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Toronto to Philadelphia - tapas, cheeseteaks, sports bars, the market and more!

pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 02:01 PM

this is coming out a bit late as i'll be down there this tuesday to saturday (oct 31 - nov 4) but i will have internet access and shall be checking regularly. anyhow, i'm driving down to philadelphia with one other person and we'll be staying in university city (i'll be doing contract work during the day) for the first few days and in the city centre (.5 miles away from reading market) friday night to saturday. i'd love it if i can get some advice on the following, thanks for any insights!

Dinner:
Tuesday - Bar Ferdinand (we're looking for casual tapas, how does it compare to Amada?)
Wednesday - Fork (if we can't get in, any recommedations nearby?)
Thursday - Sports Bar (list of options below, please help!)
Friday - Viet tapas at Fork then dinner at Ansill

----------------

Bars/Beer:
i expect that after dinner/before we might end up hitting some watering holes, so far we've gleaned the following from the board/other sites. i'm mostly looking for fantastic beer options (our micro-brews in toronto just don't do it for me) and a suggestion with good bar food (items unique to philly a plus) for Thursday night. i think spanish fries falls into what i'm looking for... so which places should i avoid and which places should i hit up not on these lists?

Best Beer:
1) Standard Tap (near BF?)
2) Monks (close to south st.)
3) Nodding Head (also close to south st.)

Coolest 'Scene':
1) Sugar Moms
2) Bob and Barbaras (also close to south st., gay?,
drag on thursday)
3) Doobies

The quitesential 'Philly' Bars: (Where you should send
the tourists)
1) Bob and Barbaras (If they can get over the smoke
and noise)
2) Continental Midtown
3) Nodding Head

"Eulogy is my favorite. Awesome beer and totally
un-packed unlike Monk's. "

can you suggest a couple locations with a good selection at which i can purchase beer to take back with me?

-----------------

Cheesesteaks:
we're probably going to hit a few joints but right now it looks like the ones at the top of our list are Steve's Prince of Steaks (do they have a second location?), John's Roast Pork, and Jim's Steaks. i realize this is no small debate, but are there any other places that we should add in for a good comparison? we might do up pat's and geno's just for the touristy factor.

----------------

Soul Food:
i know that there is supposidly a truck that sells jamaican or soul food in front of the post office at 30th st station, does it still exist? where else might we find some good options? the past posts are really outdated, 2002, would love some help here.

i just found this old posting of a baptist church at 16th and fitzwater, can anyone else vouch for it?
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/183942?query=soul+food&user_name=

------------------

Lunch Trucks:
so speaking of the truck in front of 30th st station... i'm trying to get a better hang of lunch trucks in university city (where i'll be working during the day) and in the city centre (where my friend will be touring). i know of the strip with magic carpet, mexicali, crepewalk, etc, but are there any other major streets with a great selection of places? i actually haven't done the chinese food ones, Yue Kee and the Real Le Ahn. worth it? i live in a mecca of good chinese food and might be more tempted to get "authentic" american-chinese for the sake of diversity/an experience.

this is the best thread i could find for university cit:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

any must tries in the city centre area? anything different/unique?

-------------------

Reading Terminal Market:
i'm at a loss for words, it sounds fantastic and i think i'm just more concerned about where not to go. i'll likely be spending all my saturday there touring around eating and what not, but i think i'm most interested in finding out what exactly i should bring back with me. pennsylvannia dutch items sound interesting, but is there anything specific that anyone might suggest?

i'm really at a loss with all the postings but anyone wanting to chime in with favourites would be well appreciated. i'm pretty sure we're bringing a cooler down with us and i'll be packing it up with leftover bites and bits to bring back.

-------------------

BBQ:
i'm travelling with a barbecue fanatic, good solid smoke flavouring seems to be his favourite and if there's a not to miss option for this i'd love to know it too.

we found a listing for this sweet lucy's place that started off as a truck, the comments generally seem favourable but does anything pop up as better?

-------------------

thanks thanks and a million more thanks for reading my ridiculous posting. i hope to document it all once we're done and i'll report back in a manner a little less daunting. i finally get to eat around philadelphia after my 5th trip in! i'm so excited.

