Instead of a week-long vacation this summer, Doug and I took long weekends. It was easier to manage with my work schedule. The only drawback was we were somewhat limited to places we could get to within a few hours, and preferably by car or train. In July, we did the YouCube Meetup and a few of our favorite Manhattan stomping grounds.
In August, we drove down to Philadelphia.
This was actually the first time I had been to Philadelphia as a tourist. I’ve been numerous times on business, starting way back in the 90s with the court challenges to the Communications Decency Act, and spent a fair amount of time in Montgomery and Bucks Counties for dog shows, but I’ve never actually seen the city. I’m glad I finally did. It was fun to discover a new place with Douglas, Even though he had been before during the 7th grade field trip, apparently they didn’t get much farther than Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the hotel pool.
Where we stayed: Hilton Garden Inn on Arch and 11th. Inexpensive, clean rooms right next door to Reading Terminal Market and convenient to public transportation as well as the hop on/hop off tour bus stops for Chinatown and the Market. Also right next to the convention center, so not a good choice if a major convention is in town.
Where we ate:
Molly Molloy’s in Reading Terminal Market. Breakfast twice, lunch on our last day before checking out of the hotel. It has a really nice sit-down area of its own in the center of the market with high top tables, which we both really liked. When you are as tall as Doug, little cramped spaces just don’t appeal, and honestly, I like a little space too, so we both preferred it to the various (but yummy looking) food stalls in the market and the central eating spaces. Their homemade jams are very tasty, and a great accompaniment to the toast with your omelet or pancakes. For lunch, I recommend the Guac BLT. I also recommend you do not do what I did at the end of our last meal there, forget your credit card. Luckily, they had it when I called, so no funny charges are likely to turn up and the nice people at American Express immediately sent a replacement.
I remembered City Tavern from a business trip 5-6 years ago. I was speaking at a small conference and the dinner was at a restaurant right near by (Positano Coast). A few of us stopped in to the Tavern for a beverage before dinner. It reminded me quite a bit of Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury, a favorite when we lived in that part of Massachusetts. When I crowd-sourced Philadelphia ideas on Facebook, a few people recommended it. Doug devoured a smoked salmon and trout appetizer, but wasn’t as crazy for his NY strip steak and shrimp. The steak had a bit more fat than he is used to. I had rack of lamb, which was flavorful, but unevenly cooked. I asked for medium rare, and some ribs bordered on well and others were rare. On average, medium rare, sure, but…. The desserts and breads were great, the colonial Raspberry Shrub (beverage) tasty, and the service excellent, so on balance I would recommend it, but as much for the historical significance as the cuisine, which is perfectly tasty just not haute.
Sonny’s Cheesesteaks. Unless you don’t eat meat, you can’t go to Philadelphia without at least trying a Philly cheesesteak. We had ours at Sonny’s on Market Street.
Another restaurant recommendation — the Continental Martini Bar, also on Market in the Old City, Located in an old diner, the Continental offers a global tapas menu. Sounds weird I know but tasty. We had hummus, fish tacos, grilled shrimp and the cheesesteak eggroll, all of which we shared, followed by extremely tasty desserts, which we did not. I had the nutella tart with banana ice cream and Douglas had a blond brownie with malted vanilla ice cream. Highly recommend it, especially if you are already in the area for sightseeing. It is only a short walk from the Independence Hall area down Market Street.
Totally by accident, we also stopped for a quick bite at High Street On Market one of Bon Appétit magazine’s top new restaurants. Doug had an artisanal pizza and a delectable cream puff, and I had a peach tea cake — moist and not too sweet.
Lastly, be sure to leave enough time (and room in your tummy) to explore the stalls at Reading Terminal Market. In addition to the meals we ate there, we patronized the Famous 4th Street Cookie Company, Bassetts Ice Cream, Beiler’s Bakery, where we purchased a shoofly pie to bring home, The Tubby Olive, where we sampled and bought some interesting olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and the Cookbook Stall where Doug purchased his first cookbook of his own, 500 Pizzas & Flatbreads.