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30-odd Philadelphia Restaurants--favourites?

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  • MaryZ Mar 3, 2008 12:32 AM
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I'm visiting Philadelphia in a week or so. Have made some decisions regarding food already, but also have looked at reviews and postings and recommendations from this board. From this, I have assembled a list of possibilities. I know that lunch/brunch places are mixed up with dinner places, but could you tell me your top 3 picks from the list below and why?

Ansill
Chloe
N 3rd
Marigold
The Ugly American
Cochon
Snackbar
Triumph Brewing Co
Standard Tap
Eulogy
Sabrina’s
Estia
Good Dog Bar
Fork
Pumpkin
Silk City
Mercato
Radicchio
Bistro Juliana
Valanni
Audrey Claire
James
Gilmore’s
Amada
Gayle
Bistro 7
Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat
Carman’s Country Kitchen
Sovalo
Modo Mio
Osteria

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  1. Ansill - I personally didn't have a great meal there, prefer Tria or Tinto for small plates
    Chloe - romantic, wonderful BYO
    N 3rd - decent food, good atmosphere but not my favorite
    Marigold
    The Ugly American
    Cochon
    Snackbar
    Triumph Brewing Co - no
    Standard Tap - great for local beers and food
    Eulogy - 300 beers available, food is decent
    Sabrina’s - so so breakfast
    Estia
    Good Dog Bar - good bar food, especially if you are in Center City
    Fork
    Pumpkin
    Silk City - bad food, good bar
    Mercato
    Radicchio - amazing Italian, super fresh food
    Bistro Juliana - not as good at Radicchio
    Valanni
    Audrey Claire
    James - tiny portions, overpriced
    Gilmore’s
    Amada - personally prefer Tinto but still very good
    Gayle
    Bistro 7
    Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat - delicious Jewish/Southern breakfast
    Carman’s Country Kitchen
    Sovalo - wasn't impressed for the price
    Modo Mio
    Osteria - had a terrible experience there, others like it more

    1. Looks like you pared down Philly Mag's top 50 list?

      Anyway Estia is great for fresh fish and octopus.
      Amada is a bit overrated if you ask me, some stuff is good others just ok.
      Fork was good ten years ago.
      Most stuff at Honey's Sit and Eat is good, especially the french toast.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bluehensfan

        That and I looked at Citypaper reviews. Basically, I'd like a couple of mid-price to more expensive places and some easy, casual more budget-oriented places.
        I've knocked a number off the list based on the recommendations so far.
        1. Ansill (dinner)
        2. Chloe (dinner)
        3. N 3rd (brunch)
        4. Marigold (dinner)
        5. The Ugly American (brunch or dinner)
        6. Cochon (dinner)
        7. Snackbar (brunch or dinner)
        8. Standard Tap (lunch or quick dinner)
        9. Tinto (dinner)
        10. Estia (lunch)
        11. Good Dog Bar (lunch)
        12. Pumpkin (dinner)
        13. Mercato (dinner)
        14. Radicchio (dinner)
        15. Audrey Claire (dinner)
        16. Gilmore’s (dinner)
        17. Amada (dinner)
        18. Gayle (dinner)
        19. Bistro 7 (dinner)
        20. Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat (breakfast/brunch)
        21. Carman’s Country Kitchen (breakfast/brunch)
        22. Modo Mio (dinner)
        23. Osteria (dinner)

      2. Top 2: Ansill & Osteria, after that there are several possible contenders for #3.

        Places you should cross off, not because they're bad necessarily, but because they're not on the same level as most of your list: Chloe, Triumph, Standard Tap, Eulogy, Fork, Silk City, Valanni, James, Honey's, Carman's, Sovalo.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Buckethead

          i think sovalo competes! we were there a couple weeks ago for our third visit and it was still great.

          from this list, i'd pare down my dinner options to the following, and probably place the two tapas places at the top
          Tinto (dinner)
          Amada (dinner)
          Ansill (dinner)
          Cochon (dinner)
          Gayle (dinner)
          Osteria (dinner)

          we had a pretty lame experience at mercato soon after it opened, not sure if its improved
          we were at fork recently and have to say they've gone downhill over the years. someone help them please!

          1. re: Buckethead

            Keep Chloe!

          2. My top three from that list are Ansill, Osteria, and Amada. You have left off one of my favorites, though, which is Matyson.

            1. man what a list! i hope you're in town for awhile. i guess we are no good at picking our top 3, but here's my thoughts on the lot. most of the ones i've been to, i've written about somewhere or another on here.