  1. bluehensfan Oct 30, 2006 02:22 PM

    At the Reading Terminal Market the best bets are pancakes and scrapple at the Dutch Eating Place, and for lunch the roast pork sandwich with provolone and greens at DiNic's. Also try a soft pretzel at Fisher's, and sample the Italian pastries at Termini's. Bassett's has vey good ice cream too and if you're still hungry, Bleiler's amish bakery has very good apple fritters and cinnamon buns.

    http://www.readingterminalmarket.

    As far as Cheesesteaks (and roast pork) you may want to consider Tony Luke's.

    BBQ in Philly is pretty pathetic at this point in time...sorry!

    I'd pass on Fork on Wednesday. Pretty bland food considering all of the other options in Old City. You'd be better off food wise at Buddakan a block or two away because of the trendy factor but there are still better places for food in the city.

    1. Tonyjlive Oct 30, 2006 02:36 PM

      --Here is my 2 cents...As for cheeseteaks, my personal favorite is john's Roast Pork. When I go with a friend, one usually gets the pork Italian and the other the steak Italian with fried onions and additional American cheese with a bit of his homemade gravy(Marinara). Then we split the sandwiches and that seems to work out pretty damn well time and time again. Note: You gotta get there by 1pm at the latest in order to get the good bread.
      --As for the Terminal Market, I would suggest some juice from the Amish on the far side, and also my preference lies in the hot dog stuffed pretzels with a brush of butter from Fischers.
      --Chloe could serve as a substitute for Fork being 2 blocks away, it's a BYOB. They have a website if you want to check them out.
      --Haven't had much luck with the lunch trucks near 30th St station but I only went to each one time.
      --Bar Ferdinand is a bit farther from CC but the prices are definitely more reasonable and the quality is on point in my opinion.
      --Bar wise, a good sports bar with a good beer selection and good bar food is kind of tough for me at this point. I like the Irish Pub on 20th and Walnut to watch games and eat wings on Sundays. Also, jolly's on 19th btwn Market and Chestnut. It's not the greatest sporting place in terms of tvs, but low key and they have the secret weapon...Bone's Buffalo Wing Thing chicken cheesesteak(they also serve this stuff on nacho chips and if you like wings, this is your dish). jolly's is also right next door to one of our best BYOBs, Matyson. Continental is a cool spot to grab a drink or two.
      --BBQ wise, Sweet Lucy's is one of the top ones in Philly, a bit of a drive from where you are, and other than that, I think your BBQ friend may find Philly to be about average in the BBQ dept. Hope this helps somewhat. Enjoy
      --Almost forgot to mention, Sat. morning you should get over to the Italian Market on 9th St. before you head over to RTM. There is $2 parking at both markets, the garage on Arch st near RTM validates with a $10 purchase(total) and on Washington ave. at 9th, right across from Giordano's there is an open lot and it's $2 on wknds.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tonyjlive
        pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 03:42 PM

        before i stuff this thread full of individual thank yous, i just want to put out a general thank you for all the suggestions. i really appreciate the help and will probably end up hitting everything everyone suggestion in reading terminal market for sure. we'll probably go overboard on the cheesesteaks so we'll throw tony luke's into the mix as well!

        so, to tonyjlive specifically... are either the Irish Pub or Jolly's good for hockey specifically? we think that will end up being the sport of choice and toronto has a massive hockey following crowd that we want something comparable. we're aiming for a good lively bar that's all for the love of the game.

      2. j
        JanR Oct 30, 2006 02:38 PM

        If you're staying in University City, why not go to Marigold Kitchen? It's very inventive cooking and a nice atmosphere (not to mention byob). www.marigoldkitchenbyob.com

        1. a
          adamlouis Oct 30, 2006 02:44 PM

          If you're going to be in University City, you've got to try the MexiCali cart on Spruce between 36th and 37th. Get the sweet potato burrito, the best $3 you'll ever spend.

