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What Does Philadelphia Have That New York Doesn't?


Kent Wang
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I am making a trip through the northeast this June and will have about a week in Philadelphia and a week in New York City. What should I focus on in Philly that I can't get in New York? E.g. I should avoid sushi because I can just go to Sushi Yasuda in New York.

I was in town last year also for about a week and have a few ideas about the city's unique offerings:

Cheese steaks - went to Jim's last time because it was a tough getting a ride to some of the other ones, but I'd like to try some of the others

Capogiro - will definitely visit again

Amada - had a small meal. I'd consider going back unless there's a better tapas place in NY.

I'm considering:

Studio Kitchen - I haven't read all of that thread yet, but is it possible to get in?

Overall budget is an issue. If there's just not that many places worth spending the money on, I'd rather just cook at my friend's house where I'm staying, and save the money for New York.

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Reading Terminal Market (RTM) for breakfast, lunch and pretzels.

Hoagies at Sarcone's Deli and/or Chick's. An upscale hoagie at Salumeria in the RTM.

Roasted pork sandwiches with aged provolone and greens at Dinics (RTM) or John's. Also at a REAL Tony Luke's.

Texas wieners at Texas Wieners. A hot sausage with Philadelphia pepper hash from the hot dog truck on Passyunk between 23rd and 24th.

All manner of Italian sandwiches from Paesano's on the 100 block of Girard

Taconelli's for pizza made Alan Richmond's Top 25 pizza list - you call ahead to reserve your dough. Ask to look at the immense oven.

La Columbe coffee from the source - La Columbe on 19th between Sansom and Walnut.

Not sure what's up with Studio Kitchen - it is mostly closed. Check the site, though. Shola may be doing a meal at a restaurant.

Maybe others will come up with fine dining options. I can't think of any in Philadelphia that are not available in NYC. I'm not sure why you're focusing on "best" in any cuisine. For one thing "best" is usually less expensive (ie a better value) in Philadelphia. Whether or not NY has a "better tapas place" you will do very well at Amada or Tinto. You'll also do very well at Cochen or Zahav. And Vetri and/or Osteria should be on your list. Chef's aren't carbon copies of each. Every chef of note in a cuisine will have his/her point of view.

And Steves Prince of Steaks for cheesesteaks.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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While you're up in the vicinity of Steve's Prince of Steaks, you might want to check out an example of a great value for your money:

Churrascuria at Picanha Grill.

Ambience is 1970s diner (which is what this place was before Brazilian immigrants took it over), salad bar is a mixed bag (iceberg lettuce on the garden salad and bottled dressings from the Save-a-Lot in the next block south of the restaurant, but the house-made items are generally quite good), but the meat is every bit as delicious and just as copious as what you'll find at Fogo de Chao -- for less than half the price of dinner at Fogo ($20 AYCE when I was last there). And you can complement it with the wine of your choice as long as you remember to bring it with you. The staff couldn't be friendlier, either.

I'm sure you can find "better" in New York -- and I'm equally sure that the difference won't be so great as to justify the difference in price, unless you insist on deluxe decor to go with your meal.

It's on the next main N-S thoroughfare W of Bustleton Avenue (where you'll find Steve's Prince of Steaks), a little bit S of Steve's cross street. See my foodblog #2 for more detailed description, photos, and address (with directions via public transportation).

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Is there a good charcutier? I can save a lot of money by eating charcuterie than an actual restaurant meal. And I love charcuterie.

I'm sure you can find "better" in New York -- and I'm equally sure that the difference won't be so great as to justify the difference in price, unless you insist on deluxe decor to go with your meal.

Very good point. If there's better value to be had in Philly, than I'd rather get it here.

Then again, New York often has some amazing deals in all price ranges, including the high end, e.g. lunch at Jean Georges.

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Good grief, she'll kill me for omitting it from my earlier post..

Breakfast at Carman's Country Kitchen - 11th and Wharton. Friday thru Monday, 8 AM til 2 PM. You can call for reservations the day of and should Saturday or Sunday. Just be on time and check any Puritan sensibilities at the door. A group of you can reserve the chef's table - ie the table set up in the bed of the chef's pick-up truck

Nothing approaching Carman's Country Kitchen in NY or anywhere else.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Nothing approaching Carman's Country Kitchen in NY or anywhere else.

