12th annual Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Featuring 141 movies from 23 countries, the 12th annual 2006 Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival began last Thursday at the Prince Music Theater. Hosted by the Philadelphia Film Society, this 13-day long event is drawing crowds of all ages and orientations to venues across the city. Movies include hilarious comedies, touching dramas, thoughtful documentaries, short films and even a couple of musicals addressing issues like romance, identity, AIDS/HIV, promiscuity and discrimination. Some sold-out favorites include Another Gay Movie, What’s Up Scarlet and Cowboy Junction. Each weekend night features themed after-parties for viewers to interact with each other and some of the showcased directors, producers and actors. Last Saturday, one event hosted by Pure Nightclub entitled Clothespin! entertained patrons with a runway-style fashion competition between local designers. Other events include the Producers Panel, which allows attendees to ask questions about breaking into the film industry; and Free Screenings Under the South Street Stars at the Jamaican Jerk Hut. For their contributions to the gay and lesbian community through their work and activism, PIGLF is also honoring Charles Busch and Sandra Bernhard with Artistic Achievement Awards; Jenny Shimizu with the Lesbian Icon Award; and Darryl Stephens with the Rising Star Award. The Film Festival will run through July 25, with ticket prices ranging from $9.50 for individual movies to $225 for All-Access Badges. For more information on movie times and event listings, visit Phillyfests.com. You can contact Ally Taylor at allison.taylor@villanova.edu.

In Good (Fish) Company

To talk about my experience at the Philadelphia Fish & Company, the Old City restaurant that has been serving innovative and traditional seafood since 1982, I need to first talk about my experience at another restaurant.

My dad was in town visiting me the other day, which is great because I not only enjoy his company, but also get to eat at many places around the city to which I ordinarily wouldn’t go. We have tons of favorite restaurants that we visit, but we wanted to try something new for a change.

Flipping through an old copy of Philadelphia Magazine, one restaurant in particular caught our eye: Amada, a Spanish tapas restaurant in Old City, said to be one of the best in Philly. Since we learned to love tapas on our recent trip to Spain, we decided to give it a shot, hoping for some truly spectacular food.

We arrived on time for our 8 p.m. reservation but were told the table wasn’t quite ready. We sat at the bar while we waited and had a drink or two, just looking around.

Amada is certainly trendy, but not in a good way. Pretentious is pretty much the only word I can use to describe the restaurant, its staff and its clientele. This high-society approach to tapas is basically the antithesis of what a real Spanish tapas bar is: small quantities of cheap, but delicious, food for the average person in a humble setting.

After looking around a bit and waiting for over a half hour for our table (when multiple two person tables sat unused) we concluded that it just wasn’t our type of place. To quote my father, “I’ve been under whelmed at better places.” We paid the bar tab and bailed as fast as we could.

Note: To be fair, we didn’t actually try the food. It could be very good, though it is extremely overpriced and the quantities looked small.

After the eye-opening (or possibly cringe-inducing) experience at Amada we desperately wanted to find a down-to-earth, moderately priced, restaurant that would just feed us something good. That’s exactly what we found when we walked into the Philadelphia Fish & Co., just half a block down Chestnut Street.

The Philadelphia Fish & Co. is definitely more upscale than your traditional seafood shack, but it has an everyman quality about it that makes you feel welcome, a nice change from the ostentatious Amada. The restaurant is tastefully decorated in a dimly-lit kind of way, with two large silver statues of fish leaping from the water as centerpieces and various smaller marine inspired sculptures that pull the look and feel of the place together.

We were seated quickly next to one of the big fish statues, and we looked over the menus. The regular menu features a good mix of seafood, including various shellfish and crab cakes. If you’re just looking for just a plain piece of fish, the Philadelphia Fish & Co. will grill or sear your favorite catch with no frills. We also received print outs of the daily specials listing the day’s fresh catch, a good selection of oysters and other goodies. The Philadelphia Fish & Co. also serves meat and poultry (but the place is clearly all about seafood) and has a budget bar menu that has a selection of fish burgers and more.

My stomach growling, I ordered a bowl of the fish chowder and a plate of striped bass for myself, watercress soup and pancetta wrapped swordfish for my dad and half a dozen Old Bay oysters and grilled asparagus for us to share.