          Cereality is also worth checking out on Walnut between 36th & 37th. Nothing gourmet, but who doesn't like cereal? Pasta at Penne is handmade. Bubble tea at the Bubble House is interesting. Further west, you can't go wrong with Nan for Thai

          1 Reply
          1. re: adamlouis
            pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 03:52 PM

            i've tried the mexicali bean burrito and was thoroughly unimpressed. i've heard that the way to go is sweet potato or plantain.. or was it the mix of them? i'll give it one more chance but those 20 minute line ups are not enticing...

            we actually have a cereality like place in TO... i'm not sure if i can justify it but it's pretty close to where i'll be.

            i tried the bubble tea house and i refuse to go back. it was weak and the boba were undercooked. i tried the food too and while it's more interesting i'm not sure if i really enjoyed it enough. the wings they have there come in a huge mound though and are well priced. if i recall correctly i had a rice noodle dish with the soppiest sauce i've seen in a long while.

            actually... while i'm ranting about restaurants i might as well throw in that i've gone to the white dog about 3 times now and i walk away underwhelmed. sometimes they get it almost right but most of the time it's just ok. i had the soft shell crab there a couple months back and it was so soggy that i couldn't enjoy it. the last thing i did like there recently were their fried oysters over pasta app.... even so the dish was unevenly balanced.

            i've heard good things about Nan, it's thai/french is it not?

          2. r
            rumdrinks Oct 30, 2006 02:55 PM

            excellent research and excellent post! Fork has missed the mark on more than one occassion in the very recent past - people who used to love it are not loving it. I agree that there are some very nice BYOs nearby - Chloe (on Arch) was already mentioned and Mandoline too is rather nice (on Chestnut). There is a liquor store nearby to help you out (on 2nd tween Market and Chestnut). Since you'll be around town this Friday, its first Friday in Old City so its going to be packed! but fun! (walk around to all of the open galleries and such. It'll be nearly impossible to get a table at any of the BYOS, though. A good standby is Positano Coast at 2nd and Walnut - or, maybe one of the ethnic joints on Chestnut towards Front (Konak, or the afghani place or the new asian place??).

            and my last comment is that if you're going to go to John's Roast Pork - it has not been open on some of the saturdays that i've driven by....if you intend to go there on Saturday, and its closed, recent raves have been given out for Tony Luke's cheesesteaks which is just nearby John's, well, not too too far. (need car from Univ city)

            now LAST two cents...I luv Standard Tap's pulled pork sandwich.

            8 Replies
            1. re: rumdrinks
              pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 03:46 PM

              can you tell me what the atmosphere at standard tap is like? good beer list? they might be an option for getting in some game, beer and sandwich!

              thanks for the compliments btw, i hope the research pays off!

              to everyone in general... i think fork is now out because of the comments i'm seeing. i was hoping their wednesday bistro menu would make for an interesting "dinner party".

              i'm now tossing around the idea of matysons or marigold.... BUT morimoto has been on my mind for ages. i've only seen a couple reviews as of late and they've been glowing. does anyone know how much time he actually spends at the resto these days? what do you think? we're looking for a unique/different experience and do not require to be in the area that fork was in by any means.

              i feel like such a parrot asking for unique/different, but you know how the chow cravings are ;)

              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                h
                Hungryin theBurbs Oct 30, 2006 04:18 PM

                I don't know that Morimoto is there much these days, but just thought I'd add that I recently had a fabulous meal there. The atmosphere is great, definitely unique and different, and the food is creative and delicious.

                Matyson is one of my favorites and I'd say you can never go wrong there. The menu is online, so you can check it out and see if it appeals.

                If you are interested in BYOs, another lovely one that doesn't get much buzz these days is Mandoline, just down the street from Amada (I haven't been to Bar Ferdinand, but can't say enough good things about Amada if your willing to spend the $$).

                Have a great trip! I can't wait to hear how it went.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  saturninus Oct 30, 2006 04:45 PM

                  the standard tap does not have tvs. they only serve local beers though and the food is good.

                  make sure to try some of the excellent places reccomended on this thread. bubblehouse and white dog certainly aren't one of them!

                  make sure you try at least some of these places before you leave this city.