Truer words were never spoken...Carman's is as unique a place as I've ever been. And I mean that in every good way possible...

Shank & Evelyn's ought to be up and running soon, but I'm not exactly certain of their new opening date.

Taconelli's for pizza is a uniquely Philly experience.

If you want charcuterie then go check out DiBruno's. I prefer the 9th street location, but the 17th & Chestnut store has much more prepared foods as well as cafe tables at which to eat your purchases. The 9th street store is in the Italian Market, which is about as Philadelphia as it gets.

Check out the various farmer's markets around the city. We have some of the best produce available from within an hour's drive in any direction. Just had some Lancaster County strawberries today that were mind blowing.

Oyster House will be opening in "early June" so you're welcome to come visit me for some raw bar, house infused oyster shots and cocktails. Shoot me a PM before you come as I am not certain of my schedule yet...

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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As usual, listen to Holly's suggestions; they're gold.

On charcuterie: DiBruno's is great, but I don't know that it's so much better than good deli/specialty food stores elsewhere. What would really make it worthwhile is if you combined it with a trip to the Italian Market. That's a must-visit for a food-oriented tour of the city, and the best way to get to experience Philadelphia in all its stinky glory.

Also, there isn't a lot of good Burmese food in New York: not in Manhattan, for sure. But Philadelphia has a real gem in Rangoon. I'd stop there for sure.

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Kent:

I wouldn't dismiss sushi in Philly out of hand. You could always make a quick drive over the bridge to Fuji or take the PATCO speed line train right to Haddonfield and walk a block to the restaurant. I think Fuji is entirely deserving of your visit. Every chef I know in Philly chooses to eat their sushi there. I've taken many New Yorkers as well as Japanese friends there and they've all been quite favorably impressed. Not to diss Yasuda, but Fuji is a great restaurant in it's own right and I am quite certain you'd enjoy a visit there.

No one has mentioned the riches of excellent authentic Mexican or Vietnamese cuisine that are down and dirty and pretty cheap. Almost anywhere around/off Washington Avenue there's an abundance or up in Fishtown you can visit Que Chula es Puebla or Jovan's for some delicious Yugoslavian cuisine. There's also a ridiculous shop at Front & Girard called Paesano's that has amazing sandwiches. The lamb and cherry mostarda sandwich is to die for. I've never seen anything like it anywhere else. And of course there's the killer Portchuruvian chicken at El Balconcito in the Northeast.

I'm certain the PhilleGulleteers would be happy to accompany you on some of these forays. It doesn't take much to get us to go out for some good grub, y'know... :biggrin:

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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My unique spin on Philadelphia cuisine vs NYC cuisine: Philadelphia has a much more laid-back vibe and respects beer much more than NYC. Belgian beer is big here, not in NYC. A lot of our better ethnic foods are more accessible than in NYC. For example, Mexican. Picanha is not the best of its type and there are other options as cheap in NYC (I was to one on Central Avenue in Yonkers) but Picanha is so much easier to get to. I like El Balconcito but a small chain of take-out places in Manhattan beat it, and they deliver (their name escapes me).

I am a huge booster for Philly, I love this city, but I do not think there is really anything we have that NYC doesn't have in terms of cuisine (or anything else except for cheese steaks, roast pork sandwiches, and Belgian beer). But everything, from high-end restaurants to gastropubs to ethnic is so much easier to get to.

Two things we do NOT have is delivery, and a variety of prepared food sources. Di Brunos is nice but monotonous. The selection of gourmet supermarkets in NYC is incredible. Things started with Fairway I guess and grew from there in the nineties. Delivery is always a struggle here.

Edited by brescd01 (log)
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Some good recommendations have already been listed.

Given the current economic climate, deals are springing up in Philly and NYC, though I think it would be hard to beat the value of some Philly BYOs like Cochon and Gayle.

Even places like Lacroix have great "appetite stimulus" deals on lunch and dinner. If you like Brunch, head for Lacroix on Sunday. Best deal anywhere.

