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HELP - Traveling to Philly this weekend and dropped the ball on dining!

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I'm in dire need of some quick recommendations for this weekend, as I have little to no time to research. We're staying at the airport marriott for a conference, and have both Thursday and Friday nights free for dinner.

We fly in Thursday night, so I'm looking for something somewhat casual and probably on the lighter side, but with a nice glass of wine. Good salads would be perfect. We will not have a rental car, so the place needs to be within reasonable cab distance from the airport. I was thinking maybe Tria Cafe? Any other recs?

Friday night the conference has set up a shuttle tour that will stop at either Old City for First Friday or Center City/Rittenhouse. We'll be business casual at best, since we will have to get on and off a shuttle bus and do some walking. I tried to get reservations at Amada, but no go at this late notice. Cuisine and price not necessarily an issue, just a place with good chow that we can still get a reservation for a Friday night, and can walk to in either of those areas. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks so much!

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  1. The problem with being down near the airport is that there aren't many options other than normal chains (Ruby Tuesday, Applebees, etc). Cabs are going to run you at least $30 each way to CC so your best option if you want to get into town may be to take the hotel shuttle to airport and hop on the R1 which will take you to 30th St Station. From there you can take the Market St Septa line East to Broad St and explore numerous options along Broad St south of City Hall or walk up to Rittenhouse.

    Old City on First Friday is going to be packed because the weather is going to be nice and it's the last FF before the summer. Finding a spot to eat may be tough. Here's some options in Old City. BYO's: Chloe is good but may be booked up, La Locanda will be booked up unless you call ahead. You leave a message on the answering machine witht he time you are trying for and they call you back. Uzu and Zento are Japanese/sushi. There's a wine and spirits store south of Market on 2nd St (half a block down on the right.)
    Places you can order food and drinks: Spasso (Italian) is big and will be able to seat you. Il Bar is a neat place to stop in for a glass of wine if you are a wine enthusiast. You can decide then if you want to eat dinner at Panorama connected to the bar. More casual is Race St Cafe (good food and beer selection), Eulogy (although you probably won't find a seat), and Continental (you can sit outside and people watch). You can search all these spots on this site or citysearch. I'll let others speak for Rittenhouse.

    1. The cab from airport to center city is a flat fee - i think it's about $27.50 at this point. So i'm not sure if that falls into your "reasonable" cab distance - it's not a long drive though.

      otherwise, i would definitely recommend Tria- be aware, a lot of what they serve falls under the idea of 'small plates' but i've had good salads and sandwiches as well. and they have a fantastic beer and wine list.
      Keep in mind also for Thursday that it is Dine out for Life (http://diningoutforlife.com/Philadelphia) 1/3 of profits from a set of restaurants gets donated to AIDS research.

      For friday night - maybe try Tinto (same owner as Amada) it is at 20th and Sansom (walkable from anywhere you might be getting off shuttle in Rittenhouse) and across the street is Capogeirgo gelato for dessert! I just searched opentable.com for Tinto on Friday night for 2 people and they have a 6pm and an 8pm reservation still.

      1. If you can manage to get a bottle of wine to bring with you, try L'Angolo in the 1400 block of Porter street just off Broad - about 6 or 7 miles from the airport, so it should be a cheaper cab ride, but it is BYOB! Not sure where the closest state store is

        1. Some good recommendations have already been provided, though if you are in the mood for a good salad and wine, try Meritage - http://www.meritagephiladelphia.com/

          For good wine (though with a 200-300% markup), and some good unique pizza, try Osteria - http://www.osteriaphilly.com/

          1. Rittenhouse Square will be less of a zoo. If you don't mind a little walking, I'd check out Estia. It's an upscale Greek/medi with a focus on fish. It's a lovely space a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square. I just checked opentable.com and it looks like they have plenty of openings.


            If Tinto has openings, it is also a great choice.

            1. Thank you all so much for your suggestions! I took the 8pm reservation at Tinto, and I think I'll take your suggestions along with me so we can play Thursday by ear a bit. I'd like to see if the hotel provides shuttle service anywhere - I had no idea cabs would be so expensive! My Mom's not big on late-night public transportation.

              On a side note, can anyone enlighten me on why there are so many BYOB places in Philly?

              5 Replies
              1. re: AZCat

                The BYOB thing is easy. Our ridiculous alcohol board and the insane liquor laws makes it pretty difficult for restaurants to obtain a license since there is a finite amount granted. I seem to also recall something about restaurants having to pay retail prices, but I shouldn't be quoted on that particular "fact."

                1. re: Ali

                  they absolutely do pay the same price as any other consumer in PA, and there are no bulk discounts

                2. re: AZCat

                  The only reason cabs are expensive is that the airport is quite a distance from Center City. If you were staying in the city cabs would be very inexpensive. Most rides are $5-10.

                  1. re: AZCat

                    i think you'll be really happy with tinto!!

                    highly suggest you skip the taxi as the prices quoted above are no joke and non-negotiable. the R1 directions are good - except you have three stop options in phila. 30th street station is your first, suburban (right by city hall) second and market east (right by reading terminal market) third. the el connects at all three of these stations but 30th st is the most inconvenient connection and it's not really necessary for all the places you list, if you don't mind walking a few blocks. i wouldn't get off at 30th street unless i was going to a place in west philly, but all the places you list are to the east... when you go to tinto, suburban station is your closest stop. when you go to old city, market east is your closest stop (about an 8 block walk but it goes quickly). so i think tinto is a great choice for one night. for your first friday night, while i love many of the places mentioned i would avoid them on this night only for crowds. i would take the train to market east, start walking east, eat somewhere before 6th street, then continue a couple blocks on to first friday. aqua is good - BYO, 7th and chestnut, right on your way... and i also recently rekindled my love for rangoon, burmese, 9th and ???(someone help me out here!) a couple blocks north of market. totally worth it. with both of those you'll avoid the crowds and have some lovely asian food. rangoon has a liquor license in case you don't go to a wine store.

                    if you DO need a wine store for a BYO pick, there's one vaguely near these places... i think there's a crappy one on ?12th? just north of market, and a much better one at 12th and chestnut (very close by, worth the walk). someone might be able to confirm the exact address. BYOs are usually a good thing in my opinion, because they really need to prove themselves on their FOOD. plus, portions are often more manageable (probably for a cost controlling measure, i always assumed) as well. they're cheap for you, you can bring your fave wine (tho hope it's a red cause there's not many good cold white wine choices in the fridges at the stores for you) and for some reason BYO's ambiances are always really cute.

                    hope you enjoy philly!

                    1. re: rabidog

                      Rangoon is on 9th between Arch and Race, the crappy state store is on 12th just north of market, across from the Marriott and the good state store is on Chestnut almost at 13th (between 12th and 13th) on the south side of the street

                  2. If you have the chance to check out Cuba Libre, its a really cool place for dinner or even lunch/brunch. www.cubalibrerestaurant.com - this is in the old city area. i've had dinner there and loved it. also enjoyed their sunday brunch but dinner is more impressive. really cool decor and ambiance as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: snowy11480

                      If looking for BYOB, Matyson great choice. Need to call ahead.