                2. re: rumdrinks
                  Tonyjlive Oct 30, 2006 04:12 PM

                  --I dont think john's is ever open on saturdays. M-F 6am-2ish, but after 1pm you're pushing it.
                  --You can call Morimoto that day and ask if he will be there the night you are planning on going.
                  --I don't know and don't think either place would get rowdy for hockey. Don't really know of any bars that would unfortunately. Maybe someone could weigh in on this one.
                  --10th and Pine there is a beer store with mix and mathces to take with you. Good selection

                  1. re: Tonyjlive
                    r
                    rumdrinks Oct 30, 2006 04:19 PM

                    it has been open on saturdays in the past (there was an article in TableTalk or somewhere about 2 yrs ago - and even chatter here - that John's was open on Saturdays from 8 - 3 or so (and I went there on a saturday once!). and there is even a sign a block away from John's saying that they are open ...buuuuut, you're right, they prob aren't open on saturdays. frustratin at least

                    1. re: Tonyjlive
                      pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 07:24 PM

                      sounds like i'll have to give John's a call if i'm looking to go outside of weekday hours, we'll have to see how well it fits into my skewed timing.

                      generally most bars keep different televisions on different types of games, i was just given the impression by my friend that the flyers would be rather popular.

                      would the 10th and pine place have dogfish head readily available? we get in a trickle of that brewery in toronto and i've enjoyed most of what i've had. i like their unique mixes and would also appreciate any other suggestions of specific beers that would be of interest.

                      Thanks again for everything.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess
                        j
                        JT007 Oct 30, 2006 07:37 PM

                        There are many bars, including most of those already mentioned, that have Dogfish Head brews on tap.

                        Tria, on 18th and Sansom, has the 90 Minute IPA on tap, which you don't see too often. Its a fantastic beer.

                        Good Dog on 15th Street, has their Pumpkin Ale on tap right now, not to mention an unbelievably good burger stuffed with Roquefort cheese.

                        As for a bar to watch hockey, most Flyers fans are in hiding at the moment due to our pitiful record.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess
                          Tonyjlive Oct 31, 2006 12:15 AM

                          10th and Pine has Dogfish Head, try the Punkin Ale brewed with molasses, cinnamon, cloves, and of course pumpkin. The place isn't called 10th and Pine but it's on the corner of that intersection, can't miss it.

                    2. bluehensfan Oct 30, 2006 04:44 PM

                      In the two visits I have made to Morimoto he was MIA both times. And now with a NYC location, rumor has it he's less present now than in the past.

                      As an aside, ever consider visiting DiBruno's store near Rittenhouse for cheeses and other smoked meats to bring back home? It may be worth a visit too.

                      1. G Goo Oct 30, 2006 05:37 PM

                        As Beer Bars go, you can do no better than the Standard Tap in both food and beer selection. If you go, precede or follow up your visit with a look-see at the beer selection of The Foodery which is just across the street from the Tap. Eye popping selection of micros and belgians.

                        Other favorite beer joints;

                        The South Philadelphia Taproom
                        Nodding Head
                        The Grey Lodge (NE Philly - bit of a hike)
                        Brigid's (Fairmount)

                        1. saturninus Oct 30, 2006 05:39 PM

                          I am not a HUGE fan of the beers at Nodding Head.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: saturninus
                            G Goo Oct 30, 2006 07:00 PM

                            Some are certainly better than others, but I have enjoyed most of NH's offerings. Quality is always high.....although I haven't been there in a year or so. Have they slipped?

                            Three more beer bars:

                            Ten Stone
                            Grace Tavern
                            Johnny Brenda's (Great place, how could I forget)

                            And if you're willing to travel to the suburbs, The General Lafayette Inn is an outstanding brewpub with lots of history. Food isn't the best, but it gets better everytime I go.

                            http://beermapping.com/maps/citymaps....

                            This link may help you in your quest for great beer in Philly. We are lucky to live in a town with such a great beer culture! And Philly is the ONLY city in the country where a Bud, Coors or Miller product is NOT the top selling beer!! And that includes Denver, Portland, San Fran, Seattle, Boston........

                            1. re: G Goo
                              pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 07:35 PM

                              what might i expect from your suggestions in terms of atmosphere? do any of them perhaps do a beer tasting?

                              one of the beer bars in toronto offers a beer tasting at the bar which i found rather adventageous as there's only so much alcohol i am able to consume.

                              i'm actually most interested in US microbrews, i can pretty much get most of the belgiums i'm interested in within toronto.

                              Thanks!