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Is there a good charcutier? I can save a lot of money by eating charcuterie than an actual restaurant meal. And I love charcuterie.

Me too. And I think this has been a Philadelphia weakness forever or at least since the closing of the market at the Commissary long, long ago.

Salamis, hams, cheeses, olives are easy. But salads beyond the basics, not so much. And pates. My country for a great country pate made on premises. Pumpkin market had an excellent country pate for a while. Then no more. Not sure if it has ever returned.

How nice it would be to pop out to a charcuterie on a summer day for a selection of pates, fruit salads not loaded with watermelon and unripe honeydew and cantelope, jellied madrilène, Russian salad and such.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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i would add:

taco's at headhouse square market. available only on sunday roughly 11:00-1 or so. i haven't been yet this year but am assuming they are doing this again. it is a local restaurant that sets up at the market on sunday morning.

i think the best deal in town currently is at marigold kitchen. www.marigoldkitchenbyob.com they are currently offering $30 for three courses on sundays. the food is superb and it is byob to boot.

unique because of location, and its setting which is a converted city home that still feels very much like eating in someone's house. i had a seriously good meal here last weekend and have to believe this is one of the best byob's in town.

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Philly actually has excellent charcuterie, and not just plates of store-bought salami.

Fork has an absolutely amazing platter usually consisting of house-made patés, rillettes, salamis, etc.

Here's one:

gallery_23992_2577_137641.jpg

I had another at a later visit that might have been even better. It comes with a nice chutney and mustard. So yes, go sit at the bar at Fork, have a plate of charcuterie (it's a lot, even for two people.) The rest of Fork's food is quite good these days, but probably not of a style you can't find elsewhere.

Fork

306 Market St

http://forkrestaurant.com/

Down in South Philly, James makes a nice variety in-house as well.

gallery_23992_4406_18839.jpg

And it comes with some really good homemade pickles too. As at fork, there's more good food there, but if you specifically wanted charcuterie, there's nothing wrong with sitting at the bar and ordering just that.

James

824 South 8th

http://www.jameson8th.com/

And of course there's Osteria

They're concentrating more on salumi, and don't always have terrines, but I've had some good ones occasionally. And the salumi is generally terrific. Once again, plenty of great food there, but it's actually very nice to sit at the back bar, have some wine, some salumi, and of course, a pizza. Don't leave without a pizza.

gallery_23992_4247_6844.jpg

Osteria

640 North Broad

http://www.osteriaphilly.com/

There are others, but those are three I've had recently and can say are certainly worth checking out if you're interested in that kind of thing. And a lot of places make one or two things, I was actually getting tired of seeing duck prosciutto for a while... and lots of places do a nice plate of commercial product. Amada, for instance, might not make their own, but the charcuterie plate has great stuff on it.

AND

I think there are indeed foods you can get here that either you can't find in NY, or at least they're not especially good up there. We have a very good Burmese restaurant: Rangoon (112 North 9th, in Chinatown).

We have really excellent Indonesian food: Hardena (1754 South Hicks - get somebody to take you...)

We have a good selection of Malaysian: Penang, Banana Leaf, Aqua, Asia @ cafe.

As has already been mentioned, we have very good Vietnamese food, which may not be completely absent in NYC, but seems to be rare. It's routine here. Vietnam and Vietnam Cafe in Chinatown are good, but you might want to go down to Washington Ave and either try Nam Phuong or Viet Huong for the big-menu thing, or Cafe Diem for Pho, or Cafe Cafe Nhuy for Bahn Mi.

We've got two Laotian restaurants; Cafe de Laos and Vientianne.

As has already been mentioned, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Mexican. I'll assume that you in specific aren't looking to eat Mexican, but just as a general point, we're WAY better off than NYC for that cuisine. There are more taquerias opening up every day, many of them very good, and we've got buffed-up versions like Distrito or Xochitl, gastropub versions like the Cantina Los Caballitos or Cantina Dos Segundos, BYOT fun spots like Lolita, etc.

But as others have mentioned, the strongest suit of Philly dining is the casual, inexpensive spot with really good food. It's not that NYC doesn't have any gastropubs, but we have them in practically every neighborhood. Our neighborhood corner bars often have local craft brews on tap, and probably sell something Belgian. We have not one, but several places with phone-book sized lists of Belgian beers.

