I haven’t actually seen It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the American FX sitcom, but I can say that I will probably give it a shot after my weekend visit to the city of brotherly love.
I went to visit my lovely friend Lindsay who is a graduate student at Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania, a small college town in the middle of the nowhere. I had been telling her for almost a year that I would come up and visit her, but I was always a little apprehensive about going to the boonies for a weekend. Plus, the cost to fly there was twice the price of going somewhere else and nearby, like Philly. So she met me there and we played turistas for a long weekend.
Before I even got there, I could only think about how much everyone told me they disliked the city. They would all ask, “Why are you going to Filthy-delphia?” Well, everyone, I will have you know that Philadelphia is not that filthy and looks and feels like any big city with more than five million people: nice parts of town, check; dirty and scary pockets of town, check; homeless people, check; not homeless people, check. And yes, some parts smell like a giant toilet. However, everyone we bumped into, tourist or Philadelphian, was extremely friendly and nice. We did happen to run into a few hairy cheese steak vendors, but I think they were pretty harmless. Overall, Lindsay and I saw a lot of great art, ate a lot of delicious food, and made some new friends. Before I get into everything, know that all parts of this weekend review are mostly positive and I will definitely be making future visits to Philly.
We stayed in the Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel, a historic yet modern downtown Philly hotel just off Rittenhouse Square, which is kind of a fancy shmancy area of town with a lot of shops, fancy bistros, and cafés. The lobby was probably the most beautiful thing about the hotel with mod furniture and huge chandeliers. The room was also nice, but I never would have paid the price on the hotel Web site. We booked our room through Travel Zoo for about a third of the price and it was well worth it due to the location. The staff was perfectly nice as well.
We spent the first evening getting settled in and familiar with our surroundings. I haven’t spent much time in the northeast, so the narrow and busy city streets always put me in a state of disbelief, especially when they do not have crosswalk signs and people jaywalk like crazy. These fools would get arrested in Germany.
We took a nice walk and spotted some of the fancy bistros that my travel book mentioned for eating around Rittenhouse Square, but we settled on a mid-range vegetarian restaurant called Mi Lah Vegetarian. We kind of splurged for our first night in the city (entrees ranged from $13 to $17), but the portions were very generous and completely vegan. It was a tough decision, but Lindsay settled on the Thai yellow curry with tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, green beans, and seitan, also known as wheat gluten. They also gave her these delicious fried bread triangles that were flaky and melted perfectly in your mouth after dipping them in the curry. I feasted on the African peanut stew with chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and carrots with brown rice. My dish was extremely orange and filling, but I quickly became tired of the sweet potato taste. There was just a lot of food and, sadly, half had to go to waste because I absolutely could not eat anymore and our hotel didn’t have a mini-fridge. Maybe that’s just a Texas thing.
After napping off the food babies, we decided to check out a local bar for some cocktails. We passed the Continental Mid-Town during our walk and the giant green olive on the roof made the place look fun and intriguing. We decided to check it out and luckily we even got in because the bouncer almost denied me due to my Texas ID, but I gave him one of those “you’ve got to be kidding me” looks and he let us in. The place was packed, mostly small-to-medium-sized groups of young men and women who looked like they were attending girls’ night out or bachelor/bachelorette parties. It was also extremely cute with really modern furniture and bamboo swings on the second floor. But drinks were priced out the whazoo, especially coming from Texas – we ordered two gin and tonics for $18.50. I later found out from some punks (I mean like punk rockers, not like obnoxious punk kids) at a dive bar called Tattooed Moms that the Continental is probably the most expensive bar in town and anything around Rittenhouse Square isn’t far behind. Thus, we decided to stick with the dive bar the rest of the weekend. The punks were more fun anyway.
I’ll get more into the city sights in Part 2. I know you can’t wait.
Oh, and this is Lindsay, by the way, smiling pretty in front of a carpet wall hanging at the Continental.
Radisson Plaza Warwick Hotel
1701 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Mi Lah Vegetarian
218 S. 16th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
1801 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106