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Jul 24, 2007 01:02 PM


After having had a bunch of lunches and dinners in the central city area of Philadelphia I can provide my report. Truly one of the most memorable meals in Philly, no better yet, the United States was dinner at Le Bec Fin. Before going, I thought that it would be one of those places which rests on its reputation but I could not be more incorrect. I ate probably the best mushroom ravioli I have ever been served. The flavors were outstanding. I dined at the bar with entertaining customers as well as the formidiable bartender who seemed to leave NO ONE unattended. Truly a remarkably delicious dinner. I took the advice of my fellow chowhound members and went to Tinto which was tons of fun. I wanted a hip, crowded, entertaining place with great food and Tinto was perfect. The Basque tapas were exceptional and the service, given the large crowd, was overwhelmingly good. Do they only hire attractive people to work there? Tinto should be called Bella Tinta. It seemed that not a soul was overweight or in bad shape. I like small places that are bustling with energy and that was the perfect place. We loved it. The wine list was surprisingly small and a tad bit disappointing for a place called "tinto" but nevertheless, I managed to drink down everything I ordered with alacrity. I cannot wait to try Amada.
I had lunch at Alma de Cuba which was perfectly nice. I hate having lunch at places that are dark and empty and both adjectives described the place. Seemed kind of sad and tired. My soup was good and spicy and the chicken curry pupusas were quite nice but nothing incredible. Absolutely palitable. I was not able to pull up online the last few suggestions for lunch so I was on my own one day and went to Barnes and Noble to peruse a Zagat guide for a place in the Rittenhouse sq. area. We were three people and we decided to go to Matyson for lunch. It was quite a cheery place with a nice crowd and lots of atmosphere. We all enjoyed our soups and salads but the lunch entree took so long to arrive at the table that my friend had to wolf down her food to make her appointment. The wait staff were very kind and told us next time to let them know if we needed to hurry. From the time in which we sat down, the lunch arrived about an hour and 15 minutes later. I thought that was a bit long but I was in no particular hurry so it did not bother me. Besides the slow kitchen, the servers were very nice.
I love diner food. Love the large menus, the counter service, and the large selection of fattening foods. I was thrilled to find one not very far (cannot remember the name) perhaps on 15th St? Loved my grilled cheese sandwich and chocolate milkshake. Nothing glamorous but fast, easy service and great hot lunch food. I would go back again today. Was so disappointed with Lacriox. I remember the first time I went there and I thought it was one of the greatest menus ever. This was two years ago. I found it overly stuffy, a bit contrived, and not very stunning in the taste department. Too bad. It was also overpoweringly expensive.
Now, I have to review all the other posts for next month when I return. How is Barclay Prime for lunch? Monks sounds good for a burger. Where do you all think I can eat the best cheeseburger in downtown Philly? Is there another place similar to Tinto in the downtown area as far as food and crowd is concerend? Should I try Amada?
Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I can honestly say that Philadelphia is a food lovers city. Next month I will be sure to go to teminal that you mentioned with the great turkey sandwiches. I despise processed meats so I will be thrilled to bite into a real roasted turkey sandwich. Many thanks to all of you for responding to my post. What a great city. I apologize for our undiplomatic mayor who made disparaging remarks about your fabulous town. It is a gem.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed your time here! Was the diner Little Pete's? That's a local favorite.

      I think one of best burgers in Center City is at Good Dog. Nodding Head's isn't bad either. People rave about Rouge also. Amada & Tinto are owned by the same chef, Tinto is the newer of the 2. Osteria is the hot place to be right's in a "developing" neighborhood (aka don't walk there at night), but considered the best new opening by most.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lawgirl3278

        Agree with Good Dog...the roquefort stuffed burger topped with caramelized onion is amazing; and I'm not one for foo-fooing simple classics like a burger, so I had low expectations.

        Other great burgers

        The South Philly Taproom (sadly undermentioned on this sight - a hidden gem)
        Monks - Trappist Burger
        Nodding Head

        Make sure you order a local craft brew with your burger.

        Great post by the way! Thanks for the report

        1. re: G Goo

          The turkey's pretty good at Bassett's but there are much better options to be had at Reading Terminal. Try the pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place or the Philly equivalent of a Camellia Grill burger, a roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe at DiNic's at the market. Then you will be in town more frequently!

      2. That was me who spoke of the turkey sandwich. My BIL shares my love for fresh turkey. We are snobs about it. Can't tell you how often I have asked 'is that real turkey or lunch meat turkey' from a server, and be met with a blank stare. Why don't people know the difference?
        I love the turkey rueben at Bassets on marble bread. Really could go for one right now.
        There are many great options at RTM. My suggestion would be to go there a few times for lunch so you can try several options Glad you had fun.

        1. Try Tria next time, a wine, beer and cheese cafe. Great atmosphere, great food and fun to select different little plates, cheeses, and beers or wines to mix and match. There's now one on each side of town: 12th and 18th. Thank you.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bride of the Juggler

            I was one who strongly recommended Le Bec Fin to you.
            Along the same vein I say that for an unbeatable hamburger you need go no farther than Barclay Prime. (you'll pay though!)

            1. re: Bride of the Juggler

              Couldn't agree more with the Tria recommendation. If you love wine, beer, and cheese it's the place to go. The last time my fiance and I were there we just left ourselves in the able hands of our server. We told him we wanted 5 different courses of cheese and he paired each one with an appropriate beer or wine. The pairings were fantatsti and they had no problem with us occupying our table for over 3 hours.

              As for burgers, I would have to go with the Good Dog, although Rouge's is great, too, and you can sit outside to people watch.

              1. re: Decker

                You could easily do both Tria and Good Dog in the same evening. Though Tria's cheeses are great, the rest of the menu is just OK. However, that makes it a perfect place for a pre-dinner drink and cheese course. Good Dog is only three blocks from there.

            2. Mikey-
              Craig Laban, the food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently did a report on burgers in our city, here's the link:
              You'll notice that the hounds are generally in agreement with Laban- which of course proves Laban correct, not the other way around!.
              It looks like you're doing a great job of eating- I would second the opinions of the Rouge burger and Osteria for a meal.
              Philly is known for the cheesesteak, but we are also very good at a few other "humble" sandwiches- the burger, as you requested, and the roast pork italian. There are many threads about the roast pork sandwiches, I would recommend Dinic's in the Reading Terminal Market. It's slow roasted pork butt, served with sharp provolone and some variation of garlicky greens and/or roasted hot peppers.
              Enjoy, and thanks for posting back.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JCap

                What great responses. I have taken down many notes and when I get to Philly again in two weeks, I will try as many as possiblel. I can't see how anything can beat Le Bec Fin, but I am willing to "make concessions". What a sacrifice, right?
                Great suggestions for the burgers, pork sandwiches, and REAL turkey. Thanks to you all for your replies. I think I will pay visits to Osteria and Tria as a start.