Best of Philly 2015

bop-2015-cover-305x400Our annual Best of Philly issue may come out in August, but every Philadelphia magazine editor and writer knows that researching this massive compendium of the very best is an all year-process. Our style editor has been known to close in on any well-dressed man she passes on Walnut Street and demand to know where he gets his suits tailored. Our food editor wakes up at the crack of dawn (or possibly doesn’t ever go to sleep) all in the name of eating another stack of fluffy pancakes. Our writers circle names in their notebooks of the people who sources continue to insist are the ones that are doing remarkable things for our city.

All of these notes, tastes, and discoveries come together to form our annual list, which, when taken as a whole, shows off the newest and best of Philadelphia in 2015. As we start to put together the list, trends — the things that truly reflect what is happening in the city now — always emerge. For example, bowls are apparently huge this year. Bowls filled with mountains of black rice, fresh-pulled noodles, and local veggies are being composed by chefs in high-end restaurants and quick-serve lunch spots alike. (In fact, nine of our food winners this year were in the bowl form. We agree that this one-dish eating is pretty awesome.) In other food news, East Passyunk is still one of the most exciting food neighborhoods. Our food writers awarded “Best Ofs” to 10 restaurants, bars, and dishes from the cluster of establishments located on these few South Philly blocks. Read more »

How Switching to Two Wheels Helped Me See Philly With New Eyes

Illustration by Tim Parker

Illustration by Tim Parker

Before you get the wrong idea, this is not a love story.

There have been plenty of those penned about the joys and merits of cycling in the city. Especially in this city, where — in case you haven’t noticed — the ever-widening, constantly creeping bike lanes are suddenly packed with everyone from die-hard daily commuters to meandering tourists on rented wheels.

But this, well, this isn’t one of those stories. Read more »

The Strings of My Heart

Illustration by Jonathan Bartlett

Illustration by Jonathan Bartlett

I was 12 years old when my big sister and my mom came to blows over Joni Mitchell. We were watching one of Mitchell’s first TV appearances in the States. Nan, who was 15, wanted very badly to see her musical idol — badly enough that she was enduring our company in the living room, in front of our black-and-white Zenith. Mitchell hadn’t gotten three bars into whatever song she was singing when Mom and I and my little sister started to giggle: at her big buckteeth, her strange diction, her peculiar solemnity. Nan was irate. “She’s a great artist!” she screamed at us, spittle flying from her mouth, and spun around to run up the stairs to her room.

“We’re only watching this because you wanted to! Get back here, young lady!” my mom shouted, grabbing Nan’s arm as she passed. The next thing I knew, they were whaling away at one another, landing ineffectual blows among the angry words and tears.

That was when I decided: I never wanted to like any music that would cause my mom to take a whack at me. Read more »

The Tragic Last Days of The Voice’s Anthony Riley

Anthony Riley at the Reading Terminal Market in February, one day after leaving rehab. Photograph by Robby Parsons

Anthony Riley at the Reading Terminal Market in February, one day after leaving rehab. Photograph by Robby Parsons

Anthony Riley had been off the map for weeks when, by some random act of providence, I bumped into him outside a greasy-slice pizza joint at Broad and South. It was one of those unseasonably chilly April evenings, the kind you complain about in spring and dream about in summer. Anthony was dressed in an olive green jacket that melted into his dark skin; his cheeks rose into a handsome smile when I said hello.

I might not even have remembered our encounter, except that it would be the second-to-last time we ever spoke. Read more »

It’s Official: The Philadelphia Union Is a Legit Philly Sports Team. (Because They Stink.)

Sébastien Le Toux after a missed goal earlier this year. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty

Sébastien Le Toux after a missed goal earlier this year. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty

The funeral begins at parking lot C, marching slowly past the team’s corporate offices and into the plaza, where kids kick soccer balls on a grassy expanse and folks line up for fast-food giveaways. It’s a gorgeous spring evening in Chester, at the city’s biggest attraction — PPL Park, the waterfront coliseum that’s home to Philadelphia’s pro soccer team, the Union. The stadium is also the rallying point for the most dedicated fan base in town, the Sons of Ben. Before tonight’s match against rival D.C. United, they’re marching in unison to protest the team’s front office. Loudly. “We’ve had enough!” they chant while carrying a massive banner that reads UNION FANS DESERVE BETTER. They’re also carrying a coffin for the team’s CEO, whose photograph is labeled “Serial Franchise Killer.” Read more »

Bonus! 25 More Great Philly Selfies

Left: Playboy Playmate Val Keil. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and New York Islanders GM Garth Snow.

Left: Playboy Playmate Val Keil. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and New York Islanders GM Garth Snow.

When we put the call out for Philly selfies for our July issue, we got such an overwhelming response we couldn’t fit them all in the print edition. Here, we bring you the best of the rest as bonus round! (And if you haven’t yet seen the original, it’s a just a click away.) Read more »

75 Philly Selfies You Have to See

Yannick Nézet-Séguin rehearsing Leonard Bernstein’s Mass with the Westminster Symphonic Choir of Princeton at the Kimmel Center, April 28, 2015.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin rehearsing Leonard Bernstein’s Mass with the Westminster
Symphonic Choir of Princeton at the Kimmel Center, April 28, 2015.

It started as a social-media phenomenon: Grab a friend and your phone, make duck-faces, click and post. Then came the official dictionary definition, and an entire book of photos from Kim Kardashian (titled Selfish, of course). There’s no denying it, folks—we’re living in the Age of the Selfie. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The cameras we carry have turned us all into amateur documentarians, with even the goofiest snapshot exposing how we see ourselves and the rapidly changing world around us. Read more »

The Secret Life of Chip Kelly

Illustration, left,  by Viktor Miller Gausa (stadium: iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Kelly: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images). Photograph, right, by Douglas Levy

Illustration, left, by Viktor Miller Gausa (stadium: iStockphoto/Thinkstock; Kelly: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images). Photograph, right, by Douglas Levy

I am in pursuit. It’s late May, and I’m spending a few days driving all over the southeastern corner of New Hampshire, that plug of land that gives the Live Free or Die state a right-of-way to the sea. Random inlets of crystalline water lap small towns built around proper squares and painted white. Many are older than America itself.

This is where I’m searching for Chip Kelly — a revolutionary masquerading as a football coach — even though I’m sure he’s in Philadelphia, with his team. Read more »

Why Are Philadelphia’s Streets So Filthy?

MO-trash-opener-mark-likosky-940x540

Photography by Mark Likosky

Every snowy week this past winter, my block in Bella Vista resembled the site of a garbage strike. Lumpy piles of trash built up day after day, knocking over brown-paper recycling bags that dissolved into mounds of cardboard-and-plastic-bottle mash, hair weaves and food wrappers. It looked like the prequel to Wall-E. Read more »

How Stockton University Lost Its Atlantic City Gamble

Illustration by Matt Herring. (Saatkamp: Donna Connor Photography; Showboat: iStockphoto)

Illustration by Matt Herring. (Saatkamp: Donna Connor Photography; Showboat: iStockphoto)

The first and only time I sat down with Herman J. Saatkamp Jr., the former president of Stockton University, he was very much the current president of Stockton University. A few weeks later, an avalanche of disastrous business decisions and horrific PR blunders would tarnish the school’s reputation, help bring an end to Saatkamp’s career there, and, for good measure, plunge the zombie metropolis that is Atlantic City into ever deeper chaos. But on that late afternoon in early March, all seemed fairly peachy. Read more »

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