Three new must-try Mexican restaurants and the return of arts and culture

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Monday, July 27, 2020
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Alicia Vitarelli takes you inside Saturday's episode beginning with a stop at a new Mexican spot with a "Queer Eye"approval.

Alma del Mar opens in Italian Market after 'Queer Eye' makeover

At a time when restaurants are struggling to get back on their feet with COVID-19 shutdowns, Alma del Mar, in the Italian market, is just opening up -- after a Fab Five makeover no less!

Owner Marcos Tlacopilco had a fish shop for years in the same area, but it was always his dream to have his own restaurant.

When the producers of the show "Queer Eye" heard about him, they sent the Fab Five to help Tlacopilco get his Mexican fusion brunch spot ready to go (Season 5 filmed in Philadelphia last summer). Now, it's open for business daily with outdoor seating and takeout.

Tlacopilco came to Philly from Puebla, Mexico. He and his wife, Alma - who he named the place after - started their family here, and all four of their kids help out as well.

Alma del Mar | Facebook Instagram

1007 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia. PA 19147

215-644-8158

Casa Mexico, Taqueria Morales find new ways to survive after COVID-19 interruption

Two Mexican restaurants opened just weeks before the pandemic shut restaurants down across the city.

Casa Mexico was created by James Beard-nominated chef Cristina Martinez, who uses food as a platform to fight for immigrant rights.

She opened Casa Mexico in the heart of the Italian Market, right next door to her celebrated South Philly Barbacoa.

Taqueria Morales also opened its doors in South Philly.

The restaurant struggled to get traction when it first opened so the daughter in the family took to Twitter to urge people to give her family's food a chance.

The tweet quickly went viral and the restaurant suddenly had lines out the door. And then COVID-19 came to town.

Casa Mexico | Facebook | Instagram

1134 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

267-455-2760

Taqueria Morales | Instagram

1429 Jackson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145

215-645-9392

Local Farmers Seeing a Pandemic Surge in Business

While many people are struggling during COVID-19, local farmers saw interest in their products surge with steep increases in sales practically overnight.

From a first generation meat farmer raising heritage breed pigs, cows, sheep, goats and chickens to a fourth generation dairy farmer whose heritage breed cow's milk makes all kinds of cheeses, spreads and yogurts to the Weavers Way Co Op stores and farmers market, people are buying local now more than ever.

And farmers, accustomed to struggling, are seeing record sales.

Conebella Farm | Facebook | Instagram

337 Chestnut Tree Rd, Elverson, PA 19520

610-286-2967

Stryker Farm | Website | Facebook

3045 Mountain Rd, Saylorsburg, PA 18353

570-269-2995

Henry Got Crops CSA & Weavers Way Farm Market at Saul Agricultural H.S.

7095 Henry Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19128

215-843-2350 ext. 325

Weavers Way Co Op Stores | Facebook

Weavers Way Mt. Airy

559 Carpenter Lane, Mt. Airy

215-843-2350

Weavers Way Chestnut Hill

8424 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill

215-866-9150

Philadelphia Navy brothers serve ice cream and smiles at Scoop n' Smiles

Scoops 'n' Smiles is doing just that in its Malvern ice cream shop.

Akain Rowland along with his brother, Yusef, and uncle, Keith, opened the store in 2016.

They serve a rotating list of flavors made by local ice cream manufacturers Bassett's and Nelson's.

The West Philly natives grew up eating water ice and decided to make their own. You'll find at least 10 flavors in the store at all times.

Akain and Yusef both served in the Navy and they named their banana splits after the ships they sailed as crewmembers.

Scoops 'n' Smiles opened a second location in West Chester during the pandemic and they also have a truck to cater special events.

Scoop 'N' Smiles | Facebook | Instagram

327 East King Street, Malvern, PA 19355

6 East Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380

Hakim's Bookstore in demand as people look to learn about Black history, race

Hakim's Bookstore is the first and oldest African-American bookstore in Philadelphia, and one of the first on the East Coast.

Founder Dawud Hakim opened the shop back in 1959 to educate people on the history and accomplishments of African Americans.

Their stacks are rich in titles new and old, across genres like children's, biographies, religion and more.

In the days following the death of George Floyd, current owner -- and daughter of the founder -- Yvonne Blake saw a surge in sales of books on African-American history and civil rights.

She continues her father's legacy sixty-one years later and is proud of how his work has come full circle.

Hakim's Bookstore | Online orders | Facebook Instagram

210 S. 52nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139

215-474-9495

Celebrate joy with The Sable Collective

Celebrate joy, beauty and wellness with The Sable Collective, recent Best of Philly winner for Best Wellness Shop for Women of Color (a new category they created this year).

You can find clothing, jewelry, housewares, and wellness products from local Philadelphia-makers.

The collective is currently all-virtual, as the brick and mortar store at the Fashion District is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.

Owner Shanti Mayers intentionally sources all the products from the BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) community and women artisans and entrepreneurs.

The wellness section is stocked like an apothecary, with bundles of herbs. You can also discover herbal tea blends and tinctures that play into her mindfulness approach.

Mayers is also transitioning to virtual events, such as herbal workshops and writing classes.

The Sable Collective | Instagram

1101 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

3 fitness classes to get you moving outdoors

DanceFit at the Flourtown Swim Club in Chestnut Hill is making a big splash with Aqua Zumba.

Aqua Zumba blends the Zumba philosophy with water resistance, which means every step is more challenging, but there's less impact. Along with Aqua Zumba, the boutique dance studio owner Bria Moss-Wilkerson streams dance classes online and hosts outdoor classes around their Frankford location.

DanceFit | Instagram

Chestnut Hill location: 98 Bethlehem Pike, Philadelphia, PA 19118

Fishtown location: 2423 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Get Paris Fit Studios is pulling up in a parking lot near you with their next event called "Pull Up, Park and Dance."

For the next few months, they'll be picking different parking lots across Philadelphia for Zumba pop-ups. You simply come, park your car and get movin'.

On Aug. 1, "Pull Up, Park and Dance" will be making a stop in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia.

Get Paris Fit Studios | Website | Instagram

221 Vine St Suite B, Philadelphia

Under the historical Shambles at Headhouse Square, you can find Three Queens Yoga.

Owner Mariel Freeman is an experienced yoga teacher of about 16 years, specializing in bio-mechanics and optimal alignment.

She also tell us yoga is a great strategy for stress reduction.

Three Queens Yoga| Instagram

410 Monroe St, Philadelphia, PA 19125

Arts and culture come roaring back in Philadelphia

After four months of closures due to COVID-19, local arts and cultural institutions have begun to reopen with plenty of pandemic precautions.

There's even a new museum set to open in Cape May, celebrating Harriet Tubman, who worked at the shore town to raise money to fund her work on the Underground Railroad.

And while theaters have been unable to open their doors to live audiences, The Wilma has created a Globe model that is both innovative and inspired by the Shakespeare theater of centuries past. Still in the design phase, it would separate the audience members from the stage and each other.

Adventure Aquarium | Facebook | Instagram

1 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ 08103

Independence Seaport Museum | Facebook | Instagram

211 S Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106

215-413-8655

The Mutter Museum | Facebook | Instagram

19 S 22nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

The Franklin institute | Facebook | Instagram

222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Harriet Tubman Museum | Facebook | Instagram

*Anticipating mid-August opening

632 Lafayette St, Cape May, NJ 08204

Wilma Theater | Facebook | Instagram

265 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

215-546-7824