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Moving to Philly. Favorite value-conscious places

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Hi All,

I am moving to Philly (Rittenhouse area) in a couple of weeks from Seattle. Lived in NYC, Boston before and have been to Vancouver numerous times so have had accessed to pretty good food. Hear that Philly is also a foodie's city.

What are your favorite places for typical lunch and dinner for under $20 per person (no wine)? Looking for places that use local produce or ingedients. Ethnic food is great too. Maybe places that are not so well-known but that you frequent a lot.

Thanks a lot!

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  1. Lakeside deli in Chinatown is good. There are a lot of choices in Chinatown under $20.

    1. Local produce is not an option right now. I never understand why that matters, but anyway - go to either Rouge or Barclay Prime for the cheeseburger. You won't believe your mouth.

      8 Replies
      1. re: zsqw

        It's pretty simple to understand. Local produce = fresher produce. Less carbon footprint. Stronger local economy. Stronger community. Transparent farming practices. In other words, if you know where your food is coming from there is a better chance the farms will do the things you are looking for, like not using chemical fertilizers.........I could go on. Simply put, local farms are better than Wal-Marts and strip malls IMO.

        Another choice in Chinatown is Vietnam Restaurant. Fun, cheap and delicious. And the Reading Terminal Market. Local farm stands, amish specialties, Philly delicacies. A great place. Similar to the Pike Place Market, I think. Less fresh seafood probably.

        1. re: G Goo

          I'll grant you that it might be fresher generally. As for the economy and community, I don't believe it. I could say it strengthens international community bonds and exchange between peoples of different cultures to trade over longer distances. If I know how my food is grown harvested and transported, it doesn't matter if that happens in Mexico, Ohio, or Paoli. I just care about quality, flavor and cost. God, how much it would suck if I had to eat only locally grown food.

          He should definitely go to the Terminal Market! And if at Vietnam, order anything with the peanut sauce.

          1. re: zsqw

            Well you don't believe the whole community/economy arguement but it makes all too much inherent sense to me. And, I would argue that international community bonds are a lot less important than what happens in your own community. It's fine and dandy to have those cultural exchanges, etc. but at the expense of the ones you have right here in your own community? Makes little sense to me. There are plenty of cultures represented right here in Philadelphia anyway. And how can you know for sure how your food is harvested and transported if you can't see it with your own eyes? You can't. I say, go to the farm/farmstand/farmer's market yourself, meet the people who grow your food, meet people who live in your own community....make real connections. Keep the cash in the community. Why have a Californian/Mexican/South American grow a summer tomato for you when you can have your neighbor do it?

            'Nuff said. at least we can agree on Chinatown and the Reading Terminal Market.

        2. re: zsqw

          Rouge and Barclay prime may be a place to see, but they are no inexpensive.

          1. re: saturninus

            I was referring to the burgers specifically - coming in at under his $20 limit. He definitely shouldn't think he can walk in there for bargains generally, but the burgers at both are awesome, and can be had for under $20. Sorry for any confusion.

          2. re: zsqw

            Local produce is *something* of an option right now.

            The only restaurant I know of that serves local is Alba in Malvern - and that's not affordable OR in Philadelphia (helpful, I know). They are organic, though. And GOOD.

            The Rose Tattoo in Philadelphia, 19th and Callowhill, is owned & run by the parents of the chef/owner at Alba, so they may have similar emphasis on eating local. Checking their website.... aha:

            "The Rose Tattoo Café changes lunch and dinner specials weekly at the chef's discretion based on the seasons and local, fresh products. Because our goal is to support local farms as much as possible, 70 percent of our produce is locally grown and cheese, poultry, and meats are purchased within the area. Menus change seasonally."

            Seasonal produce around here would be: brassicas like kale, brussels sprouts, cabbages; various kinds of squash; root veggies, dried beans, any type of nightshade weed... A lot of people consider more meat, eggs, and dairy in the winter months to be a way of continuing to eat locally.

            I'd check into the White Dog Cafe, though by all accounts they're slipping, and they're not much on the affordable. Although living in NYC & Boston may have softened you (the OP) up in that department!

            http://www.rosetattoocafe.com
            http://www.restaurantalba.com/

            helpful on local food: http://www.thefoodtrust.org/php/progr...

            I also suggest looking up the Philadelphia Foodshed and the 100 Mile Diet, but I'm off to the Maple Sugaring Fest at the Audobon Nature Preserve in... Audobon (just off 422).

            1. re: Mawrter

              Aha!

              http://phillyfoodshed.blogspot.com, which suggests:

              Coleman Restaurant
              FARMiCiA
              Horizons (VE)
              Kimberton Hills Café
              The Kind Cafe (VE)
              Restaurant Alba
              Rx
              White Dog Cafe

              And

              http://100milediet.org

              1. re: Mawrter

                Django - under the preivous owners, always served "local" food.. I'm not sure that this persists with the new ownership...but I would be surprised if it they didn't keep it up.

          3. I agree with the Reading Terminal Maket. Probably Capogiro too since it's local.

            1. A short walk from the Rittenhouse Square area, there are some interesting things on South Street west of Broad, including My Thai (good, cheap Thai), L2 (american/comfort food), Phoebe's BBQ, Ron's Ribs, Ants Pants for brunch, and Apamate spanish cafe (great churros and hot chocolate). Another good local cheap place is Tampopo for Korean/Japanese takeout. Thank you.

              1. Thanks for the replies. I would certainly try the Reading Terminal. Also woudn't mind going to further places by SEPTA so let me know of other interesting eats further away.

                Here's a list of other places I have compiled (other than the fine suggestons here) Taqueria Veracruzana, Kibitz, Royal Tavern, Cafe De Laos, McGillin's Old Ale House

                1. Cedars, off South Street, for excellent Middle Eastern. Almost as good is Sahara Grill, in Center City. There's also Alyan's, on S. 4th St.

                  1. We just came back from another wonderful dinner at Lakeside Deli in Chinatown. Go early - they close at 8pm.
                    Four of us ate up a storm for a total check of $31.00. And the food was delicious. Don't miss the dumplings, especially the beef and peanut ones. And the stuffed eggplant. And, and, and . . . .
                    We recently discovered Divan, at 22nd and Carpenter. Very good Turkish restaurant and not expensive.

                    1. Very low brow but loads of fun, with good honest food and a colorful cbew of regulars is the Cherry Street Tavern in Center City. It used to be some kind of lodge or VFW hall. On Sundays during Football season there's a crock pot of kielbasa and kraut during half time.
                      I actually ordered and adored an "appetizer" of sharp cheddar, pepperoni slices and crackers with horseradish sauce, served on a paper plate.

                      Occasionally there are specials on local draft beers like Yards, which makes a terrific IPA.

                      Not a place to go to for local and organically grown fiddlehead ferns and wagyu steaks, but an honest bar with a decent burger.

                      1. Sazon is right up your alley. Excellent Venezuelan, entrees are in the $13-18 range. They also have great sandwiches and arepas. 10th and Spring Garden.
                        I second Lakeside deli.

                        1. I had lunch at Divan today. I thought it was good, but you can easily go over $20. For a cheaper alternative, try South St Souvlaki, with is very casual. I ate there for the first time last Saturday, and it was awesome. An $11 appetizer combo, served with 2 rounds of pita, probably could have been enough food for 2 or 3 people for lunch. Gyro platter (also $11, I think) and gigantic gyro (sandwich) for $5 were also great bargains.

                          1. Don't miss lunch at Rangoon in Chinatown ... You can get specials for < $7.00 that will knock your socks off.