The oysters were huge and tasted great (on the salty side, the way I like them). By the time my dad and I finished eating them we wished we’d ordered more. But before long, our soups arrived. My fish chowder was excellent, keeping more with the Northeastern style than the spicy Caribbean variety I was expecting. The watercress soup (a cold soup) was also good but not especially memorable.

The main courses were even better. My stripped bass was served whole, head-to-tail, de-boned and superbly seasoned. The fish was obviously fresh and it tasted pleasantly sweet. The swordfish was equally exceptional, served in steak form, offering just as much flavor as the bass but with a noticeably different flavor.

Also worthy of special mention is the grilled asparagus. Soaked in butter, sprinkled with salt and grilled to perfection, it was an explosion of flavor every time I bit into a piece.

The service was okay. Our waiter seemed inexperienced, but he was obviously trying to do his best, and we never had to wait long for our food. The only real complaint is the asparagus didn’t make its way to our table until sometime after the main course.

The price for this great meal wasn’t too high either (though I say that relatively). With two soups, half a dozen oysters, two fish dinners, a side of asparagus, a tall glass of Tanqueray and some chardonnay, the bill came to just under $100. Not terribly unreasonable for that completely satisfying dinner.

As a bonus, the Philadelphia Fish & Co. has sidewalk dining available for those nice days. It’s a perfect location for people watching in one of Philly’s nicest neighborhoods or to just enjoy a beautiful day.

For an upscale, down-to-earth, seafood experience of the highest quality (without the highest price), head over to Old City and swing by the Philadelphia Fish & Company. It’s refreshingly different and about as humble as can be.

You can contact Zack Engel at a-e@campusphilly.org.

Philadelphia Fish & Company 207 Chestnut St. (215) 625-8605 philadelphiafish.com SEPTA Routes: MFL, 21, 42

Hearty Authentic Italian

For large portions, great food, friendly service and a neighborhood atmosphere there’s no place quite like Scannicchio’s. A sister restaurant to the Atlantic City favorite of the same name, South Philly’s Scannicchio’s is about as good as it gets for Italian cuisine.

Situated in a small building on the corner of Broad and Porter Streets, Scannicchio’s size is nothing to marvel at, nor is the understated decoration. However the quality of the food and the friendliness of the people will no doubt win you over in a heartbeat.

The food is nothing short of fantastic; you can smell what’s cooking in the kitchen as you approach the building. There’s something for everyone here and, even though the menu isn’t particularly large, the variety is impressive (they even have tripe). You may have trouble deciding what to order, but that’s because there’s too many good options.

Whether you’re looking for a caprese salad, veal parm or just a bowl of linguine with marinara, Scannicchio’s has got you covered. In addition to the regular menu items, Scannicchio’s always has an extensive list of specials that sound so good (and they are) you’ll want to try them all. That, however, would be an impossible task, given the size of the portions. Bring you’re appetite with you and take it easy on the fresh bread; a single plate of pasta can be too much for many to handle in one sitting.

Like I said, everything is good, from the chicken escarole soup to the grilled tuna steak, which is especially mouth-watering when cooked rare. On my most recent visit, the dish of choice was the braciola: pounded beef stuffed with sausage and other seasonings, served with tomato sauce over linguine. Bursting with flavor, this mountain of meat is a culinary force with which to be reckoned. Also worth ordering is the vitello diavlo, a great blend of veal, pasta, sausage and tomato sauce with plenty of subtle spices that give it a little extra kick.

The staff at Scannicchio’s is great. Everyone is extremely friendly and accommodating and the service is fast and precise. It’s one of those rare restaurants that make you feel welcome whether it’s your first or fiftieth time eating there.

Like many restaurants in Philly, Scannicchio’s is a BYOB, so be sure to pick up a bottle of wine before you arrive. For non-drinkers, the bar has a full stock of sodas and other non-alcoholic beverages.

So what do you pay for such a great place? Surprisingly not much. Dinner for three with an appetizer was a scant $58, and most entrees are around $15. Not bad considering one plate of food is sometimes enough for two.

