ask Ellen about
café • fine dining • gluten free • cocktail bars • museums • gardens • art galleries
What do you do and why do you do it?
I work for a medical non-profit in the government relations department. Basically, I read all the pesky 2000 page laws coming out of the government so that our members (the docs in a hospital) don't have to. We analyze them, see where we need to adjust and meet with legislators to discuss the changes. The environment that I work in is what keeps me here. I have great bosses, great friends, and the work/life balance is unheard of in the States. I'm interested in government, so I'm always learning new things about how things work in Philly.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had and why was it so effing bad?
I worked for Starbucks for a short time, but it really wasn't the worst job ever. I had personal reasons for leaving, but the hours really got to me. I am not a morning person, and waking up at 4 really isn't something I enjoy doing on a consistent (or ANY) basis. The free coffee a week though, that I could go back for, only if I can be on the closing shift.
Were you born and raised in Philadelphia? If not, where did you grow up and what brought you to Philadelphia?
Born and raised just outside of Philly, in a little town called Hatboro, about 45 minutes northeast of the city. I broke into the Philly scene in college when I attended Temple University and haven't left. I love the city vibes, i.e. not needing a car to get around, the fresh markets for groceries, the unbelievably hip and up and coming food scene, the art culture, and especially how diverse the city is. Every section has it's own people and customs, and yet still everyone knows everyone!
What’s your current hood in Philadelphia and what’s the best/worst thing about it?
Fairmount is a great part of the city. It's a bit more rural than Center City, with easy access to just about everywhere. Super close to the art museum, you can stroll down the street and waste a few hours in the company of great artists. The food scene is always getting better, as more people are moving into the area. Kelly Drive is a within a stones throw, and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Farimount park is also next door - so there is a more outdoorsy feel to this area of the city. It's about a 20 minute walk to Center City, or a quick subway ride if it's raining.
What kind of music do you listen to and what kind of music do you absolutely HATE?
I have a very eclectic ear for music. I'm always open to new music, and I enjoy being shown something that I haven't heard before. I can honestly say that I like songs from every genre....that is except country. I just cannot get on the country bandwagon.
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
Adele and John Mayer saved me in college. Their lyrics really "got me" and made me feel supported. Adele 21 and John Mayer's old stuff is the best for heartbreak when you're young.
Name the best TV shows of all time, and what makes them so good?
The number one best TV show in existence is Friends. Why? Because the episodes are short, its quippy, and the chemistry between the 6 actors makes you feel like you love each and every one of them, even when they're being annoying. I have seen all 10 seasons more times than I can count and still laugh at the funnies. Quiz me, I dare you. West Wing is another favorite - even if you're not interested in government, the writing for that show is by far one of the best. Newsroom, by the same writer, is also up there for excellent dialogue!
Name some spots in Philadelphia that are good for a Tinder date.
Continental Midtown rooftop bar - it's always busy so you won't feel too alone with your date, and offers a lot of good distractions if things go poorly. The Piazza is a good spot (unless there's a concert) it's a bit calmer than center city and has a lot to do in a small area. Spruce Street Harbor Park is a DEFINITE for a summer outdoor date. It's cozy if things go well, and there is a lot to look at/talk about.
Which public figure would you want to see “roasted”? (every public figure is fair game).
He gets roasted on a regular basis, but sometimes I'd really like to see Trump be roasted in person. It would make me reallllly happy to witness that and see the reaction, and the angry orange splotches get angrier and splotchier.
Who’s your hero and where in Philadelphia would you take them out for a serious hang?
Emma Watson is a current role model for me. I loved watching her take on the UN, and adore her get out there and make a difference for gender equality attitude. We're interested in the same things, so I would probably take her to Elixir for coffee so we could talk about how we're going to make a difference in the world over their delicious brews.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
Oh, I am a shopper. This is a tough question. I buy clothes everywhere I go, so that ranges from a classic department store like Macy's to a cheaper, and more eclectic thrift store. The city is full of boutiques and one-off stores as well as the typical Express and Abercrombie. I do a lot of online shopping too - so I have all the lists!
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
Sugar House Casino - not a gambler, not a smoker, not for me.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
Try all the coffee. I make it a habit to try out all the new coffee places, but working for a living can seriously hinder my coffee-buds. There are so many great spots and my list is always growing!
Where do you go in Philadelphia for a casual night out?
Tria is my go to for some great wine and even better food. It's small, and there's sometimes a long wait, but Sunday nights are Sunday Schools - aka half off wine and food, and I have spent many a night casually sipping wine and catching up with friends. Their duck salad would have me there every day if I could get away with it.
Where would you go in Philadelphia to celebrate some freaking good news?
Any place that has a great view and FAB cocktails! I am a sucker for atypical cocktails that blow you away. I would suggest Vernick or Harp and Crown - they have the best cocktails in the city! For a great view, there are at least 10 places in the city that offer high rise views or even water views. The list is endless, especially in the summer with all the pop-up gardens.
What’s your choice of transportation in Philadelphia and why?
The subway. It's easy to utilize, makes sense, and runs every 10 minutes (7 in rush hour!). There are only two lines in the city, North/South and East/West, and although they don't reach everywhere, they make it a lot easier to get to wherever you need to go. Uber is in the city and a great backup if the subway is too far out of reach.
What are the Philadelphia spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
Do they want history? Old City is a must. Art? The art museum is an easy one, but the Barnes Foundation is my favorite for art. Smaller collection = more intrigue. Drinks? Center city is chock full of great drinking establishments. There are prohibition-like bars underground, sky gardens for a view, seemingly-hole in the wall places that have the coolest people - all within a few minutes walk of each. Coffee? One Shot Cafe in the Piazza is a must. Great coffee, great atmosphere, and lots of places to lounge and relax.
What are the Philadelphia spots tourists should run from screaming?
The not-so nice areas in Philly that border the super-great places are definitely not worth venturing down. There are some unsafe areas I would tell people to avoid, like north of Girard in between the College and Temple, and some parts of West Philly are not the best. Better to ask a local of the boundaries and stay within them rather than put your safety at risk.
Tomorrow’s your last day in Philadelphia. How do you spend it?
I would start with brunch at one of the many great brunch spots in the city, followed by some shopping at the Philly-only boutiques, coffee at Joe's in Rittenhouse, a stroll around the park, pizza at Angelino's a walk down to Kelly Drive to my favorite reading spot, more coffee at the Lucky Goat, dinner reservations at Harp and Crown followed by cocktails at R2L to end the evening with a view. Maybe a dance club if I was feeling adventurous.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
Isle of Skye, Scotland. I visited last summer and have only amazing things to say about it! Food = A+, views = STUNNING, people are generous and kind! I could visit there every year and never grow tired of exploring!