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mig

nyc foodie spending one night in philly - where to eat?

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hello.

i'm a new yorker looking for restaurant recommendations for Philadelphia for this Wednesday night. several years ago, as a nascent foodie, i had the meal of my life at morimoto, so i guess i should try somewhere new.

i did scan the PA topic, but couldn't produce a strong list of front-runners.

my criteria:

- not gastropub or red-saucy "Italian-American"

- centrally located (not suburbs)

- I'm from Eastern Pennsylvania with lots of exposure to the regional cuisine; not averse to it at all

-will also be passing through Terminal Market

-will be dining with one other person, work colleague

- price not really an issue.

Would appreciate any suggestions!

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Personally, I'd try Vetri's second place, Osteria-its casual but excellent.

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Hmmm...are you interested in BYOs, which is somewhat unique to the area? If so, I would try (in no particular order):

- Bibou (very good French bistro)

- Cochon (more rustic French bistro)

- Fond (Contemporary American with a very talented young chef)

- Kanella (Cyprian cuisine)

- Koo Zee Doo (Portuguese)

- Modo Mio (Italian)

Non-BYO's would include:

- Zahav (New twist on Israeli cuisine)

- Lacroix (New American w/global influences)

- Chifa (Peruvian Cantonese)

- Amada (Spanish Tapas)

There are some good options in the suburbs as well, however, since your preference is in the city, these should get you started.

Enjoy and please report back.

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This Wednesday? 5 courses for $45 at Matyson. Get a bottle of wine at the PLCB store on Chestnut between 19th & 20th. As a former Philly resident now in NYC, this is what I miss -- BYOB in general, and Matyson specifically.

Tasting Menu

Monday, March 1 - Thursday, March 4

“This Little Piggy"”

Bacon Wrapped Medjool Dates

Blue cheese filling, frisée, piquillo peppers & blood oranges

Pork & Clams

Pork belly, cockles, soba noodles, shitakes, bacon dashi

Chorizo & Peruvian Potato Stew

Grilled Scorpion fish, salsa verde

The Soul Roll

Pork tenderloin, collard greens, cheddar grits, red eye BBQ

Banana Brown Butter Tart

Milk chocolate ice cream


Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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Hmmm...are you interested in BYOs, which is somewhat unique to the area? If so, I would try (in no particular order):

- Bibou (very good French bistro)

- Cochon (more rustic French bistro)

- Fond (Contemporary American with a very talented young chef)

- Kanella (Cyprian cuisine)

- Koo Zee Doo (Portuguese)

- Modo Mio (Italian)

Non-BYO's would include:

- Zahav (New twist on Israeli cuisine)

- Lacroix (New American w/global influences)

- Chifa (Peruvian Cantonese)

- Amada (Spanish Tapas)

Enjoy and please report back.

All of Percyn's picks are good, but I would narrow that list down a bit. Koo Zee Doo is awesome but it's not open on Wednesdays. Bibou is awesome but the only table for two they have available on Wednesday is at 5 pm. Kanella and Zahav are my two favorites of the remaining candidates. Fond is very good, but it's not in the same league as most of the others, and you've most likely had very similar food in NYC. As far as I know (which isn't all that far) there is nothing like Zahav in NYC, and Kanella compares very favorably to Kefi. Amada would be my pick over Chifa, if you'd like to try one of Jose Garces' places.

I'd go to Zahav if I were you.

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I happen to be a tapas *whore* so I think I'm leaning towards Amada....

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I wanted to report back on my visit to Amada.

First of all, for a New Yorker, the luxury of space in such a place as Amada is experienced as incredibly relaxing. I loved the rustic/airy design, low lighting, and trim, attentive waitstaff. The volume of the place, compared to the tapas joints in New York, was manageable and soothing.

We had, to start:

-the grilled scallops

- the grilled octopus

- the parmesan artichokes

The artichokes were unusual and great - struck me as a bit more Italian than Spanish, and nobody does artichokes like the Italians. So that's not a bad thing.

Scallops were perfectly cooked, simple, succulent.

The octopus, one of my most favorite dishes in the world, was salty to the point of inedible.

We mentioned this to our server, who acknowledged that "tapas is salty." I haven't experienced tapas so salty I couldn't finish it in New York, but I accepted this explanation.

We wanted to order more, but asked for guidance so we could avoid a saline overdose.

