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50 Great Meals Under $50?

So I picked up Philadelphia Magazine's October issue for the 50 meals under $50. Some I've tried, others I haven't. But I didn't want to take their word for it. Who's got an opinion? Should I really venture out of my safe haven of Center City (or usual Center City spots) for some of these?

Just so you have it, the list (yeah, I know, it doesn't add up to 50...I have no idea why unless they're including random sidebar restaurants):

Under $15
Honey's Sit and Eat
Station House
El Jarocho
Great Burger
Nudy's Cafe
Silver Diner

Nifty Fifty's
Ants Pants
Hershel's East Side Cafe
Alfred's Tomato Pie

Grey Lodge Pub
Su Xing
Mama Palma's
Sweet Lucy's
Boathouse Raw Bar
La Esperanza
Silk City

Geechee Girl Rice Cafe
Kim's BBQ
Beau Monde Creperie
Teresa's Next Door
Thai L'Elephant
Picanha Brazillion Grill

Blue Sage
Modo Mio
Hamlet Bistro

So, folks. Whatcha got?

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  1. Picanha Brazilian Grille is definitely worth the trip. 6000 block of Castor Ave if I recall.

    Go on a Friday (hey that's tomorrow!)..it fills up fast, but definitely fun with locals and everyone speaking Portuguese. The rodizio is what you want (i think about 17.99 a head for all you can eat buffet style salad and brazilian sides....and grilled meat...meat till your eyes pop out.

    It's BYO...locals bring all the fixins for mojitos or caphirinas(sp?)..the waitstaff is always willing to mix up a batch.

    Kim's BBQ is also worth the trip. 5900 block of North 5th St. I havent been in ages but it's been there for ages and from what I've heard its really good.

    neither is too far of a jaunt out of CC..

    1. Of places on that list that I've been to, you should go to El Jarrocho, Bridgid's, Shouk, Vietnam, Citrus, and Blue Sage, and not bother with Honey Sit n Eat, Beau Monde, and Divan. Of course, that's just my opinion, and in fairness to Divan I was only there once, a couple days after they opened when they were still going through some growing pains.

      Also, El Jarrocho is around the corner from a bad drug street, a guy was actually shot dead in their doorway last summer. So if you go, go during the day. We live close enough that we can get delivery, but I doubt they deliver to CC. If you want to fill the 'cheap, great tacos' slot on the list, Los Taquitos de Puebla is a better bet.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Buckethead

        Was just at Vietnam last weekend with my wife and we had yet another disappointing meal. I think the place is over-hyped and serves average food at best. Their Pho surely isn't that great. So I think it shouldn't be on the list. The Grey Lodge Pub is a unique place in the Northeast, I know the owner Scoats. Used to be a grungy little dive bar serving fantastic beer. Now it is a place with a very nice restaurant upstairs and still a unique (and updated) bar downstairs serving some of the best beer in the region. Their "Friday the Firkenteenth" celebrations (held every Friday the 13th, twice a year) brings out THE best local breweries for an incerdible time. The place is worth going to for the brews alone.

      2. Not one on that list qualifies as "great" in my book. Did the article say "50 great meals" or just "50 meals"?
        Try Mediterranean Grill in Bryn Mawr if you feel like venturing out of CC sometime.

        3 Replies
        1. re: idia

          The cover says "50 great meals," not "50 meals." I do, however, agree with you that, at least of the places I've been to on that list, none are great, though some are good to very good.

          To use Vietnam as an example, the food is solid. I've never had a disappointing meal there, but if someone were to ask me for great food, I wouldn't dream of sending them there. It's Vietnamese with a slight S. Chinese bent and nothing special except the fun dragon bowl drink.

          Of course, we're also talking Philly Mag here. These are the folks who put out "best of Philly" lists that include things from NJ & DE. (Not to say that those places might not be great, but they're not Philly.)

          1. re: Ali

            But it's not just "50 great meals" it's "50 great meals under $50" it's also stipulated as meals for TWO (ref: http://www.phillymag.com/articles/50_...) so in reality it's not just 50 great meals or even 50 great $50 meals, it's 50 great meals that cost less than $25.

