Weaving between the borders of Northern Liberties and Fishtown (or acting as the dividing line, depending on whom you ask), the eastern part of Girard Avenue is thriving in a way that's somewhat indicative of the two neighborhoods it crosses. Packed with an emerging cluster of bars, restaurants (including Sketch, left) and live music venues that tend to appeal to a crowd that's on the young, grungy and artistic side, the Girard Corridor, as it's called, is cool enough to bring in out-of-neighborhooders, but not gentrified enough to allow for much retail or service beyond a few dingy groceries and unremarkable thrift stores, banks and tattoo parlors. (Photo by Tara Nurin)
You can thank the recession. Whether it dials up a visceral need within us to crave down-home comfort food (like ribs at El Camino Real, left) over molecular gastronomy, or it just compels us to throw on jeans and hang out with some friends, this economy seems to have manifested itself in an urge to eat meat with our hands. And as much of it as possible. What are we talking about? Well, it's hard not to notice that perhaps the most consistent pattern to emerge within the restaurant openings of the past two years has been barbecue, and there are still some high-profile BBQ destinations on the way. So strap on your bib, pour the brown liquor and get ready to animalistically tear apart mounds of saucy flesh with your fingers and incisors.
From weekdays to the weekend, we've found "cheap eats" specials all across the Philadelphia area. (Photo courtesy of McGillin's Olde Ale House)
How does Center City spell neighborhood transformation? These days, it's M-I-D-T-O-W-N V-I-L-L-A-G-E, heretofore known to generations of Philadelphians--before some shrewd marketing so-and-so came along--as The Gayborhood. Until about five years ago, when Stephen Starr and the Marcie Turney/Valerie Safran power duo opened up shop (and shop, and shop, and shop) on the blocks surrounding the now-bursting intersection of 13th and Sansom, this stretch was inhabited primarily by gay men and the establishments that cater to them, plus a seedy element that lingered in the doorways of countless abandoned storefronts. Today, there's nary a boarded-up building to be found in between the ever-expanding universe of celebrity-chef-owned restaurants, cutesy gift shops (including Open House, left), and myriad wine bars that appeal to wallets of all sexual persuasions. (Photo by Tara Nurin)
If you really want to impress your woman or your man, we mean really want to make an impression by convincing him/her that you truly are capable of putting thought and effort into your relationship, we recommend going out on a spectacularly romantic date. You know, the, all-day or all-evening date that has a flow--a range of activities and no care as to cost. So follow one of these romance-inspiring itineraries and you'll find that while it's true money can't buy you love, a perfect date might just do the trick. All prices listed below are per person and do not include tax or gratuity. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)
Alright, folks. It's time to cue the sappy music, bust out the flower vases and pay a visit to the old Hallmark store. Yes, like it or not, we're staring down the barrel at Saint Valentine's Day. If you absolutely must mark the holiday, here are some places where you can insert a little creativity into the occasion beyond the typical dinner plans. Take note, as V-Day warms or blackens our hearts on a Sunday this year, some romantics and cynics might choose to sing love songs or breakup ballads throughout the entire weekend.
The time has come for your cheap or unemployed friends to stop begging out on going out. With nightly $1 drink specials at the following bars, you can now reply to friends who try to give you the old "I'm too broke".
Let's say your friends want to throw a dinner party. But let's say these friends are too poor and lazy to cook for you themselves. So they invite you and a bunch of your besties to come over ... as long as you bring part of the meal yourself. And to make things "fun", they forbid you from bringing a slab of deli meats and mini gherkins. When you're in a pickle, here are some gourmet take-out options perfect for a potluck where you can order far more than just hoagies and kosher dills. (Photo courtesy of Di Bruno Brothers)
What a pleasure it is to wake up and immediately drink down. Thanks to the French, who invented Champagne sparkling wine, this is a possibility that's made sweeter and more fun with the more modern discovery of Champagne cocktails, which have come a long way from the mimosas and bellinis you used to sneak sips of at Mother's Day brunch. And now, with a plethora of sparkling wine cocktails gracing the night-time menus of fine establishments all over Philadelphia, Champagne is not just for breakfast anymore.
For those of us struggling with the idea of truly--and we really mean it this time, double pinkie swear--keeping our New Year's resolutions this time around, this is not so much the most wonderful time of year but more like the most dreaded time of year. Yet holding yourself to your resolutions doesn't have to be all drudgery. Here are five places where it can actually be fun to stick to those promises to become a better you. (Photo courtesy of Go Vertical)