Interested in a list...
Of Rabidog's favorite restaurants in the city. I'm sure it will be helpful to all of us to hear and discuss them, and I am particurally interested as a vegetarian. I often find myself searching for some of your in depth reviews and would be interested in a list, especially of those that have great vegetarian options and are a little out of the way.
And of course, everyone feel free to chime in on this! I have a lot of veggie-friendly favorites as well.
Caffe Casta Diva
Su Xing House
Shiao Lan Kung
Cantina Los Caballitos
Le Bec Fin
Some places I want to hear reviews of is a Mexican restaurant you go to in South Philadelphia and reviews on New Harmony vs. Singapore vs. Charles Plaza vs. Kingdom of Vegetarians.
ah i can't find the post now, it's around here somewhere, but i can't stop eating that fu wah tofu hoagie. i stopped on my way home from work, and ate it in the car on my way home, spilling it all over myself and cursing like a sailor, but kept right on eating. it is so good. thanks a mil for that rec, saturninus!! everyone else who hasn't tried it - get one now!!!
OK just tried tinto tonight - wow - delicious and expensive!! just me, ate at the bar, spent $105! (did have a few glasses of wine) i'm curious to know what veggie dishes you liked. i had a cheese that started with a b (forget its name) which was definitely the most spectacular cheese plate i've ever had (honey, bread, quince paste, apples) with my crisp white wine. also had the potatoes (can't remember the name... again)... which were fine but the least spectacular of everything. little cylindrical potatoes baked with a smoky aioli sauce poured over them. also had the scallops (sans bacon) which were OK but i guess the lacking flavor was a result of my omitting the bacon, so i can't blame tinto. finally had a fish (can't remember which one, other than it was in the lower left corner of the menu) which was just spectacular in a creamy sauce with pieces of grapefruit and other citrusy pieces really meshing the dish together unexpectedly and nicely. i realize that's not of much interest to strict vegetarians, but it really was the most spectacular thing i had. i was swayed from my original thoughts which were to order the mushrooms. :) are those good? i'll definitely be back, maybe i'll try them next time.
also managed to make it to matyson this weekend (i had a really busy dining out weekend, three new places!!) and this was the highlight. wish i'd gone there earlier! had scallops to start and the cod as my main entree. i visited iceland last august which taught me exactly how fish should taste, and til this i had not found it in philly! it was cooked perfectly, crispy, salty and delicious on the outside and the perfect consistency inside. same goes for the scallops, delicious. the chef really knows their fishes. desserts were fine but not as great as dinner. vegetarians beware, though, unless you know specifically they'll deviate from the menu - there are no purely vegetarian options i saw other than a salad (which we also ordered, which was fine - but just a salad with goat cheese and fairly ordinary).
That's a pretty nice list you have there.
I have to second your placing Su Xing House on it -- I'm about as far from a vegetarian as one can be and I really like their (completely vegetarian) food.
And, these aren't in the city proper but, there's a pretty good trio of Indian places in West Philly (University City -- near Penn campus) that prominently feature vegetarian friendly dishes:
Here are mine:
Caffe Casta Diva - house salad - comes with roasted peppers, grilled artichoke hearts; homemade gnocchi, homemade cannoli
Raddichio - any salad and their spagetti in marinara sauce. the best sauce i've had.
Dmitri's - avavoda citrus salad, hummus
Branzino - any of the salads and pasta dishes, i really like the big menu
Su Xing House - kung pao dried tofu with peanuts, eggplant and tofu in garlic sauce
Shiao Lan Kung - salt baked tofu and snow pea leaves with garlic
Fu Wah - tofu hoagie, you must try it!
yum - salt baked tofu and tofu hoagie! these sound familiar --- you may have mentioned them before and now i MUST go try them!! actually all of those dishes sound good - light, good for summer eating. OK, i've got my assignments, i'll try to make it out to a couple of these this weekend!! :)
RE: veracruzana and puebla... true, carnivores rave about the tacos al pastor at puebla... but the guacamole should never be overlooked! guacamole as an entree is totally underrated! you can most definitely make a meal of this. i made the mistake of getting both an order of guac and a burrito at veracruzana --- there is no way one person can finish even half of that meal! the guac itself was enough, and perfectly satisfying for me.
