Last full day in Philly today! It’s been a blast, and I’ve been able to see so much cool stuff! So far, the ranking is 1. Philly, 2. Pittsburgh. Sorry, Pittsburgh! Philly just has more food, which is almost an automatic win in my book.
Despite spending a lot of my time eating out (my body probably hates me right now), I hadn’t been able to eat at all the restaurants that have been recommended to me. I only really eat 3 meals (and maybe 1 or 2 small snacks), so it was a little hard to squeeze everything into 7 days. For that reason, I made sure today’s picks were good ones before I had to head off to NYC!
First stop this morning was to a popular Philadelphian breakfast spot, Philly Style Bagels. After a quick 5-minute bike ride over, I arrived in the small bagel shop that reminded me a lot of home in San Francisco. Very minimalist in the shop design and as Philly Yelpers have noticed, kinda “hipster”. I suppose minimalist makes sense since you don’t need anything too fancy for a bagel shop though, right? I stared at the menu for a while since all of their sandwich choices looked pretty good, and ended up ordering their Classic Lox #1 bagel sandwich—smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber slices, tomato, and red onion on a bagel of your choice. Lox bagel is pretty standard, so I figured a classic would be a good way to judge the restaurant.
So what makes this bagel place “Philly style”? First, let’s review some bagel making basics! When making bagels, your baker has to initially boil the circular dough in water before setting it into the oven for baking. This boiling process cooks the bagel exterior slightly so when you bake the bagel, the dough doesn’t rise as much since the air is trapped inside the cooked exterior. The longer you boil the bagel, the more dense and chewy your bagel is. For bagels here, these Philadelphians boil their bagels in beer instead of just water. Unique twist on your classic bagel making!
Verdict? Great bagel sandwich, but not sure if the beer is gimmicky or not. The spice blend for the everything bagel is everything I ever want out of an everything bagel. It had a good ratio of garlic to onion to poppy seeds to sesame seeds to everything else that goes on an everything bagel. I really like that they add a little bit of salt in their spice mixture because I feel like it really brings out the flavors in the spices. The bagel dough is good—not too soft but not too chewy. Something that I’ve heard people dislike about the bagels here is that they’re too small. Fun fact: bagels that are now sold in stores are not the original size of bagels. If you ever see those mini bagels in the supermarket, that’s about the same size bagels were in the past (like about 20 years ago), which is about the size of your fist. Bagels have just gotten bigger over the years, which is true of most items in American food culture. Anyway, the bagels themselves are smaller than your average modern-day bagel, so you might want to get two if you need more of this bread. Also important to note that while these bagels are boiled, they’re still not going to be like your NY-style bagel. These guys are a little flatter, and these have been baked so there’s a slight crisp texture to them. I like toasted bagels, so this was perfect for me. So did the beer make a difference? Honestly, I couldn’t taste anything different. I’m not sure if the beer lends any specific flavor that ended up being masked by the spices in the everything bagel or if the carbonation of beer helps with something in the cooking process. My palette is not the most refined though, so don’t take my word for it. You’ll have to try it and let me know what you think 🙂
Biking to and from Philly Style Bagels took a total of 10 minutes or so, but I already felt incredibly hot and sweaty. Wanting to avoid yesterday’s close-call with heat exhaustion, I made the decision to take an Uber to my next destination.
In case you wanted to know, between Lyft and Uber, Uber is my suggestion for the more cost-effective ride share. I would recommend checking both apps first by using the price estimators, but I noticed that Uber was normally the better choice in Philly.
Next stop after bagels was the Edgar Allen Poe House, which is classified as a National Historic Site. You know what that means! More cancellation stamps for my book! As you probably already know, Edgar Allen Poe was a famous American writer during the 1800s, best known for his thrilling, macabre works like “The Telltale Heart”, “The Raven”, and “The Black Cat”. I would say he’s one of my favorite writers because I really like those stories listed, but in reality, I’ve seen the Simpsons’ renditions of those tales more than I’ve actually read them… This house is famous for being the place where Poe wrote most of his famous stories.
It’s a pretty small house, so the self-guided tour isn’t all that long, but it’s pretty cool to look around. I would say the best (and creepiest) part of the tour was the basement area. The NPS rangers told me it’s believed that the basement in the short story “The Black Cat” is the basement in this house because the description matches up with the physical room. I certainly did not walk in there by myself and stood by the door to anxiously take a photo and run away. It was so dark and creepy!
