Philadelphia isn’t given enough credit. Most people can’t separate the city from its sports fans, but hear me out. It’s an overlooked city often given descriptions starting with, “Once was”… It ‘once was’ the nation’s capital, it ‘once was’ a railroad town, it ‘once was’ a steel town. It’s a city of firsts: first hospital, first zoo, first library. But now, it’s a city we flee to when we’re too broke to pay New York rent or too exhausted with DC politics. It’s the healthy in-between. Two hours from each hub (and about a thousand dollars cheaper in rent). It’s sprawling neighborhoods combine the eclectic with the historic. From Fishtown’s refurbished Brooklyn-style bars and restaurants, to Old City’s cobbled streets and alleys.
While you might know Philly best for their cheesesteaks, what you might not know, is that lately, it’s been having a foodie moment (Check out Chef’s TableSeason 5 Episode 1, if you don’t believe me). With various BYOB and cash only spots like Pumpkin and Helm you’ll eat farm-to-table without breaking your budget. These restaurants are tight spaces, though, so you’ll need reservations in advance. I highly recommend Pumpkin’s Sunday Tasting Menu. It’s new every single week. Yes, you read that correctly.
Personally, my favorite cuisine for dining out is sushi. I love watching the chefs layer, roll, and slice those beautiful little creations. One of the most notable Philly restaurants for sushi, among other delicious Japanese dishes, is Double Knot, a dark basement restaurant with a chic date-night vibe. For a night full of bright, airy elegance try Tuna Bar in Old City. It’s mid-century modern décor, floor-to-ceiling windows, and delicate details won’t disappoint.
Vegan? No problem. Philly has numerous casual vegan joints like Bar Bombón, where you can indulge in Puerto Rican fare (hello, you delicious sweet plantains and yucca fries), oh, and don’t forget their spicy margs—La Preferida, it is. Then, there’s P.S. and Co, a confectioner’s dream. This place really feels like a magical fairy land with greenery spilling out from hanging baskets, industrial lighting, and, of course, the cakes. Press your face right up next to that glass dessert case and drool over that double chocolate sponge cake covered in dark chocolate butter cream, topped with candied apples or roasted hazelnuts or dark purple pansies (I’m not making this up). Oh, and if you’re there for lunch, definitely order the Forbidden Burrito with hot chili oil. When you’re looking for something a little more upscale, Vedge is Philly’s most notable fine dining vegan experience, and their Wood Roasted Carrot is out of this world. What’s the best part? Nothing is trying to be meat—everything on this menu is a vegan creation. Each flavor is original, not an imitation of something else. Pro Tip: go during happy hour and sit at the bar for $7 appetizers.
Where to Yoga
Dhyana Yoga by Rittenhouse Square is a Yogi’s dream. It’s an Ashtanga based studio with unparalleled instructors and a community of beautiful people. If you’re into mantra, meditation, pranayama, and, of course, asana, go there.
If hot yoga’s your thing, check out Priya Yoga. They have a wide variety of instructors, and every single one teaches in their own unique way.
Or take your wellness game to a new level and visit Roots, another Ashtanga based studio that also offers massage. Sign up for a workshop or class and schedule your massage for after.
There are also a ton of free yoga classes around Philly, especially in the summertime. From yoga in the Piazza and yoga in the Sculpture Garden to yoga on the Pier. And who can beat free yoga?
Though Philly definitely is a city of firsts, and should be remembered as such, it has so much more to offer than what it once was. Beyond the history and the museums, Philly has an incredible food scene. It’s also the city with the most murals in the US, and if you haven’t heard of the Magic Gardens, you should definitely check it out—let the trail of colored glass mosaic lead you through Philly, and you might discover something special.