Scannicchio’s is clearly a local favorite, and it seems plenty of regulars frequent the place alongside adventurous tourists or those just looking for a great meal at a decent price. But a word of caution, Scannicchio’s generally isn’t a late night dinning experience and the kitchen usually closes up around 9 p.m. on weeknights. Plan to come early because this is one place you won’t want to miss.

You can contact Zack Engel at a-e@campusphilly.org.

Scannicchio’s 2500 S. Broad St. (215) 468-3900 SEPTA Routes: BSL, C

Maggiano’s: Family Style Dining and Cheap Prices

It’s the end of the day; you’re exhausted after long hours of shopping in the East Coast’s biggest mall, King of Prussia, and you’re starving. Given the overwhelming number of restaurant choices this district has to offer, don’t settle for the basic chain; venture out, and try something new.

Maggiano’s Little Italy is a refreshing alternative to the usual chain restaurants. Located across from Lord and Taylor on Mall Boulevard, this Italian restaurant offers a variety of both individual and family style dishes. And if you’re not feeling brave enough to venture outside the city, there’s a location in Philadelphia too.

My companion and I found ourselves at the Maggiano’s in King of Prussia at 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and the entire restaurant was still packed. Our waitress informed us that everything is made from scratch and that nothing is reheated, which was reassuring since I could have microwaved some Lean Cuisine fettuccine Alfredo from the comfort of my own home.

The atmosphere of the restaurant certainly promoted the same family style theme of their cooking. Diners sat at tables for all party sizes in one large room with high ceilings. It looked more like a banquet hall than a restaurant. Booths lined the outer walls, but they faced inward so those patrons were not excluded from the general community. Balcony seating was also available around the perimeter of the room, and a smaller section of tables was in the back for those who preferred privacy.

The menu was extensive and offered the basic Italian dishes with few creative alternatives. The family style portions were quite large, so that even a half portion would be plenty for two people (don’t let the bowl fool you, it’s a lot deeper than it looks). Most of the pastas ranged from $10 to $15 for a family portion, less for half portions, and appetizers were under $12.

We decided to each order a pasta dish and a side. Onion strings and fresh asparagus for the sides, and fettuccine Alfredo with broccoli and the daily special, meat lasagna, for entrees. The onion strings were very good, but disappointing since they were served plain and only ketchup was offered as a dipping sauce. The asparagus, however, was amazing and arguably the best dish of the night. They weren’t kidding when they said it was fresh; it was cooked in a lemon sauce and topped with roasted garlic.

The lasagna serving was huge; its size surprised both my fellow diner and me. Although I didn’t eat the meat lasagna, I tried a bite of the ricotta cheese mixture and found its texture to be more like bread than the soft cheese. Something had been added to give it a thicker, sweeter flavor which was surprisingly very good. My companion claimed the rest of the lasagna was equally satisfying.

The fettuccine Alfredo was somewhat of a disappointment, however. Some of the pasta was stuck together and undercooked. The Alfredo sauce was decent, but I expected more from such a popular Italian establishment. The normally thick sauce contained the flavor, but lacked the richness of heavy cream. I was also confused by a clump of some sort of brown garlic paste garnishing the pasta, and became even more bewildered when the waitress told me it was probably parsley or bits of broccoli (though parsley was also present).

We skipped dessert, but saw a server carrying a large slab of chocolate cake with a steak knife stuck in it and an equally large slice of berry cheesecake that also looked tempting.

Maggiano’s family style dining definitely allows for a group of any size to eat comfortably for a low price. However, if you are looking to get a bottle of wine to go with your meal, watch out for the steep prices. I was taken aback at how much they were charging for a bottle.

Service was outstanding; my water glass was always full, and the food came out quickly considering the number of people present.

Overall, if you’re looking for amazing Italian food, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a decent, cheap and friendly restaurant to satisfy your appetite after a long day of shopping, check out Maggiano’s. It’s also a great place to take your extended family for your graduation party. It’s a refreshing break from the more common chain restaurants.

You can contact Ally Taylor at allison.taylor@villanova.edu.

