My journey to the craft beer side of the world has been a long, and at times, hoppy one (I’m sorry). After one too many hangovers from my sugary hard cider obsession, I started giving some new brews a whirl. And, for the most part, so far, so good! I was really excited when Goose Island Beer Co. invited me to their Migration Week event in Philly. On top of being able to try beers from a great brewery, it’s always a fun event when I get to hang with the Fashion of Philly duo and the hysterical Bacon & Legs.
I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Philadelphia Restaurant Week, but I am not one of them. I thoroughly enjoy any excuse to get out to some of my favorite places in Philly. Restaurant Week dinners become traditions amongst friends, simple date ideas, and an easy way to further explore our city. Several years and many $35 dinners later, I have figured out a few ways to get the most out of one of my favorite times of year.
Checking off a restaurant that’s been “on your list” for awhile is a great thing, but what makes it even better is when that restaurant is everything you could have hoped for (and, hopefully, more). Last week, my friend Kelly and I ubered on down to Old City for dinner at High Street on Market (308 Market Street). I’ve been crushing on High Street since I had dinner at a.kitchen (135 South 18th Street) and was really impressed at Eli Kulp‘s ability to get me to eat things I wasn’t entirely sure I would like, or even fully know exactly what I was eating, to be honest (I am a disgrace . . . this is why I am not a food blogger).
If you personally know me, or have ever seen me out around the city, you know I am not . . . how can I say this . . . a “health nut.” I like pizza, and pulled pork, and really just carbs in general. I enjoy white wine, and beer, and double vodka tonics. Yes, I work out and do enjoy it, but to me, life is more exciting like this. For the most part.
After a weekend in Avalon last month, filled with a few too many brews, bagels etc., I needed to calm my life down a bit. I had always heard of “cleanses,” and asked a few of my nutrition pals for their thoughts (which were mixed). I did some more research on my own and decided to give one a go. The team at Garden of Flavor (which you can buy in this area – keep reading!) had kindly sent me a three day cold pressed juice cleanse to try out. Seeing as this was my first time cleansing, and I had pretty low expectations for myself, I decided to give it a try for two full days.
I kept a little “diary,” if you will, about my three days (two days of drinking juice + one easing my way back to real food) and thought that would be the best way for me to share my experience with you.
In my opinion, the best dining experiences are those in which you actually share an experience with others. There are a ton of ways to achieve this in our city: themed restaurants, unique dining styles, and sampling dishes designed to be shared. I am a firm believer that part of the joy of living in our city is going out to eat – you just have to do it to get the full Philadelphia experience.
Last week, I was invited to Media Night at Crabby Cafe & Sports Bar (1050 North Hancock Street, Unit 1) in the Piazza. I don’t make it to NoLibs that frequently, so I was excited to pop on over and see how she looked on a beautifully warm summer evening.
Mother’s Day has always been a tough holiday for me to shop for. While my mom is wonderful and appreciative of everything my sister and I get her, I don’t really care for those cheesy knick knacks from the card store, and I can only buy so many pairs of pretty earrings before it becomes standard.
The Rittenhouse Hotel (210 West Rittenhouse Square) reached out to me and asked if I would like to come in and experience the Mary Cassatt Tea Room. Not even knowing such a place existed in my neighborhood, I immediately said yes and knew the perfect person I should bring along: my mother.
This month, if it hasn’t already, is about to get cray-zay. We all know how the holiday season suddenly makes everyone’s schedules fill up, so working in quick visits with your friends in the neighborhoods you’re already shopping, running errands in, etc. is essential. My girlfriends and I recently took a break from our busy city lives to pop in and enjoy drinks, dinner & dessert at Max Brenner (1500 Walnut Street).
We started with some tasty chocolate cocktails. The presentation was amazing, but, as you can imagine, pretty sweet & filling! If you’re planning on having food + dessert, I’d suggest ordering one. But if drinks are your end destination, bring ’em on, lady!
The food was super yummy and creative. We all brought half of our meal home, so Max Brenner is the perfect spot if you’re heading back to your apartment or even out of town after – gotta keep those leftovers cold! The presentation again was really unique, and I was so glad I ordered the Philly Cheesesteak Waffle Sandwich (obviously) from their specials menu. It was amazing.
By the time we got to dessert, we were so. full., but when you’re there, you just gotta, right? We split an Oreo milkshake, and this lil chocolate pizza number. Max Brenner does his chocolate darn well. I will leave it at that.
