University Citiy Dining-what's great and affordable?
I'll be in University City tomorrow evening, and would like to go for a good, inexpensive meal around 40th and Walnut area. I was thinking about one of the Thai restaurants there (Pattaya and Thai Singha), but I haven't read many good reviews about either. Have any of you been to either of these restaurants lately? Any recs for good eats around the area? Thanks!
How far are you willing to walk? I ask because the 40th & Walnut corners are not exactly a mecca of fine foods. :)
You'll be right near Nan, which is a perfectly good restaurant even if it may not necessarily be inexpensive. It's a slightly upscale French/Thai/Asian cusine type thing, and people enjoy it.
Pattaya Grill & Thai Singha are decent enough restaurants. I would venture that Thai Singha is a little more authentic in their execution, but I've always enjoyed the food at Pattaya Grill more. That being said, you're not really looking at a "Chowhound destination" when it comes to either places.
If you're willing to walk a few blocks east on Walnut, you'll find Penne. While I've never had a spectacular meal at Penne, I've also never had a disappointing meal. Penne is, however, in about the same price range as Nan, so you may balk at the prices. (It's not expensive, just not inexpensive.)
A little farther east, check out the restaurants on Sansom Street. There's a good variety them them, and they all serve a good enough meal to make it worth a small walk. My seasonal favourite is White Dog Cafe - I'm a sucker for the hot toddies - the restaurant menu may be a little on the pricey side, but the bar menu is extremely reasonable. The same can be said for the nearby La Terrasse.
If east isn't your game, head a few blocks west. Rx is at 45th & Spruce, and Marigold 44/45th & Larchwood. Both are good, and the portion sizes are large enough that you can be full after just an entree, so you won't spend that much money.
That's about all I can think of for foods in the area. My only true rec is, if you're definitely sticking with 40th & Walnut, go with Pattaya Grill.
If I wanted a good cheap meal right at 40th and Walnut, I'd definitely go with New Delhi - Indian buffet, something like $10. Not special or unique, but reliably good.
The thai places are both fine, but not that great. I prefer Singha.
If you're willing to walk farther, at 47th and Baltimore there are a few Ethiopian restaurants - Dahlak is my favorite - really unique and delicious.
I don't think Nan, Penne, White Dog, Rx or Marigold qualify as cheap -- when I was an undergrad at Penn, those were all special-night-level places. I agree that the White Dog bar menu is more reasonable - and I think their bar food is better than La Terrasse (which is a shame, because LT's used to be really good but they changed hands and it was never the same).
It's hard to tell what other people will think is inexpensive though. If you want *really* cheap, Crown Fried Chicken is at 40th and market, and they might be a hole in the wall, but that fried chicken is still delicious.
Mexicali on 40th just off Walnut. More expensive than their dirt-cheap food truck on Spruce, but still way inexpensive. No frills at all with the atmosphere, but you can't beat the steamy spicy sweet potato burritos.