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One Day in Philly

hominaray Jan 3, 2007 10:46 PM


I'm doing one day (and night) in Philly. Never been. Want a good food sampling while I'm there. Staying at the Sofitel and do not have a car. First time poster, so I'll apologize and thank you all in advance if the questions have been addressed here ad nauseum. but looking for any good suggestions.

1. Looking for the best cheesesteak lunch (think Shake Shack of cheesesteaks), doesn't have to be the known joints, just want the tastiest.

2. Looking for a medium upscale dinner, but a relaxed kind of place. Not interested in big theme joints like Buddakan or Morimoto just good food in a fun environment (think Blue Ribbon).

3. Looking for tasty down home brunch/ breakfast (meat and potatoes kind of breakfast)


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  1. c
    Cruz Jan 4, 2007 02:01 AM

    1. Check the board for many, many heated posts on the best cheesteak. I'm not going to get into this one.

    2. Why not try Porchini, La Viola, or one of the many other BYOBs within a few blocks of the Sofitel?

    3. Down Home Diner in the Reading Terminal Market sounds like exactly what you're looking for.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cruz
      hominaray Jan 4, 2007 03:46 AM

      Thanks, I figured the cheese steak request was pretty played out. I'll check the boards. Thanks for the other recommendations.

    2. bluehensfan Jan 4, 2007 11:06 AM

      I'd pass on the Down Home Diner at the Reading Terminal Market and go to the Dutch Eating Place there (which is open Wednesdays through Saturdays). I have never had a good meal at the Down Home Diner but eat weekly at the Dutch Eating Place, which has great pancakes, scrapple and the like. My sentiment towards the Down Home Diner seems to be echoed by places like Citysearch and the like unfortunately. Sorry for the bad news, just don't want to give Philly a bad name! PS - The Sofitel is great...ask for a room overlooking Liberty Place for the best view.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bluehensfan
        hominaray Jan 4, 2007 12:18 PM


        1. re: bluehensfan
          Kater Jan 4, 2007 12:55 PM

          I've got to agree that the Down Home Diner is just awful. We used to go to Jack's Firehouse quite often and really liked it, but the Down Home Diner has disappointed us each time we've decided to give it another shot. But the Dutch Eating Place is always good.

          1. re: bluehensfan
            nc213 Jan 4, 2007 08:44 PM

            went to the Dutch Eating Place for the first time two weeks ago. Pancakes and home fries were awesome and I found myself longingly looking at someone else's grits.

          2. j
            JT007 Jan 4, 2007 12:48 PM

            For dinner, I would see if you can get a reservation at Pumpkin or Matyson, two great BYO restaurants within walking distance. If not, you could always try Melograno or Caffe Casta Diva, two of Philly's better Italian byo's.

            Be sure to have a drink/light bite at Tria, which specializes in wine/beer/cheese, which is on the same block as the Sofitel.

            1. h
              hungry_san Jan 4, 2007 02:22 PM

              Don't leave Philly without going to Matyson.

              4 Replies
              1. re: hungry_san
                joluvscards Jan 4, 2007 02:41 PM

                If it is a weekend night, book now!

                1. re: joluvscards
                  hominaray Jan 4, 2007 05:27 PM

                  Booked! What's the deal with all of these BYOB restuarants? Do they just not give out a lot of liquor licenses in Philly? Not complaining, just curious.

                  1. re: hominaray
                    JugglerDave Jan 4, 2007 06:36 PM

                    There are a fixed number of liquor licenses across Pennsylvania, allocated according to population. They can be sold or transferred and they cost around $200-250K. So many restaurants can't or won't afford that cost plus insurance etc., or there just aren't any available at a given time. So a large number of BYOB is the result.

                    1. re: hominaray
                      joluvscards Jan 4, 2007 11:48 PM

                      I was referring to Matyson specifically. Like any fabulous restaurant, byo or not, they book up early, particularly on weekends.

                2. bluehensfan Jan 4, 2007 05:39 PM

                  Never been, but there's this Snackbar place not too far from the Soiftel that just opened a few months ago that seems to be a foodie haven. Weird combinations apparently but have never been there so can't comment. Or how about Amada http://www.amadarestaurant.com/ , Ansill http://www.ansillfoodandwine.com/ or Lolita ?

                  You may want to try a roast pork sandwich at DiNic's (if you're at the Reading Terminal Market http://www.readingterminalmarket.org while you're here (although assuming you're from NYC there is a Tony Luke's up there)...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bluehensfan
                    Buckethead Jan 4, 2007 07:23 PM

                    I've been to snackbar a couple times, it's good but not as good as Ansill.

