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Originally published in the May 2009 issue of The Advocate
Convention Exit Strategy
Whether you?re in town for labor or leisure, exploring the city?s cultural sites is essential. Your must-see list should include the interactive National Constitution Center (525 Arch St.; 215-409-6600), where you can mingle with life-size figures of the Founding Fathers, as well as the exhibit ?Galileo, the Medici and the Age of Astronomy,? which is at the Franklin Institute (222 N. 20th St.; 215-448-1200) through September 7. Philadelphia is the only stop on the globe for this exhibit, an eye-opening look into the contributions of the luminaries of the astronomy world.
Part ways with the buttoned-up set for some hip clothing shopping at Matthew Izzo (151 N. Third St.; 215-829-0668) in Old City. Izzo?s relocated hybrid fashion and design boutique opened in February and carries a surplus of small sizes to please the tight-waist crowd. Before hopping back uptown, sneak a peak at the MTV Real World house, which you can easily pretend you just stumbled upon since it?s adjacent to the historic home of American flag?maker Betsy Ross (239 Arch St.; 215-686-1252).
Seventy-two rainbow-colored street signs, all within spitting distance of the Convention Center, mark the ?Gayborhood,? the nine-block ground zero for gay nightlife, shopping, and restaurants. Striking a different chord on the bar circuit, Knock (225 S. 12th St.; 215-925-1166) pipes in tunes from the likes of Manilow and Sinatra, offering an upscale alternative to the thumpety-thump meat market of iconic gay bar Woody?s (202 S. 13th St.; 215-545-1893).
The more daring should check out Philly?s ?roving? gay and lesbian parties and other insider tips from Philly natives listed on Uwishunu.com.
Notorious for its Cheez Whiz?infused steak sandwiches, Philadelphia is also home to plenty of finicky foodies and, as a result, some of the nation?s finest restaurants. Le Bec-Fin (1523 Walnut St.; 215-567-1000) remains a perennial favorite among discriminating diners. Be sure to sample every item on the all-you-can-eat dessert cart if you opt for the famed five-course $145 prix fixe dinner. Not expensing dinner? Skip the luxe and head to Caribou Caf? (1126 Walnut St.; 215-625-9535), which features light French cuisine and, unlike Le Bec-Fin, doesn?t frown on casual attire.
The incredibly chic Table 31 (1701 JFK Blvd.; 215-567-7111) is a massive power lunch spot inside the new 58-story Comcast Center office building, the reigning king of the Philly skyline. For a group luncheon, inquire about the exclusive private dining room, complete with boardroom table and flat-screen TV. After lunch, step out into the building?s lobby, which flaunts a breathtaking IMAX-inspired 10 million?pixel video wall.
For more raucous gastronomics, spend a full night out at Lolita (106 S. 13th St.; 215-546-7100) for nouveau Mexican cuisine in trendier-by-the-day Midtown Village. Owned by lesbian couple Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney, Lolita is wildly popular with the BYOB set, specifically the BYOTs, because if you bring the tequila, the staff will provide home-brewed margarita mix (the blood-orange variety is a big hit). Heed the wake-up call the next morning and snag an outdoor seat at Valanni (1229 Spruce St.; 215-790-9494) for a not-too-super-schmancy Mediterranean-influenced brunch.
Part One | Part Two