I’ve been on a kick lately. Sometimes I get on kicks. Sometimes those kicks involve watching 4 episodes of Dating Naked followed by 4 episodes of Married at First Sight (Summer TV options got my like woe.)
Sometimes those kicks are actual kicks, courtesy of BodyCombat and Kickboxing.
Lately, it’s been…. a Nacho Kick.
I’ve inadvertently found myself on the hunt for Philly’s best nachos and, while that hunt hasn’t come to a close yet…. it’s had some pretty tasty (and a few meh) stops along the way.
Come along, folks. Join me on a crunchy, meaty, melty, cheesy journey.
Let’s just start with the meh and work our way up. Lucha Cartel.
The Lucha Nachos from this Old City staple are touted as “crispy corn tortilla chips, sliced jalapeños, monterey jack & chihuahua cheeses topped with pico de gallo, guacamole, and crema for $10. We tacked on refried beans for $2 and chicken for $4 for a total of $16.
Call me old fashioned, but a nacho order that doesn’t default with beans AIN’T A NACHO TO ME!!
Maybe it was a busy night, but the nachos came out room temperature, borderline cold. We complained and were given a second order, but my nacho steam was a little lost seeing lifeless lumps of frijoles and chunkless guac. Sure, we ate most of em…. but these aren’t the nachos of my dreams. I’ll leave it at that. Don’t worry, the next 3 were.
Enter Sancho Pistola’s. Because you can’t spell Nachos without Sancho. And their description is on-point:
really expensive cheese, crema, tomato, refried beans, cilantro, jalapeno, and onion.
Throw in a little chicken tinga (this is not a suggestion but an ORDER) and you’re in for the most delightful, wild, tinga-taste party. Even distribution of toppings, the onions were PICKLED Y’ALL!! This was my dream nacho. The little squirt bottle to the upper left contained, not ketchup, but a spicy creamy sauce. Oh baby. Do yourself a solid. Get here during happy hour for 1/2 priced nachos. But don’t worry, they’re full of flavor (that’s like a sentence my dad would write. I’m cool with it.)
Pardon the semi-lousy picture. Including the aggressive hand of my buddy Stephanie. This was taken during Philly Beer Week at one of my all-time favorite spots, Khyber Pass. Their nachos, clocking in at $14 for a large with added BBQ pulled pork come complete with tortilla chips, jack cheese, green tomato salsa, and sour cream.
I realize, now, they don’t have beans on them. But I’ve had them countless times and have never missed a bean. Must say something about the heavy attention paid to the rest of the toppings. The pork is really what shines, here. That, and the fact that they have enough incredible craft beers on hand to drown a horse.
(Sidenote: I don’t condone the drowning of horses. Save a horse, order nachos.)
But sometimes, I don’t wanna trek out to Old City or Northern Liberties. Sometimes, I just wanna stick close to home for some comfort food. Mostly on Sundays. And definitely from Sidecar Bar and Grille.
These nachos, though.
The deal of the century on Pork Me Sundays, for $7 ($10 normally) you get an epic portion of chips covered in braised pork (or chorizo…. but I go braised), queso caribe, chihuahua cheese (made with REAL chihuahua? Jury’s still out), black beans (PRAISE BE), jalapeños, and served with sour cream and pineapple-tomatillo salsa.
These were some of the first nachos I tried in the city, and I just can’t quit them. I will request these nachos in my final week of life, and continue to invite anyone I know here just so we can “split” nachos (don’t mind me greedily hoarding the beany-cheesy ones).
But really…. I’m still on the lookout for the nacho order to end all nachos.
So you tell me… what’s your dream nacho plate covered in? inquiring minds and all that….
Birthdays are a time for friends and phenomenal food, dancing and dresses, and, of course, tiaras and tequila.
Well, I guess some of those are optional, but when available, one should always jump on the opportunity to enjoy a boozy brunch with some of your favorite people (and ingredients). When the folks from Williams-Sonoma reached out to ask how I put my own spin on a traditional Bloody Mary, I had a quick flashback to the
last only time I’ve ever enjoyed tried the classic brunch beverage. It involved a premade, super salty mix that tasted like tomato soup and disguised any and all hint of alcohol. In other words: silent, spicy, and deadly.
