Daring Fireball has been online for over 15 years now, and I think I’ve been reading the site for about 5 or 6. John Gruber, the site’s proprietor, writes and talks about a lot of things nowadays, from general topics in technology, to Apple Products, baseball, James Bond, and politics. It didn’t take long to pick up on his love for good booze, and he’d occasionally bring up a bar in Philadelphia called Hop Sing Laundromat — and more specifically, it’s owner, Lê.
The last time I visited Philadelphia was completely by chance. It was on a summer break from college when I was staying with my friend Chris in New Jersey for a week-or-so break from living back at home. We travelled downtown via the Walt Whitman bridge, and I swear I learned plenty of other historical details but I’ve forgotten them since. We got a hoagie, I experienced Urban Outfitters for the first time and bought a book on making cupcakes. After that, we met up with a friend of his, went for a hoagie, and drove back.
To be honest, I didn’t really take much away from that experience other than baking a hell of a lot of cupcakes the following school year — and that it might be fun to return to Philadelphia at some point.
Fast forward to graduating college, getting my first and second jobs out of school, discovering Daring Fireball, and reading countless articles about Hop Sing. It took three years since my discovery to finally make the trip with my wife and two of our friends.
There’s something about anticipation that can either enhance or spoil an experience. After getting in late, we quickly got dressed in clothing that would allow us entry — something nice, certainly no shorts, sneakers, flip flops, or hats — and grabbed enough cash for a few drinks each. We all piled into a Lyft and were quickly on our way. All I could think about was how awful it would be if we got to the gate and something went wrong… what if they wouldn’t let us in?
Lê met us at the door and asked us a few questions, snagged our IDs, informed us about the cash-only nature of the bar, that phones were prohibited at our table, and let us in. We got in. We. Got. In.
After all that, I’d say it was worth the trip. Anticipation definitely worked in our favor… but after all that stress, I realized I could do with a strong drink. Good thing I was in the right place.