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New Yorker coming to Philly-- need recommendations

My girlfriend and I will be spending Labor Day weekend in Philly. We're staying at a b&b in the Rittenhouse area, but are looking to do some exploring. I've been to Philly a bunch, my mom grew up there, so I know the city fairly well. But I've never done much food exploring there, other than looking for cheesesteaks and hot pretzels. So, what should a foodie do with three days in Philly? Thanks for your help.

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  1. You'd have to hit Reading Terminal Market http://www.readingterminalmarket.org on preferably Saturday (they are closed on Labor Day and you'd miss the Amish merchants on Sunday). Best bets at the market are Dinic's for roast pork sandwiches, the Dutch Eating place for pancakes, Termini's for cannoli, and a soft pretzel from Fisher's. It puts the Chelsea Market to shame!

    Also you may want to go to the Italian Market for a day.

    Tinto is a new restaurant near Rittenhouse that is worth checking out as is the DiBruno's location on Chestnut St. for cheeses and provisions also close to where you are staying.

    1. I went to Philly from NYC a few weeks ago and had an incredible dinner at a Spanish restaurant called Amada. (amadarestaurant.com). Get the Matador cocktail and the insalada de jamon, among many other tapas.

      1 Reply
      1. re: saltysnack

        I'd go to Tinto instead, Amada chef Jose Garces' newer place. It's closer to Rittenhouse, and I like the food better there than at Amada.

        If you have three dinners in Philly, I'd make them Ansill, Osteria, and Tinto. Hit the RTM for lunch.

      2. Try to take advantage of the huge BYOB scene right now in Philly. Among the best are Matyson, Mercato, Ava, and Mandoline. I'm sure there are others on the boards that can suggest more, these just happen to be my favorites. Go to www.pawineandspirits.com and use their store locator to find a place to grab a bottle or two before dinner. These BYOBs have great food and you can certainly save some money by bringing your own booze.

        1. Where to begin? Near Rittenhouse Square is Matyson, one of the best BYOB's in the city; make a reservation in advance. Within a block or 2 of Rittenhouse Square are Brasserie Perrier, Le Bar Lyonnaise (downstairs at Le Bec Fin), Branzino, and Caffe Casta Diva, to name a few. Check the thread about dinner with a very attractive woman--lots of good suggestions there--and comb the other threads for some good ideas.

          1. I agree with the BYOBs. I like Django and Dimitris. Mercato is ok. Depends what kind of food you are in the mood for. If you can't do one of those though try Plough and the Stars or Restaurant Panorama and there is always The Continental.
            If you want Brunch go to Sabrinas, right by the Italian Market but get there early or call ahead/make a reservation!

            4 Replies
            1. re: littlecmad

              I enjoy having drinks at Plough and the Stars, and Ristorante Panorama (great wine flights), but I don't think the food at either can compare to many of the other places mentioned. I wouldn't say they're bad, exactly, but much better can be had, especially if the OP is only here for a weekend.

              I'll second Ansill (one of my favorites), Mandoline, and Le Bar Lyonnaise. Though I've only had apps at Brasserie Perrier, they were quite fine.

              1. re: gina

                For Italian I recommend Branzino and Casta Diva -- both BYOB's

                1. re: idia

                  2nd both of these. The 2 best Italian restaurants in Rittenhouse Square.

                2. re: gina

                  Brasserie Perrier isn't anything like any brasserie I think of, but the food is very good, and the wine list isn't half bad. The place, however, seems to be perpetually crowded, and if that's not the OP's cup 'o tea, that might not be the place to go. Moreover, while the food may be very good, it isn't anything so special that one can't get similar in a good NYC restaurant.

              2. Thanks for all of these suggestions-- really helpful. Tinto and Ansill both look like definites, and Le Bar Lyonnaise looks great. How stuffy is Le Bar Lyonnaise? Do I need a tie? Hard to tell from the website. Thanks again.

