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DC Hounds Coming to Philadelphia in March

Hey Hounds,

We will be coming to Philadelphia in March for King Tut and the flower show. Looking for a nice place for dinner the night of the 10th. We will be staying at the Hilton Inn at Penn. we will have a car. Looking for something moderately priced(15-25 per entree). Italian and seafood are always hits but is there something uniquely Philadelphia? For example, here in DC we have Ethiopian cuisine. Also, is there any breakfast/bakery or sweet shop not to be missed? Thanks so much!!

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  1. I am a big fan of Caffe Casta Diva for Italian in CC. You can do 20-25 entrees.

    South Philadelphia might be fun for some Italian. L'Angola or Tre Scalini perhaps?

    1. Mussels, burgers, frites and Belgian brews at Monk's Cafe.


      And before or after the flower show wander across the street to Reading Terminal Market. Not to be missed!

      2 Replies
      1. re: G Goo

        Good luck getting a table there on a Saturday night..

        1. re: Buckethead

          You can get a table at Monk's on a Saturday night.........you just have to be willing to wait. Take the time to study the beer list; be adventurous and try some exotic brews. It will certainly be crowded so if you're not willing to wait with lots of other people, stay away. While waiting I invairably find myself in intersting conversations.....the last time I met a group of funeral directors from far eastern Montana attending the national funeral director's convention. Fun group enjoying great brews while waiting for a table.....

      2. Italian pastries at one of the shops like Terminis.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Main Line Tracey

          I second the pastries at Termini's which is at Reading Terminal Market. Also, if you like pancakes at Market Lunch, try the ones at the Dutch Eating Place at Reading Termnial Market while you are there. They also have great scrapple that I think is not native to DC. The market itself is very Philly http://www.readingterminalmarket.org and they have great roast pork sandwiches at DiNic's (also not exactly native to DC). While tapas at Amada in Old City are good, you have Jaleo which is better in my opinion, so I'd try one of the BYO's. By the way if you're adventurous, you can get a trolley from Penn (via SEPTA) to the Convention Center.

        2. I would second takign public transportation to and from the Convention Center. The traffic around the flower show is insane. Take the troller from 36th and Chestnut, the subway from 34th and Market, or the 21 bus from anywhere on Chestnut St.
          There are some fun food options in the area where you are staying. The White Dog is an upscale restaurant focussed on local and organic ingredients. Rx and Marigold are two BYOs that tourists don't normally get to that are very good and very philly. Thank you.

          1. Thank you so much, especially with the tips on the mass transit. We almost never drive in DC. The Reading Terminal sounds like just the right thing for breakfast or lunch. Can we leave the flower show and then get back in at some point? I have seen posts on Tre Scalini but Marigold and Rx souns really interesting.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rHairing

              I've worked next door to the terminal for quite a while. It's defininely not to be missed, but if I can give any advice- avoid going between 12 and 2pm. It's a MADHOUSE there during the flower show!! Off peak hours will allow you to enjoy it at it's best.

              1. re: jessicheese

                jessicheese is so right on. i go to the flower show every year but i never go to the reading terminal when it's going on. super busy on weekends usually, but nutso during the flower show. you have to go, the food is wonderful.

                there are some excellent ethiopian restaurants in west philly and some really good indian buffets and a couple of good thai joints.

              2. re: rHairing

                I hear good things about Marigold too but have never been. I have been to the White Dog and like what they stand for but find their cuisine to be a bit bland and underseasoned. When you take SEPTA, take the green line from 36th and Samson Sts. (In front of the Institute for Contemporary Art which is worth a quick visit) and take the trolley eastbound. The same applies for the subway (head east) if you catch it at 34th St. The subway is probabaly quicker and takes you to Market East (11th St) station which is a block from the Convention Center while the green line takes you to Juniper St. which is two blocks away. The green line can get crowded at times but is neat, kinda like a cheap Wild Toad ride from Disney World.