Maggiano’s Little Italy 205 Mall Blvd., King of Prussia (610) 992-3333 12th & Filbert (215) 567-2020 maggianos.com SEPTA Routes: 124, BSL, 12, 17, 33, 38, 44

Talking About Tokyo: Two Weeks Later

On the big day of my departure from Philly, I felt an assortment of emotions come over me. From anxiety to excitement, preemptive homesickness and hope for my safe arrival, I was all over the map. After all, the last time I boarded an airplane, my biggest concern was throwing handfuls of Cheerios at other passengers, a tantrum of the “terrible-two” variety. So my concern for air travel was not without good cause. Being a toddler traveling to Washington State with the folks is not exactly the same as crossing the Pacific Ocean.

One layover in Chicago, three in-flight movies and 14 hours later I arrived at the Tokyo Narita Airport. After an hour going through the baggage claim, currency exchange and customs inspection, I stepped through the automatic doors and into the humid Tokyo air. It felt nice to be on solid ground.

After a pleasant bus ride with an acquaintance from the same Temple University Japan program, I arrived at the Weekly Mansion, a quaint residential hotel in the Alaska area. Drenched in sweat and bogged by baggage, I checked into room 615 with a sigh of relief.

It didn’t take long to inspect my living arrangements for the next six weeks. Two beds, a table, two chairs, some decent closet space, everything seemed to be in order. Then came my first initial shock. Where is the bathroom?

I threw my bags atop my bed and looked around the room. Creaking open the door to my left I realized just how quaint this residential hotel really was. That aforementioned closet space: scratch that. This particular area was the bathroom.

Now being about 5 ft. 8 in. tall with a little more to love hasn’t greatly affected my spatial considerations in the States. Here in Japan, however, the size situation is not to my utmost advantage. My bathroom is one such instance where it has become especially dangerous. One wrong turn and my foot is in the toilet.

Two weeks have now passed since my first experience with these little differences, and I have come to adapt quite well, though shaving my legs still means a virtual contortionist act. But duty calls, my friends. And a girl must look her best when hitting the bustling streets of Tokyo.

It is, of course, terribly inconvenient that, after the hours primping prior to a Tokyo excursion, the heat and humidity index has me sweating profusely. But I digress. To deal with the heat, I’m now opting for two showers a day, in spite of the close quarters in the dreaded bathroom.

But no amount of sweat, blood or tears could stop me from taking in the sights. And with only two weeks down, I have already seen so much. From the variety of Shinto Shrines to the globally recognized golden arches of familiar fast food fare, Tokyo is the ultimate symbol of the merging of cultures. From Japanese water gardens to mile-high skyscrapers, the union of past and present is proven possible.

After a week of classroom discussion, field trips and firsthand observation of this anomaly I decided to try another arena suitable for reporting. Roppongi, the borderline red-light district of Tokyo is infamous for being the hot spot for foreign happenings. My first area of research: the bar scene.

Last Friday night was just one scene change after another, biru after biru until the Tokyo night sky was split by dawn. The sun rises exceptionally early here, around 4 a.m. But the first train doesn’t run until an hour later. I have learned that that is customary for the Japanese night owls to take the last train at midnight for a night on the town and stay out until the first train begins its morning commute.

So that is just what we did. With drinking buddies in tow, I dragged myself to the Tskuji fish market to watch local shop owners bid and barter for the most gigantic tuna our eyes had ever seen. While some of the crowd had their heart set on fresh sushi, the 7 a.m. catch of the day didn’t quite hold my appetite. Not that it mattered really; by the time that I made it back to my home sweet temporary home in Akasaka I reeked of Tskuji and probably looked as if I had just been fished out of the ocean myself.

But the fact was I was too tired to care. As my roommate and I stumbled through the door, I couldn’t help but think of the night’s events. We left the hotel at 10 p.m. on Friday night and returned at 8 a.m. Saturday morning drenched with sweat and soaked with salt water.

Then suddenly I remembered us back at dawn, all awake to see our first Japanese sunrise. We were somewhere between Roppongi and Tskuji, crossing the street just as the sky was tickled pink by the wake of the sun. As we began our collective slump through the crosswalk, an approaching car slowed when the light changed, and the driver leaned out his open window and yelled, “Good morning, Tokyo!” Yes, I thought to myself, it certainly was.

