Tuesday, May 31, 2011


My Favorite Spot on Fairmount.

There certainly is much to choose from when dining in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia. There is everything from pizza shops to upscale European within a few short blocks. But if you're in the neighborhood looking for fairly priced, good food and a laid back, friendly atmosphere with a full bar as well, look no further than Rembrandt's. I am so fond of the menu at Rembrandt's because Chef Robert Legget refuses to keep things ordinary. While Rembrandt's offers classic dishes such a soups, salads, flat bread pizzas, and burgers, the unique detailed ingredients set Rembrandt's cuisine a notch above everybody else on Fairmount. Like octopus and manchego cheese on your Pulpo pizza? How about fried chicken skin cracklings to set your Buffalo Chicken flatbread pizza over the edge?


Located Just a Few Blocks North of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Dish Recommendations.

My favorite flatbread on the menu is called the Rocket (pictured below). It's a pizza/salad sort of combination that I like to roll up like a taco to enjoy. At $10 this flatbread is topped with arugula, organic goat cheese, radishes, tomatoes, mushrooms, truffle oil and finished with a lemon vinaigrette. This dish is light and the ingredients are healthy, making it a perfect choice for a late lunch. A great starter to try at Rembrandt's is the Kennet Mushroom Casserole. Served sizzling hot, a crock full of mushrooms bathe in a sea of fontina, marscapone, sharp provolone, and green onions. The casserole is served with olive oil toasted pita bread for you dipping glory. Everything on the menu here is worth trying because Rembrantd's uses ingredients you just do not see everyday- truffle oil, octopus, cauliflower puree. Keep an open mind and you will be blown away.

The Rocket.

A Very Happy Hour.

Rembrandt's is also a fantastic spot for a good happy hour meal. They offer a few beers on draft for $3 (usually Yuengling and a few other regulars). Their food deals from 5-7 p.m. are what keep bringing me back. They serve $5 buffalo wings, five of them over a small bed of tasty greens. They are perfectly crispy, rather meaty, and extremely delicious. They also offer the Rembrandt Burger for $5. A hefty burger with the works- lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, cheddar, you got it. Where else can you get a good, healthy, meal for $5 in this city? It's well worth it.

Rembrandt's = Fairmount's Finest. 
Now you know.

741 N. 23rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Friday, May 27, 2011

King of Tandoor.

The King of Indian Cuisine.

It took me almost a year of city living in Philadelphia to find a restaurant that served some decent Indian food. King of Tandoor is not just decent- it's excellent. For those of you who are already fans of Indian cuisine, I guarantee that dining at King of Tandoor will exceed your expectations. For those of you who have never tried Indian food, I highly suggest that you go out on a limb and try something drastically different from popular restaurant cuisine. There are many preconceived notions associated with Indian food that tend to deter people from even trying it- many try to argue that it's too spicy, it's vegetarian, or it has a potent smell. These stigmas are clearly formed out of ignorance. The extensive menu at King of Tandoor has something for everyone- there are both vegetarian and meat platters, there are spicy dishes but also many creamy dishes as well, and the scent is truly aromatic, contributing to the nirvana-like ambiance of the restaurant.

Suggestions for a Perfect Meal.

After a couple visits to King of Tandoor, I have designed the perfect meal that is satisfying for Indian lovers and stimulating for new comers. If you're on a date for two, I suggest ordering a few dishes and sharing them in order to sample a variety of selections. My first platter suggestion is Chicken Tikka Masala. Served in a hot crock, cubes of herb marinated chicken bathe in a slightly creamy, lightly spicy, almond, tomato sauce. Another platter you should not miss is the Lamb Kurma. This is my favorite dish at King of Tandoor with hunks of tender lamb in a lightly colored, sweet almond cream sauce. I also suggest ordering an order of Paratha, a buttery fried bread to soak up all the luxurious sauce that comes with these dishes (one order of bread should do for two, but you can always order more if necessary). And for desert? The Rasmalai is a thick, very sweet, cheese in a creamy almond milk sauce (order one desert per person). This is an enchanting spot for date night dinners.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Lamb Kurma.

Become a Believer.

If you have never tasted Indian food before, King of Tandoor will convert you. Many of their dishes are incredible so do not hesitate to try something new. The staff here is very attentive and extremely welcoming so do not be afraid to ask questions about their menu. My only wish is that King of Tandoor had a buffet, even if only for lunch. This restaurant is order and dine in, or take out only. Visiting an Indian buffet is a great way to get accustomed to the cuisine and to find the dishes that you really enjoy. However, I have yet to find a satisfying Indian buffet in Philadelphia. Until I do, I will get my Indian fix at King of Tandoor.

King of Tandoor. Now You Know.

King of Tandoor
1824 Callowhill St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

North Third.

Good Beer. Great Food. Fantastic Atmosphere.