                The Reading Terminal Market is very chaotic during the Flower Show week (that even us regulars think twice about going but still do because the food is so good). If you go early for breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place when the market opens at 8 you will be fine. I'd pass on the Down Home diner in the market, though, as we found the food horrible there. If worse comes to worse you could just run in the entrance to the market across from the convention center and grab a warm freshly baked cinnamon bun from Bleiler's. BTW, Bleiler's and the Dutch Eating Place are only open from Wednesdays to Saturdays because they are Amish merchants.

                As far as leaving and re-entering the Flower Show, you may be able to get your hand stamped for re-entry later that day. They do that at the Auto Show so I suspect that is the case for the Flower Show. When you go make certain to start on the right of the floor where the major exhibits are if you get there early because they will get crowded in no time. Have fun!

              3. at the terminal market be sure to grab a chocolate chip cookie from the Famous 4th Street stand. Also, if you get a chance to hit Italian Market area, go to Isgro Pastries for a cannoli & other yummy stuff (better than Vaccaro's IMO).

                1. White Dog is slipping, as of late. The past two experiences I've had there have involved mediocre service (and I"m being generous) and just so-so food. I'd stay away.

                  Rx is a better option in West Philly--though it can get crowded, so watch out. However, it will be far less crowded than Monk's (unless you REALLY want to go there, I'd go elsewhere and avoid the wait). Good Dog has just as good of a burger (in my opinion) and, though crowded, will still be less crowded than Monk's.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cussbucket

                    cannot agree more about white dog. i've been 2 times in the last two years. menu is inventive, i love the idea of it, but the food is not worth the price. the first time, my food was plated TERRIBLY. some of us ordered the same things and portions were very different from plate to plate. the second time the rice in my dish was hard.

                    1. re: saturninus

                      White Dog- always a fav when I'm in that area of town- had a similiar so-so experience during the Antiques Show in Apr. 07 - the rudest bartender- (unreal huh?) who literally banged around doing his side work for 10 minutes- would not make eye contact with us (and he soooo knew we were there)- when I asked him for a martini drink menu (which they certainly did used to have--) he looked at me like I said 3 heads and did the "uh.., we don't do that kind of "girly" thing here"- but there are a few in this (slammed down a drink menu) that you might try is you don't like to drink..., for the record- the White Dog had the MOST amazing Chocolate Martini (all clear liquid--) that was served up with the teeniest sliver of choclate floating on top (he had no idea???) disappointing...,

                  2. How about [link:www.marigoldkitchenbyob.com/marigold_... Kitchen ] 45th Street and Larchwood Avenue, in University City (which is not that far from your hotel). (215) 222-3699.

                    It's BYOB, which is a little bit of a pain for the traveler, but will keep the price to a more reasonable level.

                    I had a dinner at a well-regarded French restaurant in San Francisco last year, and then had the same entree for dinner the very next night at Marigold. Marigold's version (haddock in pastry) was SO much better. I've had some really neat, really different dishes there - once had an appetizer that looked like two small fancy easter eggs -- avacado, wrapped around a tuna-salad-like concoction. Tasted even better than it looked.

                    1. Thank you so much! Keep the ideas coming! We are going to the King Tut on Saturday and the Flower Show on Sunday(I know, jam packed weekend) then driving back to dc sunday night. So I am thinking big breakfast early Sunday morning and then a very late lunch at the terminal before we head home. Hmm that still leaves Saturday lunch before King Tut. Anything near the Franklin Institute? Marigold's menu looks fabulous but a little pricey for my friend on somewhat of a budget. RX sounds good and I also see a place called POD?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rHairing

                        that's a stephen starr restaurant. not on the level of some of the restaurants listed above but trendy and popular esp with the college grad crowd.

                        1. re: rHairing

                          There's a restaurant (order at the counter type place) by your hotel called Cereality that is a cereal restaurant. All kinds of cereal (hot and cold) and a zillion toppings. If they open early enough, this might be a fun place for breakfast Sunday.

