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Nov 28, 2007 08:32 AM

Two 20-somethings; need Philly chow!

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!

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  1. 3 BYOB's come to mind:
    Caffe Casta Diva

    4 Replies
    1. re: idia

      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

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

        1. re: Buckethead

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

          1. re: Buckethead

            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.

        2. 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. -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

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

              4 Replies
              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                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

                  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

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

                    1. re: Neu FM

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