Just in case the thought of a simultaneous scalp and foot massage isn't enough to make your eyes roll back in your head, we'll explain it this way: It might be best to have a loved one come along to drive you home afterward, as if you are undergoing an outpatient medical procedure for which you are receiving heavy sedation. Because truth be told, after this massage, we shouldn't have been on the road. 415 South York Road, New Hope, PA 18938, nurturespa.com.
It’s time to accept that we’re all so vain (cue Carly Simon) and just want to look good. And when it comes to getting pearly whites, Lux takes the gold with its plant-and-mineral-based gel that’ll lift your teeth up to 12 shades in a single visit. No irritated gums, no worn-away enamel, no waiting forever to see results — time to throw away those lame at-home strips. 1650 Market Street, suite 3600, Philadelphia, PA 19103, lux-whitening.com.
At the new Fishtown Seafood, owner Bryan Szeliga only stocks thoughtfully sourced, chemical-free fish and shellfish, including small-batch East Coast oysters dug up from Jersey to Maine. His Monday classes will teach you the fine art of shucking for just $20 — and send you home with 15 oysters so you can hone your skills in your own kitchen. 339 Belgrade Street, Philadelphia, PA 19125, fishtownseafood.com.
Why? Because he started cooking at 13. Because he did time in Aspen before coming to work for Marc Vetri at his eponymous Philly restaurant and then, when Michaud decided that he needed to learn more about Italian cooking, just up and moved to Lombardy, where he spent three years walking the earth like Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu working his way up from butcher's boy at a small family shop to executive chef at an inn at the foot of the Alps. Then he came home again and opened Osteria for Vetri, where he currently does amazing things to pizzas, pastas and rabbits. 640 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130, osteriaphilly.com.
If you’re not a professional designer, maybe you haven’t given much thought to your window treatments — i.e., the only things that help maintain your privacy in a densely populated city. While they can elevate any room in your house, they can also be daunting to choose (a million different options) and install (so much measuring!). Family-run Ambiance Design will come to your home, help you select the perfect window coverings, and return to install them. Products run the gamut from simple Roman shades to the newfangled voice-activated kind. 718 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell, PA 19422, adwindowtreatments.com.
Lansdale’s Boardroom Spirits founder Marat Mamedov says he noticed the rise of malt-based seltzers, knew canned cocktails would be the next big trend, and started canning a Moscow Mule. Made with the distillery’s Brazilian-ginger-root-infused vodka, the effervescent drink is not too sweet and totally refreshing — a tough balance to strike in a can.
“When you have a clean canvas to work with, which the vodka offers, you can let the other flavors shine through in a bigger manner without off-putting notes,” says Mamedov.
ALCO, one arm of Kensington-based New Liberty Distillery, canned classics like vodka soda and gin and tonic with the brand’s own spirits plus fresh ingredients — tonic from century-old soft-drink company Natrona Bottling Company and real lemon and lime juices.
Others in Philly didn’t go so far as to can their concoctions, but they found creative ways to get them into eager drinkers’ hands this past year (well, while to-go cocktails were still legal), including Paul MacDonald at Friday Saturday Sunday and Eddie Adams, head bartender at Bar Hygge. Drawing on the ingenuity that makes them stand-out drink-makers even when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, both bartenders figured out how to keep the cocktails coming.
Adams made a steady stream of seasonal punch, which he offered in single-serving pouches or large-format glass bottles. Those came with a bottle of club soda plus a special mix of raw sugar, salt, lavender and coriander so you could rim your glass at home — a fancy touch in not-so-fancy times.
At FSS, MacDonald didn’t limit himself to any specific cocktail but instead bottled (or poured into a single-serving plastic cup) pretty much everything on the menu, except, he says, for the swizzles, which rely on packed-down pellet ice, and the egg-white drinks, which depend on that freshly shaken texture. “Fulfilling off-menu or bartender’s-pick requests has always been a big part of our cocktail program, so I did my best to keep that up when possible,” MacDonald says.
A grateful, slightly tipsy city salutes these libation innovations (and hopes the politicians in Harrisburg get their heads out of the cooler long enough to sign a permanent to-go-cocktail bill).
The traditional ones are stuffed with potato and cheese; the fun ones are stuffed like jalapeño poppers; and during the holidays, some even come with smoked duck and cranberry. It’s pierogi heaven where you wouldn’t expect it. 2654 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148, blackcattavernphilly.com.
Thanks to a brand-new $2 million restaurant, bar and concert-venue development at the Cape May ferry terminal (where you can hop a boat to Lewes, Delaware), New Jersey’s southernmost shore has had some much-needed new life breathed in. At Ferry Park, get cocktails at Boat Drinks, brews and casual fare at Exit Zero, and steaks and seafood (and peerless views) at the Lookout. When it’s time for bed or just relaxing by the pool or sea, stay at La Mer Beachfront Resort for the most fashionable oceanfront suites in town. Before you head back home, kick it old-school at the Lobster House’s locals-heavy breakfast counter — if you can get a stool.
Grab some friends, snag one of the 102 climate-controlled bays, hit drives to your heart’s content, and order another round every time the server comes by. 104 Centerton Road, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054, topgolf.com.
Readers' Choice: New menu, new chef and a refreshing new remodel... but the same sort of smart offerings that fans have come to count on. Plus a very solid bar burger (and at $13, one would hope so). 1946 Lombard Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146, thepubandkitchen.com.
Cassava chip nachos topped with fiery jerk seitan, dairy-free queso, smoky chickpea tempeh “ribs” and barbecue jackfruit … there’s some real plant-based wizardry coming out of this pint-size roving cart that you can find all around West and South Philly.
When it comes to rooftop bars, it’s all about the view. And at Bok, you get the full vista—river to river—which is pretty rare for a watering hole. Pair the panoramas with great snacks (this year, dumplings!) and well-priced drinks, and you’ll develop a new appreciation for Philly just by looking at it. 800 Mifflin Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148, bok-bar.com.
Something fantastic usually comes from a shop that's committed to doing just one thing really well. Anything off the hot presses at Nina's Waffles and Sweets in New Hope and Doylestown proves just that get a Belgian waffle topped with salted caramel ice cream. 31 West Mechanic Street, New Hope, PA 18938, ninaswaffles.com.
Some of the best pasta dishes in Philly right now — hand-rolled trofie pasta salad with gochujang and smoked celery; fusilli tossed with broccolini and preserved lemon — aren’t coming from any one kitchen, but from whatever restaurant or bar gives the Nardone crew the keys for a night. Multiple locations. nardonepastaco.com.
Some of the prettiest a-little-something-more-comfortable designs we've seen in ages are coming from the mind of this Philly native, and while we've been happy to build our trousseau at Jennaleighlingerie.com, we're even happier that her first-ever stand-alone boutique was just unveiled at the Shore. Revel Casino, 500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, .