An Inside Look at John's City of Philadelphia Favorites!

Posted: Aug 01 2014

I'll be staying near home this holiday weekend, so I thought it was a great chance to visit some of my hometown favorites. It isn't often I get to spend a weekend relaxing and unwinding~ all while experiencing the exciting transformation that Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love, has made since I was a kid. Follow me and let me show you some of my personal favorites!



When I was growing up, if you wanted to go out for dinner, there were literally three choices - Steak, Italian, or Seafood (Arthurs, Pagano’s, and Bookbinders, respectively). Now we live in a restaurant mecca, with farm-to-table offerings and celebrity chefs opening new places weekly. The biggest problem is getting to try them all!

Here’s a few of my favorites:



1. Serpico - SERPICOONSOUTH.COM - This one just opened, and is helmed by Peter Serpico, a hot NY Chef from Momofuko. He was seduced by Philly’s charm and our most famous restauranteur, Steven Starr’s ‘offer he couldn’t refuse’! It’s chic, delicious, and unexpected. I can’t wait to go back!


2. Pub & Kitchen - THEPUBANDKITCHEN.COM - This is a gastro-pub that happens to be around the corner from my house. It’s my fallback place whenever I want to meet a friend for a casual but delicious dinner.


3. Parc - PARC-RESTAURANT.COM - If you read my Paris Itinerary and were wistfully dreaming of a chic brasserie meal, you can actually do pretty well here in Philadelphia by making a reservation at Parc. It is not a super original restaurant, but it is a really believable and enjoyable copy of a French classic. The décor is beautiful, the place buzzing, and the food good enough. In nice weather, try to get a sidewalk table overlooking Rittenhouse Square…




4. Philadelphia Museum of Art - PHILAMUSEUM.ORG - The mother ship! A huge and imposing ‘Temple on the Hill’ houses thousands of years of world art, all the way through to the present. It also does great fashion exhibitions, including a Patrick Kelly show (Kitchy/Chic 1980’s phenomenon) that I designed a tribute collection for, available at the museum shop.


5. Barnes Foundation -  BARNESFOUNDATION.ORG - Newly transported from its original home in the suburbs, this is one passionate and visionary man’s collection that includes dozens of Renoirs, Cezannes, Matisses, Picassos, etc. The move was very controversial (it broke Dr. Barnes’ will - long story!) but the outcome is that the collection is accessible to many more people, hopefully including you!  


6. Institute of Contemporary Art - ICAPHILA.ORG - I like to stretch my mind here… It’s cutting edge and often bewildering, but they are showing us the future, and their 50 year track record proves it (let’s just say that Andy Warhol had his first museum show there back in 1965!)





7. Joan Shepp - JOANSHEPP.COM - Joan was my very first US account; I met her while I was still an art student in London, and she carried back her first order on the plane!  She still carries our line in it’s own boutique area, and we are in the company of amazing international fashion lines for both women and men. This is a photo of me in our area there. Her strength is mixing up established designer with young discoveries, and mixing up pricepoints too…


8. Art in the Age - ARTINTHEAGE.COM - This is a really unique store. It was created to promote a liquor brand of the same name—small batch, artisanal, locally made spirits based on ginger, roots, herbs… all unique and quite tasty. The shop sells small batch, artisanal, locally made clothing and quirky stuff with the same irrisistable aesthetic. No alcohol is for sale here because PA has state-run liquor stores, but they do offer free samples, which adds a great vibe to the shopping.





9. Schuylkill Banks - SCHUYLKILLBANKS.ORG - This is a new urban park along the banks of the Schuylkill River. You can walk, jog, ride bikes along it, and end up at the Art Museum, the picturesque boathouses, or if you are a serious bike rider, you can ride the full 26.5 mile trail all the way to Valley Forge Park!



10. Rittenhouse Square and Washington Square - RITTENHOUSESQUARE - WASHINGTONSQUARE - IPhilly is organized around a series of garden-like squares, and these are two of my favorites - to people watch, to jog around, or to use as a destination and walk between. I took the photo on the left of Rittenhouse Square this winter. Each anchors beautiful neighborhoods - one east of Broad Street, Center City’s mid-point, and one west.


11. Flea Markets - PHILAFLEAMARKETS.ORG - You know I wouldn’t send you off without a little flea marketing! This website is terrific - I get regular updates on all the flea markets in town. This is a picture I took of an outdoor flea market in Society Hill. And while I love my Portobello Road, there’s something to be said for small, local markets. I go regularly and rarely come home empty-handed!


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