After getting my stamps and absorbing a bunch of historical facts about Poe, it was lunchtime! Lucky me, Federal Donuts was just right down the block. By lucky, I mean it was totally planned 😉
In case you don’t recall, Federal Donuts is that place I went to a couple of days ago to get that box of delicious looking donuts. Federal Donuts doesn’t just make great donuts; apparently, they’re also rather adept at making some fantastic fried chicken. I put their fried chicken skills to the test by ordering their fried chicken sandwich, which has a piece of crispy fried boneless chicken breast, buttermilk ranch seasoning, dill pickle chips, American cheese, and rooster sauce (which I believe is just mayo and Sriracha), all between a soft potato roll.
The sandwich was glorious. I mean, it’s not the best thing I’ve tasted in the world, but Federal Donuts sure makes some good chicken. The crust on the chicken is a nice golden brown and very crispy. The breast was a little dry, so it could’ve been cooked a little less, but it was still tasty. If you didn’t already know this about me, I love American cheese slices. I know it’s not real, proper cheese. There’s just something about Kraft singles slices that is nostalgic and comforting, so I love them on burgers and some sandwiches. American cheese on this stuff? Fantastic. The buttermilk ranch flavoring (a powder on the chicken) gives the sandwich a little tang along with the pickles, cutting through the fattiness of the sandwich to give it some balance. Overall, great sandwich to have for lunch. Gotta say though, it’s really tempting to buy a donut when you’re dining at the place because the cases are just there, staring at you and expecting you to purchase a donut (or 5).
Once my belly was full, I headed over to Fairmount Park to walk around. I actually should’ve done this while I was by the Philadelphia Museum of Art the other day since the park is right next to the museum. Fairmount Park is actually a large regional park system that consists of several parks grouped together rather than just one park. According to Visit Philly, the park area is over 9,200 acres large that include trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
I only spent about an hour walking around the trails by the museum and the Fairmount Park Waterworks. I was hoping to get to the deeper, woodsier trails but alas, there wasn’t much time for it. I did get to see some nice outdoor art that’s place all through the park system though!
After having ample of quiet walking time, I headed back over to Eakins Oval by the art museum. The Oval is a space right by the PMoA where the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation department hold community events and activities. During the summer, they hold a lot of outdoor events like beer gardens and food truck festivals. Tonight was the opening night to their summer events.
Even though I never think food truck food is ever spectacular, I always like trying all the trucks out anyway. Food truck festivals always allow me to try a lot of different foods in one place, so it’s always fun to order a little something from every truck. It’s definitely a lot harder to do that when you don’t have friends to share the food with, but I still managed to hit a small handful of the trucks.
Quick reviews of these places: Lil’ Pop Shop has a variety of unique combinations that all sound delicious! The creativity is definitely not lost on Oval-goers, as flavors started selling out quickly barely midway through the event. Since it was super hot, I thought a fruit flavored popsicle would be nice and refreshing. The strawberry rhubarb lemonade was the perfect choice for that–sweet, tart, and refreshing with little chunks of rhubarb strewn throughout the ice bar. I’m not a huge popsicle fan (since I like my sweets with cream and fat…), but I was rather impressed with how good Lil’ Pop Shop’s strawberry rhubarb lemonade popsicle was!
Oink and Moo BBQ had pretty standard barbecue fare–a handful of pulled pork, ribs, and other bbq items. I had just eaten a bunch of deep-fried tater tots so I wasn’t planning on getting a huge platter of barbecue. I eventually decided on the Chipotle Chicken Tacos since they seemed the lightest out of the food offered. The tacos had chipotle-spiced chicken, pickled poblanos, and a cilantro-lime cream sauce. They were all right. Mexican food is pretty decent in California, so the standard to beat is pretty high haha. Oink and Moo BBQ did all right, but definitely not in the “must try” category for food trucks.
After grabbing the tacos to munch on for dinner, I wandered around trying to find a place to sit. As I was wandering, I noticed that there was a large inflatable screen setup nearby, so that meant there was going to be a movie! I quickly checked on my phone to see what was going to be showing; tonight was Pitch Perfect. I’ve seen that movie probably about…4-5 times by now, but hey, I wasn’t doing anything and the movie is hilarious, so why not?
So I sat down with my tacos, next to my fellow Oval-goers , and enjoyed an outdoor movie experience for the next 2 hours. There’s just something really fun about watching movies outdoors in the warm summer night. If you get a chance to do it (in any city!), you totally should, either with friends or by yourself. Just remember to bring snacks to munch on 🙂
Aaaand that’s it for my last day in Philly! I really wish I got to spend a little more time here, mainly because all the cool summer activities were starting to begin. Oh well. Onto New York City!
As always, leave me your questions, comments, etc below!