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Sep 19, 2007 08:57 PM

Missing home - and back for 5 nights to EAT!

We moved several years ago and still talk about the Philadelphia restaurants and how much we miss them. Awesome restaurant scene, so innovative and dynamic and fun - and so many chefs! We will be back for 5 nights during the Christmas season and want to fully revisit our philadelphia glory days! We will be staying in Society Hill so I'd like to focus on downtown.

Heres the catch - I don't want to just go back to the places we loved, which may or may not still be wonderful (or even open). One thing I loved about Phila restaurants was the hot new places to try.

Please help catch us up on what we have missed!

Places we used to love and still discuss: Morimoto, Striped Bass (before and after the transition), Susana Foo, Buddakahn, Dmitris, Washington Square, several BYOs which I cant recall the names, and of course that spot in the back of the Reading Terminal Market with the amazing blueberry pancakes, the amish gals and those HUGE sticks of butter (yum).

Help us relive the magic - old and new!

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  1. I definitely like Morimoto (although it's freaking expensive); you get rare items like kobe beef, diver scallops. I really like Audrey Claire; it's BYOB and it's really cute. Beau Monde for crepes. Raddichio for Italian in Old City. Washington Sq is still very good. Continental is an interesting scene if you haven't been there and don't mind paying $12-15 for cocktail; their food was disappointing. Christmas is a long time from now and there might be new places to try by then. I'll keep you posted as I'm new to the area and still exploring.

    2 Replies
    1. re: baekster

      How could I have failed to mention Continental! I know its not "authentic" but I loved their pad thai And the fun mid century vibe in mid city is great for cocktails - thanks for reminding me! Which also reminds me of that great wine and cheese bar on 17th or 18th near the bagel place.... You see how this gets me in to trouble.... is that conveyor belt sushi place with the waiters in dickies over by Penn still open? (and yes, it Morimoto IS freaking expensive!)...

      1. re: ErinTulane

        The wine place is Tria, which recently opened a new branch on Spruce.

        The conveyor belt place is Pod, another Stephen Starr place. It's good, but it isn't worth the trip if the OP is planning for Morimoto.

    2. Well, for goodness sake go back to the Amish for a plate of pancakes! Screw the looking for new places! Then after breakfast listen to your friendly CHs ...
      I think Ansil (3rd and Bainbridge - was Judy's), Gayle (right up the block), a million new excellent places in Old City, cross town to Lacroix, XIX, Oh Shoot - it's late, I should have started with Osteria, Marc Vetri's new place, Amada and Tinto from Jose Garces, you'll talk about them for a good five years if you can't get back...hmmm there are more...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9

        The pancakes (pictured) are still great at Reading Terminal.
        You may want to try Tinto, Maytson, and Osteria for dinner.
        Also, the Naked Chocolate Cafe has very good hot chocolate and desserts.

        1. re: Bigley9

          Thanks!! Ansil and Osteria sound great - and I see them mentioned a lot on this board - - any ordering suggestions?

          Oh and - I know the amish place at RTM is not open on Sundays - - we never tried to go during the week before.... any comments on if I have to go on a Saturday? I am planning a "perfect day" I think we will start with pancakes then go "chrismas shopping" at RTM and when hungry hit Vietnam for lunch.

          I am too excited - and we have a LONG wait ahead!

          1. re: ErinTulane

            If you're going to the market on Saturday, earlier is better. If you're heading in town around the holidays, Termini's in the market has delicious pastries called rafaels that they only make at Christmas and Easter that are very good. You really should try DiNic's for lunch though. Their roast pork sandwich is to Philly what a Camellia Grill hamburger is to NO.

        2. Definitely try Amada, Tinto, Osteria, Matyson, and Mercato.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Decker

            Good list, but I'd drop Amada and go to Ansill instead. Tinto and Amada are pretty similar.

            Washington Square is not worth your time.

            At Osteria, make sure you get a pizza at some point. Avoid the truffle one, though.

            1. re: Buckethead

              WHAT is all the rage about the osteria pizza? do i just need to go and experience it for myself? how's it made?

