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May 7, 2008 05:32 PM

Casual in DT Philly -- pref not BYOB

San Francisco hound here making plans to spend a few days in Philly leading up to Fourth of July. I'm flying in Tuesday, and by the time I get to my hotel -- the Doubletree on S. Broad, that's near Rittenhouse Square, right? -- it's going to be close to 9 pm and I will probably be tired and frazzled. I'd like something (1) walking distance, (2) relaxing, not a scene, (3) where a casually dressed woman dining alone will feel comfortable, (4) where I can get a drink or a glass of wine, (5) reasonably priced -- entrees $20 or less, (6) serving food after 10 pm on a Tuesday. Within those parameters, I'd expect the food to be good, but I'm not expecting transcendence. Italian would be great, especially old-school Italian-American (lots of "authentic" regional Italian in SF these days, but very little "red-sauce Italian"). Coming from SF, I'm not particularly interested in Asian, fusion, or Mexican/Latin American.

I've been poking around this board and nothing I've seen seems quite right. I may just order room service, but I'd like to have at least one outside option since I'll still be on Pacific time and not ready for bed, and after a day on a plane, a walk to stretch my legs might be welcome.


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  1. I recommend Valanni, on Spruce between 12th and 13th, which is only a couple of blocks away from where you'll be. It's not Italian - it's Mediterranean/continental, with many small plates, good salads, etc., though they also have larger entrees.
    They have a good bar. I usually go for the sangria, but they have everything. Many people are there alone; you'll feel comfortable.
    The good Italian restaurants in that area are almost all BYOB. None of our favorites have bars, though there are some that are adequate.
    For a decent hamburger, there's Ted's Montana Grill at Broad and Spruce. Pleasant service, casual and comfortable. One block away.
    Both of these places will be open.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sylviag

      Thanks, Sylvia! I had looked at Valanni and my impression from their website was that it might be too much of a scene. But I'll give it a chance -- I get the impression that because relatively few places have bars, any place that does is going to attract a bit of a party crowd, but on a Tuesday night, how "party" can it be? The menu does look appetizing, and I think the fact that they have one of my very favorite cheeses (one that's pretty rare) on the menu indicates the chef and I have similar palates.

      While I'm here, any other "musts"? I'm already looking forward to returning to Reading Terminal market, which was the only "sight" I saw last time I was passing through Philly!

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        That late on a tuesday night looking for a bar seat with reasonably priced food, there is bound to be some noise. Within the area, I can't reccomend any Italian that fit that parameters.

        I would reccomend Good Dog, but it's not quiet.

    2. Rittenhouse Sq is around 19th St, so you're not too far off, and the walk isn't bad (about 15 minutes if you're the slow type).

      Within the parameters of not being a scene on a Tuesday night, you can walk into almost any spot in the Rittenhouse area. Even some of the usual scene spots won't be very crowded unless it's a special event night (quizzo, etc.). On the other hand, as sylviag said, almost all the good Italian spots (and especially those in your immediate area) are BYOB.

      That late in the day, I'd want something smaller or on the lighter side and a good drink, which makes me think of Tria, though that can be scene-ish on a Tuesday (it's definitely a scene on the weekends). You're about equidistant from the two Tria spots.

      Valanni is a good suggestion provided I'm remembering wrong that Tuesday night is quizzo night. That's an easy enough thing to check with the restaurant in advance, though.

      To beat a dead horse, good burgers can be found at Good Dog, which is around 15th & Sansom. The burgers are stuffed with blue cheese and served with yukon & sweet potato fries. This is a bar, though, and I know that some women just don't enjoy sitting in bars alone.

      Nearest to you is the Italian Bistro, which won't fit anyone's meaning of transcendent (or great for that matter), but it's a decent enough option if you're feeling lazy.

      You're also a very short cab ride away from the Italian Market area, which contain some really good Italian spots. If you can give up that drink (or feel up to getting it at a spot different from the restaurant), your Italian food options increase.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ali

        Good call on Tria, Ali. I'll second that. On a tuesday it should be quiet, little plates of food, serves late, and a great wine list. It's just on 18th, so a 4 block walk or so.

        1. re: hollyd

          Tria looks yummy as well. Maybe I'll just walk around and see which of the recommended places strikes my fancy.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            It's Tuesday July 1st and I'm currently at the Phila. Doubletree for a few days, too. What did you come up with for dinner? It's 6 PM and I need to come up with something myself.

            1. re: chazzer

              Hey, chazzer! Thanks for the note (when I checked in there was a note from chazzer and another hound welcoming me to Philly -- chowhounds are just the *nicest* people!).

              I ended up at Tria. I loved, loved, loved the concept, and my server, Katy, was great. I had a few quibbles with the execution of my smoked chicken salad (overdressed, balsamic dressing a bit too sweet, greens not picked through carefully, which I also found to be a problem at Farmacia the next day), but overall very enjoyable. Highly recommend the tete de moine cheese, which is served shaved and shaped to resemble a huge chrysanthemum.

      2. I would suggest Bliss. It is right across the Street from your hotel and the food is excellent and they have a bar. It should be somewhat quiet on a Tuesday night.

        3 Replies
        1. re: philly123

          I thought that Bliss has closed. At one time, it would have been perfect.

          1. re: sylviag

            Bliss was taken over by a new owner, but I was there about two weeks ago and it was a wonderful meal.