Hetal (ex-pat files)
Favorite Spot: Clark Park Amish Farmers Market
Neighborhood: West Philly
Address: 4398 Chester Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
I Am: A foodie who fell in love with Philly during college
Years in Philly: 6
Current Home: San Francisco
My Love Note
Philadelphia shaped me into the person I am today. I went to undergrad and grad school in Philly and fell in love. A few weeks ago I was back on my old stomping grounds and took a small trip to Reading Terminal to buy some amish donuts to binge on for the day. As I drove past Walnut street, I remembered all the solo shopping trips I took here and how I learned to be independent and that that hanging out by myself shouldn’t make me feel insecure. I started tearing up as I slowly drove (Philly traffic, gotta love it) past new restaurants and shops and I couldn’t help feeling a little bit of FOMO. I always knew Philly had the potential to be an amazing city, not that it wasn’t already, but I wanted others to see the city how I saw it. To this day I believe that Philly is the most underrated city for foodies. I remember saving up all my cash during college and waiting for that one special week, Restaurant Week, where upscale restaur ants would have $35 prix fixe menus. My friend, Marlene, and I would make list of all the places we would hit up. Every Jose Garces and Steven Starr restaurant was always on top of the list. I still dream of the meal I had on Amada on my birthday. Even the cheap food was noteworthy from Lorenzo’s pizza to the Greek Lady. Six years into my living in Philly I had eaten at almost every restaurant in the city! Now that I see all these amazing new places popping up in the city, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out a little.
By the time I hit Rittenhouse Square I was at a full sob. So many memories of leaving the lab (Biochem major here) to have a picnic and go people watching, rare but memorable awkward dates at the Rittenhouse restaurants, and telling my friends how when I’m rich I’ll be living there. Here I am a San Franciscan, still wanting to go back to my little city of Philly. Here are some of the things I love/miss about Philly:
1. Driving down 76 and hitting Boathouse Row and the city skyline at night. I can’t help but feel like I’m finally home. The city just hugs and surrounds you out of nowhere with bright lights and beautiful views of the art museum and Schuylkill River.
2. Philly is a city with a small and homey feel to it. You can have a house with a driveway and backyard and still be in the city! Each area of Philly has a distinct culture and look to it, making it such a fun place to explore. South Street, University City, Olde City, Northern Liberties- none of them are like the other.
3. The food- I started blogging in Philly as PhillyFoodGirl. It inspired and and introduced to me amazing chefs and food products. The sole reason I ever even went to classes on Thursdays was because I knew at the end of the day I could treat myself with a whoopie pie from the Amish Farmer’s Market in Clark Park. Before going to Philly, I hardly ever ate out since my family never really went to restaurants. I started exploring other cuisines, my best friend introduced me to sushi and I learned how to use chopsticks in Philly. I was in my early 20s so I took advantage of my fast metabolism and stuffed my face with immense amounts of pizza, amish donuts (don’t get me started on these…life changing), pasta, gyros from Greek Lady and fries from Ishkabibles. Oh and tubs of water ice and ice cream from the Franklin Fountain. Philadelphia pretzels were apart of my daily diet because they were cheap and filling- the ideal meal for a broke college student. Philly i s truly a food lover’s destination.
4. History. When I was bored in Philly, I would hit up all the historical sites I could find. Locals tend to ignore all the “touristy” historical destinations, but I embraced them. I found hidden gems like the first surgical theater in Pennsylvania Hospital and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. For a history buff like me, it was paradise.
5. Confidence and independence. Philly locals have a honey badger-like attitudes. They don’t care what you think of them, they do what they like with confidence. I learned how to be assertive with my thoughts — and my driving. 🙂 You keep doing you Philly