                        2. Pod's decent but closed at lunch on Saturday. Not much near FI is decent if you ask me unless you do brunch across the street at the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons. Just don't hit the Reading Terminal Market on Sunday. Some merchants (including DiNic's and all of the Amish ones) are closed that day and your dining choices will be narrowed considerably.

                          1. For Saturday night, there is a good place that is walking distance of your hotel. It is Nan, which is French/Thai fusion, and it is at 40th and Chestnut. The chef is very good, and the menu is varied. It is BYOB. Prices are moderate. We especially like the pad thai, the duck, the lamb, and anything in puff pastry.

                            I woud make a dinner reservation immediately for March 3rd. If you want to use the car, you could get to Tre Scalini, an excellent Italian BYOB. Or you could take the bus on east on Chestnut St. to 17th, then walk a few blocks and get to Branzino, another excellent BYOB. With any of these, you really need to reserve now.

                            If you go fairly late - 8 or after - it won't be as much of a problem for Branzino because places in town, have a large pre-theater crowd.

                            1. OK I have it narrowed down to Nan and Tre Scalini for the dinner. Pod looks along the same lines of a group of restaurants we have here in DC..Acadiana, DC Coast and co. In terms of Reading Market, Sunday is the only day we can get there so we will have to take our chances. Since there don't seem to be any lunch options near the FI, I am thinking hearty breakfast/brunch near our hotel. Any ideas? Our tickets to Tut are at noon. Also, can I ask why so many restaurants are BYOB? Thanks!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rHairing

                                because it is very very hard to get a liquor license in philly. dern quakers....they're still gumming up the works...:)

                              2. There are a number of places that have good brunches in town on Sunday but they are not all that close to FI or your hotel unless I am mistaken (which is possible!) There is Lacroix near Rittenhouse (but they start brunch at 11 which would not work), and also the Fountain Room at the Four Seasons which I hear has a good brunch a block from the Franklin Institute (but they start at 11 too...).

                                If you're in town on Saturday early enough, you could swing by Reading Terminal on the way to your hotel (they do have $2 parking for up to 2 hours at the garage across the street with a $10 purchase from the market) for a big breakfast before heading to your hotel. The reason being is that the market tends to "wind down" later in the day as many merchants serving food typically start closing at 2 or 3 PM or when they run out of food. Just don't want you to be disappointed.

                                BYO's are prevalent in Philly because of the limited number of liquor licenses that are offered.

                                1. Thanks for the explanation on the BYOBs. Makes sense. I was thinking about breakfast Saturday at the terminal before the Tut as someone had pointed out many of the places are closed on Sunday. Checking the website it looks like MANY of the places are closed but my concern was parking. Can I get that 2 dollar space the weekend of the philly flower show? It looks like it is a 10 block walk from the FI to the Reading Terminal. I don't mind parking at the FI, walking down and walking back(good way to burn off those pastries) but others in my group might.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: rHairing

                                    I wouldn't go near the Flower Show with a car that weekend - it will be impossible. Cabs are pretty reasonable in Philly and will take up to four people.
                                    There are also buses that go from near the Franklin Institute to close to the Convention Center. They can tell you which bus when you are in the F.I. But if you don't have more than four people, it's just as cheap to take a cab.
                                    Also ask about transportation at your hotel. Public transportation is pretty decent here, and much better than having a car in center city that weekend.

                                    1. re: rHairing

                                      FYI- BYO's are not like in DC though, in terms of crazy corkage fees (like $50 City Zen in DC!). most here do not have corkage fees, which makes it nice for the customers. You're able to spend your money on good food rather than drinks!

                                      1. re: pamd

                                        Wow, that is great to point out. I had NO idea DC places charged so much for corkaeg fees. The corkage fees I've seen in this area seem to hover mostly around $12, so I would fall over in shock if I saw a fee that high!

                                        I personally think at a BYOB you should tip the server as if you had been charged for a moderate wine.

                                      2. re: rHairing

                                        Breakfast Saturday at the market would be a better idea than Sunday, where the options are far fewer, and you can have pancakes and scrapple at the Dutch Eating Place and apple fritters and hot cinnamon buns from Bleiler's.

