High-end liquor at ridiculously low prices (starting as cheap as $3.50), served alone and unadorned at a spot famous for mixed drinks? This is basically the bar's gift to its regulars (and those comfortable with drinking shots before the sun goes down), so find yourself some nice shoes, leave the cell phone in your pocket (it's the owner's biggest rule), and go take advantage between 5 and 7 p.m. (sometimes 8 p.m.). 1029 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, hopsinglaundromat.com.
Authentic Mexican this isn't. But order the los hongos huarache (mushroom flatbread) or the camarones and chorizo tacos, and you'll fight your friends for the last bites. But take heed: No matter how many Cabo Wabo shots you've had, control the urge to try on one of the Mexican wrestling masks. 3945 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, philadelphia.distritorestaurant.com.
You may think Lancaster is all shoo-fly pie. Not so. Take the family to the new Cork Factory, a boutique hotel downtown in, well, a converted cork factory. The adjacent hands-on Science Factory museum has plenty to kill an afternoon. Visit on a First Friday, and check out cool shops and art galleries, making sure to hit Central Market, the country's oldest farmers' market. Eat at Iron Hill Brewery for a taste of something familiar, or seek out On Orange, Lancaster's funkiest brunch spot. And by all means, if the nearby Buck Motorsports is having a demolition derby, go. The kids will go nuts. 501 Greenfield Road, Lancaster, PA 17601, padutchcountry.com.
The humble cowboy hat has been reborn of late as the number one party-girl fashion staple. Fairmount-based Etsy seller Abby Misbin takes it to new heights with handmade designs, one of which has crowned the head of Beyoncé herself. Just two years after the Temple grad started her shop as a side hustle, she was personally contacted by one of Queen B’s stylists about using one of her disco-ball-inspired 10-gallons in Renaissance promotional material. Since then, Misbin has shot into local small-business stardom, and her hats are almost as hard to get as Bey’s concert tickets.
How to be a style setter and do your part for the planet in one step: Shop here. On a recent scroll through their site, we spotted basically mint-condition Nike LeBron 9s from 2011, unworn Yeezys from 2018, and nearly new, hard-to-find green Rick Owens for Adidas sneaks for $230. 134 South 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, commonground12.com.
When you get that first whiff of their sweet house-made milk buns, when you sink your teeth into the grilled swordfish or the fried maitake or the soft brisket, you’ll understand full well how Yehuda Sichel’s Center City sandwich spot is basically a chef-owned upscale restaurant disguised as a fast-casual sandwich shop. 32 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, hudaphl.com.
Staffers here can outfit you with the pros' favorite toys or the perfect pink streamers for Sallys training wheels. The point is, its up to youno annoying sales pitch, no up-selling, just the two-wheels gear and know-how you want from a good bike shop. Bonus: Test rides around the neighborhood are encouraged. 00000, keswickcycle.com.
When the PLCB temporarily closed all its stores, Philly wine shops stayed open and kept us drinking and drunk during the apocalypse. And they deserve all the attention in the world. 920 South 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, dibruno.com/9th-street-bottle-shop.
Whether you’re trying to restore your grandmother’s Royal Quiet De Luxe or just get the dust-covered Remington that’s been sitting in your attic working well enough to type some letters up old-school-style, this typewriter geek has the tools and know-how to get the job done — and more affordably than some other folks in the biz. Find him through Mount Airy’s W.P.M. Typewriter Shop, just across from Weavers Way. 6819 Greene Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119, wpmtypewritershop.com.
Sure, you get free drinks at the blackjack table. But by the time your waitress returns with your watered-down cocktail, you've blown a hundred bucks. In the Borgata's horse-betting lounge (how retro!), a $2 wager gets you a drink ticket (you may have to ask for it) good for most top-shelf liquor, including normally $10-a-shot Patrn. And by the time your (hopefully winning) race goes off, you'll be ready for another bet and another round. Even if you lose all your bets, you're only paying $2 a drink plus tip. Try scoring that deal at Churchill Downs. 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, theborgata.com.
There are times when we resent how obsessed this city can get with pizza. How in 2020 — an era in dining when we ought to be fawning over Sri Lankan curries and Nigerian jollof rice — pizza still consistently gets top billing.
