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philly recs for 1st timers!

hey everyone ill be heading to philly w/ a friend this weekend, and need some good decently priced spots that are uniquely philadelphian. ive been to philly only once very briefly for a cheesesteak @ jim's a few years ago, so i am very ready to expand my philly eating repertoire. we will be staying at the holiday inn old town (we will have a car), but if there's anything great w/in walking distance, please let me know. all i know is i HAVE to go to the reading terminal market and the mutter museum. we probably wont be getting in until friday late afternoon, so maybe we can do the museum when we get there since it's open till 9 pm. is the RTM a total zoo on saturday; i imagine it must be. i would like to try the roast pork sandwich at dinic's (is it just as good w/ spinach as broccoli rabe? i feel the rabe would make it too bittery tasting), the cannoli @ termini and a cookie from famous 4th street cookies. i guess i really only need a rec then for dinner friday & saturday nights. referring to some old notes, i was wondering how tritone, tria, monk's (i love belgian beer!), n.3rd and the abbaye are (if they're all still around; i know monks is). i'm not into fancy places, and dont have a lot of $$, but i like good food and a glass of wine or 2 w/ dinner. music too is a +, and i read that tritone has live music. i could also possibly be in the mood for a cute neighborhood italian, have any good locals only places? and lastly, sunday brunch may be a possibility; is there anything good not too far from our hotel? sorry for the long post...thanks in advance tho!

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  1. Yes to Tria, although it's not near Old City.
    No to Tritone, strong no. Both Monk's and Eulogy are good for Belgian beer.
    I prefer the food at the Abbaye but it's not destination fare.
    Cute neighborhood Italian? Head to Radicchio. Not far from you and amazing. BYO.
    My favorite Sunday brunch is at Morning Glory. Not walkable but a short cab ride.

    In your area (Old City) I love Chloe, but it's not cheap (but also not expensive). Other than that I like drinks at Eulogy...

    3 Replies
    1. re: saturninus

      I have been wanting to try Chloe- it's that good? what about Bleu Martini, have you been?

      1. re: getcyped

        Chloe is OK. Bleu Martini sucks.

      2. re: saturninus

        just went to chloe last night and i loved it. in the snow, we walked right by it! that place really needs some better lighting. it was pretty empty, really cute contemporary homey decor. we had: beet salad, a soup (something autumnal, i don't quite recall - i wasn't in the soup mood - maybe sweet potato?) and the indonesian shrimp to start. the shrimp were AMAzing... served with a creamy/spicy cilantro curry and a pancake. such a weird, good dish. next up we had the ravioli with sage butter, dried cranberries and pumpkin cubes. so good. very rich, but not too much of it so we didn't feel stuffed. also split a special, a striped bass with clams and shrimps in a sorta spanish-tasting light tomato broth. i thought it was perfect. very delicately flavored compared to the more intense raviolis. it was a nice balance. definitely going to be going back to chloe.

        cute neighborhood italian - i seem to be in the minority, but for the old city area i favor la locanda del ghiottone by far over raddichio.

        all of those places are walking distance from your hotel. i also enjoy charlie's pub on 3rd (a regular bar with out-of-place surprisingly good fish specials), and pagoda noodle house on sansom walkway (south of market a couple blocks) by the ritz east movie theatre. also it may be worth your while to walk north a couple blocks to northern liberties, full of brunch spots, coffee shops, gastropubs - it's a fun up-and-coming neighborhood to stroll (but i'm biased, i live here!). most of the action happens on 2nd and 3rd streets, between spring garden and girard. i don't think there's much here that i wouldn't recommend, so i'll just say any place you see is a pretty safe bet.

      3. I would second Radicchio - not far from where you are staying, and every time I go I'm totally amazed at how inexpensive it is considering the amount of great food I just ate. It is a byo also - so grab a bottle or two to bring with you, another great way in Philly to save your money!
        Out of the other few you list in your original post - I have to say yes to Monk's and to Tria (you can even go to the 12th and Spruce location which maybe is a bit closer to your hotel).
        To add live music to your dinner and drinks, perhaps Chris's Jazz Cafe on Sansom between Broad and 15th. I've only had lunch there, which was decent but I have seen live jazz there at night and it was fun.

        1. RTM is not always a zoo on Saturdays but in the afternoons and during bust convvention times it can be. If you get there in the early mornings (it opens at 8) you can get a great stack of pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place and not wait in line. Even if it were mobbed at lunch, DiNic's is worth the wait. Usually there is a short line of a few people but last Saturday at noon I had no wait at all to get my sandwich. In all of the times I have had their broccoli rabe it has never been the least bit bitter. Personally I go for the roast pork with provolone and half rabe and half spinach greens so I can get to try each. Also, if you go to Termini's, try the nirvana and almond soucee pastries. They are great! Also get a soft pretzel from Fisher's hot out of the oven or a warm cinnaomn bun from Beiler's.

          Also a few blocks from your hotel (on Arch between second and third Sts. is a tiny bakery in a pink building called Tartes that has great tarts, scones, and sugar and molasses cookies).