                2 Replies
                1. re: williej33

                  You don't need a tie for Le Bar. I've gone in there with capri pants, and my husband has gone there wearing jeans and a button down. It is really not stuffy.

                  1. re: williej33

                    Le Bar Lyonnaise is not stuffy at all. The staff is very friendly, and the general ambiance is cozy and laid-back. The majority of guests tend to wear business/smart casual. By the way, Le Bar Lyonnaise is closed on Sundays, and I believe it will be closed on Labor Day. Le Bar is a great choice!

                  2. Also, you can get morning coffee at La Colombe. In some poll it was rated the country's best coffee, and I think I remember reading that when Alain Ducasse first came to NY, he chose their coffee to serve in his restaurant.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JCap

                      i am hopelessly addicted to la colombe coffee. jcap is right-get yourself a cup.

                    2. If you're looking for a casual, yet extraordinary, breakfast, try Sabrina's Cafe in South Philly. I can still taste the delicious pumpkin pancakes I had the last time I was there! Be sure to call ahead before you leave though, there can be a long wait for brunch on the weekends! http://www.sabrinascafe.com/

                      1. Thanks again for all these recommendations. We already have dinner reservations for Ansill and Tinto, and are planning to hit a couple of these other spots for lunch (and maybe brunch at Sabrina's). I only wish we had more time...

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: williej33

                          Sabrina's has opened at a second location, 18th & Callowhill, which is closer to Rittenhouse Square than the South Philly location is. Same menu and probably shorter (if any) lines. Maybe you can make it there!

                          1. re: kagoo

                            Is that in the old Jazz club, across from Rose Tatoo? I've never been to Sabrinas, but everyone on here seems to like it a lot.

                            1. re: mschow

                              as a fellow new yorker that goes to philly 3-4x a year purely to eat, i need to stress how wonderful the reading terminal market is.

                              the dutch eating place for their homemade blueberry pancakes are the definition of comfort food. there's always a bit of a line for a seat, but the line moves quickly, never waited more than 5 mins. there's also discounted parking across the street for $3 if you get your ticket stamped after a purchase in the market. dinic's - their roasted pork, provolone and greens sandwich should be ranked as THE philly sandwich, right next to cheesesteaks. it really is THAT good. also love the chocolate at mueller's, old city coffee when i can't get to la colombe, and fisher pretzels.

                              i love naked chocolate cafe - they have the most delicious drinking chocolate. it beats anything from serendipity, chocolate bar, jacques torres, etc here in the city. they are open until 11pm on the weekends, take advantage.

                              lastly, fork was also a good place for a morning bite or a dinner. there's a more casual place in the front and a sit-down place in the back, but the food was fresh and great.

                              1. re: Linda

                                excellent plug on the rtm, it is heaven on earth. on my way home from high school i used to find a reason to stop in there for some random snack or another and it has always been one of my favorite places to show out of towners.

                                i do not however (to refer to above posts) recommend sabrina's. they can serve a good meal, but the overwhelming majority of times i've been there have been very very mediocre. i prefer the morning glory (partly because ages ago it used to be an excellent cheesesteak joint called ragazino's that i used to swoon for everytime i walked to the bank with my mom) and a few places in port richmond/fishtown, but those parts of town are a bit farther away. morning glory is a little bit hippier and maybe not for everyone, i'm just giving my two cents. :) if you do go to sabrina's, make sure that you get the polenta fries.

                                for dinner, ansill is delicious, but small plate places are way more fun with more than two people. but on the flip side, it is close to the pink rose cafe and you can get lovely coffee and a pastry after your meal to round off the evening.

                              2. re: mschow

                                Mschow, it's at 1802 Chancellor -- at the beginning of that block where the old jazz club is. We'd never been to the old Sabrina's; liked this one a lot. We had dinner -- really good food, enormous amounts (too much for us to finish, in fact), friendly, casual.

                                1. re: kagoo

                                  I think its Callowhill, not Chancellor.

                                  1. re: Kramer

                                    Whoops! You are so right, Kramer -- 1802 Callowhill. Thanks.