                                        Depending on what time you get to the parking lot at the market, you may be fine, especially if you get there around 8 AM. I asked the manager at the market and he reminded me that the parking is actually $3 but it still applies for the Flower Show weekend because the garages in Philly are prohibited from raising parking rates for particular events.

                                        The walk from FI to the market is a nice one along the parkway past Love Park, but of the weather is rainy it is not so hot.

                                        Buses do run from the area of the market to the Franklin Institute but it would be cheaper and faster taking a cab if there are more than two or three of you. If it were me, I'd go dirctly to your hotel, drop off the car, have them store your luggage and get a cab or the trolley to the Market and then either take a bus or a cab to the Franklin Institute.

                                        1. re: bluehensfan

                                          You can take the Philly PHLASH bus from the Terminal to FI. It takes a little while, but it's only a buck. You can also buy a day pass, but I don't remember how much that is. It stops at many touristy places in CC.

                                          1. re: lbmsw

                                            Phlash is not scheduled to start running this year until May 25, 2007, so you may want to pass on that option. I wish it were running now!

                                      3. pamd,

                                        I see you saw the thread from DC about the corkage fee. Boy, did that open up a can of worms!!! I think if I am smart, I will research the SEPTA and phillytrolley websites. Hopefully, the weather will hold and we can have a nice walk..which will burn off those apple fritters..yum! One more question..anything at the market that I absolutely have to buy and bring home to share with friends?

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rHairing

                                          actually I'm originally from that area, moved to Philly, so we're in Balt/DC all the time still with family. BYO is one thing I tell my friends about - how nice it is here! And no matter what people tell you- stick to the crabcakes at home! along with the Famous 4th Street choc chip cookies, try a Fisher's pretzel too! enjoy the trip!

                                          1. re: pamd

                                            Oh yeah...forgot the pretzel! Gotta have one from Fishers (preferably hot out of the oven!)

                                        2. Where exactly are you looking to go on SEPTA, because I can probably give you a heads up which routes to take?

                                          As far as stuff from the market to take home, the fritters and cinnamon buns from Beiler's bakery travel well. They also have great pastries (such as the nirvana, almond susse, and eclairs) and cannoli at Termini's at the other end of the market but most need to be refrigerated and would not stand the trip back to DC. Across from Termini's is Mueller's that has ver good chocolate confections that are easy to take home such as the peanut butter chocolate covered pretzels. Also very good are the cookies at Famous 4th St. around the corner from Mueller's and the brownies at the Flying Monkey Patisserie at the center of the market.

                                          If you're in the market for lunch, my recommendation would be DiNic's. I just ran into a blog that describes the pork sanwich there (with photos in excruciating detail): http://www.ultraclay.com/2007/02/phil...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bluehensfan

                                            I second the roast port italian sandwich from DiNic's. Simple and fantastically delicious. Beats a cheesesteak any day.

                                          2. I work a block away from the Terminal Market. Everyone's advice has been spot on, ESPECIALLY the warnings about the lack of parking. During the real estate boom, the city yahoos decided that all the parking garages should be condos instead so now we have half-empty condo complexes and no place to park. Public transit is your best bet. Nearly everything stops at 8th and Market so you'll be fine.

                                            If youre into cookbooks, BTW, there's a great cookbook stand in the Terminal Market that stocks books which highlight local fare. Great gift for another foodie or for yourself.

                                            1. I'll mention Cereality to my friends, but I personally hate cereal. Sorry! I know...possibly unAmerican.. but to this day, I eat peanut butter on toast for a quick breakfast which is what my Mom fed me as an alternative while my sisters munched on Capt'n Crunch.

                                              LOVE cookbooks. LOVE EM. At this point I am thinking the market at 8 on Saturday. Breakfast and browsing before we hit the FI at noon. Not sure how we are going to get DiNics in unless they would serve me the sandwich for breakfast..which i would gladly eat! So it sounds like we have several choices to get from the FI to the market if we choose not to walk. I'll look at the Phlash.