                              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                G Goo Oct 30, 2006 07:48 PM

                                Well if you're referring to the Foodery, it's a market. As for the others.....Johnny Brenda's has a funky, been-there-forever kind of feel b/c, well it's been there forever, albeit under different ownership. It was a Fishtown neighborhood dive bar that was purchased by the owner(s) of the Standard Tap and they kept the atmosphere exactly the same. It works, I love it. Great jukebox also. They recently opened an upstairs music venue, that I've heard good things about. Food is fantastic. Beers are local only. I'd recommend a Yards Philly Pale Ale. Such a drinkable beer.

                                Other beers to look for:

                                Sly Fox O'Reilly's Dry Stout (actually taking taps away from Guinness in the City!)
                                Victory HopDevil (IPA)
                                Victory Golden Monkey (Belgian style trippel)
                                Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA - Can always be found on tap at Tria...yet another great place. 18th and Sansom

                                Really any beer from Troegs, Yards, Stoudt's, Sly Fox, Dogfish Head, Victory, Weyerbacher, Flying Fish will do!!

                                1. re: G Goo
                                  pinstripeprincess Oct 30, 2006 08:27 PM

                                  perfect thanks!

                                  that's exactly what i was looking for. my travelling partner isn't necessarily into scene-y places unless it's got some good brew on tap and i'm definitely looking for a couple places i can sit back and relax.

                                  the beer suggestions are awesome... i figure i'm pretty much on course with anyone who enjoys dogfish head.

                                  thanks so much everyone! now if anyone has soul food on the brain.......

                                2. re: pinstripeprincess
                                  saturninus Oct 30, 2006 08:26 PM

                                  None of the above do beer tastings - but do your own!

                                  The Standard Tap and Johnny Brendas only carry local beers. Those are the best places to go if you want to (finally) try something delicious in Philadelphia.

                            2. Dib Oct 31, 2006 12:13 AM

                              I've seen in passing a soul food truck outside 30th St (maybe there's more than one?), I'm pretty sure it's called Denise's. Not sure if it's the same place as the soul food place inside the station, but if it is, I couldn't recommend the food. I can recommend the fried chicken at Delilah's in Reading Terminal Market, since you'll be there anyway.

                              I personally don't think american-chinese is worth eating, but Yue Kee has some good chinese stuff for the price if you're in the area. Not worth making a trip for, but try the pork belly. Be prepared to wait 20 minutes for food--or call ahead: 610-812-7189.

                              I really enjoyed my chicken pot pie ($11?) at Standard Tap last week. Flaky crust, definitely better than regular bar food.

                              As for BBQ, I'm totally in love with Ron's Ribs on South St, but truthfully it's the only BBQ I've had since I moved back here a few months ago.

                              1. t
                                tilemaker Oct 31, 2006 12:21 AM

                                welcome to Phillly. Avoid Fork. I had a horrendous meal there about one month ago and am friends with several of the old managers who say that the place is a mess and an over priced one at that. I loved Ansill. You must try the pork bellies. Absolutely the best eating anywhere. Bar Ferdinand has a spectacular mosaic in the front room, which is the best thing about the place. Food is tasty but the portion size borders on insulting. Do not go there hungry.

                                1. saturninus Oct 31, 2006 01:41 PM

                                  Bar Ferdinand is tapas. The portions aren't intended to fill. Expect to order 4-6 per person.

                                  1. rabidog Oct 31, 2006 08:31 PM

                                    wow, large post and even larger responses!!! i'm at work so i'll contribute what i can in a small amount of time:

                                    SKIP FORK! from market st, head north on third street and hit la locanda del ghiottone (italian!) and then come back down a half-block towards market and hit charlie's for some casual beers & a yummy sauvignon blanc. OR, if la locanda is too crowded, ask about the specials at charlie's --- the fish specials are regularly to-die-for.

                                    bar ferdinand - good call if you don't want to spend amada prices (though you will spend close). after bar ferdinand, continue south on second street and stop at the standard tap for some local brews. afterwards walk directly across the street to the foodery, where you can buy some to take home!

                                    reading terminal - find the smoothie shack with the wheat grass growing out front, and order something like carrot + banana + strawberry. that gets your day of walking + eating started off on the perfect healthy, energetic note! the amish's pretzels are AMAZING... also don't miss the amish habernero cheddar towards the back of the market. the thai shack within is fabulous too (owned by the same folks that own erawan, i think!)

                                    send us reports!! :)

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