wow i feel flattered!! but that's a hard request. i have a TERRIBLE memory and i just know i'm going to forget someone. i'm trying to get myself more and more out of the way, but it's difficult. i do much better in the summer when i have my bike; much better menu-shopping from a bicycle than car (but i do sometimes drive aimlessly in the wintertime, too). anyway, i'll list my favorite dishes (if i have them) at my favorite places:
horizons - the jamaican jerk BBQ seitan, peppercorn-crusted tofu in pea sauce, capirinhas to drink!
modo mio - absolutely everything i've ever had here! it varies each time.
north third - one of the most UNDERrated brunches anywhere... french toast, fresh moz + tomato + arugula omelette, french fries with that spicy mayo, n3rd salad
standard tap - tomato + moz salad (summer only i think) = near perfection with a beer on the 2nd floor balcony
mama's and mama's vegetarian (slightly prefer the former on south st) - why, the felafel platter of course!
pagoda noodle house - another underrated/overlooked place, IMO... indonesian tofu soup (ask for vege broth), singapore noodles (get them w tofu instead of chicken; i also like to get the fat noodles if they are available - help me out here... ho fun or mei fun? i always mix the two up)... also a fine place for dessert only if you've filled up on popcorn after a movie at the ritz - the fried bananas are PERFECT here.
society hill hotel (need to try more of their menu) beer, bread and soups - awesome.
criniti - lentil soup, spinach ravioi, that bread they have when it's homemade!
il cantuccio - just been standard-issue good italian food every time. the misto platter is fun.
la locanda del ghiottone - only been once, gnocci was sooo rich
charlie's pub - ask for the specials list; i love the rice they come with (often fish dishes, dunno if you all eat fish)... it's rice flavored different ways, almost creamy and risotto-like
tiffin - ALmost everything is really good. i have them for dinner about 1 or 2 nights a week or more. love the veggie samosas, aloo papri chaat, paneer tikka masala, malai kofta, tandoori vegetables (you've reeeeally got to like that charcoaly flavor to like these) and while i'm not a huge shrimp fan, the sauce the south indian shrimp curry comes in is awesome.
tria - the 'dessert grilled cheese,' the bruschettas, the pistachio cake thing, most of the cheeses i've had. all the wines have been delish. on to beer for the next visit.
chloe - love that ravioli on the regular menu. also the indonesian shrimp curry (forget how i posted above i don't like shrimp. i make an exception for this!).
vietnam palace - summer rolls are the best ever. also the vege soups i've had are really good... as are the noodle dishes. there are two... one with wide rice noodles and tofu and veggies... the other with those skinny curly crispy noodles, tofu, and veggies. love that place.
eulogy - no favorites, love everything i've had... though i don't think it's a vegetarian paradise. one of my fave things was fish n chips (did i mention i'm a very lax vegetarian?)
rustica - very important to try this by-the-slice from behind the counter first, because as a whole (fresh) pie, somehow it's not as decadent - the pesto pie... pesto sauce, fresh moz, tomato slices. SO good in the summer.
arbol cafe - very simple little coffee shop across the street from standard tap and rustica (where that cute little courtyard is and ground floor coffee shop used to be)... they have paraguayan food which is primarily meaty but i've found a great, light "i'm getting ready to hike around the city" breakfast of a mint mate (there's an accent somewhere on the e in mate; it's a tea... pronounced something like mah-tay) and the palmito sandwich... think tuna salad, but instead of tuna, it's hearts of palm. very light. comes on white bread with the crusts cut off, and a chilled black bean and corn salad on the side. i add tomato and red onion to the sandwich. very satisfying in an elementary-school type of way; plus the owners are the friendliest people on the planet who welcome you in and chat with you like family.
higher grounds - green tea latte (straaaaaaaaange thing that you'll have a hard time finishing the first time, but be craving the next day!). also an everything bagel + cream cheese + tomato + black pepper; but it has to be the guy who makes it, cause he often forgets about the bagel in the toaster and it gets extra toasty, just the way i like it!
belgian cafe - need to revisit again, but i'm pretty sure i was pretty thrilled with my entire experience, even though we got brunch when i didn't want brunch. crazy unhealthy french toast, mimosas made with belgian beer! yes!
erawan - does it count if i haven't been in a year, though? two words: erawan noodles.