Final dishes:

Piquillo peppers stuffed with crab. I am obsessed with piquillos - I buy them at considerable expense for cooking my own tapas, and consume them imported in tin cans (like sardines) stuffed with Spanish tuna and drowning in tomato sauce as a perfect, if expensive, instant cold lunch. The crab stuffing was tremendous, and they were broiled in a glazed clay dish with a bit of cheese and slivers of Marcona almond. I will definitely be replicating this dish at home!

"Coco," Spanish flatbread with various toppings. We chose a version with the distinctly un-Spanish topping, it seemed to me, of short ribs.

I have eaten repeatedly at most of the important tapas joints in New York, but have never bothered with the 'cocos.' It's like, FLATBREAD? Really? Enough already. But my companion was interested, so I acquiesced.

Tremendously good, the hit of the night. The shredded short rib meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned, topped with a suggestion of cheese and a bit of some kind of sprout for garnish. It was sophisticated and delicious, a great mix of real, detail-obsessed cooking skill and mass appeal.

I wish I had tried more of the vegetable dishes. I adore the Spanish vegetable treatments.... perhaps next time.

Desserts:

A brown butter cake with various hovering accoutrements. A solid B-.

Three ice creams, none remarkable.

Later, after my companion had left, I ill-advisedly tried a peach napoleon, despite the fact that it was March and peaches are certainly in short supply. I ate a few bites and called it a night.

---------------

Overall, very enjoyable....I would go back, honestly. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

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I want to piggyback on this thread, and maybe cast a little broader net.

First night, we'd like a good bar, maybe even one that serves decent food, close to a B&B, if possible. Our taste in bars is quite catholic, we mostly want to avoid those hipster wannabe joints (actual hipster joints are fine) that are expensive but feel like you're in a chain hotel bar. Grungy beer joints, pretentious cocktail lounges, good old neighborhood rooms -- we love them all. (The only bar I know in Philly is Bob and Barbara's, which we like quite a bit). Did I mention the need for a decent B&B?

Second night, looking for fine BYOB dining. We will consult the list above, but if anyone wants to throw another name or two out, that would be swell. Also, assuming that we bring like 20 bottles of wine for a long night of eating and swilling, is there a protocol for warning the place in advance and tipping?

Finally, we're looking for a place to eat Easter Dinner where you wouldn't normally eat Easter dinner. Chinese, pizza, something where we can come in and relax, given that all the good places are probably booked and when there's a three hour drive home, the wine list is not particularly relevant.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Busboy:

Not sure if I can promote our B&B on this site, cut me out if you need to, but our place is called "French Philly" on Airbnb.


Philly Francophiles

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First night, we'd like a good bar, maybe even one that serves decent food, close to a B&B, if possible.

I assume you're talking about Easter weekend, Fri-Sun?

I know nothing about our city's B&B scene, but Google shows a high concentration of them in the Washington Square West area, so if that's where you end up I'd recommend Southwark (4th and Bainbridge, one of the best bars in the city, and a very good restaurant too), Chick's Cafe, or Brauhaus Schmitz, a German beer hall. That may not be what you're after but their draft list is fantastic and the food is pretty good too. Chick's is the weakest of those three as far as food goes IMO. If you end up in Rittenhouse, Village Whiskey is new and very good, but small and usually packed. Tinto (next door) has a nice bar too. Pub and Kitchen is also nearby and excellent but the crowd can get annoying there depending on the day of the week you're going.

Second night, looking for fine BYOB dining. We will consult the list above, but if anyone wants to throw another name or two out, that would be swell. Also, assuming that we bring like 20 bottles of wine for a long night of eating and swilling, is there a protocol for warning the place in advance and tipping?

Fine BYOB dining=Bibou, but it's very hot right now and there aren't many tables. Call and talk to Charlotte and explain you're looking to have the table all night. If they are booked (Opentable says they are on 4/3 apart from a 5:30 table), Koo Zee Doo and Kanella would round out my picks for the 3 best BYOs in the city right now.

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Grungy beer joints,

Probably won't want to eat there, but Dirty Franks pretty much defines "grungy beer joint." They are on the NE corner of 13th and Pine. For eating and drinking, Pub and Kitchen is indeed a great choice and only a few (maybe eight) blocks from Dirty Franks.

