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Need recommendations: Bay Area Hound coming to Philly Area

Hello all,

I will be in town for training next week and was hoping some fellow Chowhounds could give me some recommendations for dinner. I'm trying to plan for 3 nights. I would like to avoid chain restaurants if at all possible. My class will be out in the 'burbs in King of Prussia, but I'm willing to drive for food as I will have a rental car. Any favorite places and/or must try dishes? Thanks in advance for your advice.

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  1. First off, get out of King of Prussia (others may not agree). Since you will have a car, I believe you can do better elsewhere, especially since you --wisely--want to avoid chains. My suggestion would be to get on I-76 South and drive to center city. This should take about 45 minutes, depending on traffic. Once there, you will find a plethora of good restaurants. Please email with more specific wishes. If you don't want to drive that far (but I really think you should, at least for one night), there are decent places in Conshohocken and on the main line -- at least better than King of Prussia. Being from the Bay Area, I'm guessing you're used to good food. Really, go to center city

    3 Replies
    1. re: JanR

      Meant to say please post with more specific wishes.

      1. re: JanR

        so does that mean there's nothing in king of prussia...i'm gonna be going over there for training for a week :(

        1. re: snowy

          IN KofP proper, not too much beyond chain places, but there are a few good Indian restuarants nearby. And I believe I read recently of a good but hard-to-find Chinese restaurant somewhere on the outskirts of the mall.

          Norristown (5 miles) gives you a few good Mexican tacquerias.

          The "main line" (5-10 miles) gives you a bunch of restaurants in the Radnor/Wayne/Berwyn corridor. If you look at a map, Lancaster Ave / rt. 30 is the main line, with small downtowns all along the train route there.

      2. some general notes on the area, in case you're not familiar with it at all:
        -There are some decent local breweries around here. If you're a beer person, they're worth trying. Yards (esp. their ales, but not their porter) and Flying Fish are my favorites, others might suggest different brews.
        -Wine is all controlled by the pennsylvania liquor board. Big limiter.
        -"local specialties" tend towards the lower end of the gastronomic spectrum - cheese steaks, roast pork sandwiches. They can be really good, but don't improve when you pay the big bucks for them.
        -Many of the best restaurants are BYOB.
        -Driving from KoP to center city can be easy or major pain in the *ss. Check the traffic first (1060am has it every 10 minutes).

        For restaurants to go to I agree that it's hard w/out some notions of your preferences.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bob Loblaw

          -----------------------------------------
          -"local specialties" tend towards the lower end of the gastronomic spectrum - cheese steaks, roast pork sandwiches.
          -----------------------------------------

          One man's cheesesteak is another man's prime rib.

          1. re: Philly Ray

            oh, i agree. mine was more of a 'where you should look' kind of suggestion.

        2. You will probably need to look beyond KoP, but I don't think you need to drive all the way to center city to get some good food. Nectar is less than 5 miles from KoP in Berwyn, it's very good. Alison at Blue Bell is about 10 miles away, also great. If you like Indian food, there are several good places within 10 miles of KoP.

          1. Thanks for the tips so far. From what I heard KoP is strip mall/suburbia city which is not what I'm looking for. City Center it is. Is parking managable there? I drive in SF so I have some patience.

            So I was thinking about trying Morimoto of Iron Chef fame. Any thoughts? It's quite a bit more than my per diem, but if it's worth it, I'd pay out of pocket. I'm looking for a place that's semi nice...say mid-range in the restaurant spectrum. As for food types I'm pretty open, but I'm thinking New American, Italian, Euro bistro like. I like Asian food, but it's hard to beat the selection I have in the Bay Area. I definately want to try a Cheese Steak...any good place for that? I've heard one way to order is with Cheese Whiz. Wiz whip? Any thoughts on that? I'm thinking I'd rather have 'real' cheese on mine, but I'd rather do as the locals.

            11 Replies
            1. re: mandyf

              Consider Buddakan, Amada, & Osteria. if you can make Sunday brunch, Lacroix is really spectacular. Morimoto is very good, also.

              1. re: DaisyM

                I'll be there Tues-Friday (afternoon). Will mid-week dining without reservations be an issue at these places?

              2. re: mandyf

                FYI, Chef Morimoto is rarely actually at his Philadelphia restaurant.

                As Bob Loblaw said, check the traffic before you set out for dinner in the city. It can take an 45-60 minutes each way to and from CC to KoP if traffic is bad. I don't think you want to spend six hours driving back and forth to dinner each night.

