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sygyzy

Top Philadelphia restaurants

52 posts in this topic

What?? Youze got a problem with snark? :laugh:

sygyzy:

When exactly are you visiting our fair city? Which days of the week will you be seeking to eat and which meals? A little bit more specifics would help us schedule your time more effectively, as some restaurants are closed on some days and not others.

Certainly if you'll be stopping by Oyster House let me know when you will be planning to do so and I'll let you know if I'm working that day/shift. I'd be delighted to mix you up a cocktail and talk about the bounty of wonderful eats that our fair city has to offer. I agree with Buckethead about cheesesteaks (:ducks and runs:), in as far that I don't crave them either, think most of the hallowed places make awful ones, and that the Roast Pork Italiano is the really good sandwich you need to try while you're here. The advice to go to Paesano's is excellent. Get an Arista sandwich - their version of a classic Roast Pork Italiano and you won't be sorry. Any of their sandwiches are made of awesome. And that's in a town with a very serious sandwich culture.

One place that no one has yet mentioned is Paloma, which is upscale Mexican cuisine made with French technique. It's still currently BYO until their liquor license kicks in sometime soon, but it's definitely a unique and delicious option, unlike any other restaurant I can think of.

I'm certain you'll have no trouble eating well here. We do it every day. If we're not on the culinary radar yet, well, folks just aren't paying attention. I agree with Philadining. We're not a patient bunch, and if not getting the attention we richly deserve means we locals can get into our favorite restaurants without battling the touristas, I can live with that. :wink:


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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I thought the password to get through the back door was Septa.. or at least some Monk told me that.

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Agree with most of above. Except those who dis the cheesesteak. A proper steak on a good roll with onions ketchup and either american or whiz is great on occasion. The famous places eg Pat's and Geno's both pretty much suck though. Try Tony Luke's.

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I'm always a little torn about the cheesesteak thing: on one hand, I kind-of like them, and indulge from time to time. I find that visitors are often very curious about them, and feel like they're missing out on a quintessential Philadelphia experience if they don't have one and so I sometimes take visitors to one place or another, depending on the circumstances.

That said, most serious visiting foodies skip them, there are too many other more interesting things to expend calories and stomach space on...

But if you're here for a few days, or a cheesesteak just sounds intriguing/appealing, go for it. I tend to be a little broader in my range of destinations too, it depends a lot on what one is looking for. If one really wants the BEST steak, I'd try to get to John's roast pork before about 2pm on a weekday, and have one with fried onions and sharp provolone. If I can't make those range of times (and to be honest, cheesesteaks taste better to me late at night...) I'd go to Tony Lukes, and maybe go for the sharp provolone, or maybe whiz, I happen to think whiz tastes pretty good on a cheesesteak - nowhere else, but pretty good on that one sandwich.

But I think it's also worth acknowledging that the cheesesteak is a cultural icon, not just a culinary one, so there's something to be said for going to the legendary places and experiencing the whole thing - the lights, the lines, the attytude, the gestalt of the cheesesteak. And I know it's not a popular opinion in foodie circles, but I think one can get a good steak at Pat's or Jim's if you time it right, and have a little luck.

(I'm leaving out Geno's, just because I personally feel that the owner's aggressive, public, anti-immigrant stance is especially abhorrent in that multi-cultural neighborhood, one that's been positively revitalized by an influx of people from many different countries, so I'm not interested in giving him any money. One is certainly free to have a differing opinion on this. Despite the lively competition, and people with strong preferences, I find the steaks from Pat's and Geno's to be virtually indistinguishable, so go wherever you feel good about...)

But it's kind of fun to go down to that Pat's and Geno's corner, or to 4th and South, and stand in line (no, not just with tourists, mostly with Philly natives) and deal with the gruff counter guys, and the arcane ordering rules, etc. I think locals that write the famous places off often do so because they refuse to stand in those lines, but the lines are crucial - that's what guarantees that the meat is freshly-cooked. If you go sometime that there's nobody there, or only 5 people in line, you're VERY likely to get meat that's been sitting on the flattop keeping warm (and getting tough and dry.) I find the quality of the meat at all of those places to be variable, but often quite good, and usually nice and juicy if it's spent the right amount to time on the grill. That said, there's no justification for standing in a crazy long line, the sandwiches are not THAT good, but a meduim-length line, that's actually good.

Jim's rolls are kind of squishy and lame, but the fried onions are really good, and the steak is thin-sliced and shredded on the grill, if you like that style. Pat's and Geno's both have better rolls, and use thicker, un-chopped slices of meat, and some people prefer that style. John's Roast Pork chops/shreds the meat. Steve's up in the Northeast uses the thicker un-chopped slices.

