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Philadelphia Marathon recs - November

Hi there,

Visiting Philly November 16-19th (4 of us) and need some great food recs for pre and post marathon.

Specifically looking for:
Dinner - not necessarily pasta - rice/noodle recs will do (ie. Asian, Middle Eastern, Italian, Japanese) for 2 nights (Fri and Saturday)
Casual breakfast/cafe/bakery for Saturday and Monday
Lunch for 3 days - casual, fresh, not expensive.
Grocery Stores (I'm aware of the Whole Foods on Pennsylvania) Anything interesting relatively close to the hotel? Reading market maybe?

Also, local favorites OTHER than Cheesesteaks, I'll do a separate search for that.

Most importantly, post-race brunch on Sunday, hopefully around noon.

We are staying at the Comfort Inn downtown/historic, on N Chris. Columbus Boulevard.

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  1. A few places I'd recommend:

    Grocery: DiBruno Bros. - pricey gourmet, BUT, if you are a cheese lover you must visit (Rittenhouse Square area)

    Lunch/Dinner: Marathon (regardless of your activity, I would have picked it!) - there are a few around town; Typical continental menu - good salads, nice selection of fish/chicken/beef/pasta entrees - since it's the weekend you might need a reservation, but it's not hard to get in

    Dinner: Continental (one near the waterfront on 2nd, one near Rittenhouse Square). Large family style appetizers and main dishes. A little nouveau, but lots of different types of cuisine with a bit of an Asian leaning. Very good for groups. They also are known for their cocktails.

    Breakfast: Sabrina's - not a light meal, but a great brunch; awesome menu & at least 8 specials each weekend; great coffee; get there before 9:30am or risk a bit of a wait (near 9th and Catherine - can also walka round the open air Italian Market after, which is good for a few blocks)

    Other: Monk's is one of my all time favorite places, but it caters to a specific taste - if you like beer (they have over 200 kinds in house) and belgian style mussels (they do them 8 or 9 different ways) and frieds, Monk's is your place. They also have good burgers. (Rittenhouse Square area)

    RE Cheesesteaks: As you research, you'll probably hear a lot about the ongoing debate between Pat's and Gino's. They are virtually down the street from each other and everyone has their favorite, but you really can't go wrong eith either (though I personally favor Gino's and I don't even remember why!). The key is to remember how to order it: "wit whiz" (as in cheese whiz - it is not a true Philly cheesesteak unless you get it "wit whiz," provolone is for fancy food and cheesesteaks are not meant to be fancy or at all healthy or good for you!)

    Philly is a fantastic eating city and I hope you get a lot of good suggestions because whether you head down to Chinatown (around 7th/8th street - I'm not a huge Chinese fan, but I used to love Joe's Peking Duck if it's still around) or the waterfront or out to Rittenhouse, you will find good places.

    1. Chinatown might be a good place for you to check out. I would suggest Penang for something different (Malaysian), Lee How Fook for Chinese, SangKee if you like Peking Duck.

      The northern liberties offer a few options for brunch You could try Standard Tap, North Third, or Honey's Sit and Eat. It would be a taxi ride, but they are all close together, and you could choose one based on the crowd. Plus, if i just ran a marathon, i would certainly welcome a good cold beer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DanielleM

        You gotta visit Reading Terminal Market for a breakfast (pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place) or lunch (roast pork at DiNic's). They also have good produce and baked goods there as well.

        You also have a very good bakery in the 200 block of Arch St not too far from your hotel called Tartes that has very good coconut cream tarts and molasses cookies.

        I agree with the recs about DiBruno's for the cheese and Honey's Sit and Eat (which is a bit of a hike) from your hotel for very good challah french toast. There can be a bit of a wait (or more) at times though!

      2. for the post-race meal, will you be going straight there? (with your aluminum blanket?) or going back to the hotel first? Columbus blvd isn't that close to the Art Museum.

        I say you set a goal time and, if you get it, just walk straight to the 4 seasons. (right by the museum)!

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bob Loblaw

          No, we will be changing and showering post marathon - no blankies. Four stinky people in a restaurant doesn't make for good times for anyone.

          Also, keep in mind we're coming from Toronto, which has a lot of ethnic food choices, esp. chinese. Not Malaysian though - I'd definitely be into that!

          1. re: thenurse

            Well, there are really only a small handful of ethnic cuisines that Philadelphia does really well - Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese - so maybe the gastro-pub is the right thing for you?

            Also - since you are very close to old city, i will mention some other options which haven't already been mentioned:

            Kabul - Afghani cuisine - byob and very inexpensive
            Zento - good sushi
            Eulogy - Belgian Beer and food - food is decent, but imo not great, beer selection incredible.

            1. re: DanielleM

              I wouldn't say that Chinese food in Philly is done very well, especially when compared to Toronto. There's some good stuff to be found here but it's nothing exceptional.

              Vietnamese is pretty well represented, both in Chinatown and Italian Market, and I've never had Burmese food in any other city (Rangoon on 9th near Arch).

            2. re: thenurse

              Banana Leaf (in Chinatown, BYO) is an excellent Malaysian spot. I especially recommend the chicken or beef rendang, squid with watercress, ginger duck lo mein, tofu satay, curry sliced chicken noodle soup, and coconut rice.

              In Old City, I'll second the rec for Zento on Chestnut, near 2nd St.--great sushi (BYO, liquor store is half a block north on 2nd). But if you're in the mood for a gastro pub, I'd forgo Eulogy in favor of Society Hill Hotel Bar--the beer selection isn't nearly as extensive as Eulogy's, but they've got some good choices (nice wines, too) and the food is much better.

