Off the Cuff: August 2013

D. Herbert Lipson’s picks almost never match up with the staff’s choices for our biggest issue of the year. Here, his very own list for Best of Philly.

It’s a midsummer treat that I’ve taken part in from time to time over the years: listing my own choices for Best of Philly, which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. And I’ve noticed that when I compare my picks with those of the magazine’s staff, my taste doesn’t seem to match theirs.

But what’s a Best Of issue without a little Worst thrown in? You’ll notice that some of my choices point out a … darker side of the city. (How can I write about Philadelphia without poking a few sacred cows?)

Best Comeback
I’ve recently rediscovered Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. A decade ago, Philly’s very own Goldenberg’s got gobbled up by Just Born, which ruined the formula and packaging. Now they’re back in original form and function—the treat I can’t pass up whenever I see them.

Best Bar for Adults
The Prime Rib’s bar—still. So long, so chic, with great barmen and a varied crowd. That pretty much covers it for me.

Best Dressed
There is no such thing in Philadelphia. But Northeast-born-and-bred Val Keil is Playboy magazine’s Miss August, so I anoint her Best Undressed Philadelphian.

Best Move
For years, the Barnes deserved to be downtown, and its wonderful new home on the Parkway just might be the trigger that boulevard needs to become a go-to nighttime destination.

Best Reason Not To Drive In Center City
Bike lanes. The streets are too narrow to begin with, and no one seems to follow the rules.

Best Breath of Fresh Air
Young, charismatic, with off-the-charts energy, Philadelphia Orchestra music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin is exactly what the moribund organization so desperately had to find.

Best Ice Cream
Bassetts—the oldest ice-cream company in America—has been churning out its oh-so-creamy (16 percent butterfat!) brand since 1861. And it’s still better than overhyped Ben & Jerry’s or Häagen-Dazs.

Best Hope
Finally! A new men’s shop downtown! Maybe Suitsupply on Locust, which Esquire calls “impressively affordable,” will sharpen up our downscale look.

Best Raw Bar
Dock’s in Atlantic City. It’s the oldest seafood restaurant in A.C., with a huge selection of shellfish, a great bar, and a terrific piano player—exactly what a raw bar should feel like.

Best Overhyped City Neighborhood
Northern Liberties. Too much concrete and 20-something grunge. I wouldn’t move there with your money.

Best Oyster House
Sometimes I go to Sansom Street Oyster House just to watch Cornell, the best shucker I’ve ever seen. The fish ain’t bad, either.

Best Return
No matter what you think of Vince Fumo—who is set to get out of prison this month—his return to the political scene will be riveting.

Best Mixologist
George Patton at Steve & Cookie’s in Margate has a unique drink menu second to none, and he operates like a mad chemist behind the bar. Too bad the food isn’t on the same level.

I could go on—Mayor Nutter, for example, deserves a special citation—but my editors say this is all the room they’ll give me. …