It was time for a change. Time to make sure that, as I celebrated another year passing, I let my brunch drink grow up with me.
Enter: Juicers!! My hostess for the weekend and her partner are the proud owners of a Breville Juice Fountain Compact that we used each day of my visit. This power-house packs a punch, and our juicing was efficient and yielded excellent, juicy results. I also couldn’t help but notice that it was small enough that it COULD fit into even MY itty bitty apartment…. maybe I’ll treat myself for my NEXT birthday!!
Although we couldn’t find any Jamaican Jerk Paste, we used one of my favorite show’s Jamaican-Style Bloody Mary recipes, and subbed tequila for vodka (we were enjoying jalapeno cream cheese, seemed only fitting).
The ingredients were fresh, fun, and (most importantly) GREEN! It’s my favorite color. I like to stick with themes.
The pepperoncini replaced poached shrimp as a garnish and we rimmed our glasses with my new FAVORITE spicy spice, Saint Lucifer Habanero Blend. This Bloody Maria is NOT for the faint of heart (or tastebuds).
I got to juicing. And, JUST LIKE THAT, it was juiced!
Faster than a speeding bullet, and FAR fresher than any pre-packaged blend of tomato juice, this Bloody Maria was spicy, savory (thanks again, Worcestershire Sauce!), and super-sippable.
And not at all soupy.
I don’t think I’ve become a full on Bloody convert, I tend to prefer my brunch bevvies to be bubbly…. but throw some huevos rancheros on a plate, hit me with some chilaquiles, and I’d make this Bloody Maria part of any and all future brunches!
*Full Disclosure: A member of Williams-Sonoma’s social team reached out to ask if I could write a post featuring some juicers, which worked out really well since we’d already planned a boozy birthday brunch! That said, I received no compensation from them for this post.*
I don’t know if you’re aware of this but, when it comes to Philadelphia Beer Gardens… I’m kind of a local celebrity.
No big, that’s just me, Jordan Price, 26, relaxing in the PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden…. featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Apparently, I lounge so well that photographers just wanna snap shots. I get it.
If you’ve spent any time with me this summer, you’ll know that I suggest a beer garden pretty much every single night. Because when the sun (or moon) is shining, the temperatures are as comfortable as they’ve been, and Philly’s BGA (Beer Garden Abundance) Scale is off the charts, why WOULDN’T you want to bring a bunch of friends and nosh/sip in the great outdoors?
But you might be wondering: Which of the new Philly beer gardens is the right fit for me?
Wonder no longer. I got you girl (and guy. And puppy. And whatever.)
1. First up, the annual delight that is The PHS Pop-Up Garden
1438 South Street
Alcoholic drinks range from $6-7
Used to accept credit cards… now I think cash only!
Food: Jerk Chicken and rotating food trucks
Last year’s PHS Pop-Up Garden gave off this very rustic, autumnal vibe. You wanted to spend an entire Indian Summer there. This year, the vibe is much more Ikea wishes you a “Bienvenido a Miami” (Smith, 1997). Located between Broad and 15th on South Street, I’ve visited this spot a handful of times and each experience has been… mostly pleasant. They bring in tasty food trucks and are right next to the jerk chicken hut if you’re feeling peckish.
My only complaint would be the size, which lends itself to a major issue: the dreaded PPP (porta-potty-proximity). When the wind shifts, and it’s a little later in the evening, the area closest to the porta potties begins to smell more than a little ripe.
This Beer Garden is perfect for:
-Outdoor Dates (even if it’s just you and your puppy) or small groups
-A little hammock relaxation (mind you there are only a handful, so get em while they’re hot!)
-YOU! Especially if you’ve always been known by your friends as “that guy” or “that girl”. The one rocking the fedora year-round, who yearns to take their talents to South Beach. And if you dig something other than beer, while you can’t swim up to this bar, you can definitely nab a refreshing dark n’ stormy or vodka basil lemonade (which is…. so good) to beat the heat.