Located in Northern Liberties, North Third is my go-to restaurants when I just can't make up my mind. North Third is always good and their menu offers dishes with a variety of influences, so no matter what mood I'm in, I leave satisfied. The decor is nothing short of eclectic, with masks lining the walls, paintings of naked ladies in bathtubs about, and kites nailed to the ceiling. The atmosphere is laid back so it is a good place to relax and enjoy a unique beer or two, or three. Most importantly, this restaurant and bar is fairly priced. Their standard menu offers many classic dishes that are priced very reasonably, with starters and appetizers under $10 and entrees under $20. They always offer a menu of specials as well, which can run a few dollars extra, but the dishes are worth it. Speaking of specials, let me tell you about the best dish I've ever had while dining out (and I found it at North Third.)

The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

I went to North Third on a Thursday night, ordered off their specials list, died and went to heaven. The special was pork tenderloin, wrapped in prosciutto, over a bed of asiago risotto, topped with porcini mushrooms, roasted spinach, and sun dried red peppers. Not only did the dish contain my favorite ingredients, they were combined so perfectly that I still haven't stopped raving about this dish. The tenderloin was exactly that, so tender, and completely covered in crispy prosciutto. The risotto was significantly cheesy, giving it a powerful flavor. The special cost $17 dollars. I ate the entire thing because it was so incredible, but I left way more than full. I am not sure how regularly this dish pops up on the specials list, but I have been back to North Third and seen it again. I can honestly say, the prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin at North Third was the best thing I ever ate.

Awesome Regulars.

The regular menu also contains many dishes that are always awesome and won't burn a huge hole in your pocket. Their Backyard Burger is the best burger I have had in Philly. At only $9, this huge burger comes with fries and can be served with an array of gourmet toppings for 25 cents extra (goat cheese, Boursin cheese, bacon, guacamole). The Potato Pierogies, served with caramelized onions and sour cream, is a great starter to share with the table, at $8.50. Their Crispy Chicken Sandwich with guacamole, bacon, tomato, and mayo is another stunning combination that will fill you up for $10. There is something for everyone on this menu and their specials are sure to please.

Tickle your fancy at North Third. 
Now you know.

North Third
801 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pay-What-You-Can Yoga at Studio 34.

Reconnect on Your Budget.

If you would love to work a yoga class into your weekly routine, but do not necessarily have the cash to commit to a class session; Studio 34 has a great option for you! They offer two weekly classes, open to the public, that you can attend at the cost of your choice, no string attached. Sounds too good to be true? It really is that simple- show up, make your donation at the front desk, and attend a 1 hour and 30 minute yoga class. Studio 34 designed these classes with you in mind. The studio owners realize that, these days, it just isn't within everyone's budget to sign up and attend weekly yoga classes. By providing pay-what-you-can classes, Studio 34 ensures that no one is held back from enjoying the benefits of yoga due to financial restraints. You can attend as often or as frequently as you like, for there are no long-term commitments. You really can pay whatever you want, but keep in mind that instructors donate their time to make these classes possible. Studio 34 is an incredible studio, genuinely geared toward improving the lifestyle and cohesion of the community through healing arts.

Class in-session at Studio 34.

About the Classes.

Pay-what-you-can classes are held at Studio 34 twice a week, Thursday 6-7:30pm and Friday 5:30-6:45pm. The classes are taught in the Forrest Style yoga and are open to all levels. Forrest yoga is slightly different from the Vinyasa yoga styles that are common and popular today. Forrest yoga is an intense, strength building practice focused on breath and an awareness of the focus of energy throughout the body. The classes are not easy, but leave you feeling completely accomplished afterwards. If you are willing to push yourself to truly connect with your body and breath, the classes will be more rewarding than anything. Oh, and you can pay whatever you like- totally worth it.
Ana Forrest, Founder of Forrest Yoga.

The Benefits of Yoga. 

Let's face it; our lives are way too busy. In today's world, it is easy to loose yourself in the hustle and bustle that is the rat race of modern living. With our attention constantly required in so many other places, we tend to forget to focus on ourselves. Practicing yoga truly helps you to reconnect with your body, calm your mind, and remind yourself what it's like to feel good in your own skin. Beyond the increased strength and flexibility attained through yoga, the spiritual and mental benefits are truly conducive to a balanced life.

Yoga on your budget. Now you know.

Studio 34
4522 Baltimore Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The Sweetest Little Sandwich Shop.
Store Front.
RyBread is a small cafe located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. The cafe is the name sake of it's owner and operator, Ryan, who after loosing his job as an architect decided to take a road trip to visit various cities around the country. The idea for his sandwich shop was inspired by his journey across the country. That is why you will find that every sandwich is named after, and influence by, a city he visited along his journey. Ryan's architectural attention to detail shines through in his food preparation. He uses the finest ingredients to create delightfully delicious breakfast and lunch foods including sandwiches, scones, salads, cupcakes and other treats of the sort. Their menu is made with love and their prices are fairly reasonable (about $7 per sandwich).

