AJ is one of those people with contagious energy - he's effortlessly stylish, genuinely kind, and fucking hilarious. He has killer taste, and it translates into all his creative projects. This includes his recommendations in Philly.
Tell us what neighborhood and city you call home.
So weird saying this now, as an LA-native. But home is in the neighborhood of Graduate Hospital in the city of Philadelphia!
What are you passionate about (whether it pays the bills or not)?
I'm passionate about a lot of things. But right now one of my biggest passions would be exploring and everything that comes with that. Meeting new people, finding new places, living through new experiences, and, in turn, learning more about myself.
If you had to summarize your city in a couple sentences to someone who has never been there, what would you say?
Philly's not what I originally thought it would be. It's charming and has a lot of personality and, if you're willing to look, has a lot of hidden treasures.
How do you get around in Philly?
A lot of Uber/Lyft – I was borderline dependent on it in the beginning, but it hurts the wallet! I try to walk everywhere. It’s surprisingly walkable, and getting easier with the weather cooling off. The train is great for getting to work.
Was it weird getting out of the car, since in LA, car = life?
Yes! I've had a car since I was 16; you never think about not being able to drive somewhere. Growing up there you know traffic - it changes your travel time and how you plan. But I like walking now!
Can you name some of your favorite places to eat? Describe as little or as much as you want.
I've barely scratched the surface of what Philly has to offer. But a few of my favorite spots are:
- Hungry Pigeon - One of my favorites for brunch.
- Bar Bombon - One of the first places I tried out here in Philly. It's a great, cute, little vegetarian Mexican spot.
- Bing Bing Dim Sum - Dim sum, 'nuff said.
What about places you hang out in / meet friends / kill time? (Like bars, coffee shops, parks, museums, you know…)
I'm a coffee shop fiend - always have been, always will be. Some of my favorites are Ultimo, La Colombe, Shot Tower, One Shot, and Menagerie. For bars, I like Garage (South Philly), Grace Tavern, and South Street Tap Room! When I wanna just be outside (when it's not 100 degrees and humid outside), I'm usually running along the Schuylkill River Run up to the art museum.
What do locals do on the weekends? What would you never be caught dead doing?
Philly surprisingly has a lot of outdoor street fairs and farmers markets. So usually people are out and about on the weekends, especially when it's nice out. It's nice to see all different kinds of people out, it definitely makes it feel very neighborly. Being from LA, I'm not used to just walking around from place to place, since it's such a driving city, so it's definitely been an incredibly nice change of pace to walk around neighborhoods and interact with people.
Probably would never be caught dead standing in line to see the Liberty Bell or taking a tour of Independence Hall. There are a bunch of history buffs out there, but I'm definitely not one of them.
Is there anything shamefully tourist that you have done, and would secretly recommend?
I've ran up the Rocky Steps at the Art Museum. Even more shamefully, I did it while listening to the Rocky Theme Song. Yeah, it's super cliché - but honestly I got a weird empowering rush from it. I say do it, you'll have fun and get some exercise in. Now, taking a picture with the Rocky STATUE is a different story...
Where should we go for the good shopping? Tiny stores, cool boutiques? Vintage?
Old City has the best little boutique stores. My favorites are Select 215, United by Blue, and Art in the Age.
Okay, so you call Philly home - day in and day out. Living here makes you crave what kind of getaway / escape?
Living on the east coast has really shown my how compact and close together everything is out here. I take weekend day trips to NY on the regular. So living here has really made me want to explore all the east coast cities that I can! This side of the country just has such a different vibe than the west coast in a completely amazing way and I'm so excited to see what else is out there!