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Philly cheap eats - ANY recs wanted

Hello everyone,

I'm visiting Philadephia and staying in Center City for the weekend... I've never been before.

Any recommendations for cheap [and delicious] places to eat? I am on a student's budget... I would especially appreciate healthy or breakfast recs.

Thanks!

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  1. let me be the first to send you over to the reading terminal market! cheap, and variety like you would not believe. everyone here will recommend that to you. it is a philly must-see. we like the dutch eating place for breakfast. go on saturday (sunday, not all vendors are open).

    also take some time to explore chinatown. most recently i have had excellent meals at vietnam and vietnam palace, but i really never have had a bad meal in chinatown! rangoon is good too.

    if you're staying in center city then you are walking distance from both the reading terminal and chinatown. also head down to 13th and sansom for some gelato from capogiro - a must! :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: rabidog

      Agree...must see Reading Terminal Market. Great cheap, and fast breakfasts at the Dutch Eating Place (esp. the pancakes, bacon, scrapple, french toast, dumplings). Beiler's the bakery in the next stall has great apple fritters and cinnamon buns at $1.50 a pop. DiNic's for lunch has great roast pork sandwiches with provolone and greens (or rabe) for about $8 in the market (read elsewhere on the board about how good the sandwiches are!) Repeat, don't go to the market on Sunday when the above merchants are closed.

      There is a place in Chinatown (Nan Zhou) with great pulled noodles on Race near 10th...dumpy looking but great soup and less than $5.

    2. If you like asian food, I would definitely recommend Pho Cali on 10th and Arch. For about $10 you can get a huge steaming bowl of pho - there must be twenty different variations - and a pile of crispy fried spring rolls or soft summer rolls. Their banh mi are awesome too, and only about $3, IIRC. The service is terrific too.

      14 Replies
      1. re: gwebber

        and for half that price there's also pho xe lua viet thai restaurant on race street where the pho ranges from $5 - 6! there is a big neon cartoon train sign on the front of the restaurant. you can also get some really bizarre (non-alcoholic) drinks in there. the young coconut one is our favorite. they have other dishes, and summer rolls. our total bill, after stuffing our faces, was $14 (that's for two people!).

        will you have a car? there are some excellent taquerias about 10 blocks south of center city on washington street (around 9th & washington most are centered). cheap, excellent eats! search this board for taquerias to reveal a list of them. this is also where the italian market is located - a fun thing for you to see.

        1. re: rabidog

          There are times when a person wants a sit down dinner with soup, salad, tasty main, two vegetables, beverage and dessert. For those times, Little Pete's behind the Philadelphian, in the 2400 block of Fairmount Ave. fits the bill.

          Full course dinners with pleasant, albeit rapid service might go for as little as $12.95: like bluefish, chicken, greek assortment just to name three. Folks in our building often get all three meals, every day in Little Pete's! Quality is high, portions are ample, and fresh. Oddly enough, Pete has a liquor license, and you can order a drink with that inexpensive meal.

          1. re: Bashful3

            I'll definitely put this on my list =)

          2. re: rabidog

            Oh, yea. that place with train sign is good for pho...probably best in Chinatown. If you have a car, you can go to 11th and Washington Ave where there's a vietnamese establishment...if you want cheap, you can get the vietnames hogies at the "cafe" which is just a frontend for the restaurant. The hogies are about $3 each with marinated BBQ pork.

            1. re: rabidog

              Yes, we will have a car, but was planning on leaving it in a garage somewhere... how's the parking situation in Philly?

              1. re: malyna

                parking in Philly is very bad, and expensive. If you are lucky enough to find a meter, the meters only take quarters. And, you cannot feed the meters. If you park in a spot that says 2 hour parking, you MUST move your car after 2 hours. No putting more quarters in the meter. Many of the meters do not calculate properly, so instead of getting 15 minutes for a quarter, you might only get 8 minutes. Also, take seriously any parking sign, including no parking, 10 minute parking, no stopping, etc. The parking authority in Philadelphia is the only department that is 100% efficient. You will get a ticket if your meter expires, or if you have ignored any street sign. I know, I have had many in my day. Best bet is to put it in a garage, and leave it there.
                If you are going to the RTM, there is a garage that gives discounts to RTM shoppers (requires validation). You could leave your car there for the rest of the day if you don't need it.

                1. re: mschow

                  Just don't go over two hours when parking at the RTM lot, because the price will jump from $3 to the usual rate of more than $20. On Saturday, I do know the lot at 15th and Arch is $6.50 all day!

                  1. re: bluehensfan

                    Looks like I'll be playing musical cars... thank you so much for that tidbit

                    1. re: bluehensfan

                      bluehensfan:
                      Is this the lot that is right on the corner, across from the terminal, and you enter from Arch Street? You have to exit onto an alley street next to a parking garage? I park there during the week sometimes, but it's pretty expensive. Nice to know if it is only $6.50 on the weekends. Is it hard to get a spot on Saturday at that cheap price?

                      1. re: mschow

                        The $6.50 parking lot (not a garage) is on Arch and 15th St (RTM is at Arch and 12th) and you enter and exit the lot on Arch. It's across from Love Park and it never fills up and is manned by a nice attendant.

                        The garage you're refering to is the Parkway lot that has RTM parking for $3 up to 2 hours (then it goes up to $27 I think for all day).

                        That's why we walk 3 blocks and save $20.

                        1. re: bluehensfan

                          yeah, what you save on food you're likely to make up for in parking.

                          i think the best run philly gov't service is quite possibly this website:
                          http://www.philapark.org/homeFlash.aspx
                          you can enter your address and time of day, and it will tell you where to find garages and how much to expect to pay. wednesdays many garages are $1 for the evening as part of a center city promotion (does that extend thru the fall, anyone know?). others are correct on the reading terminal discount - after 2 hours the price soars. also consider if you're here for awhile parking out in the burbs at one of the regional rail stations that lets you leave a car overnight, and taking the train in. ( http://septa.org/service/rr_schedules... ) you'll find 98% of what you'll want to see is very walkable, and the other 2% (that being italian market area) is accessible by taxi. or you can find a 'hood outside of center city near an el station, street park (no meters in northern liberties, for example) and walk back to center city.

                          back to food, someone suggested campo's which is a great destination for people-watching out on the sidewalk while kicking back a couple beers! some of my visitors have also declared their cheesesteak their favorite. but there are other threads about THAT debate. :)

                          1. re: rabidog

                            Wednesday's special of free meters after 6 and $1 in certain parking garages is a year long thing.

                    2. re: mschow

                      parking meters all over the city have been taking nickles and dimes for a couple years now!

                      1. re: Bigley9

                        Don't some use Smart Cards too? There is also a $5 lot on the Weekends at Hahneman on Race (or is it Vine) and Broad by the way...

              2. Campo's, between 2nd & 3rd on Market, has terriffic hoagies and other sandwiches.