Philadelphia

You’ll go for the history, but you’ll stay for the cheesesteaks.

photography by Getty Images

Where to Stay:

In the heart of Philadelphia’s prestigious Rittenhouse Square sits one of the city’s most distinctive hotels. The Rittenhouse Hotel mixes classic sophistication with urban luxury and in turn has received accolades from all the major travel publications and associations. The rooms are inviting, with floral fabrics and beautiful views of the surrounding square or cityscape, while the in-house spa, health club, and dining facilities—like French-inspired Lacroix and renowned Smith & Wollensky steakhouse—are top-notch to boot (210 W. Rittenhouse Sq., 215-546-9000, www.rittenhousehotel.com). For a more modern flare, check out the Hotel Sofitel Philadelphia. The business-district building that houses the Sofitel’s 238 superior rooms and 68 suites was formerly the Philadelphia Stock Exchange. Now completely renovated, the interior is smartly outfitted in contemporary pieces and rich tones, and the facility offers a full range of amenities as well as a popular lounge, La Bourse, which often boasts live entertainment (120 S. 17th St., 215-569-8300, www.sofitel.com).

What to eat:
In this multi-ethnic town, you can find a restaurant to satisfy just about any craving. Those in the mood for Asian will be drawn to Morimoto, an imaginative spot headed by none other than Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Enjoy sake, sushi, and seafood while tucked inside an illuminated booth at this ultra-hip spot (723 Chestnut St., 215-413-9070, www.morimotorestaurant.com). Old-world elegance and fine Italian cuisine are perfectly presented at La Famiglia. Not only can you enjoy dishes like handmade spinach ricotta dumplings, but you can also select from one of the most comprehensive wine cellars in the country (8 S. Front St., 215-922-2803, www.lafamiglia.com). For food that’s closer to home, Fork offers delicious New American dining in a fresh, lovely setting. This open-kitchen bistro accomplishes the impossible: It’s upscale without being pretentious, and casual without being shabby. Traditional dishes are given unexpected yet always delicious updates (306 Market St., 215-625-9425, www.forkrestaurant.com). And while Philly’s fine dining scene is worth exploring, the dish this city is best known for is the cheesesteak. Who serves the tastiest sandwich is a matter of heated debate—especially at the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, where Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks battle for bragging rights. These two local legends are located across the street from one another and are both open 24 hours a day, forcing locals to pledge their allegiance to one side of the street or the other. As if choosing your venue wasn’t tough enough, be sure to study up on the proper ordering etiquette [see sidebar, opposite] before getting in line (Pat’s: 1237 Passyunk Ave., 215-468-1546, www.patskingofsteaks.com; Geno’s: 1219 S. 9th St., 215-389-0659, www.genosteaks.com).

PHLAVORS OF PHILLY: After you’ve had your fill of cheesesteaks, savor the beet salad at Fork (above).
photography courtesy of Fork Restaurant

What to do:
Take a break from business and instead take in some of the rich history Philadelphia has to offer. Be sure to see the Liberty Bell, then visit Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Both are located in Independence National Historic Park, touted as America’s most historic square mile (6th and Market St., 800-537-7676, www.independencevisitorcenter.com). Jog up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Rocky-style and enjoy the collection of one of the country’s largest museums before hopping onto the Schuylkill River Trail, which continues 11.5 miles from the museum all the way to Valley Forge Historic National Park (Museum: 26th St. at Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 215-763-8100, www. philamuseum.org). On winter nights, do as the Philadelphians do and cheer on the Flyers at the Wachovia Center. Before, after, or heck, during the game, toss back a few cold ones at the recently opened Finnigan’s Wake Irish Tavern on the center’s main concourse. The tavern is a re-creation of the original Finnigan’s, a local favorite in the Olde City section of Philly (Wachovia Center: 3601 S. Broad St., for tickets: 215-218-PUCK, www.philadelphiaflyers.com).

EAST COAST ETIQUETTE
When ordering a cheesesteak in the city that made them famous, there are very specific rules one must abide by. (Think Seinfeld and the Soup Nazi.) First, indicate that you want a cheesesteak sandwich, as opposed to another menu item. The second step is identifying the type of cheese you’d like—typically, you have the option of American, Provolone, or traditional Cheez Whiz. Finally, decide if you’d like your sandwich with or without fried onions. This is expressed with a simple “with” (locals pronounce it “wit”) or “without.” For example, a cheesesteak with American cheese but without onions would be ordered “one American without.” A traditional Philly cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and onions is ordered “one Whiz with.” No elaboration necessary—or tolerated. Now that you’ve got the hard part down, eat and enjoy.


Take a break from business and instead take in some of the rich history Philadelphia has to offer. Be sure to see the Liberty Bell, then visit Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Both are located in Independence National Historic Park, touted as America’s most historic square mile (6th and Market St., 800-537-7676, www.independencevisitorcenter.com). Jog up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Rocky-style and enjoy the collection of one of the country’s largest museums before hopping onto the Schuylkill River Trail, which continues 11.5 miles from the museum all the way to Valley Forge Historic National Park (Museum: 26th St. at Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 215-763-8100, www. philamuseum.org). On winter nights, do as the Philadelphians do and cheer on the Flyers at the Wachovia Center. Before, after, or heck, during the game, toss back a few cold ones at the recently opened Finnigan’s Wake Irish Tavern on the center’s main concourse. The tavern is a re-creation of the original Finnigan’s, a local favorite in the Olde City section of Philly (Wachovia Center: 3601 S. Broad St., for tickets: 215-218-PUCK, www.philadelphiaflyers.com).

EAST COAST ETIQUETTE
When ordering a cheesesteak in the city that made them famous, there are very specific rules one must abide by. (Think Seinfeld and the Soup Nazi.) First, indicate that you want a cheesesteak sandwich, as opposed to another menu item. The second step is identifying the type of cheese you’d like—typically, you have the option of American, Provolone, or traditional Cheez Whiz. Finally, decide if you’d like your sandwich with or without fried onions. This is expressed with a simple “with” (locals pronounce it “wit”) or “without.” For example, a cheesesteak with American cheese but without onions would be ordered “one American without.” A traditional Philly cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and onions is ordered “one Whiz with.” No elaboration necessary—or tolerated. Now that you’ve got the hard part down, eat and enjoy.

Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
215-418-4700
www.paconvention.com

WHAT’S HAPPENING THIS MONTH:
Dec 4-6
GTCbio: Modern Drug Discovery and Development Summit
Dec 27-30
Modern Language Association Annual Convention
photography courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art 

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