Philly Love Notes Gift Guide

Hello friends and Philly-lovers, Time for the first Philly Love Letters Gift Guide! With some help from you, I put together a completely non-comprehensive list of amazing things being done right here in the city (or right outside). This only scratches the surface of the cool stuff being made here. There are always tons of great markets and small businesses to support (like Amalgam Comics, Philadelphia Independents, Yowie, and Omoi Zakka). And of course, one of the best gifts of all -- donating money, time, Read more

Giving Back 2017

Oh this year. Time to buckle down and do what I can to give back. Like last year, I'll be donating all of the profits from the map sales to local nonprofits from Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday. That means that your purchase of a map will help to support all of the following organizations: Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Marian Anderson Historical Society, SEAMAAC, Red Paw Relief and Students Run Philly Style (more about the nonprofits below). Last year we raised Read more

#whyilovephillyarts Launches

It's official, the first #whyilovephillyarts, featuring Sean Martorana, is now live! Check out the prints below and purchase one of the 30 limited edition prints online. This is the first collaboration that aims to build a body of Philly-specific art across a variety of mediums for people to purchase with 100% of the profits going to the artist (along with a full commissions and licensing Read more


Love Note #71: Alex Hillman’s love? Karaoke at National Mechanics in Old City

Alex Hillman
Favorite Spot: Karaoke Tuesdays at National Mechanics
Neighborhood: Old City
Address: 22 S 3rd St

I am: I’m a software developer by trade but a people lover by profession. I created Indy Hall, a coworking community and space, because I wanted to spend more time with awesome, creative, smart, interesting people. Now I work with people and companies around the world to help them do the same for themselves.
Years in Philly: A decade ago I moved to Philly. 5 years ago I tried to leave. Today, nobody’s quite sure how to get rid of me.
Current Home: Queen Village

My love note:

Dear National Mechanics Karaoke Night:

It’s hard to believe that there was a time in my life when I didn’t love karaoke, but you’ve played a huge part in cementing Karaoke into my favorite pastimes.

Other karaoke bars just didn’t get it quite right. Private rooms were never my speed, and every other “open mic” karaoke crowd just didn’t feel like they wanted me as much as I wanted them. You had everything I wanted – a wonderful, cozy and familiar room. Great drinks & food, and staff I’ve come to call my friends. You have a quality list of songs to sing. You have a quirky KJ (and you’ve had a few since we’ve met). 

But most importantly, you were filled with a great bunch of people who loved to share a performance with the room. The regulars are colorful in their selections, consistent in their applause and support. I’ve spent time with other karaoke bars around the world but you – you’re the one for me. Thanks for being you.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Old City 1 Comment

Love Note #53: From Tara Nurin — Go to Positano Coast, get the far corner table on the outdoor terrace bar, and relax in the Mediterranean atmosphere

Tara Nurin
Favorite Spot: The far corner table overlooking the street below at Sopra Lounge, Positano Coast’s outdoor terrace bar.

Neighborhood: Society Hill
Address: 212 Walnut St {Second Floor} 

I am: A former TV reporter and current freelance journalist who specializes in craft beer/dining and destination coverage for national and regional print, video and radio outlets. I’ve spent my adult life living all over the world for no more than two years at a time until a job brought me to the Philly area. I’ve never left.
Years in Philly: 9
Current Home: Camden Waterfront
My love note: An accidental encounter first introduced me to you; then a second, then a third. After that, I began seeking you out, pouting when I couldn’t approach you. I luxuriate in your 360 views — to the right, a gauzy, breeze-blown curtain that modestly obscures the old-fashioned street; to the left, a discrete bar for those who wish not to participate in the buzz of the main lounge; straight ahead, beautiful people, beautiful seascapes of the brilliant hues of the Mediterranean, beautiful furnishings in virginal white leather, deep sea azur, blood-pumping rose and tree-ripened lemon; and behind me, the freedom of Philadelphia’s open air. You offer me the sophisticated and languous setting for pleasant chatter, martini glasses bearing fresh, organic ambrosias, and dapper plates overflowing with grilled octopus, artichokes, imported oils, lemon zest and rosemary pesto. You give me gifts that are unmatched by other suitors for my affection, and in return, though I cannot give you my loyalty, I do promise you my devotion.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Old City Leave a comment

Love Note #43: Even beer writer Ryan Hudak has his favorites — Memphis Taproom

Ryan Hudak
Favorite Spot: Memphis Taproom
Neighborhood: Fishtown

Address: 2331 E. Cumberland St.

I am: I’m 30, happily married, and I write about beer for my blog, In Search of Beer.
Years in Philly: 5
Current Home: We are renting a home in Fishtown and currently in the midst of searching for a place to buy in the same neighborhood.

My love note: As a local beer writer, Fishtown is perfect for me. I live within walking distance of five great beer bars and, if you get a little more liberal with walking distance, I can make many more. Even with all the selection at my fingertips, though, I find myself returning to the same place on a regular basis: Memphis Taproom. Not only is their tap list always interesting, but their bottle list is out of this world. And they don’t just rely on their great beer, but they also deliver on one of my other favorites: great food. Their upscale pub food always does the trick for me. Whether it’s a longtime favorite like fish and chips, or something completely surprising (smoked coconut makes a very convincing substitute for bacon), and from the smoky, meaty Port Richmond Platter to the fried pickles that my wife and I insist every out-of-town visitor try, there’s never a bad meal at Memphis and there’s always a quality beer to help it along. Throw in owner Brendan, who clearly loves what he’s doing, and Keith, my favorite bartender in the city, and there is no place I’d rather be. It also helps that about 90% of the time I go there, I can always count on running into a friend.