a full plate (fried green tomato salad, iced tea), las cazuelas, taco riendo, bar ferdinand, deuce (darnit, i meant to hit their bad action movie monday night party and have the carrot cake!), siam cuisine, marra's, bistro juliana, los taquitos de puebla, taqueria veracruzana, mocaljete mixto, soy cafe (kickin kiwi smoothie - i get it all the time... need to sit down and have a full meal here), siam lotus, new wave cafe (the one on allegheny... i know i've seen one in south philly too and i don't know if they are related... yummy pierogies)
in the suburbs:
taqueria la michoacana, a taste of india, su tao, a cut above deli, pepperoncini, ristorante primavera, royal india, chinnar, thai pepper, carmine's creole cafe (despite one terribly awkward appetizer)
overrated/at least on here: (am i getting ahead of myself?)
villa di roma, zot, happy rooster, osteria, raddichio (sorry! :) ...though i think i did mis-order here, while i ordered better at bistro juliana. just didn't like the super-cramped seating arrangement on top of misordering), naked chocolate, amada (don't get me wrong, it's good, but... just good IMO, unless its the gazpacho you're eating), tacconelli's, xochitl, honey's sit n eat (baffles me every day when i walk past the lines waiting outside!), sabrina's
places i miss (already): lakeside, fish tank on main (manayunk), china king II (the latter still there to my knowledge, but i no longer live in conshohocken and now i have chinatown at my fingertips)
okay, a word on mexican... i'm no expert, but it is one of my favorite cuisines. i love it for its simpler dishes, or things that aren't even complete dishes - guacamole! black bean soup. salsas. need to revisit cantina; i was there for brunch which is really hard for me to judge, plus i hated my waitress. got to say, if there's one thing el vez is good for, it's freakin guacamole. i know people here love lolita, but where it counts for me (good guac) el vez wins hands-down. other good guacs are veracruzana and los taquitos de puebla. mocaljete had amazing service, a great ambiance, good sangria, and pretty noteworthy food... just needs a little bang of fresh flavor like a good guac brings. i do miss living 1 mile from michoacana and their enchiladas suizas (they will kindly sub the meat for veggies if you ask them nicely and plainly)
and a word on chinatown... chinese isn't my favorite cuisine (thai and vietnamese are)... out of all of those places, the only place where i thought my food was pretty distinctive (and i went on a tour, hitting all these places a day or so apart, ordering the same dish; essentially sizzling tofu or something similar) was at new harmony where they didn't have the sizzling tofu, so i got what sounded closest. other than new harmony (which i thought was pretty good, and the decor + hand 'painted' sign made it spectacular!) the others sorta blurred together for me. i would have to revisit these all again. i wouldn't be able to discuss with the flavors still fresh in my mouth.
there's a LOT i still need to hit (i only moved from DC 3 years and 1 month ago!!) and many from your list so i've obviously got to get out there!! :) i keep a very unofficial list here: http://del.icio.us/rabidog though i'm not too good at crossing places off once i've been there. i think that site's helpful because i can check it from anywhere and a lot of the websites it links to work with my blackberry. next up, i've really been in the mood for etheopian lately (abyssinia was good, but...) so i think i'll try dahlak next... oh, and i don't know how django and matyson keep passing me by!
.... everyone always said i was long winded...
Places I want to try - anyone else want to chime in?
pagoda noodle house
society hill hotel
la locanda del ghiottone
a full plate
los taquitos de puebla
taqueria la michoacana
a taste of india
Went to Modo Mio this past Sat. and it was perfect. The escargot appetizer was as good as I've had (Le Bec Fin included.) We've never had a problem with service there (although we usually try to avoid weekends) but I've heard quite a few complaints, so in response it looks like they hired a new host and the food came out of the kitchen like clockwork!
re: pat j
I couldn't say for sure, but seem to be very accommodating (particularly Marie). And of course, you'd be better off going mid-week!! They always seem to have several fish options on the menu (dh has the tuna and was very pleased) plus several pasta/ravioli choices should be safe. If you try, I'd be curious how you make out!
I don't know how well you'll fare at Los Taquitos de Puebla. I don't recall many veg options but they make a kick-ass guacamole. The star there seems to be the meat (and the other various animal body parts). But then again, since I'm all about the meat maybe I didn't notice the veg stuff.
Criniti's is your typical South Philly red gravy kind of place. I know that has a different meaning to many people, but to me they do their thing and I think they do it pretty well. I kind of go back and forth between Criniti's and Marra's for different things. For example. I think Criniti's makes a great eggplant parm (a veggie option for you), but Marra's lasagna is heaven on a (very heavy) plate.