In the end, I'd say there's better, more interesting food to be had in Philly, even in the realm of sandwiches, but if you feel the need to have had the cheesesteak experience, try to decide what you're looking for. If it's the pure culinary experience, get to John's Roast Pork or Tony Luke's or Steve's in the Northeast. If you want the experience as much as the food itself, go to Jim's or Pat's. If you want the REAL philly experience, drink too much, then go to Jim's or Pat's at, like 2:30-3:00 am and wait in line with all the other drunk maniacs. Even a pretty crappy cheesesteak tastes pretty good in that context...


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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So what makes one a "serious foodie?" I'd suggest that somewhere within said serious psyche would be the inability to visit Philadelphia without lining up for a cheesesteak - if for no other reason than to expound on it later on eGullet.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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Well, there is that class of "serious foodie" that believes that anything enjoyed (dare I say...loved?) by such a large number of people must by definition be crap...


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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You're absolutely right, and I've been guilty of that syndrome, but I try to fight it. Sometimes famous touristy things are actually pretty awesome.

I wouldn't say that the experience of a cheesesteak in Philly quite rises to the level of a great pastrami sandwich in NY, or Beignets from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, or a lobster roll in Maine. It's probably more like getting a well-made Chicago hot dog, or Buffalo wings at Anchor Bar: pretty good, kind of fun to experience the "real thing," but not life-changing.

It's always surprising how seemingly simple foods just are never made correctly away from their point of origin, there's usually some little detail that doesn't survive the trip.

So if you've had a cheesesteak, but not in Philly, you haven't really had a cheesesteak. Even if they were made by ex-pats, if they're out of town, the roll was wrong, or the cut of meat wasn't quite right, or something. So try the real thing while you're here if you're curious, but just be ready, the original is probably not going to blow your mind...


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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if you want a good cheesesteak but still want the atmosphere, walk two blocks over to cosmi's deli at 8th & dickinson, then take your steak over to the pats/genos corner and hang around while you eat it.

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That took time and effort to write. May I offer a non-snarky thank you.


Dum vivimus, vivamus!

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Bumping this up, as I am visiting Philly from Nov 5th until the 11th and would love to revisit some old favorites, as well as try some new places. We already have a reservation at Vetri (we had our anniversary dinner there back when it first opened). But that is as far as we've planned.

It's been years since I've lived in Philly, and I've no idea if some of our favorite BYOB's are even still around. Dr. Science and I had our favorite stomping grounds. McGillin's (can't help it...it's a cozy pub, and treated the locals well), Capogiro, Indonesia (now in South Philly...at least, I hope), La Lupe, Tony Luke's, Tamarind, Mr. Martino's Trattoria.

Some of the most memorable oysters I've eaten (New Englander here) were from Oyster House. Only I ate my six pack perched on the curb of Walnut Street during one of Philly's Food Fairs. I'd love to go to the actual bar and gorge myself.

I know Django closed a few years back. Are they still doing the country table thing?

We used to love going to Little Fish on 6th & Catharine. Are they still around?

It looks like our little neighborhood bakery is now Cochon, or it could be just the wonky way Google maps has with addresses.

Chloe was a little jewel of a restaurant on Arch St. between 2nd & 3rd. We loved that little BYOB. Transcendental foie gras. Are they still cooking?

sygyzy, What have you decided on?

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>McGillin's (can't help it...it's a cozy pub, and treated the locals well),

yes, still there...

>Capogiro

Of course, going strong.

>Indonesia (now in South Philly...at least, I hope)

Yep still exists in South Philly if you want to reminisce, but if you just want Indonesian food, there are a few more options these days: Hardena, Sky Cafe, Java Colonial Cafe, etc.

>La Lupe

yes, but again, LOTS more to choose from if you want that style, rather than the specific memory pings.

>Tony Luke's

Yes, same as ever.

>Tamarind

ditto

>Mr. Martino's Trattoria.

ditto

>Some of the most memorable oysters I've eaten (New Englander here) were from Oyster House...

>I'd love to go to the actual bar and gorge myself.

No reason not to, they always have a wide selection of oysters, and some good drinks to accompany!

>I know Django closed a few years back. Are they still doing the country table thing?

"They" split up, but Aimee Olexy is still helming Talula's Table out in Kennett Square, where they do indeed do the big farm table thing. I'm not sure whether they're still riding on the national press-attention buzz, but I suspect it's still hard to get a reservation, even though the chef, Bryan Sikora is no longer there. His former sous chefs are reputedly still putting out good food.

>We used to love going to Little Fish on 6th & Catharine. Are they still around?

That building has closed for renovations, but the chef has moved to a bigger place at 17th and Lombard, called Fish. It;s not exactly the same, a little buffed-up, but still a similar concept, except that they have a liquor license.

>It looks like our little neighborhood bakery is now Cochon.

Possibly, but that's a good thing. Cochon rocks.

>Chloe was a little jewel of a restaurant on Arch St. between 2nd & 3rd.

>We loved that little BYOB. Transcendental foie gras. Are they still cooking?

Still there. Haven't heard anything about them in a while, but they're still there!

