Insider’s Guide 2011

Forget Philly (for once). There’s more than enough to love in your own backyard, from hidden-gem boutiques and restaurants to home services and health-boosting activities.

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Everybody has a secret. It might be a favorite hole-in-the-wall that serves great food at great prices, a market that has those hard-to-find ingredients needed for the most exotic culinary experiments, or a boutique where you always find the perfect gift for the person who has everything.

It might be a place where you can take the kids on a rainy day, immerse yourself in another culture, or get to know people who share your interests. It may be a service to make life easier. Here are the Main Line’s best-kept “secrets”—some tucked away, others hidden in plain sight.

ALSO: Help us with our next Insider’s Guide by posting a comment below. We’re sure there’s plenty we missed.

Fab Food

Snacks and Sumo: Maido! A Marketplace of Japan
Belly up to the counter and order some okonomiyaki (a savory pancake of pork, seafood, veggies or all three), with a side of sumo wrestling beamed in from Japan—all for just $7. The lunch menu is limited to three choices, but each is authentic and delicious. Wash down your meal with an ice-cold Ramune soda in berry flavor—or, if you have the nerve, wasabi or kimchi. 36 N. Narberth Ave., Narberth; (610) 747-0557,

Free Yourself:
Main Line Baking Co.

Gluten- and dairy-free don’t have to mean taste-free. The brownies are chocolate-chewy, the muffins and cakes moist, and the breads crispy-crusted. Cute cupcakes include the coconut-covered snowball and the lime-frosted margarita. Wynnewood Train Station, Wynnewood; (215) 292-4200,

Cheap Fruits and Veggies: Produce Junction
The décor leaves much to be desired, but there aren’t many other places where you can feel confident buying pre-bagged fruits and veggies. The quality is consistently high, the prices—including those for robust house plants—are amazingly low. Cash only. 260 N. Pottstown Pike, Suite 15, Exton, (610) 524-5454.

Kosher Confections: Buy the Dozen
Those yummy smells aren’t coming from Venus nail salon. The bakery upstairs is primarily wholesale, but neighbors can buy croissants and traditional treats (rugelach, anyone?) at stock-up prices from its no-frills table. Get on the “Shabbat list” to guarantee your weekly challah. Yes, we know about the to-die-for croissants at Le Petit Mitron a few doors down, but this is about hidden gems. Closed Saturday and Sunday. 219 Haverford Ave., Narberth, (610) 667-9440.

Specialty Spirits: Teikoku & Verdad
Unless you’re already sake savvy, Teikoku’s menu will help you decide which one to pair with your sushi or Kobe. Or try a sampler flight of three ($18) or five ($28). Going back to school has never been as much fun as it is at Tequila University, held almost every month at Verdad. You’ll taste three different varieties, paired with tapas ($30). 5492 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 644-8270,; 818 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, (610) 520-9100,

Great Gifts

Chester Springs Creamery
Sign up chilly-confection aficionados for the ice cream special-delivery service. They’ll get two made-to-order quarts each month, delivered right to their homes ($6 per quart plus taxes, shipping and handling). 521 Uwchlan Ave., Chester Springs; (610) 363-8500,

A Joanna1 medallion.Euro Market
The Gospodinov family’s little shop specializes in Bulgarian, Greek, Polish and Serbian foods, but they also carry a beautiful line of hand-formed and -decorated, oven-to-table Bulgarian ceramics. Consider giving a gorgeous giuveche (stew pot). 30 S. Sproul Road, Broomall; (610) 359-9021,

Joanna1 Jewelry
Joanna Morrison Marcuse’s handmade jewelry is created from precious metal clay. The medium is comprised of pure silver and a binder that, when fired in the kiln, burns away, leaving behind a piece of wearable art. Gallery Eros, 814 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; (484) 222-0513,

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