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CoolPapaBell

Non Tourist Trap Restos Near Tourist Traps

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Okay, I will be making my Debellaware Valley pilgrimage next week. Suggestions requested for non-tourist trap restaurants near the usual suspects.

The lovely Katie confirmed that Reading Terminal is close enough to the Liberty Bell, so unless y’all, err scuze me, where are my manners, I mean yuze think I should be talked out of it, that will be my destination there.

A higher priority request for the pretty definite destinations of: Hershey Park (think we are getting a hotel in Harrisburg), Philly Zoo, Museum of Natural Science, Franklin Institute.

Very possible or probable destinations include: Sesame Place, Adventure Aquarium (may finally take the ferry across the wudder though) and Lord knows.

Of course all places will be wit kids and where I can dress like a slob. Any options in Frantic City in the same league with White House Subs?


Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore. It's always too crowded.

---Yogi Berra

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For the Harrisburg leg of your trip, I'd suggest the ABC Brewery on Cameron Street. I've seen happy kids in there and the place makes pretty good beer. If the weather is good, you might want to go over to City Island. The kiosks on the east side of the island near the stadium serve, among other things, decent burgers and real fries. If the Senators are in town, you can take in a AA game while you are there.

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Lessee...the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Franklin Institute are both on Logan Circle. As far as kid-friendly dining there is concerned, I can't think of lots off the top of my head. It's a bit of a trek (about 10 blocks), but 30th Street Station has a food court in its south concourses with plenty of options, both fast-food and good food fast. (I'd recommend Delilah's, especially if you like soul/down home cooking).

If you're going to ride the ferry across the Delaware to the aquarium, you may want to check out a couple of places in Old City on the other side of I-95. There's a really good turn-of-the-century (the last one, that is) ice cream parlor, the Franklin Fountain, on Market Street in the 100 block. They do the period-piece thing to a T, and their ice cream's very good too.

There's also a good Tex-Mex place, the Mexican Post, in the 100 block of Chestunt that serves decent fare and can handle your family. Some of the other restaurants in the area probably could as well, but many of these--fabulous though they are--might also be a stretch for a very casually dressed family on a budget. Still, it might be worth it to just walk around the area (Front to Third, Arch to Walnut) and see if something strikes your fancy. There are few stinkers among the restaurants of Old City. I just think the Mexican Post would probably be the best on the overall package of atmosphere/food/price.


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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If the kids can handle barbecue, try Sweet Lucy's on State Street off of I-95, on the way from Center City to Sesame Place.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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I'm going to have to disagree with Sandy on Mexican Post. Great place for cheap margaritas, but the food is pretty mediocre. There's certainly way better and more authentic Mexican or even Tex-Mex to be had than at Mexican Post. Unfortunately, none of it is in the vicinity of the historical sites. Santa Fe Burrito Company on 11th would be a better bet, but is completely lacking in atmosphere. Pico de Gallo at the corner of 15th and South is probably the best bet, but slightly out of the way.

Definitely in agreement on the Franklin Fountain suggestion. Great ice cream and a cool atmosphere. Campo's on the next block might be a good choice for some serious hoagies if you think that would go over well.


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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For Mexican, Pico de Gallo's sister restaurant. El Rey Sol, at 6th & South is only about 6 blocks from the Liberty Bell. Even my picky niece found something to like there.

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Very possible or probable destinations include: Sesame Place, Adventure Aquarium (may finally take the ferry across the wudder though) and Lord knows. 

I strongly suggest doing the vast majority of your eating in Philly as opposed to Langhorne, Pa - home of Sesame Place. Unless of course you like chain restaurants like Pizzeria Uno that is. Actually, if you have to eat when at Sesame, the margherita pizza at Bertucci's isn't bad at all and it's cool for kids. I would caution against getting almost anything else there except kidfare. Also, they have Harp on tap there!

And of course, I strongly second Holly's choice of Sweet Lucy's


Edited by Jeff L (log)

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There is no place that I can think of that is close to the zoo in Philadelphia to eat. If you are going to spend all day at the zoo I would get a good picnic lunch at the Reading Terminal Market and bring it along. If you are spending half a day eat before or after the zoo. The food there is terrible.

The Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences dont have much within walking distance but there is a Whole foods Market at 20th and Spring Garden where you can get some good take-out or eat-in (my kids love to pick out their lunches and eat in there). Someone mentioned a new Japanese Noodle place somewhere up in that area with good soba noodles. Sorry I cant remember the name but it is somewhere on this board.

If your kids will eat Chinese, I would take them to Chinatown. Our favorite place to take fussy eaters is Sang Kee Peking Duck House on 9th and Vine. It is hard to turn your nose up at a bowl of their wanton noodle soup.

We have enjoyed Tony's Baltimore Grill in AC. Very straightforward crispy pizza and huge ravioli. There is also a pretty decent brew pub in AC near the outlets that we enjoyed last time we were there. I will try to get you the name of that.

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The Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences dont have much within walking distance but there is a Whole foods Market at 20th and Spring Garden where you can get some good take-out or eat-in (my kids love to pick out their lunches and eat in there).    Someone mentioned a new Japanese Noodle place somewhere up in that area with good soba noodles.  Sorry I cant remember the name but it is somewhere on this board.

goji. 20th & hamilton, behind the whole foods, across from the wawa. it's a little walk from the franklin/academy... actually it's a little upscale/pricey, so it might not be good with a buncha kids. although lunch is pretty casual...

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A couple of summers ago my mother brought my three younger sisters up here to do the whole tourist thing: liberty bell, constitution hall, etc. In my effort to expand their horizons from an early age I took them to Vietnam and Genji. At Vietnam I ordered the two younger ones chicken spicy salt, a fancified plate of very tasty chicken fingers, which they loved. Consequently they were open to trying some of the other dishes we had. Other points of interest might be McCrossen's, a decent restaurant/bar up 20th St. that is within walking distance from the Franklin Institute, and Pietros Pizzeria, which has locations on 18th and Walnut or Front and South. It's my choice for pizza and an appropriate place to take children.

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Kewl, yuze know wha supp. I must admit of being very curious about the thought of good ‘cue in Philly. I have had several of North Carolina and Georgia’s best and even a couple of touted place in South Carolina. If we head to Sesame again, we’d head over the Tacony-Palmyra and probably to I-95, so from what I mapped, Lucy’s would be very convenient.

Really, killer ‘cue in Philly?


Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore. It's always too crowded.

---Yogi Berra

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In my write-up of Sweet Lucy's I gave them five grease stains with the disclaimer that if they were below the Mason-Dixon line I'd probably give them four. We're not talking Allen and Son or the Skylight Inn, but it's as good as I've found this far north.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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To quote Babe:

"That'll do, Pig."

It's really really good 'cue, just not what you'll find down South. In no way, shape or form will Sweet Lucy's replace real Southern 'cue, but it's dammed fine judged on its own merits.


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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Hotel in Harrisburg for Hershey Park? *tries to wrap her head around that* Seriously, if you do that, you have to take 322/422 into Hershey, and it's a *major* commuter route. With stoplights. If it's daylight hours, a 10 mile drive will take 20-40 minutes unless you get very lucky. As someone who commuted along there for years, I implore you to not do this to yourself. I'd either downgrade to a motel and live with the less than stellar room amenities (and less than stellar in Palmyra or Hummelstown would still make up for the drive), or spring for the Hotel Hershey.

As far as food goes, oh jeez. Al Mediterraneo, Jo Jo's Pizza, and the Chinese place on the square in Hummelstown are all good. The Warwick Hotel is not what it used to be sadly, but the building is still beautiful. I know there are plenty of good indy places in Palmyra, but I can't recall specifics offhand. Guido McNeal's in Middletown is good. Unless they've changed a lot recently, Lucy's Cafe in Hershey is *not*. Go to D'Angelis instead. There's a bar with great sandwiches just up the street from the Red Robin near the park. I can't remember the name for the life of me, but the food is *good* and the parking is awful. Parkside Bar I want to say?

If you want picnicky food, get sub sandwiches from Pronio's market, or hit Bread and Cheese on Chocolate Ave. Alternately, get directions and hit The Food Factory for subs.

If you have the chance and budget, the Circle Dining Room at Hotel Hershey is wonderful. Save room for desert. The usual source of incredible pastry shops in the area is the current pastry chef at the Hotel steps down to open a shop, and oh do they do lovely pastry. Alfred's Victorian in Middletown is in the same vein, but a very different style. Beautiful Victorian brownstone mansion, and you can have every course on fire if you want. This is where I learnt it is possible to overdo the fire at the table.