              1. re: thenurse

                well, i guess going home and showering makes sense. less dramatic, but probably more hygienic.

                for the night before, pietro's on walnut is a good option - it's good pizza and pasta. i wouldn't call it great, but it's a fun place with big servings. actually, the servings are way too big for the average situation, but good for carboloading. pretty big place.

                for japanese, lots of good stuff. i love morimoto's, esp. if you're doing the tasting menu, but it's pretty expensive. it's not standard japanese.

            3. Okay, now that I know you're coming from Toronto...

              I'll also disagree with Marathon Grill - chain is growing in number + service is spotty, prices are relatively high, and food is just so-so. Other recommendations are all good, especially Sabrina's, Continental, Monk's too. Continental - I'd suggest reservations. Monk's is going to be small + packed, so unless you go early, you might want to try elsewhere. There are a bunch of great BYOBs and other restaurants on 20th street, including 20 Manning and a few others. Washington Ave (at 13th) has a lot of good low priced Vietnamese places, and it's very close to the Italian Market.

              3 Replies
              1. re: andrewlee

                No one responded to your request for Japanese food. If you have a car, by all means travel to Haddonfield, not too far from PHilly, and eat at Fuji, in a small shopping center off the main drag

                Eat at sushi bar, order a special dinner if you can.

                1. re: Bashful3

                  I wanted to revive this post in case anyone has any new recommendations...?

                  1. re: thenurse

                    I'm glad you're reviving this post because I, too, am heading down for the marathon - and am actually running this because Philly is one of my favorite eating cities (I'm a Boston hound).

                    The last time I was in town this is what I enjoyed:

                    Monk's - although that will be my Friday night venue, as I won't be drinking much beer the night before the race. Amazing beer and mussels selection, outstanding frites, and they have a vegan tempeh burger!

                    Tria is a favorite. While I didn't pay much attention to the regular menu, the cheese menu blew me away. And I've never such such perfect pairings with accoutrements for each cheese, with such knowledgeable service. This is where you're likely to find me after the race (yes, I should be eating carbs after a long run, but who cares really!)

                    Friday Saturday Sunday - while the food didn't blow me away, it was certainly very good, and had enough options to please everyone. Decently priced wines and a fun crowd definitely added to the experience. I seem to recall a fair amount of pastas on the menu.

                    And now for my question to you Philly hounds...Anything else along the lines of Tria? Any place that has a focus on seasonal and local foods? Chef's tasting menus? Upscale, but not stuffy?

              2. For Sunday night you could try Little Fish which is a great BYO near the Italian markets. On Sunday night they have a set menu 5 course, and it has always been one of my favourite places in Philly. Here is the web address... http://www.littlefishphilly.com/. As it is BYO you will need to visit either the state store or go over to NJ to get wine - Moore Brothers is just over the bridge - and could be combined with a visit to the aquarium / SS New jersey. http://www.wineaccess.com/splash/moor...
                If you want to have a drink before go to the Royal Tavern on Passyunk - just below LF. Best duke box in town... enjoy

                1. Thanks everyone for your recs. Here's the lowdown - unfortunately I didn't get to try everything I wanted to, but had some great (and not so great...) eats in Philly.
                  Friday night went to Rangoon - LOVED IT! The only way I could describe this Burmese food is to say it's a mixture between Thai and Indian. We ordered 5 mains and 2 apps between 5 of us, with 3 orders of steamed rice. Tax and tip it was $80 total!
                  Saturday the only place I ate out, after a long search and many failed attempts trying to make reservations, was Mercato at 1216 Spruce St. My party of 4 arrived at 6:30 and had to wait an hour an a half for a table! We went up the street to some dive bar on the corner to wait, and hilariously realized that it was a gay bar. A few things just didn't click (like the absence of women's restrooms) but we finally 'got' it . Made for a few chuckles. Anyway, the food at Mercato was great. We didn't BYO since I was running the next day and my chowmates were driving back to D.C. Between the 4 of us we had 3 salads, the vegetarian papardelle, prosciutto stuffed chicken, seafood linguine and I had the short rib gnocchi ragu, which was outstanding. Everyone else was happy and impressed with their meal, except maybe the chicken which wasn't bad, but didn't seem to be a stand-out. Our total, with tip, was $130 for the 5 of us.
                  After the marathon on Sunday, a large group of us descended on the Italian Market to have some Cheesesteaks. We tried both Pat's and Geno's, and it was unanimous that Pat's was better, only marginally though. I have to say, the cheesesteaks seem much more generously stuffed in pictures and on TV than they do in real life. There was more bread than 'inside'. I had a birch beer, which was unique (to me) and quite refreshing. After the cheesesteaks we went to the Race St. Cafe, a lovely little cafe/pub near our hotel. We had a number of beers and some wings which I'm told were excellent. Dinner was disgusting take-out pizza from a place whose name I can't remember. It was truly the most nasty pizza I've eaten. Monday morning breakfast was meant to be at the Dutch Eating place in the Terminal, but it was closed so we went to the Down Home Diner for Pumpkin Pancakes. They were delicious, but I was a bit miffed they didn't have maple syrup so I bought my own from one of the Amish vendors - plus some cherry butter that I happily dug into back in Toronto, elated that it didn't get confiscated through customs.
                  Thanks everyone for your recs. Hope to visit again some time and try out some more food in your wonderful eating (and shopping!) city.