My Favorite RyBread Goodies.
Let me being by saying that everything I have tried here is fantastic, perfectly proportioned, and undoubtedly fresh. But I can't help but recommend some of my favorites for you to try for yourself! The Omaha tops my list with roast beef, gorgonzola, and caramelized onion on panini pressed sourdough bread. Something magic happens on the Santa Monica, when fresh avocado is layered amongst thick cut bacon, lettuce, and tomato on your choice of bread. I have to pay respect to their signature sandwich, the Rybread, consisting of amazing lump crab cake, tomato, greens, and chipotle mayo on a brioche bun. Feeling extra sweet? The homemade carrot cake muffins with cream cheese icing are the best I've ever had.

The Rybread.
The Friendliest Service.
The main reason I love coming to RyBread (after their great food) is that the service is so damn pleasant. The father-son team not only owns the place, but are there every day to make your sandwich with care. Needless to say, they know my name by now, along with the names of all the other regulars. As RyBread grows they continue to cater to the interests of their customers. RyBread now delivers to certain areas surrounding Fairmount. They also just extended their hours during the week for my fellow late risers out there. As of May 9th, they are now open until 7pm on Monday-Thursday instead of the former 3:30pm. There are three indoor tables to eat at, but there is also seating out front on Fairmount Avenue as well as patio seating in the sunny, backyard nook.
Back yard seating.

You, too, will fall in love with RyBread. Now you know.

2319 Fairmount Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130


Friday, May 13, 2011

You Want Italian? Villa Di Roma.

As Italian as it Gets
While Philadelphia’s Italian market may be more properly named the multicultural market these days, it is still home to one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. Villa DiRoma is old school Italian, done like it should be done in the Italian Market. The experience at Villa Di Roma is a unique one because dining there is all about the awesome food. The restaurant is relatively plain, no frills needed here. The waitresses (yes the wait staff is entirely female) are just as Italian as the cuisine and will remind you of your Aunt Maria with a frequent, “What can I get for you hon?” The menu is simple and consists mostly of pasta, chicken, and veal done however you like it. They offer classic dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, but also make a list of unique saucy platters that are like nothing you’ve ever tried before.

Dish Recommendations
If you come to Villa di Roma, you better start with the shrimp scampi appetizer. Eight jumbo shrimp swimming in a sea of buttery, lemony, slightly spicy scampi sauce that will drive you wild. The wait staff already knows to keep the bread coming so you can soak up all the sinful sauce. As far as entrees go, the Veal Sicilian is one of the most amazing dishes I have ever tasted in my life. I can’t tell you exactly what’s in it (keeping with the no nonsense theme, there are no descriptions on the menu) but I’ll try my best. Thinly cut veal in a buttery light brown sauce flavored with capers, olives, and peppers. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Trust me. Another incredible entrĂ©e is the Chicken Bella Buca, a large portion of chicken lightly egg breaded topped with ham, cheese, and spinach. These are some of my favorites, but everything here is done perfectly and made with the best ingredients.
Chicken Bella Buca
Chicken Sicilian

Deserved Recognition
Villa Di Roma was recently featured on Food Network’s "Food Feuds" as a contender for the best meatballs. They were matched up against Ralph’s, another favorite Italian restaurant in the market. Who won? Villa Di Roma, of course. So if you want to go Italian in Philly, go to the best spot in the market. Dining at Villa Di Roma is like visiting your relatives for Sunday dinner, you won’t leave hungry or unsatisfied. There are always leftovers, and that’s a good thing.

Villa Di Roma
936 S. 9th street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Now you know.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Music? Drinks? Dancing? The Blockley Pourhouse.

Not Just Another College Bar.
Of the many bars in Philly, the Blockley Pourhouse in University City is my favorite place to venture out to on the weekends. Why? Live Music. If I'm going to spend all my money at a bar, I want to be entertained. Recently the Blockley has been booking some awesome bands bringing out a more diverse crowd than you would expect from a University City bar. Good live music, a mixed-up crowd, and an awesome atmosphere keeps me coming back to the Blockley weekend after weekend. The set up of the place is ideal for seeing bands. There is lots of open space, a large oblong bar (with lightning quick bar tenders), and elevated tables with bench style seating if you need to take a load off. The bar is intimate enough that you can view the stage perfectly from any spot in the house, but spacious enough to get your groove on.

Where and When?
The Blockley is located at 3801 Chestnut Street, squished between Drexel and UPenn. With that, the bar can be crowded with lots of college kids with one motive: to get drunk. So if you're like me, and you would much rather see some live talent than watch frat boys go in for the kill, check the calendar before you go. The acts they book vary, so there is something for everyone to enjoy- DJ's, rap artists, jam bands, electronic music, reggae groups- definitely a great place to broaden your musical horizon. 