          Finally the Naked Chocolate Cafe at 13th and Juniper (a few blocks south of RTM) has great Aztec hot chocolate.
          And

          1. I'm at RTM every Saturday for fish and produce shopping, it's a zoo, but has a good energy. And you can't leave without a 4th street cookie (or at least I never can!) Tria is great, but is more appetizer/ small plates than a dinner. Coquette may be a longish walk, but just straight down 5th. Farmicia is nice in Old City, and I do love Fork also ut it's a little more $. Brunch: Morning Glory is good, but the service can be iffy. I'd suggest Sabrina's. A mad house but worth it, and you can call ahead and get your name on the list. THen afterward you're right there in the Italian Market!

            4 Replies
            1. re: hollyd

              finally... this morning, went to sabrina's - the new location at 18th and callowhill. an unexpected place for a restaurant, and my houseguests got a kick out of the dueling passport photo trucks on callowhill on the way.
              anyway, i would like to go back; the menu was overwhelming and there were at least six things i wanted to try, all at that moment, but unfortunately all my dining companions ordered meat dishes so i didn't get to sample. i stuck with a trusty old favorite, and tried their rendition of the apple & cheddar omelette. first impression is that they don't make their egg batter the way i like it - which is just plain old egg. did they add milk? i don't know. it was chewier, a more uniform texture than i like, not exciting eggs. cheddar was just an OK white cheddar. all together they were fine, but nothing to write home about or wait 30 min for a table for. thankfully we must have walked in at just the right minute, and did not have to wait more than 2 minutes as they cleared our table, while the party behind us was given a 20-min wait estimate. back to my meal, potatoes and english muffin on the side, more of the same, fine but not great. coffee was quite good, and i did chug 2 cups. service was friendly and quick - pretty great for how busy the place was.
              north 3rd remains my #1 for anything brunch in the city. i did their brunch for like the 60th time yesterday; had one of my usual dishes, french toast with strawberries, which was as good as ever - and even though the strawberries looked out of season, they tasted quite good. good mimosas. this place can do no wrong in my book, especially when it comes to their brunch. next up i have to try morning glory.

              1. re: rabidog

                Just tried the apple cheddar omelet at Sabrina's last week and I have to say that I too was underwhelmed. The menu is overwhelming, and I've been meaning to try the pumpkin pancakes for just about ever by now. But, I keep getting distracted by something else -- this time the omelet. The cheese wasn't sharp enough, the apples were too sweet (I was hoping for more tart). And the darn thing was as big as my head! Given the ample serving of toast and home fries, it could've been half the size. But, it wasn't overpriced, so I wasn't too upset about it (just hate to waste). Next time I must focus and stick w/ the pancakes! Sabrina's is worth a visit, but definitely try to go on a weekday or early (immediately upon opening) to avoid the wait...

                1. re: spyturtle008

                  yep, my thoughts exactly on the omelette! when i make it, i leave the green apples in big chunks and i don't really cook them much if at all. i like sharp melty cheddar with crisp, tart apples. this wasn't it.

                  haha, that omelette distracted me from my main craving too, which was french toast!

                  1. re: rabidog

                    Ok, then let's make a pact -- next visit to Sabrina's, I get the pumpkin pancakes, and you get the french toast! *Cyber-pinkie-swear*...

            2. hi! I live outside Philly and have been trying alot of new restaurants lately- Tria is great... I love it there, (it's in Rittenhouse). I also love Farmicia for brunch/ sat & sun 11:00- 2 (4th & Market)? One of my personal faves for dinner is Valanni- tapas (very cute) also great for people watching! Best time to go to RTM btwn 9-10am- it is quiet then. Look on www.opentable.com you can see restaurants and menus. I also love Sansom Oyster House- my friend Cary Neff is the owner- the best cocktail shrimp and raw oysters I have ever eaten-so sweet & succulent! Best choice for gelato Carpigio-think I spelled it wrong- 2 locations (13th & chestnut) I think, alot of great restaurants in that area too! Good luck and MANGIA...

              1. If you want to try DiNics on a weekend (and I think the Home Show is in town, so it will probably be very busy), I'd reccommend going before 11:45 or after 1. If not, head straight to the center of the terminal (there will be lots of foot traffic) and you can get a great view of the place while you wait in line. The line moves somewhat quickly. I don't care for rabe, but always get spinach which is awesome. One of these days I'll switch and try the peppers, but it's just so hard to do!!!
                No matter what, it will be one of the best sandwiches in your life.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jessicheese

                  I actually prefer the roast pork with roasted peppers Dinic's, but you can't go wrong anyway you order it. If you get over to the Italian market, try Isgro's Bakery. They make a peanut butter ganache that is out of this world.

                  1. re: Adamlick

                    thanks for all the great recs everyone! i was just wondering tho, how much is the average corkage fee? everything sounds wonderful btw...

                    1. re: unocal

                      If there is one charged, (not all do.. ) 5 dollars is average.

                      1. re: unocal

                        99% do not charge.

                  2. I highly recommend Mercato (valanni's sister restaurant - www.mercatobyob.com)- great food and service! Also, if you're craving a burger you've got to stop by Good Dog on 15th..serrved with a mix of yukon and sweet potato fries! Yummy!