            1. re: jzerocsk

              I think Ants Pants has one of the best bacon, egg, and cheese's in the city. I think that one qualifies IMHO.

        2. Give Divan another try. Their Doner kabob is terrific. Also, we really liked shouk.

          1. I couldn't disagree more with Rizzo's, Nifty Fifty's, and Silk City. I am always disappointed whenever someone drags me to one of these restaurants.

            1. I can attest that you will get a great meal at GeeChee Girl Cafe. My husband and I have been there quite a few times for dinner and Sunday brunch and each and every time the meal is completely amazing. Crunchy pan fried fish that has no trace of greasiness, homemade grits, roast chicken, sweet potato cakes with spicy sauce, the best homemade chocolate cake with fresh cheal.... I'm drooling thinking about it. If you have never been,,, go! Besides great food, the service is extremely friendly and the owner is terrific.

              I can also say that you will have a great experience and great beer at Grey Lodge and Bridget's. The food is quite good, but plays second stage to their great beer selection.

              1. Thai L'Elephant is great if in the burbs. I had great duck there for dinner. Also, if in the area, they have a $7.95 lunch special daily (soup, app, entree). Also, FYI, there is a coupon for 20% off on their website (the owner told me to print it each time).

                Some on this list might be under 50, but I would not venture out for them.

                1. When I saw this article I definitely tried to take it with a grain of salt since it's Philly Mag and focus on the fact that it meant simply some great meals for great prices - not the best meals or restaurants possible. Given that...
                  I will say that I love Teresa's Next Door which is all the way out in Wayne though. It's a bit of a trek but the beer list (28 on tap alone) is divine, and I can't go without getting the Carne de Lomo app. I think it must be the taste of the tortillas and peppers that do it for me. The mussels are all done really well also.
                  I also really enjoy Brigid's (again - a great beer list, I guess there's a pattern forming here!) but for two meals under $25 you will definitely find some tasty choices.

                  1. I haven't been to most of these, but that doesn't surprise me since I generally don't trust Phila magazine on any account (I think the writers have a very main-line point of view, not at all like the Philly people I know). But here's my take on what they listed.
                    Rizzo's: gross greasy pizza. I live in Glenside, and I could walk there but choose not to.
                    Vietnam: fantastic. But you can eat there for way less than 26-35 bucks.
                    Beau Monde: just okay creperie. Overpriced if you ask me.
                    I've heard good things about Honey's, but I doubt I'll head out there any time soon, since I can make a fantastic brunch in my own kitchen!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: potroastcat

                      Thanks for the feedback! I'm not usually a Philly Mag reader, but was interested in their choices, even though they do have the reputation many have listed above.

                      In case anyone's interested of those I've eaten at:

                      Honey's--Great brunch; everything else is just so-so.
                      Nifty Fifty's--Gag inducing.
                      Ant's Pants--Excellent eggs benedict and bacon stack.
                      Mama Palma's--Not fabulous, but not terrible.
                      Sweet Lucy's--Excellent, though I wasn't a fan of buffet night.
                      Modo Mio--Such terrible service, I'll never go back.

                    2. I've been to one restaurant in each price range.
                      Nudy's Cafe - loved it. had the best goat cheese roasted red pepper omelets there!
                      Nifty Fiftys - blah. didn't hate it but i'm sure not dying to go back. just boring to me.
                      Devi - its just okay. I definitely prefer Taste of India in Exton way over Devi!
                      Teresa's Next Door - great place. would recommend.
                      Bluefin - loved it. great sushi, good prices. worth the trip to Plymouth Meeting!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: snowy11480

                        Nifty Fifties is a good place to take the kids, and honestly, I think they have a good turkey burger. I don't eat fast food, so I would say it's a good alternative to that. Not everyone is going to eat at Le Bec every night.

                        But you would be trying HARD to spend 16 with two people...think more like ten. You can easily share a medium fry. They have pretty ridiculous portions, IMO. Than again, I eat real serving sizes.

                        I might eat there once a year.