Recently, J2 was fortunate enough to curate the Rittenhouse Square section of Philadelphia for On The Grid. The project both reinforced and furthered our love for our city and the little grid of streets our office calls home.

On The Grid is a handy guide to cities and their neighborhoods. The project was started by Hyperakt, but it soon opened to other designers, illustrators, and creative studios to assist in curating. The site now has international cities and weekly neighborhood releases. Each guide is a finely curated list of bars, restaurants, and anything else that is rad enough to demand your attention. The guides are far from your typical city tourism marketer dribble: they are the list of places your cool neighbor told you to go in their hometown.

Our initial list for Rittenhouse easily contained 50 places we wanted to include. Some of them were places one person had been to and enjoyed, some our whole team loved, and a few were places none of us have ever been, but had heard good things about.

It was an exciting exercise: take a few blocks of a city that think you understand really well, list out all of your favorite establishments within that area, then find out that you don’t even know half of what’s out there. It can renew the way you think about that place and change your opinion of it fairly quickly.

Narrowing down the initial list was a bit tough. Ultimately, On The Grid is all about the photos, so striking a few was easy (sorry Mama’s Vegetarian). A few seemed too complicated to photograph (sorry Wonderland). Some were near and dear to our hearts, but were ultimately bumped, because you should only have so many bars (sorry Bob and Barbara’s!).

Ultimately, the list of places we ended up posting were quite varied. There are underground heroes like Oscars and Little Petes. Unique favorites like Joseph Fox and Stadler-Kahn. Refined choices such as Cook and The Print Center. Places filled with eye pleasing items, like Fireside and Omoi Zakka.

This mix of high-brow/low-brow/no-brow is a real reflection of the neighborhood. It’s a great representation of Philadelphia as a whole, putting glitz and glam next to weird and hip, the progressive newbies next to the olde-time stalwarts. It’s a place J2 is proud to call home.