You can contact Jackie Jardine at jackyjar@temple.edu.

Job-Searching Advice

If there is one thing that I have learned in the last year, it is that finding a job can be tough. I was one of the lucky ones; I had a job waiting for me before I even graduated. Though the job was not in my field, it was exciting being a recent graduate and finding work with a competitive salary.

A year later, I am not as happy as I was then. I am now actively looking for another job. I have been using as many resources as I can at the moment to find work, and I have found that the internet is one of the best sources for a job search. By using the Internet, people can save plenty of time.

1) Craigslist I love Craigslist; it is simply awesome. I think employers realize that many young adults use the Web site. Not only can people find things like cars and apartments, but they can also find work in a field that interests them, including non-profit and government jobs. The Web site includes jobs from all U.S. states, major Canadian cities and many other countries around the world.

2) Monster.com Monster.com is one of the most helpful tools for job searching. On Monster you can upload your resume, search for jobs and read job hunting advice. The site actually seems to work, proof of which can be found in three of my friends who have all found work using the site. “I have one-hundred percent faith in Monster, and it worked for me, so I am sure that it works for many other people,” said 23-year-old Sarah, who prefers that her last name not be used. “Plus Monster has so much hype. I do not think that there will be this much hype if it was not a good job engine.”

3) CareerBuilder I cannot complete this article without mentioning CareerBuilder. Just as Monster, they cater to those who are just looking for work, so the site also offers great advice. One unique element of CareerBuilder is that after searching or posting a resume, the Web site will email you information about other jobs in the fields that interest you. This is especially helpful, as one may not always have the time to repeatedly return back to the Web site to search again.

And of course, networking is an unbeatable resource for job hunting. Friends and family especially want the best for you, so they will help you as much as possible. For example, my one friend knows how much I am fed up with my job. As a friend, she does not like to see me miserable and has helped me in my search. She regularly forwards me information about jobs she thinks I might interest me.

Between networking and the internet, searching for a job becomes much easier. As long as you are patient and never give up the search, you will eventually succeed in your hunt.

You can contact Mabana at Mbamba82@gmail.com

The story behind TUV online

In college, future stars are hidden among an ocean of ever-changing faces, but a select few shine brighter than most, dedicating themselves to a greater cause. TUV online was created to showcase these stars and others, who through music, dance, poetry and fashion, work to shine bright.

TUV (Truly Unique Vision) online began as a video production company, an idea by Temple student Jason Smikle, in October 2005. His friends Ebele Mora and Fabricio Sousa signed on as partners.

By producing DVDs for college clubs and organizations in the performing arts, I initially saw the venture as a quick way to make some money. It changed to something much bigger than that, Sousa said. The combination of personalities and talents of the three students and over $40,000 in student loans, credit cards and personal savings put TUV online into motion.

First, the company launched videos of a Temple talent show. Then, a variety of content was added to the website, including TUVpartyCAM, with known Temple shining star Keith the Party King. The show focuses on dancing and parties on college campuses. TUV then developed their own creative content and currently broadcasts that programming on the Web site.

TUV is also a portal others use to experience different cultures, especially on Philadelphia college campuses. Our team is extremely unique, talented and fun to be around, which makes TUV great at relating to all kinds of people,” said Mora.

Classes on video editing, music and business management plus, internships at CBS and MTV, helped the founding stars of TUV online create their website. The channels on the site include Pan-Asian; Dance with African, West Indian and Latin styles; Spoken Word and Fashion. TUV uses the most up-to-date equipment, including five Sony HDV cameras, three Final Cut Pro systems, wireless microphones and professional lighting.

I enjoy TUV online because I can remain updated on these interesting events – things I wouldn’t find on the Temple website, said Communications student and fan of TUV Josh Webber. “Coming from a small town like Gettysburg, P.A., TUV online helped me learn about cultures and people I knew nothing about. It introduced me to a new side of college.

We don’t want politics getting in the way of our motto, ‘telling the untold story,’ says founder Josh Smikle. We plan to become a company like no other company. We are extremely diverse, unique in our business models and hopefully, we’ll be the envy of the media world.

