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University City Healthy Food, Workouts, Gyms, and Self-Care

Neighborhood Guide

The Best University City Healthy Food Spots, Workouts, and Self-Care, According to This Barre Studio Owner

Callie Kim, owner of and instructor at Tuck Barre and Yoga, shares her go-to University City healthy food spots, workouts, and so much more.

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university city healthy food

The rooftop of Cira Green, near many a University City healthy food spot. Photo via Flickr user Aries McFadden.

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, healthy food, 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.

Sure, University City is filled with a bunch of college kids and food trucks, but there’s so much more than meets the eye in this Philly neighborhood! Going up to bat for University City is Callie Kim, lawyer by day and owner of and instructor at Tuck Barre and Yogawhich just opened a University City location this summer — also by day. Kim spent time living in the neighborhood during college and is planning a return as she and her husband just bought a house there to give their dogs a bigger yard.

As a local fitness pro, Kim has a strong handle on all things healthy in University City, making her a prime candidate to share the best of the best in the neighborhood when it comes to healthy grub, self-care, sweat sessions, and so much more. Read on for the scoop on University City’s healthy food, workouts and more.

University City Healthy Food and Drink Spots

Coffee shop: “I’m always walking back and forth between my job in Center City and Tuck in University City, so I often find myself at the OCF Coffee at 30th and Chestnut, right in the middle of my ‘commute.’ I’m OBSESSED with the La Colombe draft lattes there, but I always order without ice, because I don’t want that frothy goodness to be watered down. For tea, I get the iced black milk tea with boba (with 30 percent of the sugar) from Ochatto on Chestnut! Milk tea is probably my favorite thing in the world.”

Healthy brunch spot: “My Saturday ritual is to teach my Saturday morning yoga and barre classes, then reward myself with a whole wheat bagel with the smoked salmon spread at Spread Bagelry at 36th and Chestnut. Even on Saturdays, you’ll often see a line out the door, filled with people getting their weekend bagel fix. The bagel itself is delicious, and they are not shy about piling on the smoked salmon cream cheese! Actually, I’m not sure this is the ‘healthiest’ option, but I have to be honest!”

Healthy lunch spot: “My husband is Korean, and I get spoiled with homemade healthy Korean food all of the time. However, when my husband doesn’t feel like cooking, I go to Koreana for their vegetarian bimimbap! Bibimbap (pronounced “bee-beam-bop”) is the Korean version of fried rice. It’s a bunch of steamed and/or pickled vegetables piled on top of freshly cooked rice with a fried egg on top. You mix it all together with a spicy sauce called gochujang, which is a fermented red pepper paste.”

Healthy food truck: “You can’t talk University City eats without mentioning the huge food truck culture around Penn and Drexel’s campuses. My favorite, by far, is Magic Carpet at 34th and Walnut (they have a second truck at 36th and Spruce). Magic Carpet has a huge menu, but don’t be intimidated, you really can’t go wrong with anything on their menu! My go-to order is the falafel salad, and I alternate between the sesame-tahini dressing and the ginger-miso dressing. In the fall, the El Gringo — vegetarian chili over rice and veggies — really hits the spot. Don’t sleep on the wrap combos either! Just $6 for any of their delicious and creative hot wraps, and they all come with a side salad. I also love their veggie burger made into soft tacos. Not as messy, but just as tasty!”

Healthy date night spot: “Terakawa Ramen is the cutest spot with the BEST ramen. The noodles are so luxurious! I get the veggie ramen with shoyu broth. It’s loaded with veggies and I am obsessed with the soft-boiled egg. For a nice added touch, they add a slice of corn on the cob to the mix. The corn is soft, chewy, and perfect!”

Healthy takeout: “I get the falafel salad from Goldie when on-the-go. Goldie uses baby kale and romaine so I feel like I’m getting a nutrient dense salad (and not just water-logged iceberg). I love sprinkling of parsley and dill too! It’s not as healthy, but the coconut tehina shake is a party in your mouth. But be warned – you’ll need a nap if you opt for both the shake and the salad.”

Grocery store for healthy foods: “Fresh Grocer on Walnut is your best bet when it comes to grocery stores. The layout is a little funky and it can get crowded, but they have great produce, decent prices, and tons of selection. The salad bar is great for lunch in a pinch too.”

University City Workouts and Gyms

Gym: “When I was a student, I was a big fan of the Drexel Rec Center, especially the high-energy BodyPump classes! Choreographed strength training? Yes, please! I try to get to at least one of Drexel’s body pump classes each week. I love that your progress is visible in BodyPump — I love being able to add on 2.5 or five pounds to my barbell. It makes you feel so accomplished!”

Workout class: “Can we talk about Aqua Vida’s paddle board classes at Level 28? It’s one of the coolest classes I’ve ever taken. It’s a beautiful setting and the class is so much fun!”

University City Self-Care Spots

Meditation studio: “I love Studio34’s meditation class on Thursday nights. It’s REALLY hard for me to stay awake long enough to make an evening class, but this class is so worth it. Studio34 has a wonderful, down-to-earth, welcoming environment! Their other classes are great too!”

Place you go for self-care: “For me, self-care is doing exactly what I want. I usually want doughnuts. University City has a KILLER doughnut scene. On my self-care days, I take a doughnut food tour, which includes Beiler’s for AMAZING crème-filled donuts, Dottie’s for amazing vegan fritters, and Federal Donuts (can we talk about how much heaven they put into their cake doughnuts?). Again, not the healthiest, but great for a treat day every now and then!”

University City Outdoor Fun

Nearby running trail: “One of the great things about University City is that you’re close to the Schuylkill Trail! If you are feeling adventurous, Fairmount Park is not far away either!”

Park: “I have a scooter (named Henri, yes, with an “I”)! My husband and I love to “scoot” around University City. On nice days, you can scoot (or bike) up and down Baltimore Avenue and see all of the fun cafes and restaurants! The best park to scoot through and around? Clark Park, it’s fantastic. There are farmers’ markets on Thursdays and Saturdays, and Uhuru puts on a monthly flea market as well.”

Annual events: “The annual Clark Park Music and Arts Festival each summer is something to look forward to every year! With too many craft vendors to count and food trucks as far as the eye can see, you can easily spend all day perusing offerings from local artists and enjoying great music. I also love the Penn Relays in the spring. With thousands of track athletes showing up to compete, the energy is contagious and it’s just such a fun event to watch!”