Best of Bryn Mawr
Where to dine, shop, grow, and explore.
by Bill Donahue

World-class secondary schools and institutions of higher learning. Varied cultural outposts, including a much-loved arthouse theater. One of the top hospitals in Pennsylvania. Amazing residential architecture in sought-after neighborhoods. Richness of history. An enviable school district. Enriching and entertaining community events. Some of the Philadelphia area’s finest restaurants, shops, and other attractions designed to improve the quality of life for residents. 

Bryn Mawr has it all, including an Insomnia Cookies bakery. Although it has long been regarded as a centerpiece of the Main Line, Bryn Mawr still has the character of a small-town community. It’s become the kind of place where many residents never want to leave; if they do, many of them eventually choose to return.
We celebrate Bryn Mawr’s many charms, including some of the culinary, retail, cultural, and community destinations that have helped it earn its reputation as one of the area’s most desirable places to live.
Catch up on Oscar contenders, independent films, and even the occasional blockbuster at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, an iconic arthouse theater on Lancaster Avenue. Cinephiles can also see classic films (Network, Field of Dreams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and cult classics, as well as international and indie films most of us would never have a chance to see otherwise. It’s preserving the movie-house experience in the beating heart of Bryn Mawr.
Community events say a lot about a town, and Bryn Mawr puts on some of the best anywhere with Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts. Held at Bryn Mawr Gazebo Park, each rain-or-shine concert offers world-class entertainment in an intimate outdoor venue. Familiar names highlighting the upcoming season: Steve Forbert, Hoots & Hellmouth, Lizzie No, Trout Fishing in America, and Dar Williams, to name a few.
All of Marc Vetri’s restaurants leave a lasting impression, mainly because they create memorable experiences in a way that feels organic. The Italian-influenced cuisine, wine list, and atmosphere at Fiore Rosso could easily be described as works of art. Speaking of art, Chef Vetri and his team have outdone themselves by adorning the walls with some truly inspired works, including an original Picasso lithograph.
Jude Plum Co. is in a class all its own. Although it might look like other luxury hair salons and offer a traditional lineup of salon services of the cut, style, and color variety, Jude Plum is best known for creating natural wigs and hair pieces for a very specific customer base—namely, men women and men who are dealing with transitional hair loss resulting from cancer treatment.
Want to feel good about the food and beverages you use to power your body, even when you’re on to go? Head to The Juice Pod, which has multiple locations in the Philadelphia area, including one on West Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr. The superfood-heavy menu includes a delicious assortment of smoothies, acai bowls, salads, wraps, paninis, cold-pressed juices, and so much more.
Main Line favorite La Cabra Brewing crafts some seriously good beers. Find out for yourself at La Cabra’s Smokehouse in Bryn Mawr, where you not only can discover your new-favorite IPA, pale ale, or dark lager, but also partake in a panoply of menu items borne of the on-site smoker and wood oven. A pint of Schwarzbier and a pulled-pork sandwich with a side of mac and cheese? Yes, please.
For anyone who appreciates the idea of dining and imbibing in places that stand apart from the crowd, add The Pullman Restaurant & Bar to the dance card. The Pullman delivers an experience that pairs style with approachability, with a menu to match. Good news for those who prefer to dine alfresco: Given the building’s history as one of the Main Line’s first rail stations, the atmosphere of the 10/14 Bar on the Rails is tough to beat, with a bird’s-eye view of the trains coming and going.
Fewer and fewer places remain where humans can remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reconnect with nature. Stoneleigh, located in nearby Villanova, offers acres upon acres of natural beauty in an environment that blends history and horticulture. Free to all visitors, Stoneleigh provides countless ways to reconnect with the earth: towering trees, well-tended gardens, and peaceful meadows overflowing with songbirds.
Even if you discover a customer or two ahead of you in line, the hand-rolled bagels at Up-Ryes Bagel are well worth the wait. The lineup of sandwiches is exceptional, with options on bagels, biscuits, challah bread, and more; the “Uptown,” for example, features two eggs, pastrami, and Swiss on rye. Our favorite: the “Egg and Cheese” on an everything bagel—simple but perfect.
Veekoo, which has locations in Bryn Mawr, Berwyn, and Royersford, deserves all the praise. Its varied menu bears the influences of several Asian cultures: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. Its lineup of classic rolls and specialty selections from the sushi bar always deliver; the “Million Dollars” roll (salmon and spicy salmon with tempura flakes) is worth every penny.
Translated as “the road to the beautiful,” Via Bellissima offers up Italian ceramics, glassware, and home décor, among other Old World finds. The boutique is warm and vibrant, with a treasure trove of distinctive items that may make patrons feel as though they’ve been plucked from the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania and absconded to the cypress-dotted hillsides of sun-soaked Tuscany.
There’s never a bad time for a good taco, and few do it better than Xolo Tacos. This taqueria and tequila bar serves up fresh and authentic Mexican fare, as well as some margaritas one might describe as inspired. Given its name, of course, tacos are a specialty. Omnivores and vegetarians alike will be very happy with the abundance of taco options, from steak, sausage, rock shrimp, and tilapia, to mushrooms, zucchini, cactus leaves, and potatoes.
In addition to the standouts already mentioned, the following artisans, institutions, and professionals contribute to Bryn Mawr’s character and high standard of living: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Specialty Care Center (, David Ho, M.D., and his team at Modern Family Medicine Main Line (, Hanh Bui Keating, D.M.D., and her team at Bryn Mawr Periodontal Associates (, the Mansion at Rosemont, a HumanGood community (, LynAnn Mastaj, D.M.D., the founder of Mastaj Orthodontics (, The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz (, and Salon Amar, a boutique hair, beauty, and rejuvenation spot (
Did we miss one of your favorites? If you have a suggestion for a can’t-miss restaurant, shop, cultural icon, or other “must” destination (in Bryn Mawr or elsewhere), let us know. Email us at
Photo By Bo Shen/
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, March 2024.