Best of West Chester
Where to dine and imbibe, shop, stroll, and more.
by Bill Donahue

My introduction to West Chester came in the mid- to late 1990s, when friends and I visited a West Chester University student who lived in a less than desirable neighborhood off campus. I spent the next several years avoiding West Chester as a result.

I’m happy to say my dingy memories of West Chester have since been replaced with bright and shiny new ones, as the downtown blooms with just about everything a resident, visitor, or WCU student could possibly want. It even has a Lorenzo and Sons Pizza location on North High Street.
I continue to visit West Chester to this day, even though it’s not exactly close to where I live. I make the trek for its excellent restaurants, to walk the downtown, or simply to feel part of a special place on the map that blends the richness of city life with the quaintness of small-town Chester County.
As illustrated by the following dining, shopping, and cultural destinations, among others, there’s a lot to love about West Chester in 2024.
For the pinnacle of elegant eyewear, head to Artistic Eyewear on North High Street for designer frames and stylish sunglasses. No matter their taste or budget, shoppers will find something that suits them perfectly. Displays feature brands from around the world—everything from France’s Sabine Be to Italy’s Piero Massano to L.A.’s l.a.Eyeworks. Artistic Eyewear has two other locations, too: one in Chestnut Hill and another in Doylestown.
For one of the most memorable meals you’ll ever have, make a reservation at Ground Provisions, a nine-table stunner in West Chester. The service is extraordinary, the atmosphere is just right, and the cuisine is revelatory—and it’s also all plant based. That’s no surprise considering GP’s owners: Rich Landau and Katy Jacoby, founders of Philly’s indefatigable pioneer of plant-based cuisine, Vedge.
Enter the taproom for Levante Brewing Co. on Carter Drive and you’ll find 20 draught IPAs, lagers, and stouts, among other styles, all brewed under the same roof. Dining options include fare from a rotating roster of food trucks. If you’re in the mood for some fantastic beer but just don’t feel like hanging out, you can enjoy Levante’s offerings at home, with sixtels, growlers, crowlers, and cans to go.
Roots Café is aptly named. Every time the West Chester stalwart serves up a dish, it does so with a nod toward Mother Earth. Roots shows its eco-consciousness by supporting dozens of local farmers and artisans, including purveyors of locally sourced beer and spirits. While the “green” approach is wonderful, it just so happens that the food is nothing short of sensational. Omnivores will delight at the hot chicken, the smash burger, and the bacon and arugula breakfast sandwich, while vegetarians will appreciate the numerous plant-based items.
Dunkin’ makes a perfectly serviceable Boston creme. For something a little more interesting—a vegan strawberry Oreo, say, or the chocolate caramel crunch—head to Rose’s Little Donuts in West Chester. The doughnuts are baked fresh daily, all day, so you can taste the TLC. The coffee-based drinks are pretty darned good, too.
Lots of restaurants have deviled eggs, but the ones at Stove & Tap on West Gay Street are exceptional, complete with the unexpected zip of a jalapeno sliver. The word unexpected applies to a lot about Stove & Tap, from the generous “tappy hour” specials to the well-made cocktails to the fantastic menu of entrées and shareables. (Have we mentioned the deviled eggs?) FYI, there’s another Stove & Tap location in Lansdale.
Every population center needs some green spaces. West Chester certainly has its fair share, perhaps none more impressive than Stroud Preserve. Spread across nearly 600 acres, Stroud Preserve combines woodlands, grasslands, trails, and water access. It’s ideal for birding, hiking, or just taking a seat on a grassy overlook and enjoying the pristine beauty of wild places.
Every child loves a treehouse. So does every adult, whether or not they want to admit it. West Chester’s Treehouse World offers the experience so many of us adored as children and long for as adults: tree climbing, zip lines, obstacle courses, and more. A day at Treehouse World is a challenge, a workout, and an opportunity to bond with family (or whomever you go with)—and you’ll be surrounded by sunlight, fresh air, and, naturally, plenty of trees.
Oenophiles with a fondness for the wines of Northern California will find a friend in Allison Owen, the founder of West Chester’s Turks Head Wines. Turks Head strives to create bold reds and crisp whites made with fruit sourced from vineyards in California’s wine-making capitals, such as Napa and Sonoma counties, as well as lesser-known gems such as Lake County and Suisun Valley. Peruse the wares online, or visit the Turks Head bottle shop on North Church Street.
Headquartered in a beautiful brick building with a whole lot of history, the nonprofit Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center stages everything from productions of musical theater to AC/DC tribute bands to $5 film nights. For families with children who are interested in theater, the Uptown Studio offers educational programs and summer camps designed to help kids build acting skills, boost confidence, and have fun in the process. It’s the kind of place every community needs to uplift the spirits of residents both young and young at heart.
In addition to the standouts already mentioned, the following institutions, professionals, and service providers contribute to West Chester’s unique character: Arbor Terrace Exton, just north of downtown West Chester (, Ron Briglia, D.M.D., and Briglia Dental Group (, East Bradford Veterinary Hospital (, David Stall, D.M.D., and his team at Westtown Dental Arts (, and West Chester University (
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 West Chester or elsewhere), let us know. Email us at
Photo by Little Kitty/
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life, April 2024