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Gastro Pubs in Philly

  • j

Meeting a buddy for dinner tonight, love Standard Tap and Monk's, but looking to try something different. I'm leaning toward North 3rd, any other suggestions?

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  1. North 3rd is good, I'd add the Black Door to the list, 2nd and Bainbridge. They make the best fries I've had in the city, and excellent mussels, from what my mussel-loving friends say. I usually get the lamb burger. Personally I don't think the Tap's food is anything special, and while Monk's is pretty good, it's not worth the interminable wait for a table.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Buckethead

      About two months ago I had a GREAT meal at n. 3rd -- some kind of asian tuna burger, I was really impressed. I keep meaning to go back, because i think they have really stepped up their food in the last year.

    2. Two words - Ten Stone.

      Do not pass go, do not collect $200 - just go to Ten Stone.

      Relaxed vibe, interesting food, nice beer selection.

      21st and South.


      1. glad you asked! i consider myself the resident expert on the matter, having moved into the neighborhood a month ago, into a fixer-upper which STILL boasts no refrigerator. therefore i pick a bar for dinner every night - let's just say i've hit all of them at *least* a few times!

        you are right on with north third. sure, the standard tap has a good beer selection, but the food there can't hold a candle to the food at north third. everything i've had at n3 is not only just good bar food, but flat-out delicious food, period. i can't recommend them enough.

        for dinner, i get the local-grown tomato, feta and basil salad... try it while it's still in season! the spring rolls are great, and the fries are to die for. perfect boardwalk-style. the soups are always spot-on. my company always orders the bee's burger, or something like that, and she loves it. the menu changes daily, but most if not all of these items have been available each of the, oh, fifteen times i've visited in the past month.

        also on a side note for anyone looking for a good brunch: you'll find it here. we order the brioche french toast and the roasted tomato/fresh moz omelette and both are spectacular - as are the mimosas.

        service is friendly and quick during the off-hours. good luck trying to get a table outside if the weather is nice. two weekends ago, one of the eagles starters (somebody jones, sorry, don't know football!) was at the table next to us!

        and no, i'm not affiliated with north third in any way. i just like them a whole lot. i'll probably continue to eat here with approximately the same frequency even after my kitchen is ready for its fridge!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: rabidog

          Wow, I guess taste buds work differently for different people. I have enjoyed N. 3rd everytime I've gone......best fried squid in the city, IMO. But to say the Standard Tap can't hold a candle to it is beyond me. My last GREAT, soul-lifting meal was at the Tap....soft-shell crabs pan fried naked, served over a mexican-flavored black bean salsa. It was amazing. I've had a few experiences like that at the Tap. N 3rd, while promising, has yet to deliver that for me.

          I've only been there once, but Good Dog in Center City. Pretty good.

          BTW it was probably Dhani Jones sitting next to you, and he stinks. Hey Dhani, if you're reading this, toughen up, learn to shed a block and quit over-pursuing the runner. Until you learn those things, you'll continue to stink!!! And quit the relentless self-promotion. Bowtie Guy. Puh-leese!

        2. Thanks for your replies, here's how the night went:

          We had a beer at Standard Tap (Sly Fox Helles- a very good beer, light and nutty) and the fried squid, a good rendition, heavy on pepper in the crust.

          Then we went to North 3rd for dinner. We started with wings, which were great, I had a burger with cheddar and bacon, and it was tremendous, nice char on the outside, medium inside. Also, as rabidog mentioned, the fries were really good. To me, fries and cole slaw show you a restaurants soul - if they're good, you know the rest will be good.
          My buddy had the roasted pork. It was ok, as were the mashed potatoes, but it also came with what they called sausage stuffing that was more a savory bread pudding, and that was awesome.

          Thanks for the advice, it was exactly what we were looking for, we'll have to try Ten Stone next, but we'll also be back to North 3rd.


          1. I had dinner at North Third this week. It had been a long time since I had eaten there, as the last time I went I ordered the mashed potatoes and I swore they tasted like they were from a box.

            North Third used to be one of my favorite places to eat 4 years ago but after many chefs changed over, I stopped eating there.

            Something's improved. I really enjoyed my tomato soup - rich, flavorful and filling and the north third salad.

            1. Anybody try the grilled pizza?

              1 Reply
              1. re: JCap

                here's an old thread i felt like revisiting. to answer the poster's (old) question above, yeah, i've had the grilled pizza, and it's been the least favorite thing i've ordered from there - and even it would get a three out of five stars from me. but there is better on the menu.

                i just returned from brunch there with my roommates (a common weekend activity of ours) and i just want to reiterate, if people are looking for an excellent brunch, really, really do yourself a favor and go here.

                i started off splitting the n3rd salad with one of my dining companions, and it made me remark: "THIS is the kind of salad that makes me like salad!" it was a delicious mix of spinach and other baby greens, with some extremely flavorful shaved parmesan, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and a WONderful balsamic dressing. maybe it's just something in their water. i've never enjoyed a salad more in my life.

                we moved on to our main courses (and more mimosas); i had the brioche french toast. i have searched high and low for good french toast, and the brioche french toast is the ONLY french toast i've had that betters the version i make at home. perfectly eggy, light and fluffy, with ripe strawberries (where did those come from?!) on top. it would be a sin to add the butter that comes on the side - that french toast is perfect.

                my dining companions had the fried flounder sandwich (i helped myself to a good bit of the fries), a pound of wings, and one of the omelette specials, i can't remember which one. across the board, we all agreed our food was excellent, certainly the best northern liberties has to offer, and possibly some of the best food philly as a whole has to offer. i really, really recommend this place. go early on a sat or sun - but even if you don't beat the crowds, it's still worth waiting in line. north third and carmine's creole cafe are my ONLY two five-out-of-five star places i've been to in the phila metro area.