Musical Recommendations.
I am a fan of lots of different musical styles, none of which you will hear on the radio (unless your listening to Oldies 98.1) but I have seen a handful of great shows that suit my fancy at the Blockley. A great band that keeps popping up there is Splintered Sunlight (pictured above on stage at the Blockely), a Grateful Dead cover band that's just about as close as you can get. Another band to watch out for on the calendar is Bodega, a jazz funk band originally from West Chester, PA that spices up their style with some electronic beats. These guys are young but they are extremely talented musicians. Their ensemble includes drum, bass, guitar, keys, and often a sax player. Coming soon to the Blockley is Orchard Lounge, a two-man-one-woman trio of electronic DJ's that will keep you dancing all night long. They will play there Saturday 6/11 so come on out!

The Blockley Pourhouse. Now you know. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The BEST Grinder in Philly.

I said grinder, not cheesesteak.

The "Paesano" at Paesano's located at 152 West Girard is one of the most incredible things you will ever eat. The signature sandwich pictured above takes roast beef to a whole new level. Tender beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, pepperincino, sharp provolone, and- just to make sure you leave full and satisfied- a runny fried egg. The combination is flawless; their ingredients- top notch. The Paesano is an entire meal on an 8 inch roll. And the cost? $8. While it is possible to tackle an entire one of these bad boys on your own (depending upon how starving you are) but enlisting a friend to split one is not a bad idea. While the namesake grinder is a favorite for many of the regulars at Paesano's, they have many more masterpieces on their menu that will not disappoint.

My Personal Favorite?

The Paesano was the first sandwich I tried at this sacred place so it holds a special place in my heart. But upon forcing myself to branch out across the menu I discovered what is probably my favorite sandwich of all time, ever, in my whole life: The Gustaio (pictured above). It's perfect- homemade lamb sausage, sun-dried cherry mustarda, gorgonzola cheese, roasted fennel, and arugula, wrapped in a pan fried pita. What is awesome about this sandwhich (besides the incredible flavor combination of the sweet cherry, gamey lamb, and creamy, goat cheese) is that it is the lightest sandwich offered at Paesano's. Not only do I adore the combination, I enjoy being able to finish my sandwich and continue my day afterwards (I have been put to sleep by some of their other sandwiches, I'm not kidding). I have yet to be disappointed here.
Some more recommendations: The Arista (Suckling pig, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone), and The Torrezoux (creamy, Sriracha-y, chicken cheesesteak- a "special" but they always have it).

An Authentic Taste of Philly. 

Paesano's is really a hidden gem in this city. You might even miss it on Girard (pictured above) if you don't know what your looking for. The shop is tiny; only six stools at the single counter, but there is outside seating in the nicer weather. The men cooking will wow you with the lightning speed and perfection with which they whip up these sandwiches. The place does get busy (because it's so damn good) but there is always the call ahead option if you're eating around peak hours. Don't live near Northern Liberties? There is a second location in the Italian Market at 1017 S. 9th St. I can't emphasis enough how AWESOME this place is. I go about once a week. I need my fix.

Paesano's = Best sandwiches. Now you know.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wanna Hoop?

Ever wanted to learn how to hoop dance?

Interested hoopers (experienced or not!) should come out for Jen Web's Beginning Hoop Dance Class at Studio 34 in West Philly! You will learn the fundamentals of hoop dancing as well as a series of tricks with the hoop in this weekly course held on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 8:30pm. I chose to report this event to you first because the class sessions are beginning soon! Six classes will be held from May 10th-June 7th. The cost for the course is $60 ahead of time and $70 at the first class. If you have never hooped before and are not yet positive you want to commit, come out for the FREE intro class TONIGHT, Tuesday, May 3rd from 7:30 to 8:30pm. I promise, you'll love it. 

Totally New to Hooping?

Inspiring instructor, Jen Web (of Philadelphia's Fun Town, pictured immediately above) will break down the basics of hoop dancing and instill in you the foundation needed to spin like the girls on the sides of the stage at the Electric Factory. Hoop Dance provides a great work out and a unique opportunity to develop a new skill. Don't be shy. If you love music, dancing, performing, exercising or just having a ball in general- you''l be hooked on hooping. Or maybe you're one of the hundreds of us in this city that are already addicted and you just want to share in the love...see you Tuesdays!
(Hoops will be provided, wear tight fitted clothing.)

Get Excited.

Typically I like to present to you places I've already been or things I've already done. However, I have not taken a class with Jen (yet), so I can't offer my personal opinion on the experience (yet)...but I have seen her in action and am dying to learn her ways. 
You should be just as excited as I am.