Nifty Fifty’s, Philadelphia PA

(Honeymoon flashback: In July 2009, Marie and I took a road trip up to Montreal and back, enjoying some really terrific meals over our ten-day expedition. I’ve selected some of those great restaurants, and, once per month, we’ll tell you about them.)

So a month ago, I wrote about how Marie and I stopped by the terrific Little Hut Sandwich Shop for lunch before going to visit her aunt Bertie and uncle Bruce in Ridley Park. There was one other stop that we wanted to make before we went looking for their house, though. We asked the staff at Little Hut whether there was a Best Buy in the area. We were having a small issue with Marie’s laptop that required a little help from the Geek Squad.

Happily, one was not far away at all. They directed us to take a left at Lincoln, and travel in the direction that we were heading anyway, and go about three miles to Baltimore Pike, I think, and take a right. So we enjoyed that tremendously good sandwich and resumed our drive. We noted the place where we’d turn to get to Bertie and Bruce’s on the way back, and then saw a remarkably neat building on our right. I didn’t know what we would be doing for supper – it turned out that Bertie had some wonderful curried chicken salad waiting for us – but I knew exactly where I wanted dessert.

This was Nifty Fifty’s, and they have a few locations, apparently five, in the area. Basically, it’s a neon-flooded fifties-style diner, extremely popular with teens, and they do desserts worth driving a hundred miles for. I’ll have to disagree with the otherwise excellent review at Burt’s Food Blog about the feel of the restaurant. It’s fifties-style in the same way that the Johnny Rocket’s chain is, filtered through 1985’s window of nostalgia into the past.

I’d really like to try the burgers and fries at Nifty Fifty’s, because the drinks and desserts are just amazingly fun and decadent and delicious, and the service first-rate, suggesting that the kitchen might be relied upon for some more successes.

Amusingly, they claim to be the world’s largest soda fountain, on account of their willingness to mix flavors and give you everything from Lemon Dr. Pepper to Cherry Chocolate Cola to, errrm, Toasted Marshmellow Soda. I tried this one, against our server’s advice, and can confirm it was every bit as gloriously awful as I hoped. But the chocolate ice cream soda was more than worth the trip. Bertie had a big ole ice cream sundae and Marie had a chocolate banana shake, and we were all very pleased and stuffed. If the road ever takes us back towards Philly, I hope that we can return to Nifty Fifty’s.

We took lots of pictures, but, well, we’re in all of them. We hadn’t formalized taking pictures of our meals yet, so you’ll just have to imagine a crowded, bright interior with a pink neon glow illuminating everything. It’s not authentically 1950s, but it’s delicious all the same. I strongly recommend travelers stop by one of these places for a meal. They’re open all hours, serving their giant milkshakes and burgers.