As to taking a table for the night, on a Saturday evening, unless you are tipping the owner along with the server, the great BYOs are probably too small and too popular to set aside a two top for the evening. Perhaps a progressive exploration of two or three BYO's by staggering reservations. Perhaps room service at the Four Seasons.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Philly is actually pretty well-populated with the kinds of bars you want, as in there are plenty of authentically grungy and/or hip places, a few serious (but not really all that pretentious) cocktail joints, and not too many that feel like chain hotel bars.

It might make sense to figure out where you're staying, for the sake of keeping your drinking in the neighborhood. If you're going to choose the B&B based on the bars, you have a couple of good options.

If you ended up staying in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, there are several really good bars within a few blocks walk.

I've found the tapas at Bar Ferdinand to be variable in quality, but some of it is very good, and it's certainly a nice place to hang at the bar and drink good sherry and have a few bites.

Cantina Dos Segundos has an amazing selection of tequila and mezcal, the good stuff if you're in a sipping mood, or delicious, affordable Margaritas and the like if you're in a quaffing mood. And the food's good too, especially the goat tacos, ribs, ceviches, the little grilled baby octopuses...

Standard Tap is the prototypical Gastropub: excellent local beer list (recently expanded) all on tap. Really good food, nice vibe.

700 Club ups the grungy hipster quotient significantly, but they also offer very good cocktails in a very unpretentious setting. I don't recall, but I don't think they have much in the way of food.

All of those places are on north 2nd Street, within about 5 blocks of one another. (If you happen to stay with the TarteTatins, you're a block away from there.)

__

If you end up staying further south, closer to South Street, in the Queen Village neighborhood (I've seen signs for B&Bs there, although I don't recall exactly where they are...) there's an excellent bar called Southwark, on the corner of 4th and Bainbridge. It's got a comfortable old-school feel, has a great collection of Rye and other Whiskeys, the bartenders make very fine cocktails, and the place serves good, homey, farm-to-table-ish food as well. It's an actual restaurant with a dining room, or you can just eat at the bar, we do...

A few blocks away from there is Chick's, which has a very creative cocktail program, started by eGullet's own Katie Loeb, and left in the very capable hands of Phoebe Esmon. She's got a real knack for making delicious cocktails that include unusual ingredients, like root vegetables or hot peppers, or unexpected fruits, or all of the above... The food's pretty good there too, from simple cheese plates and charcuterie, to more elaborate full meals. I'm a fan of their wild boar burger, and pretty much any dessert.

A few blocks west on South Street is Brauhaus Schmitz, which has a pretty amazing selection of German beers. I don't love the food there, but it's acceptable hearty German fare.

---

If you end up more in the central part of Center City, west of Broad Street, there are some serious cocktail bars along Sansom Street. At the western end, at 20th and Sansom, is Village Whiskey, which, as you might imagine from the name, has a pretty mind-boggling array of whiskeys. They make very good cocktails in general, from whatever spirit. You'll pay dearly for them, the prices are a little steep, but it's a lovely space, and the quality is high. They have a small food menu, but on it is one of the best burgers in the city. You can have a basic burger, customized with a few toppings, or go nuts and get their over-the-top-indulgent burger with foie gras and blue cheese, and I forget what else. The cast iron skillet with duck-fat-fried french fries, covered in cheddar cheese and shortribs, is outrageously delicious, but trust me on this, you don't really want to eat that all by yourself...

A couple of blocks down, on 18th, between Sansom and Chestnut, is the Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company. They've just rolled-out a new cocktail menu that's pretty fantastic. In general, this is the first place I'd recommend if you're interested in a good, creative cocktail. The menu's very interesting, but they can make you pretty much anything you want, or improvise something on the spot. There's not much in the way of food - there's a cheese plate, a charcuterie plate, a flatbread thing of some sort, and crazy-delicious duck-fat potato chips, but not anything that resembles a conventional meal. Vibe is retro-speakeasy.

Another block down Sansom at 17th st. is the Sofitel Hotel bar. This DOES indeed feel like a generic chain hotel bar, so the vibe is probably not for you, but they do make some good drinks there...

Right across the street from there is the new Palomar Hotel, and on the ground level is the bar at Square 1682 which doesn't feel quite as much like a typical hotel bar, but it's still a bit sterile... That said, they make some good drinks there, and there's some interesting food from a good chef that has a full-on restaurant upstairs. I'm not sure if you can get any of the main restaurant's food down in the bar. But I doubt the vibe is what you're looking for.