              2. Anyone else have any comments on Ten Stone either good or bad? Moving into the neighborhood in March and I'm looking for a good spot over there. I was there once about a year and a half ago but didn't eat.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Tonyjlive

                  Ten Stone, Grace, Sidecar -- all good. Also good is sitting at the bar at L2 for mixed drinks and apps. Also see this recent thread:


                2. Not to highjack the post but do any Philly gastros have beer engines? I don't think that I've ever seen one and I've been to all the spots mentioned above. Just curious.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Chinon00

                    I'm not 100% sure it's a hand-pump, but I thought that there is 1 beer engine / cask-conditioned tap at 10 Stone. If so, it's the single tap halfway down the left side of the bar as you face in from the front door. Can't speak to the other taps or other pubs.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      The Standard Tap had one last time I was there, but that was years ago. Of course, you still shouldn't go there, since the food sucks..

                      1. The food at Standard Tap ranges from mediocre to exceptional. To say the food sucks makes me laugh, but there's no accounting for taste.

                        Standard Tap definitely has a beer engine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Boognish

                          Well, it sucked last time I was there, which was admittedly quite a while ago. Maybe it's improved since then, but I won't be testing that out myself. I guess I don't see much difference between 'mediocre' and 'sucky' when it comes to restaurant food, I wouldn't want to pay for either.

                        2. Thanks for the response. I really like having the option of warmer and stiller beer particularly during this time of year. And to me to suggest that "the food sucks.." at Tap is self indicting.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Chinon00

                            What can I say, when I eat out I expect a minimum level of quality out of the food, and they failed to meet it. Obviously I'm in the minority. Maybe they were having an off night or something, or maybe my standards are too high.

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              Now with those more reasonable, well thought out and qualified statements you have, in my eyes, un-self-indicted yourself (IMHO).

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                I've had some great things and some o.k. stuff at Standard.My two biggest gripes are the volume of the music and the sometimes snotty attitude of the bartenders. Again, it varies. It just seems that they are trying to cater to a very small demographic of clientelle. That being the deaf hipsters. I agree with Rabiddog on North Third.

                                1. re: tilemaker

                                  The scene can be a little intimidating (tattoos, piercings, etc) and the music can be loud and very obscure to boot. As for “attitude” of the servers I think that it might depend on when you go. Any Friday or Saturday night every place in the city is packed (including Tap). I don’t think though, that the staff at Tap are the kind that vibe very well with large and “un-mellow” crowds; as many of us can be after a hard week.
                                  Also, Tap prides itself on providing local craft beer (within a 70 mile radius I think) and I heard on one Friday evening 3 different times the following conversation:

                                  Customer: “Can I get a Miller lite?”
                                  Server: “We don’t have Miller lite.” {Points to beer board}
                                  Customer: {Peruses beer board and says} “What do you have LIKE Miller lite”

                                  That might make me a little cranky too.

                                  Check it out any week day other than Friday or Sunday evening or brunches.

                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    Bartender should have replied "Water."

                          2. Hahahaha, they HATE that! If you know that little about beer they will be unkind.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: saturninus

                              Conversely, I was at the Tap one night and asked the bartender upstairs about a particular brew, and she knew nothing about it. She asked a waiter and he said it was popular but wasn't sure about style, etc. Turns out it was a very, very light cream ale from Sly Fox, and it was awful. So as with most restaurants, even the great ones (of which I categorize The Statdard Tap), sometimes you get a stinker.

                              1. re: G Goo

                                I'm really interested in this Sly Fox cream ale mainly because I'm a big fan of Sly Fox beer and I've never heard of it. Generally at Tap they carry Sly Fox Helles which is probably their lightest offering (but it isn't "cream" ale). Could you attempt to recall the name of this Sly Fox product that you had a Tap?


                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  You know what, I just looked at The Sly Fox website and whatever it was is not listed there. Unfortunately I don't remember the name. What I do remember is that I tried it specifically because it was a Sly Fox brew (as I am also a big fan). I'm sure it was not the helles. It was either titled a cream ale, or described to me as a cream ale....I can't remember. What I do know is that it was really bad. Rather tasteless.

                            2. That Miller Lite point is hillarious.

                              1. Today's Inky (Food section) reported that Stephen Starr is working on a gastropub concept for his old Angelina/Bleu Angel space. It will be modeled on The Spotted Pig in NYC.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: croutonpiggy

                                  I think the majority of the places mentioned on this thread are hit or miss. I think it mostly depends on who is working when you are there.

                                  Ten Stone is one of the most frustrating places to eat or drink because it is so inconsistent. I've been there quite a few times because it's close to where I live and I adore their brie fondue. Their main problem is that their service is super slow about 75% of the time. I'm talking about the kind of slow where you can be sitting for 15 or more minutes before anyone takes your drink order. As far as the food it ranges from really good to sandwiches on stale bread and overcooked eggs.

                                2. Just got back from the Royal Tavern and I must say I was pretty impressed. I got the burger which came with smoked gouda, bacon, a roasted long hot, carmelized onions and some kind of aioli. The burger was pretty darn good, one of the best I've had in a while and the fries that came with it were very good as well, crispy and just salty enough. I read some posts about the service being bad but we found none of that tonight and we both agreed that the Royal Tavern is a place we will be back to in the future. We also shared the flatbread pizza app which was average and a dish I would not advise one to order. My girlfriend got the vegan chili and I ate a significant portion of her dish. It was quite good...different from the chili I am used to, but not that much different. Admittedly this is the first vegan dish I knowingly ate out at a restaurant (except for obvious things like a side of veggies). I've been to many of chili cookoffs and this chili could hold it's own with the meat ones. Overall we had a nice time and we were very satisfied with the overall experience from food to service to check.