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Travel Tuesday: 30 Hours In Philadelphia.

If you had 30 hours in Philadelphia, what would you do?

I realize that's a random question, but that's exactly what I got to ponder last month after on a whim I decided to whisk myself to Philadelphia to celebrate my birthday.

My original idea was to get out of DC and see if I could make a reservation at Zahav. I've been obsessed with wanting to go to this well renowned Israeli restaurant for several years after falling in love with its food when Michael Solomonov had a Zahav popup in DC. I called. Surprisingly, I was able to make a 5 pm reservation at Zahav. {Tip: don't go by OpenTable. If they say there are no reservations, pick up the phone and call!}

Next came purchasing Amtrak tickets. Then I booked a hotel stay at Club Quarters. Then my good friend Laura said she'll be able to come and meet me for dinner and my friend Kelly agreed to meet me for lunch the following day. 

And then I filled in the rest of the time with food and walking around and a bit of salsa dancing.

Because this was my 5th time in Philadelphia, I've already toured The Reading Terminal Market, The Liberty Bell, ran up {who am I kidding????} walked up the Rocky steps, etc. This trip was going to be about food.

For lunch I went to Oyster House recommended by an older married Jewish man who tried to pick me up on the train. No, I did not take him up on his invitation to join me for dinner, but I'm really glad I listened to his food related recommendation. These Cape Cod oysters were some of the cleanest, plumpest and delicious I've had. I loved the oyster plates hanging on the walls of the restaurant and the entree of mussels with fries. {You can see all the photos on my instagram with #30HrPhillyBdayTrip.}

Then there was the main event: dinner at Zahav. That's my friend Laura on the left. The restaurant offered us sparkling wine to start our meal and gave me a menu with "Happy Birthday Olga" written on it. The meal was great. I think the little salads at the start of the meal were my favorites: beets, fennel, carrots, etc.  

We also shared a few plates of raw lamb, chicken skewers, Turkish hummus and ended the meal with an assortment of dessert. 

I need to say this: the service and the food were solid, but I wasn't blown away. I don't know if my expectations were too high, or family style pop up in DC was a better way to experience the meal than the tapas style in Philadelphia...I don't regret the meal at all, but like I said...I wasn't blown away.

After hanging out at my hotel for a bit I decided to go and burn a few calories salsa dancing at Brasils. Thanks to all the gentlemen for the leads. 

After checking out of the hotel and storing my bag, I went to Rival Bros for caffeine and food. Below is Daily Bread: toasted thick slices of bread slathered with butter and topped with salt and served with blueberry jam. WOW. I must have gained 2 pounds just by looking at the plate ;)

My plan after breakfast was to walk around the city and photograph some of its many murals. On my way to find the murals I discovered Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and am so happy I walked in. Other than its stunning architecture, there were paintings and sculptures by multiple artists: and it was free!

This is one of my favorite murals. I have about 14 others on my instagram feed ;) You can find a map of the murals here and even take a guided walking tour, which was unfortunately unavailable when I was visiting.

And then it was time for lunch with Kelly. Guess what? We chose Michael Solomonov's restaurant again: Rooster Soup Company. Smoked matzo ball soup and meatball sandwich were great. Chatting with Kelly and being treated to lunch by her were greater. The fact that all profits go to Broad Street Ministry was the greatest.

After lunch I did a bit of shopping and more walking around. It was a perfect Spring day. Of course I snapped photos of doors. #ihavethisthingwithdoors 

And then it was time to head back to the Amtrak station and board the train back to DC. How adorable are the swings next to the station? Dear Union Station, please take note.

But wait!! Before getting on the train, I stopped at Michael Solomonov's third restaurant in Philadelphia, Dizengoff, and picked up a bowl of hummus with brisket, a salad and pita. It was divine. This was probably some of the best hummus I've ever had, and let's not even talk about how tender and flavorful the the brisket was. I bet many of the Amtrak passengers hated me :/

In case any of you are wondering, this is not a sponsored post by Michael Solomonov ;) This was a great treat to myself to take a few days off for my birthday and spend time eating, seeing Philadelphia and catching up with friends.