September 16, 2011

What I Did in Philly This Summer, Part II: Do's and Don'ts

Last September I wrote a post to recap the Summer of Kristy - a summer dedicated to squeezing in every last bit of awesome before I turned 30. The summer of 2011 didn't hold quite as emphatic a mission, but it was still jam-packed with memorable experiences in and around Philadelphia.

Here's a run-down of some things we did this summer but haven't blogged about, accompanied by recommendations of what you should - and shouldn't - do, too. 

DO ride El Toro at Great Adventure. Boy, has that place become a roller coaster lover's dream. Among 14 great coasters, nothing beats the insane drops and steep turns of the wooden monster, El Toro. Make sure you buy tickets online ahead of time to save significant money. Save even more at as a member.

DON'T go to Spread Bagelry if you're in a rush. The Montreal-style bagels are really freakin' good (see more photos in the slideshow below). But twice now the weekend line was out the door and just takes way too long to finally get an expensive bagel sandwich. Go on a weekday instead, if you can. Or bring reading material.

DO drink craft beers out of a can. Philly has become a craft beer mecca, which is awesome on its own but new pubs like The Blind Pig in Northern Liberties are now adding a twist by offering them in cans for cheap prices. We thought it was fun (especially the plastic clip-on handles) plus the people at The Blind Pig are really down-to-earth. And you must order their Thanksgiving Balls no matter what time of year it is.

DON'T pay $40 for brunch at the Waterworks. Despite making reservations months in advance, the pip squeak hostess took one look at us and not only plopped our party of two down at an inside table right next to the door but rudely refused to let us wait for an outside seat. (the whole point of going there is it sit outside.) There was no turning back for a positive experience. Plus, the buffet had good food but was too small for $40 a person. Unless you can enlighten us with a way to guarentee an outside seat, skip it.

DO lose your voice at Jolly's Piano Bar. Break up your weekend bar routine with some live music and a group of your most fun, sing-along happy friends. The singers are good and each time we've gone the crowd gets really into it.

DON'T eat at Jolly's Piano Bar. Dine somewhere else first and just opt for the cheap domestic beers here. The food is medicore and cocktails weak, but $3 Coors Light bottles won't spill when you raise your hands up in honor of Sweet Caroline.

DO run the ODDyssey Half Marathon. A great alternative to the Broad Street Run. Less people, less chaos, a different route, and free beer at the end. Only its 2nd year, the ODDysesey was well run and shaping up to be a staple race for Philly. 2012 date isn't posted yet but this year it was the weekend before Memorial Day.

Hooper's - just a pile o' crabs.

DON'T be afraid to try the other Ocean City. We've fallen hard for OCMD and Fenwick Island, Delaware (the town north of OCMD). Between Seacrets, great crab houses, wide bike lanes and clean beaches, it's a lovely spot for a quick trip and less than three hours away. Personal fav for crabs is Hooper's.

DO sit at the bar at Estia. When planning to grab a drink and small bite with friends, it's easy to forget that sitting at the bar of a nice restaurant is a solid option. Estia's wine and small plates aren't cheap, but I like the atmosphere - a sophisticated spot to munch on calamari and zucchini chips over a glass of quality wine.

DON'T eat dinner at Farmer's Cabinet (yet). If you read our June review, you'll know why the original chef is gone. After an August visit we were disappointed again by the food, but it turned out the new chef hadn't arrived yet. I'd still give it some time before you go there for dinner. For now, sit at the bar to take advantage of the extensive beer menu and only eat the Bavarian pretzel (the bright spot on the menu). We'll go back once we've gotten some validation the new menu is better.

DO drive other people's cars. When you spend a lot of time in the car each day, it's nice to break up the routine with a different vehicle. As local bloggers we were offered the chance to test drive a Jeep Compass for a week and really enjoyed trying out things we never had, like an SUV, Sirius radio, an iPod outlet, leather seats, etc. If you have a free afternoon, a fun random activity is to go out and test drive some cars you've never been in. Might find something you like, or appreciate more what you have.

Matchstick is actually running a quick survey right now to find out what people around Philly think of Jeeps and for every one completed, they'll donate $2 to the Red Cross.

DON'T ride your bike all the way to Tyson Bees. Drawn solely by a cool name and colorful truck, I had my eye on this food truck outside UPenn's Franklin Field for a while. Unfortunately, I just didn't like the food. I tried the Original Hot Dog topped with Korean beef short rib and kimchi and a Thai Basil Chicken Taco. Maybe it was the kimchi? The meat was odd too. Can't win 'em all.

What were your hits and misses for the summer of 2011?

Here are some foodie and other photos from this busy busy time:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's been a long time since I've entered Philly. Found great food outside the city and went to Cape May - The Seashore House was the best food I'd had all summer - a crab and shrimp dish and dessert Pumpkin muffin with ice cream. Last time I had dinner in Phila. center city (big name restaurant) and was disappointed. Maybe one of these days we will try again.