                  2. f
                    FayeD Jan 4, 2007 08:43 PM

                    Suggest you try a Di Nic's Roast Pork with provolone, and roast peppers before trying the cheesesteak. Tony Luke's is good but not as good. In addition do not go to Rick's at the Reading Terminal for the cheesesteak. In terms of other Reading Terminal offerings, I personally have not been that impressed with the Dutch Eating place for breakfasts because the food seems "heavy" to me but it appears it has a loyal following. Definitely Matyson for dinner and be sure to bring wine with you. There is a decent state store on Chestnut around 19th which is not far from the restaurant. While I would not pass up dessert at Matyson, maybe you can stop by Capogiro (spelling may be off) around lunchtime for great gelato. Two locations in Center City.

                    1. h
                      hominaray Jan 4, 2007 08:46 PM

                      Thanks again.

                      Already reserved at Matyson. Geez, that place is hot, I don't think I've talked to anyone who didn't mention it. Then Reading Market.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hominaray
                        JT007 Jan 4, 2007 08:53 PM

                        I think if you want a unique Philly experience, a BYO is the way to go, especially if you are coming from NYC (judging from the places you referenced).

                        There are plenty of great full service restaurants, two of my favorites at the moment are Amada (tapas) and Striped Bass, (inventive seafood).

                        1. re: hominaray
                          joluvscards Jan 4, 2007 11:49 PM

                          Make sure to get the truffled french fries. They come as a side with the steak but we often get them as an app or side to share.

                        2. h
                          hominaray Jan 4, 2007 09:23 PM

                          What if I want to bring a little Jameson on the rocks, can I bring that? Or a beer? Also, what's the typical corkage at these places?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: hominaray
                            Buckethead Jan 4, 2007 09:31 PM

                            Corkage fees are rare. I've never been charged a corkage fee at any BYO in Philadelphia, and I've been to a lot of them. The only places I've even heard of corkage being charged are places that do have a liquor license, but still allow their patrons to bring their own if they want. Ansill does this, I think a few other wine-friendly places do as well. Beer is perfectly acceptable, the nicer places will keep it on ice for you in the kitchen. I don't see many people bringing harder stuff, but Lolita does advertise BYOT (Tequila, they sell pitchers of margarita mix), so there certainly isn't a law against it.

                            Oh, and while you shouldn't skip dessert at Matyson, you also *definitely* shouldn't skip a little extra dessert at Capogiro, the gelato place at 13th and Sansom.

                            1. re: Buckethead
                              hominaray Jan 4, 2007 09:49 PM

                              Thanks for the informative response.

                              1. re: hominaray
                                gina Jan 5, 2007 06:22 PM

                                I've taken beer and liquor to BYOs a number of times with no problem. For liquor, I just make sure to bring the smallest size my dining party would require, so I don't have to lug around an unfinished bottle afterwards.

                                1. re: gina
                                  JugglerDave Jan 5, 2007 06:36 PM

                                  At a now-closed BYO we once had a birthday dinner with about 10 people, and we made fresh caipiranhas at the table, with a tiny cutting board, fresh limes, muddler, and cachasa. Yes, we made a little mess but it was tons of fun.

                                  1. re: gina
                                    hominaray Jan 5, 2007 08:02 PM

                                    Looking forward to it. Can't help but feel a little weird walking in with a beer, a bottle of wine, and maybe two of those little airplane bottles of whiskey. :)

                                    1. re: hominaray
                                      gina Jan 6, 2007 12:27 AM

                                      Have a couple of airplane-sized bottles beforehand, and you won't care. ;)

                                      But seriously, no one else will care, or even notice. Have fun!

                            2. k
                              KOK Jan 5, 2007 06:41 PM

                              Not sure where the Sofitel is but since others were suggesting the RTM - Diner for breakfast, I'll suggest a kind of long walk (build up a healthy appetite) to Shank & Evelyn for breakfast. The sausage and peppers w/ potatoes can't be beat, and you can get a pretty darn good cheesesteak there too, even at breakfast.



                              1. h
                                hominaray Jan 8, 2007 09:52 PM

                                Thank you, Chowhounds.

                                Went to Matyson's for dinner and you guys couldn't have been more right. That place was tasty as all hell and the bill was all of $75 for two (so nice on the wallet to BYOB).

                                Slightly hungover, breakfast became Sofitel room service, but I have your recs for my next visit.

                                Thanks all.

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