100 S. Independence Mall West (AKA Directly across 6th Street from the Liberty Bell)
NOT Dog friendly
Alcoholic drinks $6-7/18-21 (beer/pitchers); $7-9/24-31 (cocktails/pitchers)
Accepts credit cards!
Food: IT’S AMAZING! Every bite I’ve had has been great, and features everything from cheese curds, wings, and fries (FRIED EVERYTHING!) to salads, steak frites, and DIY S’mores.
So the Independence Beer Garden (or “IBG” as it’s affectionately known) is not (I repeat NOT) a pop-up. They REALLY want you to know this, and will immediately respond to any tweets with silly hashtags like #WeAreNotAPopUp, #WeAreSimplySeasonal, and #FullLiquorLicense. (If you’re unsure of why they’re so serious about this designation, check out the article on the Liquor Control Loophole that pop-ups utilize, and some of the comments/responses). That said, though, it’s true. On first glance, this may seem like a pop-up. Then you realize: they have a full wait-staff. Two bars running draft lines, making cocktails on the fly, and whipping out wine when requested. Also, their kitchen is pumping out some of Philly’s finest al fresco foods you can find.
We get it, @PHLBeerGarden. You’re not a pop-up. You’re so much more.
They’ve got ping pong, bocce courts, giant jenga, and tons of seating. The bathrooms are basic, but definitely not porta potties, and the space is kept immaculately clean. Needless to say, I love that this spot isn’t a pop-up because there’s the potential for continued presence. Time will tell….
This Beer Garden is perfect for:
-The beer lover! With ten draft lines and the option of getting beer by the pitcher, gone are the days of waiting in line every time you want a single beer. Just stock up on a pitcher and park it by the ping pong table.
-Large groups. Enormous picnic tables that can house 10-14 people (we get pretty cozy, my friends and I), a relatively open bar area, and a very communal vibe, swing by IBG when you’re rolling deep.
-Lunch AND dinner. Serving food from 11am-10pm, you could enjoy a wedge salad for lunch, an afternoon snack of pretzel bites, and end the night with a grilled mahi mahi sandwich (which is FANTASTIC, by the way.)
-Gamers. But maybe not like WoW/Halo… I’m talking people who wanna get competitive, throwing bocce balls and pinging some pong.
3. Spruce Street Harbor Park (SSHP or “The Harbor” for short)
Spruce and S Christopher Columbus Blvd
Open until August 31st
Alcoholic drinks $6-9 (beer)
Food: The Blue Anchor AND assorted “carnival” goodies like cotton candy and funnel cake. I’ve only tried the shoestring fries. And had to stop because they’re wonderful and my blood pressure asked me to.
This spot is easily my favorite place to be in Philly during the summer. And, to be honest, maybe just my favorite place in Philly. SSHP has literally everything I could ask for in a little garden oasis paradise:
- It’s puppy and child friendly, so I get to watch joyful small creatures scamper about.
- It’s on the water, and occasionally hosts events like SUP Yoga and little duck paddle boats, as well as a river breeze that refreshes the soul.
- SAND! It’s like we’re at the beach! On the sand, you’ll find picnic tables, mini circular tables, and adirondack chairs (some with their own pillows. SUCH LUXURY!)
- Hammocks, far as the eye can see. Like… over 55 hammocks.
- Oh yes… and at night…. magical fairy twinkle lights.
I’m not one to speak in hyperbole [yes, I am] but this place is THE BEST!! Whether going to read a book in the dwindling remnants of sunshine or enjoy a cold brewski on the scenic (kinda) Delaware River…. I am trying to spend all my time here.
This Beer Garden is perfect for:
-Literally any sized group. Singles, families, date night, giant posses. There is a spot for you.
-BABIES! More appropriately: The whole family! There are toys, occasionally live music, video game mini-arcades, giant chairs on which to take photos. It’s ideal.