              1. Ansill (dinner)
              2. Chloe (dinner) - love em, romantic and modern american with a cute decor and comfy service. BYO.
              3. N 3rd (brunch) - my absolute fave brunch in the city.
              4. Marigold (dinner)
              5. The Ugly American (brunch or dinner)
              6. Cochon (dinner)
              7. Snackbar (brunch or dinner) - i heard they've normalized their menu since i went, but they did a neat job of matching up some extreme flavors on my visit... cute place.
              8. Standard Tap (lunch or quick dinner) - go for the beers & ambiance, late nite. i tend to think their food is best in the summer, where they really excel with great produce.
              9. Tinto (dinner)
              10. Estia (lunch) - good, gorgeous dining room, $$$, get the octopus salad as mentioned!
              11. Good Dog Bar (lunch)
              12. Pumpkin (dinner)
              13. Mercato (dinner)
              14. Radicchio (dinner) - i am "meh" on them. i see you crossed off bistro juliana, by the same folks, but if i had to pick one or the other i'd pick the latter. raddichio - cute ambiance but WAY too crowded for me to enjoy.
              15. Audrey Claire (dinner)
              16. Gilmore’s (dinner)
              17. Amada (dinner) - again a place i prefer in the summer, when they have their gazpacho. for the price i'd wait til summer to be really wowed.
              18. Gayle (dinner)
              19. Bistro 7 (dinner)
              20. Honey’s Sit ‘n Eat (breakfast/brunch) - i happen to think they are totally overrated and can never understand the 15+ people waiting outside in line every single weekend, but whatev. i go to n3rd a block or so away where there rarely is a line, and though people just don't believe me, the french toast is 1,000 times better than honey's. :)
              21. Carman’s Country Kitchen (breakfast/brunch)
              22. Modo Mio (dinner) - one of my absolute faves, you should go if you like salt.
              23. Osteria (dinner) - if you're from out of town and walking, i've got to warn you it's not the most pleasant walk. i do it all the time, and i think it looks worse than it is, but if you're coming from city hall, it's definitely the least picturesque way you can walk out of your four choices. that said, once you get there it's the most gorgeous dining room i may have ever seen. i just love it. but the food didn't live up and it was reeeeeally expensive.

              some of your list is in northern liberties, which is off the beaten tourist path. (n3rd, honey's, standard tap, modo mio) i think it's a great place to come to see local philly, but i'm biased because i live here. :) still, there's a great amount of shopping up and down 2nd and 3rd st between spring garden and girard, and an endless number of coffee houses. if you end up at any one of those places, i would plan accordingly: i think n3rd and honey's are best suited for brunch hours (both are open for dinner as well, but brunch is what i think both do best) so i would combine brunch with a little shopping with some coffee. if you take the el, you could use either the spring garden or girard stop, the latter putting you right next to coffee house, one of my faves with its cute outdoor garden out back. there's also higher grounds, elixir, one shot... then there's the random tea room (new, cute), or arbol for tea... then there's the soy cafe or euphoria for smoothies. so that's the day date. if you pick modo mio or standard tap, i think you're best suited visiting for dinner, and combining it with a bar crawl of some sort. there are more bars than i can list, but most are concentrated on 2nd and 3rd. if you get sick of beers, bar ferdinand has great wines (1/2 price bottles mondays... i think azure now does this, too). there's also johnny brenda's, owned by the same folks as the standard tap (and doesn't it have an identical beer list?) but often a little less crowded if there's not a show going on. for an easy night, i would take the el on up to the girard station, and head east on girard - johnny brenda's is a block or so away. beer always makes me hungry. after a couple beers you could walk back towards and under the el, go a couple blocks up, and modo mio is on your right side (BYO, cash only). after modo mio if you're still up for it you could head south down 2nd and start hitting bars at random, then catch a cab or the el from spring garden to get back to wherever you're staying.

              what i mean to say is, it's a LOT of drinks in a small neighborhood. you will NEVER go thirsty in northern liberties. just trying to beef up tourism a little here. :)

              finally..... if you're open to the idea of vegan food, i really suggest you check out horizons. i think it's the one place this board is pretty much unanimous on (well, that and the reading terminal market, another don't-miss). oh, and capogiro. okay, so we all agree on a lot of things. but really, if there were one thing i tell ANY visitor to do, it would be to go to horizons. everything else is cool and fun and necessary in its own right, but horizons almost made me cry it was so good.

              1. Depends where you are staying and how far you want to travel. Ugly American has great brunch. Good Dog has good bar food. People love Standard Tap, not sure why. I'd pass on Fork unless you are hoping to see local newscasters in the wild. If you are by the Art Musuem, try Bridget's...Belgian beer, welcoming atmosphere. Osteria..ugh.

                1 Reply
                1. re: askalice

                  Bridgid's...24th st, just north of fairmount ave.

                2. Amada is one of my favorite places here in Philly--they have a dirty martini to die for. But its very busy, so make reservations or go at an off-peak time.
                  My other two favorite places are Tria (not on your list, but excellent nonetheless) amd Valanni.

                  James is a strange place--I went for happy hour once and was not impressed.

                  1. I haven't eaten at all of those places, but here's the ones that stand out for me:

                    N. 3rd and Good Dog (best gastropub fare)
                    Eulogy (mussels & frites!)
                    Silk City (get the fried chicken)
                    Estia (a great evening out - beautiful decor, excellent food and service...get the baklava)

                    1. Cochon is a good restaurant and well worth the visit.
                      BUT there are some negatives.
                      Their bread is truly execrable, and warmed in the oven (or microwave) before brought to the table. Cardinal sin, and suitable for Olive Garden or other terrible places.
                      And it's loud - which I don't mind but I can imagine some do.
                      And the fish is not great...but with a name like Cochon there's no sense in ordering it anyway.
                      Otherwise - a nice short menu, fairly creative here and there, very reasonably priced, nice atmosphere and waiters are friendly.