And there are other times — like … now, when the world feels so unsteady — that we’re very happy seeking solace in the basics. Finding comfort in pizza. Letting Philly’s pizzaiolos, you know, take care of us in our time of need. Because if nothing else, pizza is as comforting as comfort foods get.
When we were still in the red phase, some shops, like Pizzeria Stella(420 South 2nd Street) in Society Hill, Barbuzzo (110 South 13th Street) in Midtown Village, and Wood Street Pizza (325 North 12th Street) in Callowhill (which, not for nothing, is one of the city’s best classic pizza shops), provided us with DIY pizza kits that kept us occupied and well-fed during the quarantine. Wood Street’s Dean Kitagawa even commissioned his wife, Sarah D’Ambrosio, to create artwork on some of the pizza boxes. “It was a small thing we did to establish a connection with our guests — a connection we lost when we pivoted to just doing takeout,” he says.
Philly found comfort in pizza even when the style of pizza was completely new to us. Much as it did in almost every other major food city in the U.S., Detroit-style pizza took over Philly. Of course, it got the aged-dough/high-quality-ingredients treatment we’ve become so used to seeing; witness Dan Gutter’s focaccia-like frico-crusted pies from Circles + Squares (2513 Tulip Street) in Kensington, or even his less Detroit-y pan pizzas — à la Pizza Hut — at Pizza Plus (1846 South 12th Street) in East Passyunk, or the fat, deeply caramelized squares at Sidecar Bar & Grille (2201 Christian Street) in Grad Hospital. The ranch-drizzled, banana-peppered monstrosity at Emmy Squared (632 South 5th Street) was a delicious addition to Queen Village.
Neapolitan pizza, a food trend that came as quickly as it left this city, found new life at Gigi Pizza (504 Bainbridge Street), across the street from Emmy Squared. They do a sort of hybrid NYC-meets-Napoli pie baked in a wood-burning oven, with a crust that’s somehow both airy and stiff — essentially, a big middle finger to the chewy, soupy pies favored by the Neapolitan pizza gods.
We saw our fair share of illegal pizza activity, too, which has become something of the norm in this city after @pizza_gutt paved the way back in 2017. Instagram “pizza shops” like @pizza_jawn and @freelancepizza_ began delivering pies (baked who knows where) to their thousands of eager followers.
And in maybe the longest slog of quarantine, Joe and Angela Cicala, the chef-owners of Cicala at the Divine Lorraine and former owners of Brigantessa in East Passyunk, launched an illicit pizza “speakeasy” out of their backyard in South Philly, with proceeds to help pay their laid-off staff. On its first day, the Cicalas sold 200 pizzas in 40 minutes. They sold out again on the second day. And on the third day, seven cops and two city health inspectors shut the operation down. Pizza-obsessed, indeed.
Tires are one of those things you don’t think about until tractor-trailers are whizzing by as you stand on the side of I-95, sweating. If, in this hypothetical, you find yourself on a stretch of I-95 near Port Richmond, call Kaz Tire Center. They’ll fix your flat, and if you need a whole new set, they’ll get you back on the road in 30 minutes. And owner Kazem Nabavi might even show you the small backyard farm where he raises chickens, ducks, and a couple of peacocks. 2400 East Somerset Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19134, .
Once you’ve lived vicariously through the shop’s rotating seasonal themes (the Joshua tree iteration featured a stock-tank swimming pool), browse the terrariums, ferns and more peeping out from nearly every corner, indoors and out. Green thumbs, take note: Philodendrons with variegated leaves are so hot right now. 817 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood, NJ 08108, bespokehomeandlife.com.
For those having their own modern Regency Era romances, this appointment-only boutique from Ali Campbell is filled with all the puffed sleeves and squared necks you could desire. Most of the designers are local exclusives (this is one of only two Marquise Bridal stockists in the whole country), and you’ll have the space to yourself when you visit. 2 East King Street, Malvern, PA 19355, instagram.com/ticbridal.
Think this town’s only got mushrooms? Chic kids’ shop Penny Lane Emporium shills fun items like rainbow ukuleles and Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls books; Marché is rich with boho home wares; Clean Slate Goods eco-boutique has ceramics, totes, and apothecary items; and trendy Urban Outfitters-inspired shops like Green Eyed Lady abound. State Street. historickennettsquare.com.