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Visiting Philadelphia--Suggestions?

  • m

I'm visiting Philadelphia for about 5 days in March. It'll be my first time there and I'm staying near Locust/Broad. I would like suggestions that are either quite close to there or easily (less than 30 mins) accessible by transit. Am interested in a few things:

1. Scrapple or variations thereof--best places?
2. Cheesesteak--best places?
3. Excellent brunch--neighbourhood joints, no greasy spoons.
4. Mid-priced dinner restaurants--entrees from $15-$29. Will likely be dining with a celiac so would prefer to avoid places that serve mostly pasta & other wheat flour-based things although generally there are a couple of items on any restaurant menu that work. Also like good dessert--homemade, a bit inventive. Prefer relatively casual (nice sweater/jeans) as I won't be packing lots of dressy things.
5. Read somewhere about a prix fixe lunch at Le Bec Fin? Do they still do that? If so, which days of the week and how much does it cost? Are there other upscale places that are open for weekday lunches that you would recommend? Would prefer to contain eating costs, by having lunch rather than dinner if going to fancy places.
6. Anything else unique to Philadelphia that you feel I absolutely should try.

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  1. just noticed you're on the ontario/toronto board. i've done a few business based trips to philadelphia so there are a couple things i've tried out.

    2. my vote goes to jim's on south st. we did a whole tour around philadelphia... luke's, steve's prince of steaks, gio's, etc etc... and by far jim's is the one i love. chopped, wit', and extra cheeze whiz. it just seemed to fit what i felt a cheesesteak should be, but many people here will disagree with me.

    4. ansil was my pick just over a year ago and it was fantastic and casual. this is likely out of date since i don't notice anyone mention it in months. very jamie kennedy-esque but i found it less sauce intense.

    not really fitting at all for 6. but if you've ever found yourself craving a really good rare burger in toronto... the good dog bar does a great job. i could wax and wane but as long as you love roquefort you're in for a treat. and speaking of which, generally nice selection of microbrews in many philadelphia bars, so if you're into that kinda thing then you're in for a treat.

    oh, and if you like really rich chocolately coffee full of depth.... the old city blend at the old city coffee place in the market uses india a beans, something no coffee guy in toronto has nor seems to know what it is! i have serious cravings for that stuff.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinstripeprincess

      Ansill is still fantastic, I was just there this past weekend and had one of the best meals I've ever had there. But like a lot of excellent places that have been around for a while, it just doesn't get mentioned as often as the newer places.

    2. 3. you'll get a lot of opinions about brunch, but my vote for the best brunch in the city is north third in northern liberties (on north third street conveniently). very neighborhood-y. then you can shop the cute neighborhood boutiques. it's very off-the-beaten-tourist-path.

      6. things unique to philly **that i am proud of** ... the BYO scene (chloe my most recent fave), the gastropub scene (standard tap, eulogy, many others!), capogiro gelato - not to be missed even in the winter!

      1. 1. Scrapple is good at the Dutch Eating Place in the Reading Terminal Market.
        2. Admittedly not a big fan of the cheesesteaks. Pats and Geno's (the tourist traps in town) are just so-so. Jim's on south street was horrible (dry and gristly). Rick's Steaks is the market is decent.
        6. Uniquely Philly would be the Reading Terminal Market http://www.readingterminalmarket.org for breakfasts at the aforementioned Dutch Eating Place (get the pancakes), soft pretzels at Fishers, a roast pork sandwich (the "other" cheesesteak in town) at DiNic's with provolone and broccoli rabe, and Bassett's 100 year old ice cream counter. The market is best from Wednesday through Saturday when the Amish merchants are open but it does get very crowded during the Flower Show (March 1st through 9th).
        Another great place a few blocks from where you're staying is the Naked Chocolate Cafe for hot chocolate http://www.nakedchocolatecafe.com and you should visit the Italian Market section in town on a warmer day if you have one.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bluehensfan

          Run, do not walk across the street at Broad and Locust to Estia for lunch. Pricey as it is for dinner, you can save with lunch. It is an upscale Greek seafood place and the food is delicious.
          http://www.estiarestaurant.com/

          1. re: idia

            i would run, not walk across broad street too! someone didn't tell half of philly that broad street's not an interstate highway. :)

            is estia's menu the same for lunch? i want to go soon but not sure if i can afford dinner! BUT, i must have that octopus salad.

            1. re: rabidog

              Wow...we were at Estia today. They have the octopus which is fabulous, a fish special of the day over briam vegetables for $14 and a few of the dinner fishes by the pound (we had the fagri and the louvaki). The former you can usually get a fish that weighs a pound or so (so it's about $25) while the latter usually weighs in a pound and a half or more so perhaps you can split it with someone else in your party. Our meal was great as usual!

        2. You must try the good dog burger (gooddogbar.com). It was voted best in the city. It comes with sweet potato and yukon gold fries..sooo good! Great beer and wine list too!
          Mercato (mercatobyob.com - italian) is a great BYOB on spruce. Their sister restaurant Valanni has great mediterrean (it's not byob - valanni.com)..and they do a great brunch!

          1. Scrapple, I'd say in the Reading Terminal just like another poster mentioned (but I cannot discourage Down Home Diner enough...make sure you go to the Dutch Eating Place).
            Since you'd all ready be going there for brunch, I don't know if you'd want to try any other places there, but at least walk around. Really good Amish Soft Pretzels, mac and cheese from Delilah's is amazing, decent smoothies from the one place (don't remember the name), check out Termini just even to look at their desserts, and DiNic's really does have fantastic pulled pork sandwiches.
            If you like sushi, I know that at least Pod caters to people with celiac's.. I'm not sure if that's just true of Japanese restaurants in general?
            Dessert's... Naked Chocolate Cafe. I highly highly recommend it in place of dessert at a restaurant one night. They have fantastic Euro style hot chocolate and fabulous desserts to boot (the flourless chocolate cake thing is amazing). Brown Betty Bakery in Northern Liberties is good as well (midday snack I'd say).
            And BYOs are a great way of keeping costs down a little ... just don't forget the bottle!