Former Division-I track star Soj Jibowu stumbled into the world of triathlon competitions without even knowing how to swim — and still managed to create multi-sport drag-resistant apparel that compresses in all the right places. You can also create your own sleek design from the more than 300 fabric choices in the custom online shop. varlosports.com.
Ferrarini & Co. only accepts a few projects every year, prioritizing what matters most to each homeowner. You won’t just cook in your kitchen — you’ll actually enjoy it. 110 South 20th Street #202a, Philadelphia, PA 19103, ferrariniremodeling.com.
Father-daughter duo John and Jen Choi make everything at their Midtown Village restaurant from scratch, including sauces like Korean BBQ, honey soy, and super-spicy sweet chili — all of which can be doused over wings, popcorn nuggets, or whole, perfectly crispy Korean fried chicken. 212 South 11th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, crunchikn.com.
Even if you don’t know the name, you know the work. DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market. Love City Brewing. Garage in Fishtown, Primal Supply Meats in Brewerytown, K’Far, and scores of other signs, all hand-painted by Christian Cantiello and his crew. The next time you walk into a restaurant, bar or shop, look a little more closely at the logo out front — there’s a good chance it’s Cantiello’s work. keystonesignco.com.
Every so often, a restaurant summons all its confidence, swings open its doors, and absolutely nails every single thing it sets out to do. In Sally’s case, Anna D’Isidoro, D’Onna Stubblefield and Rob Marzinsky set out to do pizza, wine and small plates — which, well, feels so very … common these days. But the menu here is deceivingly special, a treasure trove of perfect, deeply considered vegetables (the charred cabbage drenched in a spicy, tangy “who knew?” sauce is so confoundingly good, you’ll be wondering about it for weeks), sourdough pizzas that range from margherita to clam and leek to South Philly-style pizzazz, and a thoughtfully curated wine list the whole staff seems excited to chat about. The servers are having fun, the music’s always bumping, and every time we go, we leave feeling happy, full, even a little bit resentful that there aren’t a hundred more restaurants in Philly like Sally, bringing that same kind of youthful, future-thinking vibrancy to our dining scene. 2229 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, sallyphl.com.
Disconnect from your busy life for a bit with a slice of serenity from this Nordic-inspired sauna. With temps climbing to 195 degrees and intermittent ice-cold showers, you’ll feel both rested and energized, ready to rejoin the world — after a post-sauna massage or cup of tea, of course. 305 Brown Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123, formationsauna.com.
Ah, gorp: Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts, a.k.a. trail mix. Gorpcore, though? Think normcore plus camping. And for the rare gorpcorer who likes the practice of camping as much as the aesthetic, Totem has the paisley folding chairs, hops-printed hammocks and portable stainless steel grills that will ensure your gear is as tasteful as the gorp in your Fjallraven fanny pack. 535 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147, totembrandco.com.
A corner wedge of West Passyunk got a lot more lively when La Llorona opened last summer with tables that spill out onto the sidewalk, goblets of shrimp ceviche, and a tequila and mezcal menu as long as your arm. 1551 West Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19145, lalloronaphilly.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.
Whole cauliflower bathes in a guajillo pineapple marinade overnight, then is spit-roasted, sliced thin, and crisped on the plancha griddle, proving that the “alt pastor” gets just as much fussy attention here as any meaty al pastor. 1800 North American Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122, sorynez.com.
There are 43 different animals on the World Wildlife Fund’s endangered species list. Really, it should be 44, when you count Al Schmidt (Republicanus noncorruptis), who faced death threats as he oversaw the vote count and refused to go the way of his Republican election-board colleagues in other cities who cried fraud. Unfortunately, no conservation effort can stave off this extinction: Schmidt says he won’t run for reelection in 2023.
Sometimes it can feel like there’s too much art, both vintage and new, with which to decorate your house. How to decide? The Modern Republic, a mid-century modern retailer in Fairmount, is a great place to start: With vintage Alexander Calder and Herman Miller prints at reasonable prices, there’s something for every kind of house (plus great vintage furniture, to boot). If your walls could talk, they’d be thanking you. 1600 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130, etsy.com/shop/TheModernRepublic.
Of all the pandemic’s heroes, none is more uniquely Philly than Haigler, who rose to Instagram prominence during last summer’s trash slowdown by delivering trash tips and updates and has since parlayed that fame into his own block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood city-cleanup operation. instagram.com/_yafavtrashman.
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).
Lara is producing the best community journalism around right now, with a keen eye into the Latinx community. While we’ve come to expect diverse media from the likes of WURD, the Tribune and Al Día, this media leader offers a timely and promising alternative. Notably, she’s working with staff from the Caribbean, South America, and the Greater Philadelphia area to cover Latinx issues more holistically. impactomedia.com.