A Perfect Day in Philadelphia
My go-to spot is Café Estelle. They make an out-of-this-world breakfast pizza with provolone, home fries, house-made pancetta, and fried eggs. It gets busy, but the friendly waitresses keep things moving (444 N. 4th St., 215/925-5080, breakfast pizza $9).
Top spot for fashion
Nothing beats the six blocks on Walnut Street from South Broad to South 20th. I like Knit Wit, which has the very latest in jeans, knit tops, scarves, charm bracelets, and lariat-style necklaces (1718 Walnut St., 215/564-4760).
Top spot for books
I adore Head House Books. It's sunny and cozy, with Oriental rugs lining the floor. Proprietor Richard DeWyngaert is extremely thoughtful about what he chooses to stock and display (619 S. 2nd St., 215/923-9525).
Top spot for housewares
Scarlet Fiorella is an eclectic shop full of quirky furnishings, like vintage mirrors and glass chandeliers (113 S. 13th St., 215/922-1955).
Jones restaurant has a '70s feel, with shag carpeting and stone walls and columns—it looks like it came straight out of The Brady Bunch, but with a modern twist. I'm a fan of the open-faced brisket sandwich (700 Chestnut St., 215/223-5663, sandwich $14).
The stylists at Salon Thalia do this magical straightening treatment so that at home, after five minutes with a blow-dryer and two minutes with a flat iron, it looks like I just walked out of the salon (601 Walnut St., Suite L50, 215/625-0900, keratin treatment $300).
Afternoon sugar infusion
The Pink Rose Pastry Shop is very Victorian and lacy and pink. I'm fond of the linzer torte cookies, but my favorite thing about the place is the aroma you get just walking by: It's a blast of butter and sugar (630 S. 4th St., 215/592-0565, cookie $2.25).
Hard-won dinner and drinks
The small plates at Chifa, a Peruvian-Cantonese restaurant, are perfect for groups. I just went there for dinner with six friends for my 39th birthday. We started off with pitchers of Chicha Morada, a spiced rum punch with pineapple, and then tried everything on the menu! Crab empanadas, arepas with braised oxtail, pork-belly buns…they had to roll us out of there (707 Chestnut St., 215/925-5555, plates from $8).
my new book
Best Friends Forever is about two women who reunite 15 years after high school on the heels of a tragedy. It's about friendship and it's a little bit of a mystery, but it's very funny too (Atria Books, $27).