TUV is an amazing group of stars and an inspiration, pushing others to build upon their own creative ideas. Young, bright and full of dreams, most college students are looking for their own way to make a difference and shine brighter. The most brilliant stars are the ones that you can see from miles away; the ones determined to shine. That drive is what turns student stars into truly unique visions.

You can reach Jasmine at jasmine.hunt@temple.edu.

Smoking Ban

On June 15, with a vote of 9 to 6, Philadelphia City Council approved a bill that would prohibit smoking in all restaurants and many bars. Philadelphia now joins fourteen other regions, including New York City and the state of New Jersey, with similar bills. The provisions of the Philadelphia bill, however, will not apply to sidewalk cafes, private clubs, or those establishments where liquor sales alone constitute at least 90 percent of gross sales.

College students in University City have mixed views on the issue. When asked if the ban would positively or negatively affect their nightlife, opinions were split down the middle. Michelle Donovan, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks the ban is a step in the right direction. “I go out to eat a lot around here, and I always have to sit there and breathe other people’s cigarette smoke,” she said. “I’m happy that I can finally enjoy my nights out and not think about how soon I can finish eating and leave.”

Others, like Drexel student Max Taylor, think the ban will have negative effects. “When I go out with friends we all like to have a cigarette or two. As long as we’re not hurting anyone, I don’t see why they’re passing a law that prevents adults from doing what they want to do.”

But are smokers in restaurants and bars really not hurting anyone? According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 3,000 Americans die each year due to exposure to secondhand smoke. Susan Villari, director of the Office of Health Education at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that of the many college-age smokers who plan on quitting, “nearly 75% are still smoking 5-6 years later.”

There are clearly pros and cons to this issue. A smoking ban in place means fresh, clean air for everyone. Smokers and non-smokers alike can appreciate that. In a statement released by the Clean Air Council of Philadelphia, this ban is also a great achievement for food service employees, who are 50% more likely to die of lung cancer than the general public.

Businesses on the other hand don’t see how a smoking ban can work in their favor. One Philadelphia bar owner expressed his concern. “Almost all of my best customers smoke. So if they can’t smoke here, they’re going somewhere where they can. And if everybody goes somewhere else, I might go out of business.”

While it’s too soon to tell what the effects of the ban will be, these concerns are not unfounded. Bar owners in cities like Austin, Seattle, and Minneapolis have attributed their loss of revenue to similar bans. However, the effects of smoking bans have not been all negative. In 2003, Zagat, a worldwide known consumer survey company, conducted a survey of close to 30,000 diners, of which 96 percent of people were eating out the same or more as a result of the smoke-free air in New York City restaurants and bars.

Though the bill has not yet been signed by Mayor Street, Philadelphians should still be wary. This smoking ban is scheduled to take effect in January 2007, and violators are subject to fines as high as $300.

You can contact Uzy at Uzy.Igweatu@gmail.com.

Nodding Head Brewery

My friends and I are always looking for a hot, reasonably priced meal in-a-pinch, and for some reason, we have been overlooking Nodding Head. Located on 15th and Sansom, above the Sansom Street Oyster House, Nodding Head is an integral part of the Fergie’s-Monk’s alliance.

Climb a flight of stairs and you will find yourself in a remarkably large and open space. Glassed in areas showcase the brewery and a large collection of nodding-head dolls. The bar has pub-like charm, and cozy booths flank the walls. A couple of large TV screens are mounted on the walls, airing the usual sporting events.

Unlike many bars in town, Nodding Head is equipped with a non-smoking section. This means you can take all of your friends, your grandparents and “the children,” and no one will be gagging from the smoke.

The menu is larger than a lot of bars’ in town. There are the conspicuous Monk’s items like mussels and the charcuterie platter, but there are also some really interesting Nodding Head choices as well. The burger selection is different than Monk’s, and Nodding Head offers a nice assortment of vegetarian and vegan items. For those of you who are 21 or over, Nodding Head always has their famous Grog on tap, as well as a seasonal selection of craft draughts. If you are a teetotaler, there is of course the option of sodas, coffee (surprisingly good drip) and other non-alcoholic beverages. The servers are warm and friendly, eager to help you pick the right dish and explain the specials.