So it looks like you can have a pretty complete nostalgia tour, and I can totally see the appeal, but let us know if you want some updated recommendations.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Thanks phil!

Would love some updated recommendations for Indonesian. I can't believe there are actually options now! When I was in Philly, Indonesia was the only place in town to find Indonesian...at least, both traditional and Dutch colonial (half of Dr. Science's family hails from the Netherlands).

Recommendations for Mexican would be great too. Although for sheer orneriness (I can't believe that is actually a word) the matriarch at La Lupe was always unsurpassed. Plus they had fabulous food, and real Coke.

Re Oyster House: Yes. And I hear (somewhere on these boards, perchance?) that Katie Loeb mixes a mean cocktail.

It's funny to think of Little Fish "buffed up". It would have been impossible for them to have scaled down. Unless they moved into a food cart! I loved that tiny space on Catharine though. Ethereal seafood. And on a busy night, you actually felt like a sardine. A very happy one, though.

Checked out Cochon's website. Out of six entrees listed on their menu, only two were actually pig. Am I right in assuming they have more options on special? What do you recommend there?

I've read good things about bibou, but I am not an experienced wine drinker, and with the level of food it looks like they are serving, I would love some wine pairing hints.

On the higher priced end of things, we may go to the Fountain. We wanted to go years ago, but it was always out of our means. Worth it? Looks like there are some serious mixed reviews here on eGullet. Or is there a better alternative?

Thanks again for all the great feedback!

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Fountain is very good indeed. Wine list is overpriced severely. Whether it is worth it is a judgment call.

For my fancy dining dollars I'd do Le Bec Fin before it closes. Always first class.

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Paula:

Drop me a line before you get to town and I'll let you know my schedule for the days you'll be around. Looking forward to you getting to see the new and improved O-Ho. Everyone that's seen the renovated space is amazed at how beautiful it looks inside. We always have a good selection of oysters, and $1 Buck-a-Shuck oysters for Happy Hour. Hope to see you then!


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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Call the Fountain to ask if they are still offering free corkage for bottles over 10yrs old on Sunday nights.

Also second the recommendation for Le Bec Fin. While some of the collaboration dinners have not been the best, the regular crew at LBF puts out great meals, the service is excellent and GP provides the entertainment :biggrin:

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Katie: will do. Hope to get there for a quick blast of oyster love. Didn't know about the renovations. It's always fascinating to go back to Philly and see what time has done. New buildings where there was nothing before, other places just the same as they ever were (for better or worse). Can't wait to see the new look!

We do actually have a sentimental reason for heading back to Le Bec Fin. The first and only time we went was just after Dr. Science was accepted into med school. After all these years, it would be coming full circle.

Plus they have an awesome dessert cart.

Thanks for the corkage tip, percyn. Will pass it along!

I'm trying to get reservations to bibou, but the online reservation service tells me I am too early. Does anyone happen to know how far in advance you can make a reservation there? Is it two months?

Thanks, everyone.

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I'm trying to get reservations to bibou, but the online reservation service tells me I am too early. Does anyone happen to know how far in advance you can make a reservation there? Is it two months?

Paula, give them a call or send an email. They are very responsive to both. If I'm not mistaken they take reservations sooner than the 2 months on opentable.


BROG, a beer blog

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Just want to second the recommendation of the Oyster House. Several coworkers and I were lucky enough to make it over for happy hour last week and it was PHENOMENAL. The buck oysters and Katie Loeb's cocktails were both outstanding. And the new room is beautiful. Hope to make it back many more times before my work finishes in November.

-Mike

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I know there are some dissenting opinions out there (what fun would the site be otherwise?) but I had a very good meal at Alma de Cuba last time I was in town. I'd also suggest stopping by the bar at Oyster House, Katie Loeb makes a pretty mean cocktail. Are you a beer drinker? Philly has a lot of places with fantastic beer selections.

I've never had a bad experience at Alma de Cuba, good food for a Steven Starr place. The duck and the ceviche are top notch.



I have simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best - Oscar Wilde

The Easy Bohemian

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I'll be in Philadelphia next week, taking a course at University of Pennsylvania. Does anybody have any current recommendations on good dinner places near campus or close via train? (I'll be car-less) Price really isn't an issue, but I'd prefer a more relaxed place but with exceptional food. I'm from Northern California and I don't think I've ever spent a day in Philadelphia, so It would be great to try something regional, if that exists. I'll certainly get cheese steak one day. What else should I look for?

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Everything mentioned above is close by if taking public transportation or a cab ride doesn't faze you. Check out some of the other threads on Philly dining and let us know what sounds intriguing. We can tell you how to get there. You should most definitely make it to Reading Terminal Market at some point. You can also feel free to stop by Oyster House for some bivalves and a cocktail on my watch if you'd like. PM me and I'll let you know my schedule for that week.


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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PhillyMag loves us. We are featured regularly in the magazine and on Foobooz, which is now under the auspices of the magazine. It's nice to have good press. They've been very kind.


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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