Archive for the ‘Old City’ Category

The Beneluxx Tasting Room in Old City is easy to miss, but for those looking for romance on a budget, its wine, cheese, beer, and chocolate are well-worth discovering.  Read the full review at Drink Philly and find out why!

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On the first Friday of every month, Philadelphia’s art galleries stay open late and welcome everyone — from casual passerby to serious collectors — to come in and peruse their current curations.  The aptly dubbed “First Friday” has been happening, rain or shine, since 1991, and has become one of the city’s most visible and popular events.  Although historically focused on the 40+ galleries between Front and Vine and Market and 3rd streets in Old City, First Friday open houses are now hosted by galleries all over the city, from Space 1026 in Chinatown to the Projects Gallery in Northern Liberties to Highwire in Fishtown.  The best thing about this expansion is that, even though every First Friday shares the same core elements, depending on who’s showing what where, you can have a radically different experience every single time.

How cheap we talkin’: FREE!

Why this will impress your date: Because you can show you are as comfortable around refined oil portraits as you are around avante-garde video art.  This is a good thing, I promise.

The Inside Game: If you want to know who’s showing where, need to plan a route, or find galleries in a particular neighborhood, there are a lot of great resources for planning ahead, like this linked list of Philly art galleries.  Another great resource is Phrequency’s “DIY First Friday” list, conveniently organized by neighborhood. The Philadelphia Weekly also shares its pick of noteworthy exhibitions each month in its Arts and Culture section.

Score Extra Points: By doing a little homework before hand (see above) and then leading the way. Strolling from gallery to gallery is perfect for hand-holding.

Next date: Friday April 1, 2011! And then the first Friday of every month, all year round (approximately 5-9pm).

Keep reading for highlights from First Fridays past, and where to find the galleries that still have free booze!


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On a Friday night, Old City can sometimes seem a bit overrun by heavy drinkers, flashy dressers, and unruly crowds – not necessarily the most inviting atmosphere for a date.  But that’s only if you don’t know where to go (or where not to go).  For an Old City date with old-fashioned charm, start with homemade ice cream from Franklin Fountain, then take in the concert and fireworks at Penn’s Landing. (Concert starts at 7:30, fireworks at 9:15).  After the big show, head to Sassafras International Cafe (and bar) at 48 S.2nd between Market and Walnut.  With painted tin ceilings, a faux fireplace, and international beer list, this intimate and classy joint is a welcoming respite from the mayhem of the club scene.  That is, if you can make it past the throngs on the street.

How cheap we talkin’: $5-7pp for ice cream (it gets pricey fast if you opt for the waffle cones like we did!) and $6 for drafts at Sassafras (plus tip!).

Why this will impress your date: Because there is something even more awesome about fireworks when it’s not the Fourth of July.

Score Extra Points: By splurging for the waffle cone at Franklin Fountain. Trust me, it’s worth it.

The Inside Game: There is a full sized couch in the ladies room at Sassafras.  And a lock on the door.  Just sayin.’

Next Date: Ice cream and drinks are available anytime, but the last Friday for fireworks is September 3, 2010.


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The boat ride scene has long been a staple of the romantic film genre (case in point, anyone remember the Chicago Ferry slow-dance scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding?).  But truly, what is more romantic than a boat ride?  Watching the wind tousle your date’s hair, listening to the waves slap rhythmically against the side of the boat, and exalting in the subtle danger of being so far from solid ground.  Didn’t think you could experience this in Philadelphia? Enter the River Link Ferry.  For only $7 round trip, my date and I cruised the Delaware across and back, and during our layover in Camden, found a place to enjoy a cold beer near the waterfront.

How cheap we talkin’: $7 for round trip tickets on the River Ferry. $2-4 for beer and optional $4.50 for fries to split.

Why this will impress your date: I talked about the hair tousling, right?

Score extra points: With this move:


The inside game: The Camden waterfront has some nice benches and green space to sit.  The rest of Camden does not.  So for a nicer time (and a cheaper date), maybe skip the beers and bring a picnic instead.

Next date: Anytime! (between Memorial Day and Labor Day). Season regular hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with departures from Philadelphia every hour on the hour beginning at 10:00 a.m. Departures from Camden are every hour on the half hour beginning at 9:30 a.m.


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Corner stools - best seats in the house

Every Wednesday, the Ritz theaters in Old City reduce rates on all shows to an amazingly affordable $6. The Ritz are good “date-movie” theaters because there is always something interesting/stimulating/artsy/educational/foreign/award-winning showing (i.e. you can generally avoid the cheesy romcoms and lame studio blockbusters which can be date-movie disasters, trust me).

There are 3 Ritz theatres all within walking distance of one another, but the Ritz Five at 214 Walnut Street is the closest to Zahav, a “modern Israeli” restaurant with a comfortable atmosphere, an elegant bar, and an outstanding happy hour from 5-7pm.  Be warned, however; the Lemonnanas at Zahav are so delicious, you may end up ditching the movie and ordering another round instead.

How cheap we talkin’: Admittedly, this date cuts it close, but $15 per person should get you 2 theatre tickets, 2 Lemonnana cocktails, and one order of half-price hummus to share, including tax and tip.  But if your bartender was as nice as ours, you should pony up the extra buck or two and tip handsomely.  I will not stand accused of being a Rachel Ray.

Why this will impress your date: The Ritz Five has history (it has been in operation over 30 years and was one of the first “arthouse” theaters in Philadelaphia), and Zahav has class (afterall, it was reviewed in Gourmet magazine).

The Inside Game: Demonstrate you possess the twin turn-ons of planning and foresight by picking up movie tickets on your way to Zahav. That way you won’t have to wait in line later, and you’re guaranteed a seat.

Score Extra Points: By actually knowing how to find Zahav.

Next Date: Any Wednesday!


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National Mechanics is an Old City bar with an imposing façade but an inviting interior.  I think it makes a good first date spot because it’s dimly lit without being dark, it’s nice without being fancy, and it’s usually lively without being overcrowded.  There are also many seating options – a long bar, where you can wait for your date without having to stand around awkwardly, and deep wooden booths if you want a bit more privacy.  On Monday nights, however, you should stake out one of the tall tables with high-backed stools near the back of the room where, come 9pm, you will be front and center for the irresistably kooky “Monday Night Club,” hosted by the irrepressible and unforgettable Needles Jones.

How cheap we talkin’: Monday Night Club is FREE; Burgers and a lager during happy hour about $12, including tax and tip.

Why this will impress your date: Everyone looks better in strobe lighting.

The Inside Game: Try the veggie burger! It’s one of the best, heartiest, and most original in the city (it tastes like lomein!)

Score extra points: Audience participation is encouraged, so brush up on your Needles and sing along!

Next Date: Every Monday.


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The Secret Cinema presents screenings of unique and rare original 16mm films, (usually) for free, at multiple venues throughout the city, throughout the year.  Their sci-fi series, where we went, is hosted by the Chemical Heritage Foundation museum at 315 Chestnut Street (between 3rd and 4th) in Old City.  Popcorn and sodas are provided, and after the film, a local university professor leads a discussion about the film and its depictions of science.

How cheap we talkin’: Free!

Why this will impress your date: The films are projected from original celluloid!

Score extra points: The movie doesn’t start until 6:30pm, so bring your date a bit early and take in the museum’s well-executed exhibits highlighting everyday applications of chemistry.

The inside game: Bring a sweater. It got a little chilly in there.

Next date: Wednesday, November 10th. Check the Secret Society website for more details.


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