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Two 20-somethings; need Philly chow!

Neu FM Nov 28, 2007 08:32 AM

I am a New Yorker, but my boyfriend lives in Philadelphia. We go out time to time to dine, but I would like to broaden our options. Am hoping someone could recommend tasty places with decent atmosphere that serve entrees for $15 or less (we're young and poor, after all). Also, we have a car most of the time, so we can drive a little, but I'd prefer places in the city limits.

To give you an idea of our taste - we are already fans of Monks, Szechuan Tasty House, Vietnamese places near South St., Dimitris, the Guatemalan place in Northern Liberties...

Something French or Italian would be ideal, but, as you can see, our tastes are diverse.

Looking forward to your responses!

  1. b
    bumble Nov 30, 2007 10:24 AM

    Melograno at 22nd & Spruce. I enjoy the paparedelle with mushrooms and the penne. Most of the pastas are under $15.

    Las Cazuelas at Girard, btwn 4th & 5th - Oaxacan Mexican. I love the enchiladas mole, I'm always tempted to lick the plate to get the last of the mole.

    Sovalo at 2nd & Fairmount. Although the meat entrees are higher than your budget, I think most of the pastas are in your price range. It's a constantly changing menu and is a lovely place. If you go, please try to persuade the Carrie (the owner) to bring back the bar menu. If that happens then you'll definitely be able to eat well in your price range.

    I'll second Tiffin, Rangoon, Cafe de Laos and both Afghani restaurants.

    1. e
      Elaine Nov 29, 2007 01:13 PM

      Porcini, around 20th & Sansom. Good food at good prices, BYO. You might also try La Viola, which serves pasta in your price range--also BYO.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Elaine
        Neu FM Nov 30, 2007 07:27 AM

        These suggestions have given me so many great ideas + whet my appetite! Here are the places I am most interested in right now...

        Beau Monde
        Tacos Don Memo (taco truck - not for atmosphere, obviously)
        La Viola / Branzini - they are so close to each other, I'll check them out and pick one

        Already big fans of Rangoon, Tiffin + Ariana. Great suggestions, though. Thank you again!

        1. re: Neu FM
          saturninus Nov 30, 2007 07:32 AM

          I prefer Branzino.

      2. b
        Boognish Nov 29, 2007 01:08 PM

        Lakeside Deli in Chinatown. Gorge on dim sum for less than $15/person. My fiance and I ate there this week for $15 total.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Boognish
          b
          baekster Dec 3, 2007 02:46 AM

          i wouldn't call lakeside a "good" atmosphere. very hole-in-the-wall type of place. but great food and amazing deal. i basically had the same thing. we ordered about $30 worth of dim sums and we couldn't even finish half of it (we were a little ambitious). although there's something to be missed about seeing what you're about eat, the food at lakeside is clean and good.

        2. j
          jessicheese Nov 29, 2007 05:17 AM

          Kabul and Ariana on Chestnut St both have very good food that is well in your budget.

          1. b
            Bob Loblaw Nov 28, 2007 03:03 PM

            Have you tried N.3rd?
            Great food, and you won't feel like the poor folks there.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Bob Loblaw
              rabidog Nov 28, 2007 03:57 PM

              yummmm.... i love northern liberties for its cheap, good chow. perfect for your ages too. n3rd gets my vote for best pub food, but don't discount abbaye, azure, or the standard tap either.

              tiffin as mentioned is AWESOME, BYO and cheap... my fave dish, the paneer tikka masala, comes in at around $9 i think, and is good for THREE meals!

              hey, for other northern liberties frequenters or neighbors... i thought i'd mention... arbol cafe, serving food from paraguay (is that paraguayan food?), just opened in the spot where ground floor coffee used to be, at 2nd and poplar. they are getting good reviews on the neighborhood message board... i am going to try them out this weekend. some specials on their brunch menu:

              Asado a la Olla
              slow cooked bonless short rib served with a paraguayan butternut polenta, vegetable & sopa

              Arroz con Pollo
              whole roasted chicken leg served with
              rice, vegetable & sopa

              Albondigas de Carne
              traditional meatballs in a light broth served with rice, vegetable & sopa

              1. re: Bob Loblaw
                Neu FM Nov 28, 2007 03:59 PM

                Thanks for the suggestions, all. I will certainly get back to you on my experiences. I have indeed been to N. 3rd many times - although I adore the wings, I find the atmosphere to be too loud (visually, sonic-ly) for my taste.

