Hubby and I spent our annual b-day/anniversary celebration trip in Phila this year and had a fantastic time. We started out by taking Amtrak from Pittsburgh to Phila on Thursday, arriving in time to check-in at our hotel, quickly unpack, and take public tran out to Citizens Bank Park for the last game in the Phillies/Reds series. (Note to self: Don't plan on going to a night game after getting up at 2am to travel all day. Thank goodness the Phillies won! 11 innings was pretty rough though.) The park was lovely, and like everywhere else we went in Phila, the people were great.
We stayed at the Society Hill Sheraton which suited our needs perfectly. It was well-appointed, clean, had very comfortable beds/pillows, etc... and was in an excellent location for being able to walk or public tran to everything we wanted to do. Their staff was great, too. Friday morning we enjoyed time in their pool and hot tub while we could have it all to ourselves. We then went to the Independence Park visitors center and got our timed tour tickets for Independence Hall and "Independence Passes" which covered SEPTA and Phlash travel.
Lunch was at Jim's (4th and South Sts.) as it sounded best to me from the cheesesteak thread on this forum. We were not disappointed! Although the line was out the door and around the corner, it was well worth the wait. I have to admit to having a "cheez whiz, really?" attitude before trying a whiz wit steak sandwich, but am a thorough convert now. We got a second sandwich with mushrooms, onions and provolone which was also delicious, but there's just something about the way the beef juices and onions and cheez whiz mingle on that fabulous roll....mmmmmm!
We had both been to Independence Hall in our youth, but enjoyed the tour again as adults, as well as the one at Congress Hall and the documents building. After that we wandered leisurely through the streets of the old city, enjoying the bits of history on the placards along the way and the beauty of the city in general.
Friday night (our anniversary), we dined at Sbraga and had a fantastic meal there. We each chose different selections at each course to share, so we were truly in our element being able to sample a plethora of different flavors, all of which were beautifully and creatively presented. We enjoyed having the wine pairings with each course, as well, as it would have been impossible to choose one bottle of wine to share that would have been right with the many different dishes. Our server was very friendly and efficient without being overbearing or snobbish. We enjoyed the atmosphere as well as the food. The walk up to the SEPTA station was beautiful at night, too.
Saturday, we walked out to Penn's Landing to have a look around and then took the Phlash bus to Reading Terminal Market. Again, we stood in a very, very long line for our lunch, but after tasting it, we'd have stood a lot longer if needed. Yes, we had to try DiNic's roast pork with provolone and greens. Outstanding!! We also shared one of their beef brisket sandwiches with provolone and a mix of hot and sweet peppers that was really, really delicious... almost as good as the roast pork. We had a quick look around the market, but needed to hurrry back out to the bus in order to make it to our next stop in time.
We took the Phlash out to the Rodin Museum and paid the suggested admission just in time to make the 1:30pm guided tour which was led by a very well-informed and gracious lady whose enthusiam for Rodin and for the museum was contagious. The museum and its gardens are a real gem and probably easily overlooked with all the hubbub about the new Barnes. (We decided to come back to the Barnes another season when it may not be quite so busy.)
Taking the Phlash the rest of its loop helped us to get our bearings on the city, take in a glimpse of the beauty of some of its parks, monuments, and architecture, and deliver us back to within a few blocks of our hotel. A few blocks which, happily, are full of interesting pubs, microbreweries, etc... We had no idea how seriously Philadelphians take their beer, but were pleasantly surprised to find that there are a multitude of craft and import beers available at really reasonable prices, and always someone around, be it bartender or patron, to suggest their favorite.
Saturday night, we dined at Zahav which is right across from our hotel. We had reservations and were promptly seated and offered their interesting cocktail menu. The Israeli Salad Martini was really unique, delicious and potent! We had their tasting menu, so were overwhelmed with dish after tasty dish of interesting salads, hummous, mezzes, entrees and desserts. They were very, very busy, and I know they needed our table, but I wish that we could have taken our time a little more over our meal. It was all we could do to keep up with the arrival of small plates loaded with exotic treats. By the end of the meal, we could barely move we were so full! The food was absolutely delicious and the atmosphere was great, too. Very chic, but casual. Definitely someplace we'd like to try again.
Sunday we had to pack up and go home, even though we'd have loved to be able to enjoy another day or two in such a friendly, interesting, beautiful (and in many ways, suprisingly affordable for the east coast) city. We made one last trek to RTM to pick up an assortment of goodies for a "gourmet picnic" on the long train ride home and then headed for the Amtrak station. I hope that we wind up in Phila again someday as there is still so much that we didn't get around to doing.
Thank you to the many local experts who helped me plan this trip! The information you shared with me was absolutely invaluable and truly helped us to enjoy our time in Phila to the maximum.