                1. re: mandyf

                  I will second the person who recommended Allison (I hadn't realized it's so close to KOP). You can byob there for a small corkage fee (most BYOBs in Philly do not charge corkage but Allison just got her liquor license so this is generous). Order fish there. It is very good. Allison was the original chef at Striped Bass (under Neil Stein, not Starr). For center city, I think you might enjoy a byob since you probably don't have them in the Bay Area. There are several good ones: Matyson, Pumpkin, Melograno, Mercato (last two no reservations but should be much easier to get in during the week).

                  1. re: JanR

                    Melograno takes reservations Tues, Wed, & Thurs - but might be closed for their annual summer vacation till after labor day.

                    1. re: JanR

                      Alison at Bluebell seems perfect for one of my dinners! I suspect traffic will be bad all nights I"m there since the Phillies are about to have a 10-game homestand.

                      1. re: JanR

                        Alison has her liquor license? I am going next week and need to know! Thanks

                      2. re: mandyf

                        Tinto and Amada specialize in spanish tapas and are both amazing. Matyson is an excelent new american downtown, BYOB I think. Lots of good restaurantsto choose from. All have web sites so you can check out the menus. Philadelphia has good asian restaurants, but you are from San Francisco, so...

                        As far as the cheesesteak, I'd rate it right up there with the need to have rice-a-roni in San Francisco - don't waste a meal on it. If you must try, there all equally bad.

                        1. re: mandyf

                          Since everyone seems to be ignoring the cheesesteak question (except someone who apparentlky doesn't like them at all), I'll offer some thoughts there. Do not go to Pat's or Genos (the "famous" spots) They are, IMHO, bad. Try Tony Lukes, Sonny's in Old City or any of the other spots recommended on the various cheesesteak threads on this board. Geno's and Pat's, I think, are the places most people order whiz. While it may be available at other spots, people tend toward Provolone or american, so either way you are "local". That said, what many CH locals will tell you with regard to our sandwich preferences, we have a long tradition of Roast Pork sandwiches here in Phila. Roast pork, lots of "juice", sharp provolone, broccoli rabe or spinach, and long hots (peppers) - I may need to leave my office now, claiming an emergency, they are that good. They are most often eaten from Tony Luke's or DiNics - unfortunately DiNics is in the Reading Terminal Market and thus only a lunch option. Not sure about Roast Pork in the burbs. Enjoy!

                          1. re: Bigley9

                            Thanks for offering up some suggestions for the Philly Cheesesteak. I can be a food snob sometimes, I fill like I owe it to myself to at least try one when I'm there.

                          2. re: mandyf

                            Philly definitely has a lot of great restaurants, but I would also encourage you to go west and try Majolica (if you can get a reservation) in Phoenixville or restaurants in Malvern and West Chester. From KofP, either of those areas are just as close as Philly and don't require driving on the Schuylkill expressway, which at any time of day or night CAN be a problem (but isn't always). In Malvern, we recently ate at Cosimo, which is a wine bar/restaurant and very good. In West Chester, we like Avalon and I've heard that Marshallton Inn and Gillmore's are very good. Also High Street Cafe is supposed to be good for cajun/creole food.

                            Coming from Calif you may not be too aware of the whole BYO culture in PA, but if you decide to do that (which I recommend), you need to find a good specialty wine & spirits store. They are scattered about the State, and I don't know what is in KofP. If you go into a non-specialty wine store in PA, the selections will be very limited, but the specialty stores are usually much much better.

                            Have fun!

                          3. If you like desserts, real frozen custard and candy are only 10 minutes from KofP at Zwahlen's. They only have vanilla, chocolate, and 'flavor of the day' (see the calendar on their web site). But really good homemade stuff, and their homemade hot fudge (regular or dark) also excellent. And 10-15 different kinds of candy apples, and chocolate, and more good sugary stuff.

                            http://www.zwahlens.com/

                            quickie directions: Rt 422W for about 2 miles to Trooper Road exit, continue about 1.5 miles to left on Shannondell across from "Blvd of the Generals" (strip-mall-shopping-land), it's a smallish house/hut on the right that looks a bit like a fast food building.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JugglerDave

                              This frozen custard tip sounds like the perfect dessert for me! I can hit it up on the way back from the city center.

                              1. re: mandyf

                                I frequent Zwahlens, my favorite ice cream- so yummy! (it's next to a McD's as a landmark). Get it on top of a waffle for an extra special treat!

                                However, if you have a mood for great water ice (or ice cream) another local place in King of Prussia is Petrucci's - Norview Farm. It's at 670 Henderson Road which is off 202.