And you can't beat the ambiance at Criniti's. They are in a renovated church, but they left the stained glass. I tell people that not only can you have your baptism/funeral luncheon there, you can also have the ceremony.
re: Philly Ray
totally spot-on about criniti! that's exactly how i feel about them - their food tastes like they could cook it in their sleep; that's all they've ever done and it comes so naturally to them. i am AMAzed by how many italian places screw up simple things like spaghetti and marinara and criniti is always good. love the stained glass window. oh, and don't miss their soups. i've had both the minestrone and lentil - simply amazing and simple. :)
If you are mentioning the Su Tao Cafe out in the burbs (frazer/malvern, i can tell you of my one experience there. We went for their buffet as this seemed to be the best way to try it all and see what we liked. Overall, we were really disappointed. They weren't busy which could be a huge part of the problem. The food wasn't turning over fast enough for all the buffet items to be fresh. I really felt many/most items had been sitting out for quite awhile... I had thought we might give it another try but cannot convince husband to do so.
since this i've tried dahlak... had a similar vege combo platter like i had at abyssinia. dahlak only had 3 entrees, though, while abyssinia offered more like five on their platter. everything i had at both was tasty, but one of the dishes at dahlak was exceptional compared to two at abyssinia. so i suppose there is a greater ratio of food that i like at abyssinia. but the ambiance there was totally off-putting. and dahlak's interior space is REALLY cute and comfy (we ate on the bowl-shaped tables). dahlak has my current favorite beer (golden monkey). service was better. i'd like to revisit both and get the dishes i really liked (i think they both centered around chickpeas) but i'm pretty sure dahlak wins out of the two for me.
re: Bride of the Juggler
Of course. Fu Wah is in West Philadelphia and is owned by the same people as Vietnam Restaurant. They have amazing tofu hoagies. The tofu is marinated and served with carrots, cilantro and jalepeno peppers. Absolutely delicious.
Shiao Lan Kung is probably my favorite restaurant in Chinatown. I love to order their Salt Baked Tofu - so crispy, a little salty and spicy and served dry. We also get the Snow Pea Leaves with garlic there which are always perfectly prepared.
saturninus- Do you think you can edit your heading to "interested in a veggie friendly list"? I almost missed this post becuase it did not catch my interest but now I am anxiously awaiting the replies!!!!! Thank you! (I apologize for the request but think we can attract lots of veggie lovers).
wow - what an interesting chow corner 47th and baltimore is! i sorta wish i lived there! headed out to fu wah today only to be sidetracked by vietnam cafe. not too terribly many vege options but enough to suffice. i did mourn the absence of wide noodle dishes (and questioned the two odd blank menu pages) but only temporarily. everything we had was delicious! summer rolls, fried spring rolls, and for me, tofu with vermicelli. awesome! though it was all vegetarian, i noticed my entree came with a soy-based sauce while my SO's entree came with the same sauce the spring roll appetizer came with - which was most definitely fish sauce-based. so strict vegetarians beware. but i suppose it would be would be easy enough to sub fish sauce for plum sauce, which is what the summer rolls come with, or more soy sauce. they also have sriracha available on request, and a deliciously tart vietnamese limeade.
i didn't want to give up on my original goal, so after dinner i went next door to get a tofu hoagie to take home (okay, so i snuck a few bites in the car right after my other meal!!!) - that is a very delicious thing for $3.50!! i was even more happy to discover in the little fu wah market the snow pea crisps i've been searching for for over a year! those things are addictive.
oh man - it really was a chow weekend - i totally forgot about one other dinner (actually it was earlier this week after a much-needed pilates class!!!) - went to nam phuong on washington ave. verrrry good and extremely cheap. $13 = summer rolls, vermicelli/vege/tofu entree, glass of wine. i have to say, while they were good, i would rank the other three vietnamese places i've been to recently right above them (vietnam cafe, vietnam palace, vietnam - can we get some more creative names here!?) but that's not to say i wouldn't recommend it. i fact i want to go back with a group - perfect for a group because the place is HUGE with many large tables. my dad is a fan of all things cheap and vegetarian so that's where the next family dinner will be when they come to visit. oh, and the service there is stellar. very friendly and efficient.