Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
Apr 3, 2008 09:42 AM

moving to center city from chicago: get to know philly weekend

Just decided to move to Philly in August. In Chicago I love the food scene, have done some of the big meals in the city, used to work at Avenues with graham elliot and know where to get the best baked goods as well as the yummiest sloppy slice of pizza.

so sad to lose all my culinary touchstones. wondering if philly chowhounds would rec some easy-to-love, easy-to-get-a-reservation spots in & around center city that i can drop by on the weekend of april 17th-20th, my first visit to the city.

any other thoughts contrasting chicago&philly, or just places that you think might remind me of home would be appreciated. (ps. i love good pizza & cheesesteaks but i cant get enough of the kind of creative spins on classic that chicago has become known for of late. also, my ideal food is graham elliot's: insanely fabulous ingredients plated artfully, but flavors that blend naturally---no mental effort required to understand the appeal.

many thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, not necessarily the easiest reservations, try Amada or Tinto, both owned by chef Jose Garces who is a chicago native and is opening a restaurant there shortly

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bigley9

      I think his Chicago place has already opened.

      My favorite places in the city are Ansill (3rd and Bainbridge) and Osteria (640 North Broad St.), in that order.

    2. Then bring some wine from Chicago and try out our BYOB scene, Cochon, Branzino, Mercato - search for BYO on this board.

      1. Welcome! I'm pretty sure you're going to quickly fall in love with our foodie scene as well.

        Is there any neighborhood in particular you are looking at or will this be a whole city overview trip? I'm not sure if you know of our BYO scene, I think sometimes it takes people by surprise how many restaurants (and a lot of the most loved ones) are bring your own wine/beer/liquor. Many of these don't take reservations (and many are cash only) but offer a really unique vibe to the city I think. A lot of great food, good atmosphere and save a bundle by bringing your own beverages!

        I'd definitely encourage you to check out Tinto and Amada, but also look into Matyson (, Little Fish (, Osteria is new-ish and up for a James Beard award this year (
        Also, check out the Reading Terminal Market where you'll find all sorts of yummy food to snack on and take home - while there try a DiNic's roast pork sandwich (the sandwich that many Philadelphians choose over the cheesesteak!)


        8 Replies
        1. re: smackdown

          Make sure to check out Reading Terminal Market for great breakfasts at the Dutch Eating Place (delicious pancakes) and lunch at DiNic's (roast pork sandwiches with provolone and greens). Nothing at all like it in Chicago or many other cities anywhere. Best to go on the 17th through the 19th when the Amish merchants are at the market.

          Philly also has great hot chocolate at the Naked Chocolate Cafe

          The pizza scene is sad in Philly. Nary a good slice to be had in this city much less anything deep dish. And for that matter so is the popcorn scene (BYO Garrett's for your visit)...

          Estia has great upscale Greek cuisine that puts Greektown to shame (albeit at a price

          Lots of BYO's in the city worth checking out like Ansill, Matyson, Lolita, etc.

          1. re: bluehensfan

            I don't know what the fuss is with Naked Chocolate, their hot chocolate is nothing you can't do at home (for 10% of the cost) with a block of good chocolate and some milk and cream, and their candies aren't very good either.

            For good pizza, head to Osteria or Slice. It's not deep-dish, though.

            1. re: Buckethead

              I don't know about 10%, but Buckethead is pretty dead on about being able to do it at home. The cakes are pretty decent, but I also agree on the candies. (The pretzels I had there were pretty disappointing.) In short, if you're walking around and shopping, Naked Chocolate is great to stop in. If you're already home (or in your hotel), I wouldn't leave it for the hot chocolate alone.

              If you're into sushi, the cherry blossom festival "Dine Out Japan" discount includes some great restaurants:

                1. re: Bigley9

                  Actually they are on Sundays, but only if you order the 'Pif night' prix-fixe.

                  Capogiro is a must! I'd recommend Tinto over Amada for that reason (Tinto is right across the street from one of Capogiro's two locations).

              1. re: smackdown

                the byo scene sounds great; and i did notice osteria on the 08 beard awards---exciting! glad to hear the award is echoing acclaim for the people that know food here!
                im PSYCHED about that DiNic pork sandwich. bbq has been huge in chicago lately and i had to find a way to get the necessary pork in my diet. THANK YOU!!!

              2. Definitely make Estia for superior Greek seafood one of your stops.
                Trust me!
                And welcome to the City of Brotherly Love.

                1. Welcome to Philly, Kathleen! I'm a former Chicagoan myself, although it's been a number of years since I really knew what was what in the Chicago dining scene. I will say though that I absolutely adore the Philly food scene in a way that I never quite did in Chicago, and have gotten very attached. I also have a friend who's a professional chef in Chicago who comes to visit ready to tear into the cuisine here. So no worries, you'll find your touchstones soon enough.

                  Something Chicago doesn't really have, as far as I know, that Philly excels at is its markets. There's nothing like Reading Terminal or, my absolute favorite neighborhood in Philly, the Italian Market. Good eats, whether you're looking for a quick bite on the run or produce to fill your kitchen. Great cheeses, spices, bakeries, fresh pasta, etc. (And lots in the way of the butcher dept. if that's you're thing -- I'm vegetarian.)

                  I like Philly's Chinatown better as well -- more accessible and better options. One of my favorites there is Rangoon for Burmese food.

                  There are already a ton of great recommendations below -- I'll third (fourth?) Amada, and will toss Horizon's into the mix. It is a vegan restaurant, but as long as you're into trying new things you're guaranteed to have an excellent meal. I like Green Zebra, but Horizon's blows them (and any other veg'n restaurant I've ever been to -- yes, even including those in San Fran) out of the water. Far and away my favorite.

                  The byo's are an excellent treat, too, if you're tired of paying huge mark-ups on wine.

                  Have no fear -- you're headed to a great food city!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: spyturtle008

                    thank you everyone, but the market angle is one i would never have known i was missing. i'm always impressed by a vegan restaurant that can leave a meat-eater reconsidering the staple of every cool are these recs? im thrilled.

                    1. re: kathleen rose

                      If you get the urge for something close to a Chicago Italian beef sandwich, head to Nick's on 20th and Jackson in South Philly.