I feel like I met my match in Philadelphia, or one of my many matches. I fall in love with a lot of places, usually because of the food, culture, things to do, places to see, friendly dogs, and then the people. I like to think that I’m a people person, so when I feel accepted into a new group or community I just smile with delight and fall in love with everyone, unless you are a mean cheese steak vendor. Then we have issues.
Lindsay and I spent the last day of our trip trying to forget that I’d be going back to Austin and she back to State College the next day. We tried to fill our brains with as much historical knowledge about the city and our Founding Fathers as possible in attempts to forget about the separation that would soon ensue. But we felt we needed to fill our stomachs first.
We found an adorable little bistro called FARMiCiA in Old City. It was glorious watching all the little couples eating their omelets and drinking their perfect Sunday brunch Bloody Marys. We sat by the bar and pondered over the menu for a while. It was full of wholesome, local, and organic ingredients with a variety of sweet and savory breakfast items like grilled brie and assorted cheeses as appetizers; pancakes, grilled cheese, and paninis as griddle dishes; and various omeletes, frittatas, and eggs benedict options for breakfast-like items.
I fought with myself for five minutes before I ordered the brioche French toast with peach compote. Lindsay’s dish was another piece of perfection, the vegan and salty kind: scrambled tofu and vegan chorizo sausage on top of a vegan sopapilla with refried black beans and avocado salsa. I stuck with black coffee because I don’t particularly care for Bloody Marys, but Lindsay had to try one and her only complaint was that it wasn’t spicy enough. But I don’t know how she does it. Vegetables processed into liquid and then mixed with pepper and alcohol just does not sound appealing to me.
After a successful brunch, we made our way to one of the biggest attractions in the city, the Liberty Bell. I can hear bells ringing as I type. Also, it was a lot smaller than anticipated and the entire experience was kind of like a joke because there were hoards of people surrounding the bell trying to have family members or whoever take a photo of them in front of the side with the crack. It seemed silly. I walked the circumference and that was about it. Then we walked by a few more historical sites like the first insurance building, but I think I was more interested in the architecture and the cute cobblestone roads.
The last item on our list was visiting South Street, which is like the hip, bohemian part of town with vintage shops and stellar murals in the alleyways. It reminded me a lot of The Haight in San Francisco, California, and flooded with tourists on the weekends. The best cheese steak place in Philly is supposed to be on South Street, Jim’s Steaks, and I think word gets around because the line was out the door. We didn’t even stop because enough of our new local friends had already told us that the place was overrated, but maybe they are just bitter because it’s always too packed with tourists to eat there themselves. I pryed for more cheese steak recommendations, but no one seemed completely satisfied with the cheese steak vendors around town. One place had weird bread while another place didn’t use enough cheese, etc. I ended up trying a place called Tony Jr’s because it was nearby and I needed to eat, and because I am a meat eater again I wanted to take full advantage of the authentic Philly cheese steak. All in all, I was disappointed. I had a regular cheese steak with grilled onions and sharp provolone and it was too dry. Big hairy cheese steak vendor skimped on the cheese and I became sad. Most people say to get the famous Cheese Whiz, this disgusting processed cheese goo made by Kraft. Blah, don’t do it.
For our final evening rendezvous in Philadelphia, we drank $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon and ended up at a local club called Fast Cheap & Out of Control. We were told Sunday nights at FC&OOC used to be cool, but now not so much, with random ‘80s and new wave music and a sad go-go dancer. She was sad and there weren’t many people there, but we ended up having a lot of fun! Our new Philly friends danced with us and felt embarrassed with us, but it was a damn good time. Six hours later I was back on a plane to Austin to reunite with Kyle and my poodle.
Right before I got on the airplane I wrote a message to Philadelphia through a little Facebook update. It was something along the lines of, “Dear Philly, This was fun. Let’s do it again sometime. Love, Jen.”
15 S. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Liberty Bell Center
526 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
118 S 18th St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Fast Cheap & Out of Control
613 S. 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147