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Restaurant suggestions near Center City East

Hi, I'm visiting Philadelphia this weekend, staying in City Center East, and looking for some reasonably priced, midrange restaurants to try in the nearby area - including a romantic place to take my boyfriend (maybe Italian if anyone knows a good place). All types of cuisine are fine - any recommendations?

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  1. There are so many good choices, that you may have to share a little more information on what you would consider reasonably priced (under $50/pp), BYO?, etc. Are you an adventurous eater?

    You can start by checking out Davios (Northern Italian), Osteria (a short cab ride away, but really good authentic Italian), La Famiglia (a bit more pricey), etc.

    Philly is filled with great BYOs and I would highly recommend trying one. Would also recommend Snackbar (for some innovative, not necessarily Italian cusine)

    1. How "east" will you be?
      Davio's is not east at all, it's west, and I think it's more expensive than you have in mind.
      There are many places near 2nd, 3rd or 4th Streets. Bistro 7, near 3rd and Market, is popular; we've never been there. Amada is excellent (tapas) and a lot of fun; it's on Chestnut St. and you definitely need a reservation.
      There are quite a few ethnic restaurants on Chestnut St. between Front and 2nd; you can stroll around and see what appeals to you.
      My daughter and son-in-law live in that area, and I'll ask them to add to this list.

      6 Replies
      1. re: sylviag

        Thank you both for the suggestions! In response to your questions, about $50/pp or less sounds good in terms of a "reasonable" price. I'm not sure how east this is considered, but we're going to be on 17th and Race St. Also, I guess I'd say we're adventurous eaters, we pretty much like everything we try, and we like a lot of different types of cuisines (we regularly have indian, thai, vietnamese, mexican, vegetarian etc. etc.)

        Thanks again, and please let me know if you have any more recommendations!

        1. re: ChiquitaBanana

          Okay, this changes my suggestions. In the center of the city, Broad St. (which would be equal to 14th) is often considered the dividing line between east and west. So you will be west of Broad St.
          Percyn's suggestion of Osteria should be perfect for you. It's on Broad St, near Race - upscale Italian, creative menu.
          Chinatown runs from about 9th to 12th, with Race St. being a main street. Two of our favorites are on N. 11th St. (the block north of Race St.: Lee How Fook (Chinese) and Vietnam , which is right next door.
          We have some wonderful BYOB's in our city. You can pick up a bottle of wine and there is rarely any corkage fee. One possibility is Matyson, on 19th St. It is very popular, but you can try calling for a reservation. Excellent food, creative and varied menu. Another, small and excellent, is Caffe Casta Diva on 20th St. Again, you need a reservation. These will be a bit of a walk, but only about six blocks. Rose Tattoo, at 19th and Callowhill, is close - a little more expensive, and they have a bar.
          Except for Chinatown, you really do need reservations in Philly on a weekend night. That's when everyone goes out and places get booked.
          Enjoy the weekend!

            1. re: saturninus

              correct that that area is center city west... is that the sheraton location? 17th and race... if i recall correctly you're going to have to walk a few blocks to get to something...

              all of my favorites locally have already been suggested... though they are correct in that you really need reservations, or should expect to eat early or late.

              will you have a car? or are you comfortable with public transit? there is a subway stop at city hall, to take you east/west or north/south. if you are OK with taking the subway, you should head down to criniti in south philly. it is really tasty red-sauce italian - nothing super fancy (in fact very casual for such a nice menu), but if they even take reservations, i'll bet you could get them! if they have the lentil soup, get it! the spinach ravioli was also soooo good, i'm still dreaming about it. to get there from city hall, take the broad street (orange) line southbound to the oregon stop, and walk north a block on broad street back towards city hall and the city - it's on your right with some pretty stained glass.
              i've also heard good things about the dock street brewery out in west philly, i think at 50th and baltimore, but have not yet been there. that's a bit out from center city, too. i am not sure if the el goes there, but i'm sure it must go close. neither place is so far that you'd spend the whole night in transit, though i'd think those are the best bets to beat the crowds.

              i also think marra's is sorta romantic in an offbeat casual, small, high-backed booth way - certainly not traditionally romantic! their manicotti, sooo good. they are down on passyunk - along with a bunch of fun strolling / people-watching outside of center city. and then you can gawk at the neon monstrosity that is geno's (just don't eat there!!).

              otherwise, i'd suggest going to tria at 18th and sansom. it is a TINY place, but i think often gets so crowded that larger groups will give up and leave, making way for a couple folks. waits for a table have been short for me. i think it's a romantic atmosphere. others may not like how small it is. wine/beer/cheese place. www.triacafe.com

              1. re: rabidog

                Dock Street is a fun little spot for beer & pizza. The trolley (34) goes by there and can be picked up at City Hall. The subway would put the OP excessively out of the way in comparison.

                Tria is a cute spot but I wouldn't categorize it as romantic, especially on a weekend. The lighting, close sitting, etc. all aspire toward a romantic atmosphere, but the crowds on a weekend night dissolves that right quick. Regardless, I do agree that it's a good spot if the OP doesn't mind waiting.

                1. re: Ali

                  yes, i figured the proximity of rumps waiting for a table to the eye level of the diners might void the romantic card for some. i prefer small spaces, personally, but i can see how some might not. :)

        2. A Philadelphai Institution not to be missed -- The Saloon Restaurant.

          3 Replies
          1. re: idia

            I must disagree with the Saloon recommendation - you will not get out of there for $50pp, without drinks - the food is Italian steakhouse (nowhere near "adventurous"). See if you can get a reservation at Tria, Snackbar or Tinto.They are more along the lines of what you seek.

            1. re: brightman

              I have to agree with brightman. I think Saloon would be a big disappointment, given the criteria.

              1. re: brightman

                Me too, the Saloon is boring and way overpriced, not to mention far, far away from 17th and Race. Unfortunately it's a little late in the week to be getting reservations at some of the hotter places, Matyson and Osteria for example are both booked on Saturday night according to OpenTable (unless you want to eat at 5PM or 930PM). Tinto and Snackbar are excellent as well, but are very small and will probably also be booked up. It's worth calling all four places to check, though, they're very good. Excepting Matyson, the other three places will be pushing the limit of your $50 per person guideline, but you can have a great meal at any of them if you order carefully.

                If you'd like to keep it a little more inexpensive, some good places around there include La Viola (Italian), Monk's Cafe (Belgian beer emporium, be prepared to wait for a table though), and the aforementioned Tria (small plates and great cheese selection).

            2. Sorry to disagree with you, Rabidog, but I would never send anyone visiting Philly on the subway to SouthPhilly when there are so very many terrific restaurants within walking distance. I can name a dozen places -or more - with marvelous ravioli, within a short walk of where ChiquitaBanana is staying.
              To me, that's like visiting Manhattan, ignoring the restaurant scene, and leaving it to take a train to Brooklyn.
              Stay centered!

              1 Reply
              1. re: sylviag

                ah, but there are some *fabulous* finds in brooklyn and queens that you'd NEVER know about otherwise if not for this board (but be SO glad you found once you did!!!). i am forever grateful that a recent chow trip led me to the best indian i've ever had in new york - in woodside (queens)! but that's a whole different board. :) when i travel, my goal is to find out where the born'n'raised go!

                they might not be my usual recommendations, trying to keep proximity in perspective... but i guess i got the impression (and now i can't figure out from where) that it might be a last-minute weekend dinner we were scouting out. i was figuring in food (#1) and crowd avoidance/likelihood of getting a table (#2). if that's not the case, and it's for, say, dinner tonight, i'd have to agree with nearly everything in CC recommended.