Mikala Mikrut: Philadelphia From a Vegas View

Tony Ward model Mikala Mikrut and Philly designer out on the town
Tony Ward model, Mikala Mikrut out on the town with Philly designer/creative director KVaughn.

Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2023


Philadelphia From a Vegas View


This past month, I had the pleasure of visiting Philadelphia, PA for the first time in my life. Philadelphia is notorious for many aspects of American history such as Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, among many other American Revolution sites. While I may regret not visiting the liberty bell (a familiar symbol of freedom in the United States) or trying a Philly cheesesteak (Philadelphia’s most iconic culinary creation), I still feel like I experienced some of its best highlights. Not only is Philadelphia Pennsylvania’s largest city, it’s also the sixth-most populous city in America. It was fascinating to see the difference in standard housing and public transportation compared to my Las Vegas, which is the 25th-most populous city. While I had the pleasure of staying with the fabulous Tony Ward, who took me on the best scenic drives where I got to see the leaves turning for fall as well as the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art which Rocky immortalized, my tour guide for downtown nightlife was KVaughn. As a Vegas local, that is what I was most intrigued to explore. So join me as I break down where we went on our night of debauchery and my uncensored opinion on each of these iconic places.

Our first stop was closing night for the Stellar Spirits exhibition at James Oliver Gallery. Similarly to  hiking at my beloved Mt. Charleston, you must climb a dizzying amount of stairs to get to the gorgeous view. Once you arrive on the third floor, you are greeted by a clean white gallery presenting colorful, thoughtful pieces such as Kurt Herrmnn’s “A Deeper Speedo” and Matthew Hance’s “The Oracle” which was my personal favorite. While I never claim to be well versed in art, these pieces still evoke emotion and intrigue from someone with as simple of an understanding as myself. The gallery is currently closed as they set up for their next exhibition Cool Under Pressure featuring Don Bell and John Y. Wind which will premiere November 4.

After a refreshing whiskey coke whipped up by James Oliver himself, KVaughn and I walked ourselves down to High Street. This, ladies and gents, was unabashedly my favorite location of the night. Their website describes it as, “Eli Kulp’s edgy American cooking with a rustic twist & an artisanal bakery in a country-chic space.” This place had the service, atmosphere, and craft of the Las Vegas hospitality I am spoiled to be accustomed to. The music and overall crowd were at a temperate volume where it felt busy, but you could still have an intimate conversation. It was a sensory wonderland with rustic wood, sturdy dishes, soft cloth napkins, and spotless glassware. We each got a specialty cocktail that was spectacular, and although we weren’t hungry, we couldn’t help ourselves from ordering an appetizer of 4 slices of what I can best describe as bruschetta, each with a completely different tantalizing topping. What I especially loved about this place was their transparency of the cleanliness of their kitchen. Literally, there are glass panes so you can watch the kitchen throughout your meal should your date be a bore, which of course was not an issue for me.

What goes up, must come down. So after such a high (get it?), we were then disappointed by the scene at the W Hotel. Despite having a prime downtown location, there was no life in either the lobby nor the 7th floor bar. The only people who would make eye contact were not the employees, but instead the people who were already seated and served who would stare too long to not share their thoughts. So after doing a quick walk around, we realized it wasn’t even worth staying for a drink. The lack of both service and ambiance made it incredibly disappointing. It seems like a lovely hotel to stay in, but one you would need to leave if nightlife is part of your vacation plans. I would have stayed if I felt like anyone wanted us to, whether that was a staff member or a hotel guest. The overall tone was cold and judgemental.

KVaughn promised an upswing and didn’t disappoint when we walked into Happy Rooster. It’s described as a “Quirky corner bar with antique brass lamps & worn leather booths serving seasonal American fare.” This place was so much more than that. The martinis flow as easily as the conversations with the patrons. Anyone we bumped into seemed delighted to turn that into an opportunity to start a chat. I’d have to say the people at this bar were the nicest strangers the city had to offer. It had all the stickiness and dim lighting similar to my home dives with an impressive menu I wish I was hungry enough to explore. I was particularly interested in their lobster mac and cheese, white bean chicken chili, and their steak frites. Definitely an upgrade from the previous location.

Next we found a little standing room in Rouge and enjoyed more craft cocktails, not as high quality as High Street but still more classy than Happy Rooster if you don’t want to hear people screaming at a TV. This place is, “Known for classic burgers, this American eatery offers sidewalk seating for ample people-watching.” Again, I wish I was hungry to have tried their food, but the drinks were good enough and we met a patron willing to converse which is apparently a big ask in Philadelphia, I’ve found. Also, If you pay in cash here, make sure it’s the exact amount you’d like to leave with a tip. Otherwise the bartender will keep your full $20 for one mediocre cocktail where the best part was the garnish. All in all I would come back here to try the food, but not for drinks.

Our last stop of the night was Byblos for Hip Hop. Hands down the best DJ I heard all night. This place claims, “Mediterranean eats & hookah smoking get a techno soundtrack at this lively nightclub & restaurant.” We had a couple more drinks and shared a lovely strawberry hookah. The other patrons were pretty standoffish as anytime I made eye contact with anyone they were quick to look away, but we still had fun regardless. Although I would only come here for special occasions as it did feel overpriced.

Overall I had a great time exploring downtown Philadelphia. While the service, drinks, and music had a very wide variety, that is exactly what I hope to experience when exploring someplace new.  It’s crazy to see how many people live there and they still have trees! What a wonder to this desert girl. If you haven’t been there yet, it’s a must see. I highly recommend going in the fall to see the leaves change colors. Everything was beautiful and crisp. Just what you would imagine from a Northeast fall. Thank you to Tony, KVaugn, and the city of Philadelphia for giving me a weekend I will never forget.


Tony Ward model Mikala Mikrut out on the town in Philadelphia
Tony Ward model Mikala Mikrut out on the town in Philadelphia.


To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, link herehttps://tonyward.com/mikala-mikrut-prostitution-in-nevada/

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