-Instagrammers. I can’t tell you how picturesque it is, so just like…. search Instagram. Hammock foot photos (totally guilty), lit-up floating gardens (also guilty), adirondack selfies, that enormous chair I just mentioned, twinkle fairy paradise.
-Gamers AGAIN!: Giant Chess! Giant Jenga! I think I saw large Lego blocks. Definitely shuffleboard. And ALSO: those video games that TRUE gamers dig.
-Honestly? ANYONE! I can’t imagine the person who wouldn’t like this place. And if you’re that person…. well, I guess I’ll see you in the autumn. Because I’m Harbor Park-ing until the bitter end (August 31st).
Summer in Philadelphia is quickly becoming my favorite season. Last year, I was unable to fully partake with periodic traveling, two classes, working at Planned Parenthood, and panicking about my Capstone. But I’ve been able to take things a little slower this summer. I went ahead and got a bike (more on that soon, I’m sure), I’ve been photographed in multiple beer gardens (I’m trying to spend as much time enjoying craft beer outside as possible) and limiting my weekends at the shore to explore my city a little more. As much as summer is about getting outside and drinking excellent summer ales…. It’s also about hot dogs.
South Street Headhouse knows this fact quite well, and has commemorated this with an Annual Dog Days of Summer SHOWDOWN. 20 chefs from 20 different establishments whipping up their take on the American classic. There were spicy sausages, pork-ified puppies, beef brats, and every topping you could imagine. Creativity out the wazoo, and I gotta say, the chefs pulled out all the stops. My stomach reached its limit at 9 half-dogs…. but goodness, what a 9 they were.
I started the day off with the hometown hero Hot Diggity’s Corn Salsa Dog. My first dog was presented beautifully but, truly, all that stood out to me was the corn and bacon salsa. The hot dog, to me, was a little lost in the fray. Luckily, the fray was delicious. So good, in fact, that it earned 3rd Place!
A Korean Fried Hot Dog, eh? Ok, Taproom on 19th, I see where you’re going with this. Jalapeno mayo was the star of the show, in my humblest opinion, but, in a similar vein as Hot Diggity, the dog itself was relatively silent amidst the fresh flavors of the pickled relish and watermelon. There’s something to be said for creative toppings, but as this was a hot dog cook-off…. well I couldn’t hand my “People’s Choice” ticket over to this one.
Chef Adan from Sancho Pistola’s could be heard shouting about his bacon jam throughout Headhouse Square. This was a GREAT dog. A blend of bacon jam, jalapeno ketchup, and some solid crema mixed together with a crisp dog and an appropriately sized bun led to 4 wonderful bites. An early contender, my tastebuds were starting to get real excited….
Chicken Fried Chicken!? Color me drooling with anticipation. This was the first meat-mix-up as far as the content of the sausage went, and I couldn’t wait. There was consistently a line of folks waiting for these bad boys, and I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately… I think I might’ve gotten one from a bad batch. Or, more specifically, a burnt batch. While the meat inside was pretty tasty, the “fried” aspect was almost prohibitively crunchy. That said, I saw almost everyone else cheerily chowing down, so please…. don’t take my word.
Serrano’s Wild Board Hot Dog suffered a similar fate, simply didn’t stand up well to the format. The meat in this sausage was delicious, but my dog was borderline cold. The micro celery, however, was intriguing and I’d like to see it in more dishes in my life. Stat.
Bridget Foy’s served up, quite literally, the hot dog of my dreams. The night previous, I’d been having beautiful, vivid dreams of fountains full of pickled vegetables and what does she go and do? Serves them up on a weenie! Complete with pork belly. I was fairly full of bread at this point, but every topping and ingredient that was NOT bread in this was done perfectly. Bravo!
The People’s Choice went to this little looker: Bistro Romano‘s Scala Duck Ragu. Talk about having everything!! Beef wrapped in pancetta wrapped in romaine, topped with duck and Parmigiano Reggiano? Be still my heart. Were it not for the fact that this was my very last dog (and the fact that the next two won my heart), I would’ve contemplated stealing a number of these to stockpile for later. Consider yourself lucky, BR.
