University City Area?
I am a Baltimore hound in Philly for the next several weeks (M-Th) staying at 36th & Chestnut. Is there anything in walking distance (10 minutes on foot) worthy of a visit? I have numerous recs from this board on places that are a cab ride away and look fantastic. On the nights where I’m tired and just want a good bite and enjoy a short walk, what do you recommend? I tried Bubble House but I had a terrible experience and will not be returning.
I love Philly so far! Can’t wait to get out and explore, especially the food…. Thanks for any advice.
I had a fantastic dinner at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill in University City. They have a choice of three restaurants on site, and we ate in the European Courtyard. The atmosphere is great - it really does evoke a courtyard complete with cobblestone floors, fountains, and the facades of "buildings". Very cute. Prices are extremely reasonable too. I recall it was around $25pp for a three course fixed price dinner. Great selection to choose from and I recall the dessert course to be utterly amazing. There is also an Italian Trattoria, and I think their fixed price menu is only $13pp. If you are here for several weeks, this might be a good option.
I'm not that familiar with the lay of the land in that area. I think it is very close to where you are staying, but you might want to check out their website to get the exact location.
Some of my usual suspects:
Lemongrass Thai (on Lancaster). Some prefer the Thai place at 40th and Chestnut.
New Delhi Indian Buffet (40th and Chestnut). Zocalo upscale mexican on Lancaster.
Mokas Greek restaurant on Lancaster, though I haven't been in a while
Great lunch trucks like the Mexican truck at 38th and Sansom, Mexicali tex-mex burrittos at 36th and Sansom (I love the sweet potato one), Magic Carpet vegetarian at 34th and Walnut.
For fun shopping, visit the Indian/Pakistani grocery store at 42nd and Walnut.
The Restaurant school at 42nd and Walnut also has a nice bakery. Thank you.
One of our favorite BYOB's is Nan, a French/Asian fusion place at 40th and Chestnut. Don't miss the cold cucumber soup, if they have it - though all their soups are great.
We love many of their dishes. Their duck breast, which is always a special, is one of the best versions around. Their chef is terrific with puff pastry, so anything with that is a treat; his dessert of that pastry with apples and caramel sauce is delicious.
Their pad thai is excellent. In fact, we like everything there.
They are open for lunch, too. I think they are closed on Sundays.
You may want to avoid walking alone around Penn after 4:30pm because of the recent muggings/assaults by neighborhood kids. (Most of the incidents occurred on Locust, a block and a half south of Chestnut.) There are usually plenty of people around campus though, so I still feel pretty safe when I have to be there late.
Personally, I haven't found the dinner options in University City to be worthwhile on my limited budget. I do like the bar menu at La Terrasse on Sansom near 34th, and the buffet at Sitar is passable. Gyros from the Greek Lady (40th between Locust and Walnut) are pretty good.
4:30 pm? I would feel safe walking around alone here until it gets dark. And even then, there are Penn Police walking around all the time. When school starts (assuming your "few weeks" goes through then) basically any hour of the day/night is fine on campus.
But anyway, my favorite place around here is Marigold Kitchen on 45th and Lancaster (I think). It's a little BYO with fantastic food and a reasonable price. I didn't like Pod at all, seems like typical asian-fusion food for a high price. I'd recommend Nan on 40th and Chestnut, also. Don't order pad thai there, try something different.
If you'll read the article whose link I posted, you'll see why I said 4:30pm...nothing to do with my personal feelings of safety:
"The bands of adolescents have struck mostly between 4:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. in the 3700 block of Locust Walk and the 4000 and 4200 blocks of Locust Street, according to a campus security alert."
And, I did say that I feel safe late at night there anyway, but I know my way around. I think out-of-towners would want to be more careful, but that's up to them.
if you want to venture a little further west there is some more interesting stuff, like Ethiopian (Dahlak, 47th and Baltimore), Satellite Cafe (great sandwiches/wraps, cool scene, 50th/Baltimore), Marigold is a more upscale choice in that part of town and also great. The Indian grocery that people mention above has nice samosas behind the counter for a little snac as you're walking around too.