              1. re: rabidog

                In a wood-fired oven with flour imported from Italy. It's the best pizza I've had in the city, the only pizza that I think is better than my own. I don't think there's anything magical about it, they just use excellent ingredients and treat them with respect. I really like the Lombarda.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  excellent ingredients is what does it, i'm sure! i've been unhappy with the pizza choices i've had in this city so far for their gelatinous cheese and canned-tasting sauce. soon as i have the dough... pun intended... i will definitely check out osteria.

                  1. re: rabidog

                    It's actually not terribly expensive there, I don't know why it has a reputation as an extravagantly expensive place. Maybe people tend to spend a lot of money because the food is very good. Two people can sit at the bar, share a pizza, and each get a dish from the primi section of the menu for about $50 and leave satisfied. Adding a glass of wine or two each would probably make it more like $80.

              2. re: Buckethead

                Thanks! Why is Washington Square not worth our time?

                1. re: ErinTulane

                  I think all the Starr restaurants have an internal battle of food vs. image -- not that these things necessarily negate each other, but the two always seem to be vying to be the "most special thing" about the restaurant. In a few cases, I think the food clearly wins (Morimoto, my GOD. I could eat there every night... I also really love Tangerine, which I know not everyone agrees with me on, and I think El Vez and Jones are pretty good...). Washington square is one of those places that out-images the food. It's not bad, but it's so much money for the watermelon mojito or pepper with chocolate or whatever's really hip, but it's just not as plain tasty as so many other places. I put it in the category of a good place for an afterwork drink or snack, but less of a special dinner place (that's approximately how I feel about Pod as well... and several others, as Jessicheese says below).

                  Of recs above and below, I add my vote for Ansill, Amada and Matyson. You mentioned somewhere that you like seasonality and I think Matyson does that really well.

                  BTW, you've convinced me to try Emeril's -- I am at Tulane now and it was on my list, but pretty low down because I keep hearing it's not that great. But I think it's similar to the Starr restaurants in Philly, it's not that they're bad, it's just that our expectations (especially above a certain price) are so high.

                  1. re: Adrienne

                    You'll have to let me know what you think after trying Emerils! ;>

                    BTW - I hadn't realized that Marcus Samuelsson left WS. That does change things a bit.

                    We will definitely take everyone up on these recs! I am so glad I asked!

            2. We prefer Amada to Tinto, although both are very good. If you like Turkish, then consider Divan.

              1. Another suggestion is Lolita. It's BYOB, only for dinner (check out their website). If you want upscale mexican food that's creative and good, definitely give it a try (the place is pretty cute as well). It's much better than El Vez, which is yet another Starr restaurant...which is an interesting scene for a drink but not that great for food (overpriced and menu is dull).

                4 Replies
                1. re: baekster

                  Thanks. We are in Texas so we probably will avoid philly tex-mex which at this point for us would be like ordering a cheesesteak in Dallas. But, I do agree with you that El Vez is a fun place for a drink! This brings up a good question... what is the best/hottest Starr restaruant these days?

                  1. re: ErinTulane

                    I'd say Morimoto is the best/hottest right now. Washington Square, El Vez, Tangerine, and Continental are great spots for drinks and snacksand not too far from your hotel. Buddakhan is just as good as it always was, IMHO.
                    I can't see a lot of people on here being positive about the Starr restaurants, but I still enjoy them. Similar to the Emeril debate in the Tulane area.

                    1. re: jessicheese

                      I second that (although I haven't been to all). Buddakhan is also pretty good. I say you should definitely go to BYOB's for dinner and hit the bars of trendier places. It seems like you hit a lot of Starr restaurants last time you were here. it'll be a different (by different, I mean good different) experience. They are cuter and some places actually reminds me a lot of Europe (except the fact that they are not open till 3 am in the morning). :)

                      1. re: baekster

                        Yeah - we love it all - we love the byobs (which is something we dont get enough of in Dallas) - and we love the starr concept restaurants. For what they are, they are great. Mostly we love chef-driven seasonal menus . By the way, Emeril's restaurant (the real one not the outposts) actually IS very good. We avoided it for years on principle but I have to say that was a mistake bc its a great restaurant!