Our small chef-driven BYOB restaurants may not be cooking anything unheard-of elsewhere, but they're doing it at a high level, at a good price, and you can usually actually get a table. Do the weekday tasting menu at Matyson, or pork-out at Cochon, bring a nice bottle of wine and marvel at the money you're saving by avoiding the mark-ups. That's a very philly dining experience.

But you certainly should try some of the casual specialties too, we make great sandwiches. Try a Roast Pork Italian from DiNics, or Tony Luke's or John's Roast Pork. Get a hoagie from Sarcone's or Salumeria or Carman's or Primo's or jeeze, just go check the sandwiches thread, there are tons of good ones.

As Holly mentioned, go have breakfast at Carmen's Country Kitchen. It's not uniquely Philly, it's uniquely Carmen.

There are indeed areas where NY is vastly superior, I make a point to go up there and eat when I can, but we've got plenty of things down here that they don't have up there. Your challenge will be to fit them all in!

Good luck, feel free to ask for more details...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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i would add:

taco's at headhouse square market. available only on sunday roughly 11:00-1 or so. i haven't been yet this year but am assuming they are doing this again. it is a local restaurant that sets up at the market on sunday morning.

That's a good recommendation, and I suspect they're especially good at the market because of rapid turnover, but that stand is run by Taquitos de Puebla, which has a regular restaurant in the Italian Market at 1149 S 9th St. So you can get those Tacos al Pastor, sliced fresh off a spinning trompo at other times too.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Re charcuterie - I was speaking of a charcuterie where pates and non-mundane prepared foods are offered for take-out. The other places Philadining shows are dine-in (take-out plates available maybe), but I am checking out Fork's Fork:etc. in a few minutes. Dare I hope?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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What's the Ethiopian dining scene in New York like?

We have a few decent ones in West Philadelphia. Dahlak at 47th and Baltimore is one of the best known, but I haven't been there in a while and have heard it's slipped a bit.

Then there's the place at 45th and Locust that has gone by various names; I knew it last as the Red Sea, but I think it goes by another name now.

West African immigrants are making their presence felt in Southwest Philly too -- it's not a part of town most visitors venture to (or care to), but ISTR Craig LaBan visiting an eatery in that part of town run by Liberians and liking it. (I suspect that in New York, African immigrants settle in southeast Queens. Just a hunch.)

As it's been a while since I've eaten Ethiopian fare here, I can't vouch for the current quality of any of our local establishments, but it's great for group dining.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Re charcuterie - I was speaking of a charcuterie where pates and non-mundane prepared foods are offered for take-out.  The other places Philadining shows are dine-in (take-out plates available maybe), but I am checking out Fork's Fork:etc. in a few minutes. Dare I hope?

It's not charcuterie in the French sense, but a trip to Bell's Crossing supermarket will unveil an incredible array of uncommon salads, cold meats and prepared foods. Of course, that's available in Brooklyn, too.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Just as points of data, because I agree that there are any number of things in Philly that are either better or not available in NYC:

We have really excellent Indonesian food: Hardena (1754 South Hicks - get somebody to take you...)

Indonesian in NYC.

We have a good selection of Malaysian: Penang, Banana Leaf, Aqua, Asia @ cafe.

Malaysian in NYC. Skyway and Fatty Crab are standouts.

As has already been mentioned, we have very good Vietnamese food, which may not be completely absent in NYC, but seems to be rare.  It's routine here.

Vietnamese in NYC. Not Houston, by any means, but 74 restaurants.

We've got two Laotian restaurants; Cafe de Laos and Vientianne.

No Laotian restaurants of which I am aware, but many of the dishes served at e.g., Sripraphai are actually Laotian.

What's the Ethiopian dining scene in New York like?

Around twelve Ethiopean restaurants. Zoma is especially good, which it would have to be to turn Fat Guy on to Ethiopian food (see thread in the NY forum). There are a number of other restaurants serving the various cuisines of different African culinary traditions.