                1. re: Neu FM
                  b
                  brightman Nov 29, 2007 03:50 AM

                  take a ride to Picanha on Castor Ave in the northeast, and eat yourself silly for 7.99 a pound

                  1. re: Neu FM
                    b
                    Bob Loblaw Nov 29, 2007 01:36 PM

                    If you don't like loud, yeah, you're not going to like N. 3rd.
                    For economy French, I don't think there are a lot of great options down here. (I'd love to turn out to be wrong on this, though).

                2. b
                  baekster Nov 28, 2007 09:46 AM

                  -Tamarind for Thai on South St (I think between 1st and 2nd); the dishes meet your price range. Their Pad Khee Mao carries some serious punch and the fried whole fish with sweet & spicy is particularly good (maybe a little too sweet for my taste, but others enjoy it)
                  -If you order little dishes at Audrey Claire, you might be able to fit into your budget. The place is cute...French Mediterranean
                  -Raddichio Cafe in old city is great for Italian (to add to Branzino in your list)
                  -Dim Sum at Ocean Harbor is great but not good if you're looking for atmosphere
                  -Vietnamese near South St? Did you mean Washington Ave? Nam Phuong at Washington Ave and 11th is great for no-frill authentic vietnamese food. Vietnam & Vietnam palace in Chinatown are both pretty good and probably have better atmosphere.
                  -Beau Monde for Crepes and French Bistro food...pretty good atmosphere...

                  -Matyson is great but it might be too expensive for your budget, and it's very hard to get a reservation.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: baekster
                    a
                    Adamlick Nov 28, 2007 02:05 PM

                    If you are looking for italian food under $15, then you should try La Viola. The food is awesome and the restaurant is a little cramped, but otherwise a nice atmosphere. I think it is one of the best values near rittenhouse square. Another great value and I know you were inquiring about dinner, but Loie for brunch is awesome. It is a french restaurant that doubles as a night club in the evening, but it has an amazing two course brunch for $25 and it is unlimited mimosa's or bloody mary's the entire time. I had an awesome puree of cauliflower soup the last time I was there and I always get their champignon eggs benedict. It is also next to La Colombe, which has some of the best coffee in the city.

                  2. b
                    Bigley9 Nov 28, 2007 09:36 AM

                    Rangoon on 9th above Arch (not much atmosphere - but search the board here and I don't think you'll find one negative comment), Zots off headhouse square, Cafe Vallentino at 3rd and Federal(?) - there are other valentinos but that's my local one. Beau Monde (creperie) at 6th and Bainbridge (fire place)

                    1. i
                      idia Nov 28, 2007 09:08 AM

                      3 BYOB's come to mind:
                      Matyson
                      Caffe Casta Diva
                      Branzino

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: idia
                        b
                        Buckethead Nov 28, 2007 09:39 AM

                        Branzino is the only place on that list that has an entree under $15.

                        My short list of good cheap places (all BYO) includes:

                        Alyan's (Middle Eastern) Atmosphere is not so great, but the food is, and dirt cheap. You could both eat dinner for under $20. 4th and South.
                        Mr. Martino's Trattoria (Italian) Great old-world atmosphere, entrees mostly $11-$15, on Passyunk between Tasker and Morris.
                        Plaza Garibaldi (authenthic Mexican) Entrees between $10 and $12, on Washington Ave. around 8th St. I think.
                        Cafe de Laos (Thai-Laotian) Great noodle dishes and southeast Asian stuff, a few things are more than $15 but their menu is huge (a little daunting, actually). On 11th St. a few doors south of Washington Ave.
                        Tiffin (best Indian in the city) 7th and Girard Ave.

                        1. re: Buckethead
                          b
                          baekster Nov 28, 2007 09:49 AM

                          If you go to Tiffin, order Butter Chicken, which is just chicken tikka masala, I think. But it's so good.

                          1. re: Buckethead
                            a
                            Adamlick Nov 28, 2007 02:08 PM

                            Matyson's is more expensive than $15 for dinner, but if you go for lunch you can definitely accomplish your goal.

                            1. re: Buckethead
                              m
                              mazza3 Dec 4, 2007 01:01 PM

                              cafe de laos is super delicious. their thai wonton soup is out of this world. also, nam phuong across the street is very good if you like vietnamese food.

                              la lupe at 9th and federal is awesome for mexican food.

                              good dog on 15th street (16th?) is also yummy for bar food, as is of course standard tap in northern liberties.

                              marra's (11th and passyunk on passyunk) is awesome for pizza and some very italian american mains.

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