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Visiting Philly from NYC

Hi there, I've been perusing the topics for Philly, and it sounds like Le Bec Fin, Vetri, and (I'll be on an expense account) the Saloon are all possible options. Am I missing anything that should really be in a "top three" list where an epiphany experience is driving the list?
I'm hoping to find a gem of a restaurant that I can talk about when I get back home. This will be my first trip to Philly. (This doesn't have to be an expensive dinner, just a really amazing one!).
Thanks for your two cents!

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  1. check out Paloma in Northeast Philadelphia.. it IS a gem... french mexican fusion.
    serious orgasm on a plate dining; NOT inexpensive, however. also, consider osteria - marc vetri's other restaurant

    1. With all of the terrific restaurants in Philadelphia, I would not put the Saloon in the top three. I doubt very much you would have an epiphany experience there. Can't speak about LBF because I haven't been there in years, but Vetri should definitely be on your list. Philadelphia is noted for it's byob's. I nominate Modo Mio (a northern Italian in Fishtown). It is not expensive but it is delicious. If you do a search, you will find other positive comments about it on this board. Welcome to Philadelphia.

      1. My personal top 2 are Ansill and Osteria, after that there are lots of fantastic places that could be #3. Are you going to be here for three meals, or just one? I can't tell. Saloon isn't in the top 300.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Buckethead

          I'm from the area and have not heard of the Saloon. What the heck is it?

          1. re: bluehensfan

            The Saloon is on 7th Street around Catherine/Fitzwater. It is a mix of Italian and Steak House, big on the list for power business dinners for years when Phila had no Steak Houses or good hotel restaurants. It is expensive and IMHO the food is mediocre. My most recent experience also included service that could have been better as well

        2. I would include Tinto. I love it there.

          1. My favorites are Amada and Osteria (the second restaurant from Marc Vetri). I think you could have a great experience at either one, especially on an expense account as it can add up quite quickly. These two spots are not fancy, white glove types of places so it depends on exactly what you're looking for. Additionally, you can't go wrong with Le Bec Fin or Vetri.

            1. I haven't actually tried it yet, but have you considered Morimoto? That's one that was actually in Philly before it when to NYC. If you're on an expense account, why not go for it. (I can't afford it myself.)

              I went to Buddakhan (sp) once a couple of years ago, and I really enjoyed it. Some of the Starr restaurants are too loud, but the atmosphere was great at Buddakhan. The Starr restaurants are pretty popular in general, but ask around before you choose one. Some of them have much better food than others and the atmospheres vary greatly, but they are mostly trendy and loud.

              Some other suggestions- Striped Bass and (people will laugh at me for this) Old City Tavern

              City Tavern is a tourist trap with its (rebuilt) historic building and period costumes in the trendy old city district, but the food is actually really good. I've been twice, and both times it was a great experience. As an interesting side note, they also have Ben Franklin's beer recipe. (They got it from the public library in NYC.) They can't brew it as strong as they did then though. The laws are different these days. ;)

              Also, it's not for a business dinner, but if you want to find great barbeque, try Devil's Alley. This is a great lunch spot too. I brought some of my friends from New York there for dinner before a dance (they are lindy hoppers), and they absolutely loved it. (I was quite relieved!)

              Enjoy your time in Philadelphia!

              3 Replies
              1. re: LindyLady

                At a recent chat, the Philly Inq restaurant writer Craig LeBan stated that Striped Bass quality had slipped since the recent Exec Chef had left and would suspend judgement on the restaurant until a new chef was in place and the menu had stabilized. So I would probably move Striped Bass lower on the list of places to consider.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  Me too. I don't have to suspend judgment though. The food is OK, but the prices they're charging are way over the line for what they deliver, and the service is smarmy. There is no reason to go there.

                2. re: LindyLady

                  I'd pass on City Tavern. The atmosphere's nice but the food is decidedly on the mediocre side. Also with another, more upsale Buddakan in NYC, you'd probably want to skip this along with Morimoto (he's never to be seen in Philly these days anyway). Buddakan is above average for the most part but, being from NYC, you have plenty of "eat and be seen" places up there with above average food, so if you're looking for the sublime, you may feel slighted. Also, the BBQ at Devil's Alley is just ok at best.

                  I'd stick with Vetri...

                3. If you're looking for great food and want an authentic Philly experience, I'd try Mama Maria's in South Philly. A BYOB, Mamma makes whatever looks good at the Italian market and will top off the fixed menu with homemade cordials. Amada is also a personal favorite for tapas. Striped Bass is great if you're looking for expensive appetizers because you'll want to go for cheesesteaks afterwards. L'Angastinos was great (another BYO) as was Buddakhan, Prime Rib and Fogo de Chao (a brazillian steakhouse). Enjoy!

                  1. I would recommend Morimoto's tasting menu with wine pairings. My boyfriend went there a year ago and he still talks about how amazing the food was. I believe it costs $125 a person. For a Starr restaurant, go for Alma de Cuba. The ceviche was exceptional. I found buddakan to be unspectacular, except fo the chocolate pagoda. If you go to Alma, you must get the chocolate cigar!