A couple more blocks down Sansom, near 15th street, is the Oyster House. This is more of a restaurant than a drinking spot, but there is a good-sized bar, and there are very tasty cocktails there, many of which were concocted by the afore-mentioned Katie Loeb. If you check the Oyster House thread, there's some talk about some of them, as well as her house-made Aquavit, which I've sampled, and can recommend highly! Of course, they have plenty of good food there.

A couple of blocks further down Sansom, on 13th, between Sansom and Chestnut, is APO, formerly known as Apothecary. They're in a strange state of transition right now, there's been an announcement that the main floor is turning onto a diner, but there's apparently some doubt about whether that's actually happening... and even if it did, the upstairs bar is supposed to remain as a serious cocktail bar, and the outdoor patio on the second floor is a lovely space to have a drink if the weather is nice. They have an amazing collection of liquors, and talented bartenders. The first floor vibe is kind of cold and sterile, but it's OK if you're actually at the bar, or upstairs has a better feel. Not much in the way of food, beyond soft pretzels.

---

So, if you were picking a place to stay based on drinking, I'd pick Northern Liberties, not too far from 2nd street; or Queen Village not too far south of South Street; or center city, in the teens or low 20s.

____

OK, then, for your second (BYOB) night... if you scan around the boards here you'll see some of the same names pop up. Again, this might be affected by where you ultimately decide to stay, but it's also worth keeping in mind that you can get around town in a cab for not a TON of money, 10 bucks gets you from one end of center city to the other. You might want to be careful if you're going WAY out to some obscure neighborhood, but I don't think we're going to recommend anything too far off the main traffic routes!

The top BYOBs that I'd recommend right now are:

Matyson - contemporary American fare. (center City - 19th Street, near Chestnut)

Koo Zee Doo - modern Portuguese. (Norther Liberties, north 2nd St, near Spring Garden)

Bibou - rustic, yet elegant, French. (South Philly, 8th Street, near Washington)

Cochon - even more rustic French, pork-centric, hearty.(Queen Village - 6th and Catherine)

Fond - contemporary eclectic. I haven't actually eaten here, but hear good things from friends. (South Philly - Passyunk Ave)

At any of these places, if you're planning on a LONG, protracted meal, I would indeed mention that at the time of reserving, so at least they know not to try to turn your table. There certainly could be some tension at any of these places, none of them are huge, so they probably intend on another seating if you book before 8 or 8:30. And conversely, they may not want to seat you at 9 or 10 if you intend to stay several hours! But you may be able to book that with no hassle, just let them know.

-----

As for Easter sunday, I very often end up in Chinatown. I'm sure there are regular restaurants around town doing special Easter dinners, but they're likely to be restricted, overpriced holiday special things that are best avoided. Most everything is likely to be open in Chinatown, or if you want to head toward another ethnicity, there are a large number of Vietnamese places along Washington Ave in South Philly, between 6th and 11th, you could easily find something good there.

In Chinatown, there are a few particular highlights. Rangoon is a Burmese restaurant, which is not too common, although I know you folks have Mandalay out in Silver Spring (I like Rangoon better)but it's still a rare treat. Don't miss the Ginger Salad or the Thousand Layer Bread with Chicken Curry dip.

For ultra-fresh Cantonese Seafood, try Ken's Seafood at 1004 Race. There's live stuff in the tanks at the front, but we usually just ask for Ken, and ask him to recommend what's good that day. Everything from a whole steamed fish, to live shrimp done salt-and-pepper style, to live scallop with garlic or XO sauce... The Eel with XO is crazy good. But almost anything in a clay pot is delicious, the Peking Duck is good, Hong Kong-style Pork chops, ask for whatever greens he recommends that day.

Sakura Mandarin at 11th and Race has some very good Shanghainese specialties, especially Steamed Juicy Buns, also known as Soup Dumplings. But there are plenty more good things to be had, the scallion pancake is unique, and delicious, the braised pork shoulder is good, the rice cakes, the 8-treasure noodles, the cold duck appetizer, or wine-marinated chicken. I even hear the sushi is good, but I've never bothered with it, there are too many other more unusual things to try!

Nan Zhou hand-drawn noodles, at 927 Race (near 10th) is cheap and simple, and very good. As the name implies, the noodles are made fresh by hand, so that's what to get, either a soup, or the drier Zha jiang Mian, which they might call something weird like soy sauce noodles with pork.

Penang and Banana Leaf are very similar Malaysian places. Both are pretty good, Penang has a liquor license, Banana Leaf is BYOB. Penang is on 10th near Arch, Banana Leaf is around the corner on Arch.

