Welcome to Philadelphia.

chris crisman philadelphia photography photographer visit studio

Truth be told, we think Philly is a really great town. We know that most of these blog posts come from somewhere on the road, or share the story of some crazy adventure, but when we’re back home in the city of brotherly love, Chris and I are really happy to be home. And there isn’t really anywhere else we’d want to call home.

As for our fine city, we thought it might do Philly some good to highlight a handful of our favorite industry-related establishments, and offer up a few pieces of advice for those looking to shoot, produce, or just take visit to Philadelphia. Want to know the best of the best in our hometown? Keep reading to find out…


Lodging: Hotel Monaco

Spending the night in Philly? Trust us, you can’t find a better deal for a swankier stay than the Hotel Monaco. It’s a Kimpton hotel, so you know it’s going to classy, but beyond that it’s located right in the heart of Philadelphia (across the street from the liberty bell) and it’s priced super-reasonably. Oh and there’s a rooftop bar. It’s nice.

chris crisman philadelphia photography photographer visit studio

If your production ends late: Barbuzzo

One of the best things about Barbuzzo is that it’s open and serving dinner until Midnight. Production running late? Complete meltdown on set? Don’t worry – chances are you’ll still be able to make it to dinner and score an incredible spread of small plates, charcuterie, and pizzas. That is if you can get a reservation.

chris crisman philadelphia photography photographer visit studio

Best Burger (in the whole damn world): The Dandelion

In the mood for a burger? According to Chris, you can find the best cheeseburger in the city and in the entire world at The Dandelion Pub: “It starts the the meat, the quality of the meat. It’s aged steak and chuck from Pat LaFrieda, blended together and best cooked medium-rare. The cheese is an aged cheddar that compliments the smokiness of the meat just right. Then there’s the sauce, it’s some sort of special sauce that tastes like thousand island dressing but better. The bun couldn’t be any better. It’s a perfectly soft brioche, just the right size to hold in all of the flavor but not overwhelming.”  It’s a damn good burger.

chris crisman philadelphia photography photographer visit studio

Best Client Dinner: Zahav or Amada

This is an easy one. With two of the best chefs in the city (Michael Solomonov and Jose Garces) in their respective kitchens, both Zahav and Amada are the top choices for anyone looking to impress with a meal. You only need to make the choice between Spanish Tapas or Middle Eastern small plates. My tip? If you’re doing Zahav, go for the “Mesibah” – a party time tasting menu unlike anything else in the city.


Best Spot for a Great Cocktail: The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

Have an interest in cocktails? How about a handcrafted, seasonally changing menu of some of the best booze in the city? Based on a prohibition era speakeasy, Franklin Mortgage is a tiny, quiet watering hole tucked away behind an otherwise unassuming entry. It might just be the perfect place to delve into a creative brief with your favorite art director.

chris crisman philadelphia photography photographer visit studio

The Cheesesteak: ??

We knew that we couldn’t dedicate a blog post about Philly without at least a tiny mention of our city’s most infamous sandwich. I will come right out and say it that despite living in the city that cheesesteaks are associated with, we barely eat them – there are just so many better sandwiches out there. But, if you insist and are seeking out the touristy experience and mediocre sandwich, Pat’s and Geno’s (the famous dueling purveyors) are only two blocks from Chris’s house. If you ever end up there, give him a call… he might just join you for a bite.

With all of the miles on the road and new cities we wind up in, it’s very easy for us to fall victim to the grass always being greener. That being said, we’re always happy to make it back home to Philadelphia. Whether you’re in town on a production or just passing through – let us know @crismanphoto or @robertluessen, we’ll make sure you find the right spots.

3 replies to “Welcome to Philadelphia.”

  1. Great post, Chris and Robert. I’m a LaSalle U grad, lived in Philly for 10 years afterwards (South Philly – 7th & Sears ) for most of it. Love the city and enjoy getting back there. Just took my kids back there recently – here are some images from that day: http://bit.ly/WUzIx8

    For my money, best burger and beer is Irish Pub at 12th & Walnut. Pat’s for cheesesteak. Iskabibble’s for chicken cheesesteak..

    By the way, liked that Philadelphia Eagles hoodie Chris had on during the Branson shoot.

    Good stuff. Great city.

  2. AMADA and any Garces restaurant are effing awesome. love his work. love his food. Garces Trading Co. is also a great place to get some awesome specialty meats, cheeses and wines.

    in my opinion, Garces has taken Starr’s crown as the king of the city.

    i’ve been wanting to get to Barbuzzo, i’ve heard nothing but good things.

    as for cheesesteaks. rather than a cheesesteak, get yourself to Nick’s on 20th and Jackson. order a “combo” “on the outs” with a side of “gravy fries.” your life will change.

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