In the summer months, their beer garden is a must-visit. While it doesn’t offer the same selection as inside the bar, the stationary food truck with their gourmet hotdogs and canned craft beers make sitting outside under the strands of lights with a cool breeze the perfect summer moment. And after that moment is over, you can go back inside and get some fried pickles.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Fishtown / Kensington 1 Comment

Love note #41: Molly Eichel and crew love Oscar’s Tavern

Molly Eichel
Favorite Spot: The back right table at Oscar’s Tavern
Neighborhood: Center City
Address: 1524 Sansom Street

I am: Philly-born journalist at the Daily News who loves this town probably more than is healthy
Years in Philly: 8, add 12 if you count the surrounding ‘burbs.
Current home: Bella Vista

My love note: Choosing Oscar’s took me a long time, there were so many other options I could have considered: the Italian Market, Towey Rec Center right off the Berks El stop (featuring my fave mural in the city), the public pool at Marion Anderson Rec Center in Grad Hospital, Koch’s Deli in West Philly, but my heart screamed back right booth at Oscar’s, a dingy dive bookended by terrible bars on a street that perpetually smells like stale piss. Why? Because I always know when I can find my friends sitting at the back right booth. And because of Dee the Waitress. She knows my name, she knows my drink, she shows us her vacation photos every time she dares leave us, she brings us snacks and holiday treats. But most importantly, when my friend broke her leg and had trouble sitting at a squished table, Dee made sure that we had that back right booth every time we wanted it. That’s kind of what Philadelphia is to me: It might smell like aged urine, but it’s always got a table waiting for you.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Center City 2 Comments

Science on Tap at National Mechanics

A number of Philly institutions provide fantastic night programs (they refer to them as “adult” programs, but that sounds a bit misleading). Last night, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Mutter Museum and the Wagner Free Institue, put together their monthly Science on Tap
I learned about the early years of photography used to capture motion all while sampling some craft beers at National Mechanics. Perfect.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Old City Leave a comment

Love Note #16: Local 44

Daniel Ueda
Favorite spot: Local 44
Neighborhood: West Philly
Address: 4333 Spruce Street 

I am: A physics teacher at Central High School, a robotics coach, and a traveler. 
Years in Philly: 4 years
Current Home:  West Philadelphia 

My love note: I left NYC 4 years ago because there is a pervasive competition of who can be more cool in what they’re doing and where they are. Local 44 is the antithesis of that concept; there, cool is being yourself. While Philly has plenty of places for the hipsters, elites, geeks, artists, grad students, punks, regular Joes, and sports fans, there are very few places where they can all come together and be whomever they are with pride. Local 44 is a home for everybody. 

They have a rotating selection of 20 beers on tap but won’t judge you if you don’t know what a saison is. They have solid food that ranges from hot wings to seitan reuben sandwiches. Their bartenders and waitresses are some of the most honest and friendly the city has to offer. It’s a place where you can sit down at the bar and enjoy a few by yourself, or go on a date, or take a group and do the best quizzo in the city on sunday nights. Say hi to Nate, Cas, and Jen while you’re there, and stop in the Local 44 Bottle Shop on your way out.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in West Philly Leave a comment

Brandywine Valley

If you’re looking for an unexpectedly amazing night post-work, head over to the Brandywine Valley region. 

First — Terrain at Styers where I could blow a year’s salary on beautiful plants, linens, balms, etc. 
Second — Chaddsford Vineyards where $10 gets you 10 wine tastings and you can stay till 8pm on Thursday. 
Third — Longwood Gardens. Wander aimlessly around Bruce Monroe’s light exhibit till 11pm on weeknights. You will come out disoriented, amazed, and feeling like you just walked through Avatar.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Uncategorized Leave a comment

Summer Love


Sometimes you just need a little summer loving. Or at least a fling. For that, there is the Beer Garden.

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Uncategorized Leave a comment

Love Note #8: Morgan’s Pier

Allison Stadd
Favorite (New) Spot: Morgan’s Pier
Neighborhood: Delaware River Waterfront/Penn’s Landing
Address: 221 N. Columbus Boulevard

I am: the editor of, jazz drummer, word nerd, granola addict
Years in Philly: 7
Current home: Midtown Village

My love note: Morgan’s Pier is the perfect new summer bar in Philadelphia. The setting is perfect with the fresh river breeze and view of the soaring Ben Franklin Bridge, far enough from the hustle of the city to feel like you’re on a mini vacation; the setup is perfect with casual picnic benches and umbrellas on a boardwalk-like deck; the drinks are perfect, with a huge local craft beer list and really tasty cocktails made from scratch; the food is beyond perfect, from pro David Katz of Meme – who else would dream up “snack bacon,” caramelized bacon you chew on like jerky? One of my favorite things about Philly is that it’s a city of neighborhoods, and each feels so different. Morgan’s Pier turns Penn’s Landing into a neighborhood unto itself, one that I kind of never want to leave…

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Delaware River Leave a comment

Love Note #6: Pickle Backs at Bar

Favorite Spot: Bar
Neighborhood: Market East, Ave. of Arts South
Address: 1309 Sansom St.

I am: an exhibition designer, a southerner, and a perfectionist 
Years in Philly: nearly two
Current home: South Philly

My love note: Pickles are delicious, Jameson is delicious, who would have ever thought to put the two together? I’m not sure if this drink is Philly-born, but it seems like it should be. My classmates and I first ordered this weirdly refreshing drink (at the bar named Bar) after asking the surely bartender what was in the unmarked clay jugs near the register (their pickle brine is made in-house). Over the last two years, my hectic school schedule has kept me from exploring a lot of Philadelphia, but not Center City’s drinking establishments. 

Having a pickle back at this dank dark bar, on a side street, in the middle of the city, just seems quintessentially Philly…

Posted on by Emma Fried-Cassorla in Center City 1 Comment