Julie Berger's memories are saturated with images of dancers— teachers who inspired her, students she worked with, and professionals she revered. Entranced by the beautiful and transformative art form, Julie practiced dance throughout her life, attending intensive dance programs, performing in competitions, and teaching at local dance centers. Julie discovered salsa dancing while studying in England, and she instantly fell in love with its sultry movements and lively steps. Determined to share the newfound style with others, Julie founded her own salsa-dancing studio.
At Salsa in the Suburbs Dance Studio, Julie and her staff of passionate dancers lead classes in a variety of styles, including salsa, ballroom, and belly dance. The instructors work with students of all levels, helping them master form, technique, and rhythms. The teachers also offer children's classes in ballet, tap, and Zumba, ideal for youngsters trying to be more active or hoping to include a lively dance section in their next chemistry presentation.
Countless fiber-optic cables comprise a titanic custom chandelier in Vango Lounge & Sky Bar’s main dining room, casting a glow over tufted-velvet walls and plates of Japanese continental cuisine. During a typical meal, yellowtail and grilled vegetables may top small plates of crostini, and wasabi mashed potatoes sidle up to larger entrees such as braised-beef short ribs in sweet teriyaki sauce. As chefs compose eel and avocado rolls or slice delicate pieces of salmon sushi, bartenders mix specialty cocktails, such as the Sundance with Absolut Raspberri and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur. Luxe decorations—including wall nooks that display sleek bottles of vodka and a wall that holds 200 inlaid fresh roses every night—dapple the 8,000-square-foot lounge. Upstairs on the roof deck, revelers can admire the surrounding skyline from a seat at the bar, boogie on the dance floor to nightly DJs, or secretly read comic books under the covers of king-size lounge beds.
The meat-and-seafood-centric dinner menu's combines local ingredients with fresh seasonal selections. Start with a seafood tasting appetizer ($24), which offers up sauces and condiments for a marine menagerie of oysters, clams, blue prawns, scallops, crab claw, and mussel salad for the landlocked sailor or supping siren. Entrees feature elegantly updated classics such as Pennsylvania rabbit bolognese with tagliatelle pasta, pancetta, and pecorino Romano ($24), or Black Angus beef tenderloin that's blissfully bathed in red wine beef sauce ($25). Finish with a whimsical sweet treat such as the lemon olive oil cake with honey marscapone cream and blackberry lime sorbet ($9). Pull up an upholstered chair beneath the pearl-bedecked chandelier and sip on a selection from the extensive wine and cocktail list while drinking in sweeping city views.
North bowl is anything but a typical bowling alley. Previously a mechanic's garage, North Bowl Lounge n Lanes was completely overhauled in 2006 before reopening as a swank, 21,000-square-foot retro-style bowling alley and nightclub. With two floors, an upscale comfort food menu, a large bar, and a vast sweep of polished wood lanes, it's become a North Philadelphia gathering place for the 21-and-over crowd.
The food here isn't anything like typical bar fare, either. Upstairs in the cafe, diners munch on Baja-style fish tacos with housemade salsa or Cajun mac n' cheese as they overlook the lanes below through windows. After bowling, there's more fun to be had in the retro arcade, where video games and pinball machines offer a form of competition that requires no heavy lifting and wearing special shoes is optional.
Scenically besieged by water on three sides, Cavanaugh's River Deck culls meals from land and sea to serve in picturesque surroundings. The maritime menu is known for its famous crab dip ($10.99), which emcees mealtimes with a piping mix of seasonings, cream cheese, and crab alongside sidekicks of grilled pita. Customers hold lunch in the palm of their hands with Cavanaugh's spread of sandwiches, such as the seasoned lobster roll ($14.99) and ciabatta-encased panko-crusted chicken ($10.99). The prime rib and crab leg surf 'n' turf ($19.99, served Sunday–Tuesday only) satisfies cravings for both meaty fare as well as rhyming, unlike a dough trough.
The pan-Asian hot spot boasts a miscellany of delectable delights served up family-style within its blue velvet-accented confines. Treat taste buds to a circular meal from Swanky Bubbles’s sushi menu by giving in to the sweet temptation roll, which bats its sushi lashes at your hunger with a medley of lightly torched tuna, asparagus, avocado, and spicy sauces ($12). Palates can search for higher meaning with the enlightenment roll, capable of eliminating an appetite's earthly desires with crabstick, verdant veggies, ginger, and wasabi cream ($9). The swanky sampler fetes choice enthusiasts with an array of sushi selections, including spicy tekka, california, and hamachi rolls that tear down oppressive suburban fences to share neighborly vibes with salmon, striped bass, and tuna sashimi ($28). Staunch believers in the power of flames can dig into the fully cooked dinner menu, packed with classic fare such as tangy pad thai ($16) and the flavorful, miso-glazed Chilean sea bass ($26). Sail to Polynesia with the fiji ribs ($14), or dock at the herbivore islands with the mushroom ravioli ($15).