The first time we ate at Nodding Head, my friends and I, being the purists that we are, decided on burgers and fries. Something quite remarkable about Nodding Head is their selection of burgers. You can choose a traditional ground beef burger, but they also have grilled chicken breast, tuna steak or veggie burgers available. This makes finding something you will like, or be able to eat, much easier. I opted for the tuna burger with coleslaw and Swiss cheese on a Le Bus brioche bun, and my friend got the veggie burger. I initially wanted the quiche of the day (crab and asparagus) but they were all out. To ease my disappointment, the server brought me free fries! I wasn’t really disappointed—everything on the menu looked not only edible, but extremely good.

The next time we went, my friend and I split the salad with tuna and got the veggie stew. I’m not one for non-meat dishes, but this stew was incredible! It was a mushroom stock with vegetables and seitan, a high-protein grain product commonly known as “wheat meat.” The tuna steak on the salad was great, as was the lime dressing. I also eyed the shrimp chowder, a huge bowlful for only around $4, but had to stop myself before my dining got out of control.

Nodding Head is a great choice for college students. Most menu items are $10 or less and it’s centrally located. Most diners could find something to suit their tastes and it seems like a great place to take friends and family. Plus, its laidback atmosphere makes it ideal for casual dates. Whether you go early or late, the mood is quite nice—no snobby regulars, and there’s always a good song on the jukebox.

Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant 1516 Sansom 2nd Floor (215) 569-9525 ripsneakers.com/nodding SEPTA Routes: BSL, MFL, C, 9, 12, 2


I found myself wandering the streets of Philadelphia on a quiet Sunday morning looking for food. My friends were all busy, so I was going to have to find a place to dine solo. I don’t really mind eating alone, but sometimes restaurants treat singles like lepers. It’s my goal to find the restaurants in this great city that welcome single serving diners.

Having heard good things about FARMiCiA, I decided to give it a shot. FARMiCiA is known for its organic and locally procured foodstuffs, as well as an innovative menu. I walked in and took the hostess by surprise when I said I was eating alone, but she was nice and let me sit outside at a table for four.

I perused the menu and found that most of the selections looked quite tasty. I got a cup of coffee to start—Old Philadelphia brand—and was pleased with the flavor and the change of pace from La Colombe. My server was very friendly and helped me pick out an entrée. I was split between the goat cheese omelet and the lump crab salad. He suggested the omelet, so I went with that. I had my choice of toast in addition to the included spinach salad, all for only $9.

My food got to me pretty quickly and was nice and hot. Although the portions weren’t very large, everything was delicious. My omelet (I chose the regular egg version, but egg whites are available for $1 more) was well-balanced. The goat cheese and herbs worked well together, and the spinach salad with fresh vegetable vinaigrette made a great side dish. Since FARMiCiA is connected to the Metropolitan Bakery, my multigrain toast was fresh and tasted great with the strawberry preserves they brought me. I didn’t feel the least bit rushed and was given refills on my coffee. My server was patient with me, and answered all of my questions as best he could.

The brunch menu at FARMiCiA is quite large. There are the normal selections which included granola, pancakes, omelets and sausages, but there are also non-breakfast items like sandwiches and salads. I was surprised by the large selection of fish entrées as well. There also appeared to be a number of vegetarian and vegan selections from which to choose.

FARMiCiA also boasts an impressive beverage list, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. There was something for everyone: breakfast cocktails, wines, beers, fresh squeezed juices and a number of soft drinks. I was pleased with the atmosphere of FARMiCiA . Brunch on 3rd Street is great because it’s quiet and shaded. Most of the businesses were closed, so there wasn’t a great deal of traffic, and dining al fresco was quite pleasant. I have yet to eat inside, but the look of the restaurant space was warm and inviting.

Overall, I found FARMiCiA to be a good place to eat alone. The food was good, the service was prompt and genial, and the atmosphere was relaxing. I didn’t feel out of place eating by myself, and I will definitely be dining at FARMiCiA again soon.

FARMiCiA 15 S. 3rd St. (215) 627-6274 farmiciarestaurant.com SEPTA Routes: MFL, 57, 17, 33