With roots firmly planted in the tradition of the izakaya—Japanese pubs designed for unwinding and socializing with friends over a modest sake and street-food selection—Yakitori Boy focuses its culinary philosophy on interaction above all else. In this spirit, the menu brims with modestly priced tapas-style dishes meant for sharing—sushi comes in miniature four-piece rolls, tempura plates bear only a half-dozen or so of the crispy morsels, and diners order the eatery's signature creation, yakitori, by the single skewer. Of course, guests can still splurge on a full entrée, as head sushi chef Tasaka Yasuhiko calls on his 40 years of experience to craft full 12-piece helpings of specialty caviar- and tempura-topped maki, while chefs in the bustling kitchen whip up traditional don, or creative meat preparations served over a bowl of rice. A floor above the dining room's geometric lines and romantic lighting, a karaoke lounge urges diners to keep the celebration rolling with a public stage and eight private rooms ideal for parties of up to 20 or solo performances of "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on repeat.
Blue Mountain Vineyards owners, Joe and Vickie, are pinot pioneers. Beginning with a 5-acre experiment in 1986, they discovered that the soil of the Lehigh Valley does a fine impression of French terrain, making it suitable for growing the grapes of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and other European varietals. Since then, they've expanded to a 50-acre plot, where they now produce wines that have won awards from the Fingerlake International Wine Competition and Appellation America.
Panoramic views of the Blue Mountains overlook scenic terraces at the vineyards, where grapes spring from soil that soldiers roamed during the Revolutionary War. Tastings, concerts, and other events fill the winery's glass-flanked deck, spilling onto an outdoor patio surrounded by ponds as tranquil as a silent lullaby. Visitors admire the vines during tours, and they can also adopt their favorites to preserve the vines' flavorful histories.
After spending eight months in a renovation-focused hibernation, Finn McCools Ale House reemerged with 20-foot-tall ceilings and exposed-brick walls decorated with sports memorabilia. Executive chef Patrick McBrayer populates plates with hearty pub fare inspired by classic Irish dishes; bread-embraced comestibles include the corned-beef sandwich, the turkey BLT, and The Big McCool half-pound burger, all accompanied by a side of house-cut fries. The Irish Hangover—scrambled eggs with sausage, bacon, roasted potatoes, and rye toast—and Guinness-battered fish 'n' chips highlight the selection of hearty eats developed by Irish pubs' resident scientists. At the bar, large steins overflow with draft beers from Ireland, Belgium, Germany, and local microbreweries, ready to be guzzled down as eyes follow soccer balls bouncing on four flat-screen TVs.
In 2012, a group of well-connected Philly nightlife entrepreneurs transformed an old Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant in the Spring Garden neighborhood into Union Transfer, and it quickly became one of the most popular music venues in the city. Several nights a week, this mid-size, 1,000-capacity club books generally indie and small-label national touring bands: the garagey Heartless Bastards, retro-soul purveyors Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the synthy electronic-music trio Chvrches are the types of bands that grace Union Transfer’s stage. Shows are general admission with limited seating available in the upstairs balcony. Most concertgoers stand in the main floor area in front of the stage. During all-ages shows, concertgoers need a wristband to access one of the three bars.
A corner gastropub in the warehouse-heavy Spring Garden neighborhood, the Prohibition Taproom has carved out a unique personality for itself. Several sections of the handsome bar jut out to form elongated, teardrop-shaped tables. The beer menu isn’t trying to be exhaustive, just smart and serious, with one beer always poured from a nitro tap to create a creamy texture. The food menu includes a half-dozen or so each of small plates, salads, sandwiches and large plates, and the grilled cheese of the day, the addictive beer-battered green beans and the classic dinner of steak frites are neighborhood favorites. On Sunday evenings it’s BYOV — bring your own vinyl — when a deejay will spin a selection from an LP you’ve supplied, and you’ll get 20% off your bill.
The chefs at Aki Japanese Fusion Restaurant & Sake Bar experiment with ingredients and recipes from a host of countries, but the flavors of Japan shine through most noticeably. Traditional Japanese entrees such as tempura-fried shrimp and teriyaki-glazed chicken offer heartier options, though the chefs also demonstrate a commitment to simple, elegant bites. The salmon nigiri "particularly rocked," according to Philadelphia Weekly, "melting on the tongue like pats of butter." Amid these familiar sushi-house staples, the menu also features a handful of items that embrace the fusion theme. Globetrotting menu options include broiled black cod marinated in miso paste and topped with mango salsa, and the tuna pancake—a tortilla layered with guacamole, raw tuna, and a spicy caviar and scallion sauce. Just like the menu, the decor has a similar fusion theme. "Although new Aki, with its red velvet booths and sleek black accents, may feel more nightclub than neighborhood sushi spot, it manages to play both roles relatively well," says Philadelphia magazine. Cherry-wood floorboards and a wall of exposed stonework help convey this homey, neighborhood spirit, while sunset-orange walls and soft lantern lighting create a lounge-like ambiance where sipping one of the bar's numerous sakes or specialty cocktails feels perfectly natural.