Philly events planner and Josh Can’t Cook blogger Josh Schonewolf weighs in on the best of gay Philly in the summer — from where to find the cutest bartenders and most-delicious late-night snacks to the most exciting way to keep that swimsuit bod on point.
NEW RESTAURANT TO TRY: Tavern on Camac’s new restaurant, fittingly named The Tavern. Manager Philly and best-dressed man in Philly Randal Mrazik has struck gold with this makeover. The menu and beer list, available until 3 a.m., are inventive and well-rounded — making eating there a perfect way to end a fun night of grinding upstairs at TOC. There is even an entrance into the restaurant from the club. Opens at 6 p.m. every day.
DELICIOUS LATE-NIGHT IDEA: Summer brings a fair share of late-night rendezvous, and while most of them involve tricks it doesn’t hurt to throw in a little treat now and then. Enter: Insomnia Cookies. Open until 3 a.m., it’s a delicious alternative to Gay Pizza when you’re trying to fend off that next-day hangover.
WHERE TO GO HOT-GUY WATCHING: PARC. The wine and cheese is divine, but the smokin’-hot businessmen sashaying past Stephen Starr’s French bistro in Rittenhouse are all the reason you need to grab and outdoor seat an start le peeping.
HOW TO WOO A SUMMER FLING: Champagne Picnic at Fitler Square Park. That summer fling you’re trying to woo won’t stand a chance when you show up with macaroons, concealed champagne and a big blanket. Just be sure to take whatever happens next indoors.
WHERE TO SLURP THE BEST WATER ICE: You knew this one was coming. It’s Philly Flavors at 343 S. 13th St. — the perfect spot to splurge on your gym cheat day.
FUN WAY TO KEEP YOUR SUMMER BOD IN CHECK: When it’s time to head back to the gym, try Gayborhood High-Priestess Debbie Spadafora‘s spin class at 12th Street Gym. Her weight-loss story is enough to inspire — having lost a total of 144 lbs. and coming out on the other side a Spin teacher. Her class is motivational and intense, with fun music and a packed, sweaty room. You’ll find her cranking on Mondays and Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m.
CUTEST BARTENDER: Britt Riley (pictured, above) at 20 Manning and Rouge. Swing by and order a drink from this blue-eyed stud. I doubt you’ll be able to complete a full order without stumbling. “I’ll have a … you on the rocks. I mean … ”
WHERE TO ROMANCE A FIRST DATE: M Restaurant is the most romantic restaurant in Philly — especially in the summer when the gorgeous courtyard is lit to perfection. The food is amazing, but the ambiance alone is enough to get those amorous juices pumping through your veins.
DRAG QUEEN TO WATCH: Ann Artist. When she blasted her way through Drag Wars Cycle 1, Philly realized that a star was born. Kudos to Mimi Imfurst and Brandon Roberts for discovering our new favorite spotlight hound.
WHERE TO GET YOUR SUMMER-SHOP ON: Swing by Suitsupply and ask gorgeous floor attendant Kurt Souder to help you find your next great suit. He has the skills, having worked at Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren.
WHERE TO FIND THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS: A day trip out of the city is always a good idea, especially when you’re headed to The Raven’s pool in New Hope. The attraction? Sure, you’ll find lots of Philly Gayborhooders, but I’m all about the swim-shorts-clad out-of-towners. Order a mimosa, jump in the pool, and get your flirt on.
WHERE TO BRUNCH: Pub and Kitchen had me at “grits.” It is hands down the best brunch in Center City. Don’t believe me? Just try showing up without a reservation.
FUTURE OBSESSION: Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran got our mouths watering last week when they released a sneak-peek video of their latest culinary venture, Little Nonna’s. The new restaurant will feature traditional Italian-grandmother cooking, with that Marcie-and-Val twist we’ve all grown to love. Doors are expected to open in August.
WHO DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE?: Now that Rat-mageddon is behind us, we should move on with our lives and give Green Eggs‘ Center City spot a second chance. If you’re looking for an amazing burger, order up the Cafe Burger with the onion poppy seed bun. Perfecto.
UPDATED [7/16/2013, 6:48]: I changed the category names to distinguish this list from our official, more-comprehensive “Best of Gayborhood” list coming this firstname.lastname@example.org.