                                              I REALLY want to thank everyone. I sent an email out today outlining plans..my friends think i know Philadelphia like the back of my hand..little do they know! I will report back. If you find yourself coming to to DC, by all means, post...I am always lurking!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: rHairing

                                                Bus # 33 stops in front of FI. You can pick it up from Market Street between 11th and 12th - RTM is 1/2 block away on Filbert between 11th & 12th. Here's the link to the schedule. http://www.septa.com/service/sched/pd.... Base fare is $2.
                                                Early morning Sundays will be tough - there's Chinatown, which is right next to the Convention Center. If you must have roast pork sandwich before leaving Philly, you could try Tony Luke's shack right under I-95. Here's the address - 39 East Oregon Avenue. Ask DiNic's if they're open that Sunday - there are a few merchants who will open Sunday for large shows like the Flower Show. Several years ago, the Flower Show started stamping hands for same-day re-entry, so you ought to be able to get in and out on the same day (I've been to every show since 1992).

                                              2. There are at least two good bakeries in the RTM who would be able to furnish you with a good muffin, scone, or other baked item at that hour. Look around. Many offer samples. The Amish also do unique breakfast items. Enjoy.

                                                1. For Sunday breakfast: the Four Season brunch!

                                                  1. Did you say Ethiopian?

                                                    Is Dahlak still around? It is [or was] in University City, since you have a car. If it's still in business, it's worth a trip.

                                                    1. OK. so Phlash isn't running. Good to know. suetlim, thanks for the info. at least i know I can get back in! Hopefully, some vendors who usually close will open for the show.

                                                      As for saturday niight, my friends can't seem to make a choice so i am going to make the exec decision. that being said, it may already be too late for a reservation. so I may be back looking for walk in restaurants....stay tuned!

                                                      1. Hi Philly Chowhounds!

                                                        I thought I would report back. Once again, chowhounds do NOT disappoint! BTW, whoever ordered the good weather..THANKS! Because of it, we walked everywhere. We got to the museum just in time for our timed tickets. Those hot soft pretzel stands saved the day. So we had parked at the visitor's center and walked to the FI. We walked back and stopped at the Reading Terminal Market on the Saturday of the flower show. That pork sandwich from DaNics...yeah cheesesteak has nothing on the pork. Fabulous. Would have explored more but oh the crowd. We explored the university area that night. Love Locust walk. We ended up at Nan. We had no reservations(long story) but we were given a table. The food was wonderful. We started out with a cabbage salad that we both devoured. I had the salmon and my friend had the venison. They brought a side plate of rice with the salmon, which I would normally disregard. However, the sauce with the salmon was so wonderful, I used the rice to soak up that sauce. All in all a very good dinner. We walked back and ended up at the bar of the White Dog Cafe. We sampled the beers and well, I can say, I have now had spruce beer....an aquired taste...but oh the Belgian selections...
                                                        So thank you. We will be back. There were so many things we didn't get to but now we realize it can easily be a day trip.

                                                        PS walking to the FI, I smelled a pho joint in Chinatown that seemed worth investigating..

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: rHairing

                                                          Glad you had fun...the crown at the Reading Terminal Market was unberable around lunchtime Saturday...early AM was ok though. I wounder if you were referring to Pho75 which just opened on Friday. It was pretty good...the noodles there are not as good as at Nan Zhou but the meat and broth is much better.

                                                          1. re: rHairing

                                                            Yards Tavern Spruce Ale I'm sure.....a Philly original recipe from none other than Ben Franklin. I've heard that they actually use spruce boughs (sp?) in the brewing process. An aquired taste indeed (the first time I tried it I thought I wouldn't have another.....I've had many since). And spread the word about the roast pork italian. Then again, I'd like shorter lines at DiNic's and John's.......maybe you should keep it a secret.

                                                            I'm glad you had a good time! I love it when chowhounds report back. Thanks!

                                                          2. i am sure that we are all glad that you enjoyed our city! you can come whenever you want to eat yourself silly...:D