Twisted Tail: You did me dirty. You rifled around in my journal, checked out my fridge, asked friends and family…. and somehow managed to put all the things I love into one miniature, compact delight of a dog. Allegedly The World’s Best Chili Dog, I’m inclined to agree. Everything on this dog came together like a well-written symphony, with the brioche bun crunching in time with the brisket and short rib chili, which was not overpowered by the cheddar. All of this allowed the pork dog to sing like a canary… in my mouth.
Unfortunately, there was another competitor. And she was not to be outdone.
Ladies and gentleman: my vote went to Cherry Bomb Bus’ Broad Street Bulldog.
Imagine, if you will, a world where hot dogs are not standalone. No, they are…. within. This example, particular, held a snappy-cased beef frank within a blend of ground beef on a seeded roll. It was like…. a hot dog…. within a burger…. surrounded by some of the best roast pork toppings imaginable (read: provolone, long hots, and gravy!) It was like Inception…. only with hot dogs.
I had a single ticket left, but I couldn’t bare to look at another rod of meat (not even a euphemism, y’all.) Luckily, there was one last treat waiting for me…
All that heartburn really needed some cooling off. Luckily, mompops was there to send in reinforcements in the form of a strawberry-lemonade popsicle.
I promptly waddled home and fell into a 2 hour food coma.
Thanks a lot, Hot Diggity and the crew….
(no. really. that was amazing. Can’t wait until next year!)
I’ve got a bone to pick with whoever wrote that song about flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Maybe it’s just envy of the man on the flying trapeze…
I have no issues with heights. I thrive on adrenaline and love a new adventurous way of breaking a sweat. So when I was given a chance to try out Mary Kelly Rayel’s Fly School Circus Arts in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, I figured I’d grab life by the…well, the bar.
If you’re yearning for a way to kiss the sky WITHOUT jumping out of a plane, have a spare $60 bucks, and wanna test out that arm strength, look no further. Two hours may seem like barely any time, but after hardly any time “learning the ropes” if you will, it’s time to ascend.
I’ll be honest: my first attempt, I BLEW IT. I lost my grip on the bar and fell into the net, basically shaving my face against the rough ropes. It wasn’t pretty. It was scary, and unexpected, and jarring.
But, as they always say, life’s too short to let a net-burn slow you down. I climbed back up. I repeated to myself “Just hold on. Just HOLD on.”
And I did.
Wow, what a rush. Your body feels weightless for a moment at the top of your swing, and you can almost forget you’re ground-bound.
Your next “trick” is scooping your leg’s up so that you can hang by your knees. Easier said than done, but I somehow managed. And, unlike Carrie Bradshaw in Season 5 (you like that reference? Flashback Friday), I was able to let go. And just let it all hang out….
Anyway, after 5-6 passes, I attempted one catch. That said, my hands were so shredded and blistered that, just as I did on my first attempt, I hit the net running (ok, flying). This time involved a lot less face-grating (though a lot more hand-shredding) and I knew I needed to call it a night.
Despite the sore hands and arms, and the almost-laughable videos of these attempts (no, you won’t be seeing THOSE failures), I intend to head back to FlySchool for another attempts. Maybe with a few more callouses, and after a few more pull-ups…. but that said, you don’t have to be an Olympic weight lifter to have a great time. I managed 3-4 insane passes, including my very favorite, a backflip! A little harder to photograph, but here’s a shot on the descent (I felt like a dizzy egg baby afterwards…)
You leave high on heights, and SURPRISINGLY ravenous. An excellent full body workout without knowing it…. Now I know why all the ladies flocked to that man on the flying trapeze. I bet he had excellent abs…
Thanks so much to Mary Kelly and her funky bunch for hosting us! Can’t wait to see y’all again!
Oh, and those sexy chalk marks all over my pants?
Just another perk of the process.
It’s important to write posts of substance. To inform folks of the awesome things going on in Philly. To share my thoughts on the newest group fitness class, or that sweet tapas place that just opened up… you know, or gush about beer.
