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May 26, 2000 10:52 PM

New in Philly, looking for food

  • g

I just moved to Philly, like a week ago, and am happily exploring the food situation. Thus far it seems a very happy step up from my last home, St. Louis. I have some questions, and would welcome your reccomended faves. Admittedly, I live on the shoestring budget of two graduate students with a three-year-old, so I'm mostly looking for good, cheap, foods. Also, I'm a hobbyist cook, so I'm looking for markets as much as restaurants.

Coffee. I live in Center City (well, more like South Philly, depending on who you ask) on Bainbridge, near 22nd. I don't mind walking some distance for really, really good coffee, but would love to find a cup in the neighborhood for the morning fix. So far I've found lots of bad cups and two ok, but not great, cups. Tuscany Cafe on Rittenhouse Square (this chain tried to make a go in St. L a couple years back, but became overextended and closed down), and European Union on 22nd around Locust. I guess I like EU a little better, in that the owner is there and seems to be a quality guy, but the coffee, at least the day I went there, was only ok. I could drink it black without wincing, but it didn't have that rich fullness I'm looking for. Tuscany makes a harsh, acidic cup, but at least it has flavor even if it's not good flavor.

Am I missing something? I feel like I've scoured, and come up at a loss. Any suggestions for coffee (and a good, neighborhoody feeling cafe where I can sit for a little while with my coffee) would be most appreciated.

Steaks. Is Geno's the best? Is Pat in fact the King of Steaks?

The Italian Market. I was immediately won over by the Italian market. That is my sort of shopping. But I wonder, do any of you know who to trust for fish? It seems like a crap-shoot. I have a pretty good eye (and nose) for bad fish, but nevertheless worry about finding the best. Also, anybody have a feel for which is the best of the many butchers? I got some short ribs this afternoon that I though were quite tasty, but I didn't note the name (I'm sure if I went back I'd remember it by sight).

I'm sure I'll have more questions as I eat around. For now, good eating.


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  1. A good butcher at the Italian Market is Esposito's on 9th st. You will never eat better bread than Sarcone's on 9th too. Great pastries at Inzo's. Good luck on finding good coffee--I asked my daughter and she goes to Tuscanys.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Charlene
      patricia bathurst

      Gabe - a very late post, but I hope you catch it. I just left Philly after a very happy 15 years there. In the Italian Market, go to Sonny D'Angelo's for suasage and specialty meat cuts, also try Claudio's for cheese. Isgro's has incredible cannolli - beats Termini's any day. Also, along 10th street, and about three blocks south of Washington look up Bitar's market. Unbelievable feta and olives, plus many spices and condiments for Middle-Eastern cooking. Right on Washington, between 9th and 10th, stop for lunch at Saigon. The owner/manager is a lovely woman, a refugee years ago. If you go to any of these, please say hello to everyone for me (tell 'em the tiny blond woman with the big smile). Also, try Jim's on South Street for steaks, and go down to the original Tony Luke's for a roast pork sandwich "with" - with cheese and rabe. You'll love it. Let me know how you fare.

      1. re: patricia bathurst

        When you're homesick for St. Louis and The Hill, stop by Salumeria in the Reading Terminal Market. Some of the specialty cured meats they used in their hoagies, like the domestic prociuitto, come from Volpe's.

        1. re: Bob Libkind
          Gabriel Solis

          I've got to admit I never grew very fond of the restaurants on the Hill, but I do think Volpe's prosciutto is quite possibly the best thing about St. Louis (I actually didn't find this stuff in St. L, but ran across it at Fairway in NY, and only then realized it was a St. L product), and their salamis are pretty nice too.


        2. re: patricia bathurst
          Gabriel Solis

          thanks for the tips. I ran across Bitar's myself a few weeks back, looking for tahini and pita. I'm very impressed with their pita, which, considering it is baked in NY is very fresh and delicious. Also happy with their feta.

          I'm still getting to know the italian market, finding some good things.

          Take care,