I strongly recommend calling for reservations at any place except the bar and grocery store and the Chinese place. Tourist season can be really nasty for waits, and even calling 15 minutes before you plan to arrive can mean a lot.

Emily

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I’m almost done this year’s long pilgrimage. With parking around the museums such a beeatch, we seemed to have settled on a lot at 23rd & Race and enjoy the walk. One place we’ve passed a few times and will probably do one more time on the way to Logan’s Square. They seem to get a lot of business. Anyone been to Little John’s?

Little John’s

161 N 21st St

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 246-0653

I believe there is another steak/hoagie place we pass in that area, perhaps with “Pete” in the name. Anyone care to opine?


Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore. It's always too crowded.

---Yogi Berra

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i've walked by little john's but have never gone in.

pete's famous is one of several pete's famouses up in that area. greek pizza = not good. one time i saw a delivery driver backing out of there whose car had strobes instead of backup lights. that was a fun mod, but i'm not sure how useful it is, really.

that's pretty much all i got, except that if you don't mind walking a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile, parking's not that bad. i mean, after all 1/2 mile is only five blocks.

if you don't mind walking a little ways, mama's vegetarian is an israeli falafel place on 20th just below market. that would be about four blocks from the academy or the franklin institute. it's really good.

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I will make my yearly visit to the Debellaware Valley. Wife and three kids in tow.

I know we can walk to the Reading Terminal from Liberty Bell etc. We did it last year and certainly will do again.

Is this feasible: a place in Chinatown in which I can eat off the Asian menu but the rest of the family—unfortunately—Americanized?

The Franklin Institute is a yearly must. We usually park on Arch Street. Any great places within walking distance?

We may hit the Adventure Aquarium. Like the zoo, I guess I don’t want to venture too far.

Oh Valley Forge is very likely this trip. Daughter loves Sesame Place, but that looked like chain central.

Any and all great family places are appreciated. Of course it helps, when I drive from the parents, we pass Chick’s Cold Cuts in CHNJ. It’s always tough to pass.

I hope I’m not deviating too much from the “PA” theme, but a couple of friends recommended that “Grounds of Sculpture” in Trenton, so there is another possibility.


Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore. It's always too crowded.

---Yogi Berra

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if its a nice day stephen starrs hamburger stand in franklin square isn't too far a walk from franklin institute. my kids loved it. depending what day of the week you are there it could be crowded.

let your kids try a tasty kake butterscotch krimpet milk shake with pieces of the krimpet in the shake.

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For Chinatown, I'd recommend Rangoon, a Burmese restaurant. It's one of the few places my entire family, including picky kids, is happy. The kids love the chicken satay, crispy tofu, fried taro, and the noodle dishes. For the more adventurous, there are all kinds of great things - ginger salad, squid salad, festival fish noodle soup, the kung po dishes (different than Chinese), and last time I was there we tried the ribs (not the ones on the appetizer menu), which were incredible.

For the Franklin Institute, a new place just opened right on the grounds of the museum. It's called FrogBurger, and it's basically in a tent right next to the ground-level entrance of the museum. My kids loved it there - burgers, fries, hot dogs, shakes, and a few lighter things like gazpacho. It's nothing really exciting, but pretty good food and super-convenient.

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I'll second everything KitchenMom said: I've had great luck bringing all kinds of people to Rangoon, and they all have liked it. But, there's really nothing vaguely "American" if you have some folks in your party that just aren't even going to try noodles or satay. Same basic scene for Penang or Banana Leaf, which are Malaysian restaurants. They have some pretty far-out stuff, but also make killer satay and noodle dishes that are crowd-pleasers.

If you just need some Americanized Chinese to placate the less-adventurous, almost every place in Chinatown rides that border, offering some "safe" dishes even if their specialties are further out. Some of our favorites are Ken's Seafood for Cantonese, especially fresh fish. Sakura Mandarin has a wide variety of dishes, from Shanghainese to Sichuan to surprisingly decent sushi. There's been some question about whether they still offer soup dumplings (AKA Shanghai Juicy Buns) which was their main claim to fame, but they're still decent even without them.

