So if you rarely go to Fairmount for dinner, let Era change that fact about yourself.