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4 nights in Philly

In a couple weeks my wife and I will be in Philadelphia on business for 4 nights. Our hotel is across the street from City Hall. We won't have a car, but don't mind a moderate subway ride or cab ride. Price is not that important (except not "super expensive").

Please help us out with these categories:
1. General good, interesting, eclectic food for dinner. "The one place you HAVE to go for dinner in Philly!" (This is the one I'm most interested in!)
2. Italian for dinner
3. Chinatown for dinner (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, fusion all ok)
4. Breakfast on Saturday morning.
5. Late (mid-afternoon) place for a big (weekday) lunch before a dinnertime flight.


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  1. 1. Matyson
    2. Tre Scalini, Radicchio or Caffe Casta Diva
    3. Lakeside
    4. Dutch eating place at the reading terminal. Crepe place at the reading terminal.
    5. Reading terminal for great sandwiches etc. Assuming Mon - Sat. Sun lots of places are closed.

    4 Replies
    1. re: joluvscards

      Without question:
      1, Matyson. There is a liquore store around the corner at Chestnut and 19th. You will be very happy you went to this very special place
      2. Melagrano; go early to get a table. Radicchio or La Viola if not
      3. Lots of good places. Lee How Fook.
      4. La Colombe for world's greatest coffee and real French croissant; Little Pete's for full breakfast (24-hr diner).
      5. El Vez (Mexican) close to your hotel before checking out


      1. re: joluvscards

        I see a lot of recommendations for Matyson. I'm going to try it out. Any suggestions for which dish I should give a try?

        1. re: baekster

          Dessert! They make great desserts.

          1. re: baekster

            Monday thru Thursday they offer a themed, prixe fixe tasting menu with 5 course for $45. Usually a good bet if you're not too picky. If you want to order from the menu, I like the duck for an entree and foie gras or veal sweatbreads for an appetizer. You can't go wrong with dessert.


        2. for #5, I'd suggest Monk's - good burgers, excellant mussels and fries, killer beer selection.

          1. Pretty much all of the city is within a short cab ride of city hall.

            1. If I had to pick one place in the city, I'd pick Ansill. Ever since David Ansill closed Pif and took over as chef at his namesake place, it's been fantastic. I don't think there is one single restaurant in the city that is universally acknowledged as the one, must-have, gotta-go place.
            2. Osteria. It's a quick cab ride from your hotel (6 blocks north of City Hall). Melograno is very good too, but they don't take reservations. There are quite a few other great italian places that I'm sure others will mention.
            3. Rangoon is great, so are a lot of other places in Chinatown, but Rangoon is Burmese, which is kind of a rare cuisine in my experience. Other people here probably know more about Chinatown than I do.
            4. If you are willing to get up early, breakfast at Sabrina's (9th and Christian) is great, but you have to get there before 9:15 or so if you don't want to wait. They also have a new location at 18th and Callowhill that's closer to your hotel. If you'd rather make reservations, brunch at Lacroix is excellent.
            5. Reading Terminal Market. There are dozens of vendors, just walk around and get whatever appeals to you. Then do it again and again. And cap it off with a cupcake.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Buckethead

              Since you're flying into town on business, I won't recommend any BYOBs in order to minimize any hassles. Otherwise, I'd strongly endorse Caffe Casta Diva for your Italian dinner.

              1. Le Bar Lyonnais: You'll get Le Bec-Fin food at very reasonable a la carte prices and an excellent selection of wines by the glass as well. I have to politely disagree with some of the others - Le Bec-Fin is the must visit restaurant in Philadelphia. Le Bar Lyonnais (in the basement) is an excellent introduction to that restaurant and its cuisine.
              2. Osteria: Despite some periodic service issues, I have heard from friends who say that food is outstanding.
              3. Lakeside Chinese Deli
              4. Fountain Restaurant (at the Four Seasons)
              5. Any of the suggestions above are fine for lunch.

              1. re: Buckethead

                A few doors down from Ansill is Gayle. Always interesting, delicious food. The menu is certainly eclectic and Chef Stern's style is deconstructed. Had the seafood stew on Saturday - marvelous combination of fish, shellfish and light broth - certainly not a stew but a lovely composition, light & flavorful, each ingredient shining through. Also love the lobster roll.

                1. re: wandasue

                  Daniel Stern spends most of his time at Rae these days from what I've heard, though Gayle is still very good.

              2. Vietnam on 11th between Race and Vine for dinner. Great Vietnamese in a nice atmosphere.

                1. I'm adding a new category - 6. Best Dessert

                  Go to Capogiro on 13th and Sansom (right around the corner from your hotel) for the most mind-blowing gelati you will ever consume.


                  1. I take the Italian one.
                    Caffe Casta Diva or Branzino

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: idia

                      I'd heartily second the #4 suggestion of Saturday morning breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place (particularly pancakes and scrapple) at the Reading Terminal Market which is two blocks from city hall and a foodie destination you should see at least once on your trip http://www.readingterminalmarket.org

                      1. re: bluehensfan

                        Last stay in Philly a few years ago went to Reading Terminal Market several times, and will certainly do so again. Didn't know about the Dutch Eating Place for breakfast; we'll definitely check it out.

