Dinner recom in Philly for NY chowhounds
My husband and me will be in Philly for a conference and are looking for a place to have a nice dinner on Friday/Saturday night. We'll have a car, and are willing to travel. I would prefer to avoid something very ethnic specific, considering we have plenty of that in NYC. That said, ethnic-inspired would very welcome. I am more interested in trying some place with an interesting menu, maybe a young chef, some place with a nice space, and hopefully not super expensive. Please advice if reservations are required.
Also, planning on checking out the Contitution Museum, so a place for lunch/brunch close by would also be appreciated.
Ansill and Pif also meet your 'young chef' plus interesting menu requirement. David Ansill started both of these; Ansill was recently highlighted in Gourmet magazine. Ansill serves tapas style small plates, and Pif is a french bistro style place with a daily chalkboard menu based on what was found fresh at the nearby Italian market. If for some reason matyson doesn't work out, give either of these a try. I've been to both, and I would highly recommend them to anyone. Pif is byo, Ansill is not.
Avoid the Bourse by the Constitution Center...A big time tourist trap akin to a food court at a mall.
Instead hop on the Phlash tourist bus at 5th and Market Sts. (at $1 per person) (or walk seven blocks west) to the Reading Treminal Market for lunch. Can't get roast pork like DiNic's or Fisher's soft pretzels in NYC. http://www.readingterminalmarket.com
For lunch, you might consider Reading Terminal Market, Apollo at 615 Chestnut and Jones at 700 Chestnut -- the latter two within three blocks of the Constitution Center.
For dinner, you might try Paradigm at 239 Chestnut (check out the restrooms) or Dolce next door at 241 Chestnut (same ownership); Rembrandt's at 23rd & Aspen; for sea food - DiNardo's at 312 Race. Sole Food at 12th & Market in the Loews Hotel has a very nice bar menu. Alma de Cuba would qualify as ethnic inspired at 1623 Walnut. Reservations at any of these places would be a good idea for a Friday or Saturday night.
If you do go the BYOB route, remember, this is Pennsylvania. Wine is sold in state stores, i.e., not available everywhere like in New York.
I have to disagree with a lot of your mentions. Paradigm and Dolce never ever see the light of day, reputation-wise. DiNardo's is for tourists. Sole Food, ? eh.
I agree with Joypirate's Matyson recommendation (19th street, between market and chestnut). And would also like to include Mandoline on Chestnut between 2 and 3 as another BYO ( they take reservations). There are two very very new places that have yet to get too much attention: Mantra (asian inspired, the guy built the whole place with his hands/woodworking) at 18th and Walnut (across the street from the very popular wine, beer and cheese bar, Tria) and also Restaurant M near Washington Square which started off pretty shakey but is bouncing back with some hearty recommendations (if you are here on a nice night, unlike this coming weekend, i hear that the courtyard is wonderful). Lastly, a very popular almost-newcomer is Ansill at 3rd and Bainbridge.
For lunch, it seems that Grocery at 13th and Chestnut is all the rage in its week long life - it's not formal, at all, but maybe worth a shot for homemade...everything.
But if its lunch you need around the Const Center, I say go to Society Hill Bar at 3rd and Chestnut for good beer, friendly bartenders, and a great hangar steak sandwich - and get their famous Scully fries (white, sweet potatoes with fried leeks and spicy dipping sauce)