But it’s also essential that, when life hands you a squishy faced, floppy eared baby blue Great Dane as the newest member of your family, you share it with the world.
Folks, meet Cornwallis “Wally” Price, the newest member of my already-large family!!
Wally is 11 weeks old, and already 25 lbs of stumbling, bumbling cuteness. Hailing from distant lands, he’s living, breathing proof that everything really IS bigger in Texas. His paws are huge, and indicate he’s gonna be a big boy. But for now, he’s ALL puppy.
He sits like an awkward frog, and nibbles on everything. And I am absolutely in love with him.
Shortly after this photo was taken, he managed to get trapped behind one of those bushes and I nailed my head into the brick wall when I went to get him and he panicked, not knowing how to get out of the bushes and the dark.
A labor of love, right?
I promise, I won’t become one of those manic puppy moms, but mostly because he’s living out in the burbs with my mom, dad, and sister… That said, I won’t pretend that this weekend, when he dons a patriotic bandana, I won’t blow up your Instagram feed just a LITTLE bit.
It’s my duty, as an American.
I don’t get out to Northern Liberties nearly enough. There was a time, deep in my LivingSocial heyday, when I was out once or twice a week, helping with Beer Fest or setting up a BBQ in Liberty Lands Park or hanging out with my friends’ puppies. But then that ended (a moment of silence for the loss of the best part-time job of all time…) and all of the sudden I found myself a No-NoLibs-er. Well, that’s all about to change.
My baby brother Somers, self-proclaimed Philly Sports Fanatic who’s been suffering in DC for the past several years (who is actually like…6’4” and towers over me now) is moving to Philly! Specifically, Northern Liberties. If this isn’t cause for celebration, I don’t know what is. And, lucky for me, the folks at Crabby’s Café and Sports Bar felt the same, inviting a handful of us Philly folks out for some crawfish sucking, claw-cracking, mollusk munching fun in The Piazza last week.
Unfortunately, I had volleyball game that evening, so cocktails and craft beers were not in the cards (though it did appear that they had a nice selection of beers on draft, and were pouring these “Happy Crab” cocktails that looked like neon KoolAid and apparently was a boozy treat.) But volleyball couldn’t stop me from chowing on the eats presented to us in the best fashion possible: In themed waves, with giant sheets of paper covering the tables and an endless supply of paper towels. I love a spot that not only tolerates messy eating, but encourages it.
We were given trays upon trays of crabby fries, sweet potato crisps dusted with powdered sugar (why don’t more restaurants do this?!), and my favorite, Crabby Wings!
They wouldn’t reveal what made these wings so crabby, but they had a distinct taste that separated them from your typical buffalo wing (which they do offer). My guess is fish sauce, but the jury’s still out. Well, I do appreciate some mystery in my meals… There was no mystery in these mussels, though.
I feel sorry for the folks who didn’t spend a LOT of time getting up close and personal with these bad boys. Marinara mussels, served with crusty garlic bread (and, unfortunately, plastic forks… kind of cheapened the experience for me) were perhaps my favorite course of the meal. But we can’t forget the coup de grace: The Seafood Boil.
LOBSTAH! Crawfish! Clams! Corn! Sausage! Everything but the kitchen sink. Except that it sort of looks like it is served in a kitchen sink, so I guess that doesn’t hold.
**Everything IN the kitchen sink.
I opted to sit at the “spicy” table, but honestly, wasn’t too burned out by the spice factor. I think that, even despite the Vietnamese influence on many of the dishes, they try to make it palatable for folks. Those lobster claws were elusive on the meat front, and we managed to break not just one but two claw-crackers during our meal. Luckily, they made for great photo props.
I had to dine-and-dash a little early to skitter off to volleyball, but was excited to see Crabby’s is doing a handful of big events this summer, including a Luau Party July 19th (pig roast!), a Crawfish Boil August 9th, and a Clam Bake September 13th. If you’re starving for some seafood and sports and suds in a relaxed setting…. Well, I think you couldn’t pick a better spot than Crabby’s.