                    2. 3. Lee How Fook, Vietnam Restaurant, and Shao Lang Kung are all excellent spots for a Chinatown dinner.
                      4. Best breakfast to be had in the area has to be the Dutch Eatng Place in the Reading Terminal. Grab a coffee to go afterwords at Old City Coffee.
                      5. After seeing the terminal on Saturday morning there's no doubt you'll want to go back again for a late lunch!

                      6. I agree- Capogiro is a must try!!!

                      1. Thank you to everyone for the great suggestions. I'm excited to starting working through and making some decisions. And we don't leave until next week, so if anyone else has ideas feel free to toss them out.

                        Looking forward to my visit.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: TimC Columbus

                          I'll second (or third?) the recommendation for Matyson as well as for the Reading Terminal Market. There's so many vendors there that you could spend all day eating.

                        2. We recently moved to Philly and tried out a lot of restaurants here since we moved here in June:
                          1. Haven't really found one yet but we like Audrey Claire---if you do go there, sample through their small dishes rather than opting for the entrees. We like it because it's cute...not necessarily the best food. If you want expensive (I don't know your notion of super expensive), maybe try omakase at Morimoto. It is $120 per person but often you get stuff like Diver Scallops, Kobe Beef, etc.
                          2. I really like Radicchio (get the branzino if you like fish), and almost everything I've tried was very delicious.
                          3. (I'm Asian---Korean to be specific and I absolutely love and very snobby about everything Asian). You'll find better (or more authentic, no-frill) Vietnamese restaurants in the strip mall on 11th and Washington Ave (I like Nam Phuong and the cafe/pho place next to it--forget the name of it). If you must go to Chinatown for Vietnamese food, you should probably go to Vietnam and it is more polished. Philly Chinatown food is okay, but not great compared to say Boston or NY. If you like GREASY, no-frill, authentic Szechuan (read, spicy), try Szechuan Tasy House. I recommend their Dumplings in Spicy sauce, Wontons, and Braised Beef dish.
                          4. My wife and I really like Beau Monde (on 6th and Bainbridge). It's a creperie, and I am sure your wife will enjoy it very much. (I haven't met a girl who doesn't like crepes). Other than crepes, try Steak Brochette appetizer and Escargot. If you want a more traditional fare, try Honey's in Northern Liberties.
                          5. Try Cheesesteak? Pat's, Geno's, Jim's, all are pretty good, I think (people argue over which is best but I don't see the point---cheesesteak is cheesesteak).

                          1. 1. The Continental
                            2. Restaurant Panorama
                            3. Vietnam Restaurant
                            4. Sabrinas-Bella Vista/South Philly
                            5. Jones

                            1. 1. Buddakan. This does not have to be a super expensive meal- food is served family style- so you could get 3 appetizers and 1 entree and share all, etc...
                              2. L"Angolo- this will be a bit of a hike- it is in South Philly. You can take the subway and be there in about 10 minutes- or probably a $12 taxi ride. Make sure you try the lobster ravioli and grilled calamari.
                              3. Not chinatown, but I love Aqua (malaysian/thai) on Chestnut and 7th.
                              4. Walk around Reading Terminal and try lots of yummy food. I love the Amish soft pretzel stuffed with bacon, egg and cheese at the pretzel stand. Metropolitan and LeBus have yummy pastries. Indulge in a ricotta canolli from Termini's. If you want to do something a little nicer- I love Saturday brunch at Beau Monde, Continental or Marathon on the Square.
                              5. Rouge- great people watching right on Rittenhouse Square.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lillotis

                                3. If you like Aqua, try Cafe de Laos, 11th and Washington.

                              2. Lived in Lower Merion first 55 years of my life so love this quest.
                                All suggestions have been great, but my personal choices follow
                                Chinese-As mentioned by others go to Lee How Fook, get what may be best Hot and Sour soup around, Get salt baked scallops, never had them better, and the fish hot pot, best dish in the house; l come to town five times a year and get this menu every time in.

                                Italian- Osteria is very good, but go to Marc Vetri's original place, Vetri on Spruce between 13th and Broad. Wonderful wine and stellar pasta and gnocchi, also great goat. My favorite restaurant in town;

                                Sat AM breakfast- absolutely agree on Reading Terminal

                                General good- agree with Matyson, but for ringer might think about Tacconellis for next to New Haven, best pizza in country, ok,ok no arguments please;

                                Lunch before flight-This is why l responded, been doing on way to airport for thirty years,
                                John's Roast Pork at Snyder east of Front; Get the beef with greens and sharp provolone and 'drown it'. Pork and cheesesteaks are good but l go for the beef. Buy your cabdriver one and hewill have the best tip of his day

                                1. 1. Buddakan- My wife and I went recently and can't wait to go back. Rated a top 50 restaurant in the country.
                                  2.Paradiso- You'll love the whole Branzino, or go really different with the Rabbit Cacciatore.
                                  3. Szechuan Tasty House- If you're into spicy, try the 3 Pepper Chicken. Also try the eggplant stuffed with pork. Good stuff.
                                  4. Honey's Sit N Eat- Only ate there once, but just a great breakfast.
                                  5. I'd go to Brasserie Perrier. A real good Steak Frites will hold you over for your travels.