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Tria, Sarcone's, DiNic's, Capogiro. The $45 tasting menu on a weeknight at Matyson. Maybe Zahav.

And make sure you hit at least one BYO (either Matyson or another). Bibou, Cochon, Meme, Mercato, Kanella, Melograno, they've all got threads here. Nicely done French or Italian may not be something you "can't get in New York" but you can get it for less here, especially when bringing your own wine.

If money is a concern focus on our sandwiches for lunch. And buy a seeded loaf at Sarcone's to eat with your charcuterie.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

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Oh I have no doubt that there's some of everything in NY, but unless I've been reading the NY boards wrong, I get the sense that folks are usually bemoaning the lack of either choice or quality in Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Mexican, etc.

Although Hardena is a dumpy little hole in the wall, we've run into Indonesians who travel from other cities to eat there. I believe the story is that she used to cook for the consulate in NY before moving here, and people follow her. And there are more - a little storefront on Snyder, which is a few blocks from Indonesia restaurant, which is a few blocks from the Bali restaurant, which, OK, never seems to be open, but hey, we've got the Ramayana snack shop...

Oh, which reminds, me, we've got good Cambodian too.

What I was trying to get at is that the styles I mentioned are readily available, generally very good, usually cheap, and not hard to get into.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Philadining: Those charcuterie photos look great. That's exactly what I'm looking for. I certainly enjoy dining in but do any of those also sell any, especially salumi, by the pound to take out?

I'm coming from Austin, so I'll skip on the Mexican, though people should feel free to continue to list them as it might help someone else looking at this thread in the future.

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Philadining: Those charcuterie photos look great. That's exactly what I'm looking for. I certainly enjoy dining in but do any of those also sell any, especially salumi, by the pound to take out?

I don't think any of those places sells salumi by the pound for take-out. I hope Holly can indeed swing by Fork to ask, they do have a take-out market next door called Fork etc. so maybe they do sell some.

Can someone check Pumpkin Market? They might...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Oh I have no doubt that there's some of everything in NY, but unless I've been reading the NY boards wrong, I get the sense that folks are usually bemoaning the lack of either choice or quality in Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Mexican, etc.

I think you have to understand the psyche of the NYCer in this respect. We'll bemoan the lack of Mexican restaurants because there isn't an outstanding one on every corner delivering to our apartments.

Looking at, say, Mexican food... The reality is that the city has had quite a large influx of Mexican immigrants over the last 15 years or so, and there has been a huge increase in good Mexican as well as the various take-offs of Mexican food. The reality is that neither Philadelphia or NYC can be counted a great city for Mexican food, of course, and this is not likely to be meaningful to Kent, who lives in Texas.

Similarly, NYC can't hold a candle to a city like Houston when it comes to Vietnamese food. But whether or not it can hold a candle to Philadelphia when it comes to Vietnamese food? Probably. Same thing with some of those other categories. If Philadelphia has a couple of great Malaysian restaurants, NYC also has around the same number of Malaysian restaurants at right around the same level. But, again, 2 great Malaysian restaurants out of a total of around 30 does not seem like "a lot" to someone who lives in NYC. It seems likely that neither NYC nor Philadelphia can be counted as a "great city" for Vietnamese or Malaysian food.

What Philly, IMO, seems to kick most everyone's ass at is the big sloppy juicy hot sandwich. The New Orleans po' boy is perhaps the only other contender for top honors.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Philadining: Those charcuterie photos look great. That's exactly what I'm looking for. I certainly enjoy dining in but do any of those also sell any, especially salumi, by the pound to take out?

I'm coming from Austin, so I'll skip on the Mexican, though people should feel free to continue to list them as it might help someone else looking at this thread in the future.

When I was in Austin there was a ton of Tex-Mex food, but not so much authentic Mexican. I presume you're implying that's changed? It's admittedly been a really long time since I was in Austin last...

That said, there really is a metric buttload of awesome Mexican food in Philly.

Kent, how mobile are you while you're visiting? Will you have a rental or access to a car? That will most certainly expand your horizons exponentially.

And you haven't mentioned your drinking preferences. The happening beer scene in Philly has already been lauded, but there's great wine and delicious cocktails to be had here as well. Any preferences there?

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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