Sang Kee Peking Duck House on 9th, near Vine St, is good for a Peking Duck, or Roast Pork, or any of the barbecue meat stuff. I love the roast pork noodle soup, the duck, Peking Pork Chops, their version of the old cliche General Tso's Chicken is even good. Hard to go wrong with noodles and roast meats.

Outside of Chinatown, on Chestnut, between Front St and 2nd St, is a terrific Sichuan restaurant called Han Dynasty. If you check the eG topics here, you'll see some excursions there that might give you a sense of the food. Some of it is crazy spicy, but not everything, just be sure to indicate which way you want to go. It's very likely that Han, the owner, will be your server, and he loves to customize your order, or overrule you, based on what he thinks you want. And he's usually right... I've liked pretty much everything I've gotten there.

---

So.. that might at least give you something to think about! Please come back with more questions as you refine your search!


Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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I swear I was typing and didn't see Buckethead's post! But it's good to see that there's some consensus about some of these places!


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Grungy beer joints,

Probably won't want to eat there, but Dirty Franks pretty much defines "grungy beer joint." They are on the NE corner of 13th and Pine. For eating and drinking, Pub and Kitchen is indeed a great choice and only a few (maybe eight) blocks from Dirty Franks.

As to taking a table for the night, on a Saturday evening, unless you are tipping the owner along with the server, the great BYOs are probably too small and too popular to set aside a two top for the evening. Perhaps a progressive exploration of two or three BYO's by staggering reservations. Perhaps room service at the Four Seasons.

Actually six, though we expect that the starving college students will surely keep the tab high. And, while we don't want to be rushed, we do our camping in the woods, not downtown, so we're not actually assuming an all-nighter.

Dirty Franks sounds promising. Thanks.

Philly is actually pretty well-populated with the kinds of bars you want, as in there are plenty of authentically grungy and/or hip places, a few serious (but not really all that pretentious) cocktail joints, and not too many that feel like chain hotel bars.

It might make sense to figure out where you're staying, for the sake of keeping your drinking in the neighborhood. If you're going to choose the B&B based on the bars, you have a couple of good options.

If you ended up staying in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, there are several really good bars within a few blocks walk.

I've found the tapas at Bar Ferdinand to be variable in quality, but some of it is very good, and it's certainly a nice place to hang at the bar and drink good sherry and have a few bites.

Cantina Dos Segundos has an amazing selection of tequila and mezcal, the good stuff if you're in a sipping mood, or delicious, affordable Margaritas and the like if you're in a quaffing mood. And the food's good too, especially the goat tacos, ribs, ceviches, the little grilled baby octopuses...

Standard Tap is the prototypical Gastropub: excellent local beer list (recently expanded) all on tap. Really good food, nice vibe.

700 Club ups the grungy hipster quotient significantly, but they also offer very good cocktails in a very unpretentious setting. I don't recall, but I don't think they have much in the way of food.

All of those places are on north 2nd Street, within about 5 blocks of one another. (If you happen to stay with the TarteTatins, you're a block away from there.)

__

Thanks. We are looking at Tarte Tatin's (though parental obligations may cut into our grownups night at the bars), so your recs in that 'hood are quite appreciated.

Any ideas for an off-beat Easter dinner? Again, assuming that the white tablecloth places are booked and something unexpected would be the way to go.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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We ate at Sonata last night for the second time. A very nice little BYOB in Liberties Walk, a block from our house.

The Chef cooks very French bistro-ish, I had foie gras, then potato crusted black cod over cabbage, then three made in house ice creams/sorbet: caramel, coffee and pineapple.

Mr. Tarte Tatin had a lovely portion and taste of pork belly, followed by a beautifully cooked chicken with mash and chard. He had a rhubarb and apple strudel that was delicious.

Both were prix fixe 3 courses at $31.

I think Chef/Owner should be getting more attention..I believe his name is Mark Tropea or similar. Nice man, very creative.

Your list of suggestions was extensive and lovely, Jeff!


Philly Francophiles

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philadining, of course, has most bases covered. (how did I miss up on the duck fat potato chips?!)

One of my favorite things about Philly is the BYO scene. Pumpkin (a few blocks west of Bob & Barbara's--South & 17th) has a great $35 five-course tasting menu on Sundays. Not offbeat, but definitely tasty.

BTW, Busboy, drop me a line if y'all wanna meet up.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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