Sang Kee Peking Duck House is great for duck, but also any roast meats, their barbecue pork and ribs are pretty great too, as are noodle dishes. Their version of General Tso's Chicken is quite good - made from full chicken breasts, that are breaded, fried and then sliced, so the breading ratio is a bit lower. Shao Lan Kung, Lee How Fook and Tai Lake are solid Cantonese.

Four Rivers and Szechuan Tasty House can get you some decent spicy Szechuan food (although if you're a fan of that style you really should get to Han Dynasty at 108 Chestnut St. - which happens to be right near the historical stuff if you're doing the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Constitution Center, etc.)

You said you're going to hit the Reading Terminal, so you'll see that there are LOTS of options there, probably enough for a few visits without repeats if you wanted.

If you're at the Franklin Institute, it couldn't be any more convenient to go to Frog Burger, unless it's pouring rain or 900 degrees out. That's the one downside of an outdoor tent. As KitchenMom said, it's nothing exotic, but the food is good quality and well-made. Their carrot cake and "killer cake" are both pretty outrageous. It's not especially fast, because (thick) burgers are grilled to order, so if you have really squirmy kids, you might want to send someone out to place an order about 5-10 minutes ahead of time...

Sadly there's not much of interest out near Valley Forge. King of Prussia has most of the usual suspects in chain restaurants, and not much else. There are some good Indian restaurants not far away, but I'm not sure that's what you're looking for!

If you go to Trenton, you really should have a Tomato Pie, probably from Delorenzo's, (maybe in their newest location, because it has a bathroom.)

Give a yell back if you want details about anything...


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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if its a nice day stephen starrs hamburger stand in franklin square isn't too far a walk from franklin institute. my kids loved it. depending what day of the week you are there it could be crowded.

let your kids try a tasty kake butterscotch krimpet milk shake with pieces of the krimpet in the shake.

Despite their shared name, about 15 blocks separate the Franklin Institute and Franklin Square - that strikes me as a bit of a hike even without the summer heat and kids in tow.

As a previous poster mentioned, I'd go for Steve Poses's FrogBurger right out front of the Institute.

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I will make my yearly visit to the Debellaware Valley. Wife and three kids in tow.

I know we can walk to the Reading Terminal from Liberty Bell etc. We did it last year and certainly will do again.

Is this feasible: a place in Chinatown in which I can eat off the Asian menu but the rest of the family—unfortunately—Americanized?

The Franklin Institute is a yearly must. We usually park on Arch Street. Any great places within walking distance?

Your best bet in Chinatown would probably be Vietnam or Vietnam Palace. There are a broad range of foods at both of them (and they're right across the street from one another.) If your interests vary so much, don't veer from the Reading Terminal. You can have Sang Kee and they can have DiNic's roast pork, Salumeria hoagies, Fisher's soft pretzels, etc, etc.

Frogburger just opened right outside the Franklin Institute. If it's a nice enough day, grab burgers for the family and sit outside. Otherwise, Aya's Cafe between 21st and 22nd on Arch has decent Mediterranean, the Mission Grill on 18th (I think) and Arch has tasty American heavy tex-mex (don't go to the Mexican Post) Darling's Cafe at 21st and Race has a pretty basic sandwich selection. If you're in the mood for sour diner service, Pete's on 21st south of Race has some ok greasy food.

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Don't forget the Please Touch Museum. I think its the best option for the kids.

Food wise-there's really nothing up there, in the park. But it is a great place for kids!


Philly Francophiles

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If you do end up going to Grounds for Sculpture (which I'd recommend you do) you will be quite close to a Trenton landmark restaurant, The Homestead Inn or known as Chick and Nello's. This is a no menu southern Italian place with still pretty good food although not as good as in its prime. It's really the only place I'd feel good about suggesting.

Here's a discussion on the NJ board with some ideas of what to get when you are there:

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Hello PA eaters, we’ll be doing the Sesame Place experience with our 2yr old Sunday and Monday and staying in nearby Trevose.

I’m not getting my hopes up but if anyone has any recs within 10-15 min drive we’d be very grateful. (I know Philly isn’t far but I’m thinking with the baby it might be a pain).

Anything besides Italian would be great. A good burger, cheese steak, diner or ethnic place. In a quick search I came across a German place, Erwin’s which looks kitchy and capable enough. Anyone know it? Thanks


That wasn't chicken

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