Our time at Max Brenner was a much welcomed, warm, cozy & chocolatey break from the hustle that is Center City in December. If you’re bopping around Rittenhouse this month, give them a try – your sweet tooth will thank you!
My dear Little Pete’s (219 South 17th Street), how I love thee. We were introduced several years ago, when times were different, but you have remained constant. You’re always there, 24/7, when it’s early and I can’t seem to get out of bed or make myself an omelet quite like you do, or when it’s late, and I need something fried and delicious served to me in under 10 minutes after a long night of drinking.
But oh . . . the best times are right around the corner, don’t think I forgot about them. The best times when it’s around 10 – 11 am, super cold out, on a Saturday, when I need the weekend more than ever. And a coffee. And guaranteed good food no matter what. That’s when you’re the best.
I show you off to all of my friends, and they all love you just as much as me. I think even if they didn’t, they would tell me they did, because they know how attached I am to you.
It makes me smile that I can get to you in a 10 minute walk, no driving to South Philly, or even Jersey for that matter, required. Sure, I have to wait for you sometimes, but that just means you’re worth it. I think if I ever had to move away from you, separation anxiety would ensue. In my two and a half years in this city, you’ve proved yourself to be irreplaceable.
I’d like to end with a very special quote I found that truly sums up our relationship: “Sometimes, someone comes into your life, so unexpectedly, takes your heart by surprise, and changes your life forever.” There has never been a truer statement. Love ya, Peter.
Dining out in any big city is cool, but dining out in OUR city is pretty amazing. There are so many options on each and every block that I’m pretty sure if you wanted to, you would never have to go back to the same place twice (but once you find “the one,” you’re gonna wanna go back). Sometimes, at least for me, when I cook for myself at home, I find my mind wandering to some of these delicious delicacies and wishing I was eating them instead. So, as I sit here eating brown rice & veggies, here are five Philly things I wish I was eating right about now.
5. Turkey Reuben with String Bean Casserole and Macaroni & Cheese at Honey’s on South (2101 South Street)
4. Cheese plate at Moshulu (401 South Columbus Boulevard)
3. All’ Uovo pizza at Serafina (130 South 18th Street)
2. Chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookie at Famous 4th Street Cookie Company (Reading Terminal Market, 51 North 12th Street)
1. Chicken Brochetas at Tinto (114 South 20th Street)
Now that I’m sure your mouth is watering, please, enlighten me: what Philly food could land on your lap right now and you, say, wouldn’t be mad at it? xx
Last week, I met up with my friend Brooke in her new neighborhood of Fairmount to try a Mexican restaurant I have heard tons about. La Calaca Feliz (2321 Fairmount Avenue) is a contemporary Mexican restaurant based on bold, traditional flavors. They also have a location in the burbs called Cantina Feliz (Fort Washington) that my friend Tara had been raving about, so off we went.
We dined on a Wednesday around 7:00 & street parking was tough. We ended up in a lot right next door. The atmosphere of La Calaca Feliz was fabulous. To get to our table, we walked through the crowded bar & past the busy kitchen area. The tables were cozy and our spot looked out to their outside seating area, which seemed like it would be fun if it was not 100 degrees out. We started off with two refreshing margaritas and perused the menu.
For an appetizer, we ordered the “Nachos de la Casa” (black beans, queso, arbol chile, pickled jalapenos, radish), and of course, added shortribs. Naturally. The nachos were delicious, and actually my favorite part of our meal. Off to a good start!
The #1 thing Brooke & I had heard was a must try at La Calaca Feliz was this little corn on the cob number. We each ordered the “Elotes Loco” (lime mayo, queso fresco, chile pequin) and were seriously impressed. If you haven’t had anything like this before, it is definitely a must try. Fresh, yummy & unique.
By the time we got to our entrees, we were both a little stuffed. Brooke ordered the “Crispy Cauliflower Taco” (nopales, guajillo salsa, guacamole) and really enjoyed them.
I tried the “Enchilada con Mariscos” (crab, shrimp, chipotle cream, salsaranchera), which was just as good reheated the next day at lunch. Talk about lunchbox envy!
Overall, I loved the place! Dinner was reasonably priced and everything was delicious. You all know I am on a never-ending quest to find amazing Mexican food in the city, and I think La Calaca Feliz has been added to my list! Tell me: where is your favorite place to grab nachos & margs in Philly? xx