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May 27, 2008 01:58 PM

Cheap Eats in the Historic District?

Hi Fellow Chowhounders,

I'm going to be at a conference in June in Philadelphia. I'll be staying in the Historic District and I was looking for some relatively inexpensive -- but still yummy -- places to hit up for dinner and/or breakfast. Anything goes in terms of cuisine, but bear proximity in mind. I won't have a car, so try to make your recommendations with walking distance and/or public transit in mind.

I look forward to your suggestions!

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  1. By historic I believe you are referring to Old City. Just make sure to double check this:

    For inexpensive reccomendations:
    Eulogy (especially if you like beer)
    Pagoda Noodle Cafe
    Race Street Cafe

    If you want to spend a little bit more:
    Chloe (great BYOB)

    Nothing I know of in the area that serves breakfast. Perhaps breakfast breads at the Metropolitan inside Farmicia (don't eat at the restaurant, though).

    2 Replies
    1. re: saturninus

      Yep, you were right -- Old City. Sorry for not being clearer (actually had to google it to confirm)! Many thanks for the great suggestions! :)

      1. re: saturninus

        i pretty much agree with all of this! though i haven't been to race street cafe and i don't see it talked about much here. what are they all about?

        you definitely don't need a car. if you're in old city, you must be staying near market street, and generally speaking a majority of the places talked about within phila city limits are within a couple blocks of market street, basically river to river. walking to the west side would be pretty ambitious, but a fun thing to do if you have spare time (though walking along chestnut, sansom or walnut -which all run parallel just south of market- are much more fun).
        if you do want to head west but don't have time to walk, the subway is right there at 2nd and market and basically runs down the length of market, with possibly a transfer depending on where you're heading to (don't worry, it's a very simple system and a ride will cost you no more than $2). i also believe they've started up the phlash bus (big purple thing) which does a tourist-friendly loop. correct me if i'm wrong anyone but i think it basically runs across market and up the ben franklin parkway to the art museum?
        *just checked:

        definitely do the dutch eating place at the reading terminal market for breakfast.

        chloe's a really cute, neat place in your neighborhood there - it's a BYO (and i think cash only, right?) but there is a beer store next door. even better, the beer store sells a few local brews... i am really digging victory's golden monkey... though you can't drink more than 3 and still be coherent! :)

        eulogy - totally fun and always delicious for me, but if you're dining solo i would stick to the bar area.

        amada's good but pricey if you're getting a meal to fill you. however if you're doing a 'double dinner' to intake as much local flavor as you possibly can, a few light tapas at amada would definitely be fun before going to get the fish or something at chloe! :) i won't tell.

        have fun and do report back!

      2. Campo's is an Italian deli that makes good hoagies.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Elaine

          Reading Terminal Market is a short walk from the historic district and has lots and lots of cheap eats: The Dutch Eating Place at the market is dirt-cheap and has delicious pancakes, scrapple, and dumplings or you could get a pastry from Termini's or a cinnamon bun from Beiler's. Avoid the diner in the market though.

          Also, directly to the north of the market, Chinatown has lots of cheap bakeries and noodle joints. One of the best is Nan Zhou on Race St.

          1. re: bluehensfan

            bluehensfan: since you mention chinatown bakeries... i seem to be striking out on sesame balls. either places don't have them or don't do them like lakeside's! got any specific bakery recs?

            1. re: rabidog

              I'm no sesame ball expert to be honest with you. All of the other Philly buns I've had have just been so-so compared to those you get in NYC, especially the Switzerland buns at FayDa Bakery. There have been a few good buns over the past two years at Greenland Tea House in Philly on 9th or 10th above Race that they have stopped making including the Mexico, Swiss, and peanut butter/coconut buns. But other than that, the stuff at KC's, St. Honore, and those other few places are just mediocre. Probably Mayflower is a step above those but that's not saying all that much either. The next time we go bun-hunting I will look out for sesame balls.

              And to visitors from out of town, I wholeheartedly second the suggestion to walk up Chestnut or other streets (versus Market St) from Old City to Center City. Especially from sixth through 12th St's, Market Street's a bit gross.

              1. re: rabidog

                Across from where Lakeside used to be but at the southern corner (9th & Race, maybe?). I like their sesame balls. I personally like mung beans in mine (as is the usual for the Vietnamese version of the treat) so I'm no expert, but I like that bakery's version of the red bean sesame balls.

            2. re: Elaine

              The man asked for cheap eats. While I love Campos, they are not cheap. You cannot get out of there for two sandwiches and 2 drinks for under $22. HistoryNut, I've got you covered.

              Cheap Eats Breakfast: Mrs K's (Chestnut and 4th)- where else can you get 2 eggs, choice of meat, 2 pancakes, juice, coffee and toast for $6.50. Still best deal in the city and IMHO the best simple pancakes you'll get in philly.

              Cheap Lunch/Dinner- Nick's Roast Beef. (2nd and Market) 95% the menu is under $8 and their food is consistently good. DO NOT go in and order a salad or try to do something healthy. I've tried, it does not work. Nick's is potato skins, roast beef sandwiches, open-faced turkey sandwiches, Ruebens, gravy fries, and dirt cheap beers on tap. Get the Roast Beef Italiano with au jus.

              The burgers at Eulogy are good ($10 price range) but you'll get killed on beer.

              Redding Terminal is a must.

              1. re: Elaine

                At Campo's, or nearby Sonny's, have a cheesesteak. Without getting into another cheesesteak discussion, most posters seem to agree that these two are the best cheesesteak places in the Olde City area. Reading Terminal Market is a longer walk but, as you can see, a must -- but try something other than cheesesteak while there (so many options, so many good recommendations on the board). Just a practical thought for getting the most out of your time here.

              2. Absolutely I agree with those who have suggested to go to the Reading Terminal Market for one of your breakfasts. It's a little longer of a walk than places right there in Old City, but not far, and very worth it. I also agree with Campo's right in Old City for a sandwich - I'd recommend their Italian tuna with sharp provolone, and they'll add brocoli rabe too if you ask...a philly specialty of sorts, to add sharp provolone and broccoli rabe to things!

                For dinner, I really like Ariana and Kabul, both inexpensive Afghan restaurants right in Old City. And here's a tip, if you stop at any of the Ritz movie theaters (there are three in Old City) you can pick up their film bill magazine, and those two restaurants always have 20% off coupons in there.

                Another inexpensive idea if you're a salad lover at all, is the Marathon Grill, a local chain, at 10th and Walnut. They have a "control freak" salad for $8.50, where you can add four of many choices to your greens - the other night I had mine with mozzarella, grilled asparagus, white beans and artichoke hearts. I've brought many people there when they've been watching their budgets and everyone's been happy with it - many good sandwiches too.

                For dessert, treat yourself to a walk over to 13th and Sansom where you will find Capogiro's, Philly's claim to fame on the gelato market - it's been said that it rivals that found anywhere in the world, and while I think I had even better in Rome, it's not far off!

                Fwiw, the one time I went to Pagoda Noodle, I didn't care for it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lauracohenromano

                  Thanks lcr & everyone else who posted! All these places sound amazing!! Now my problem will be too many delicious choices and too little time!

                2. Hi all,

                  I too will be going to a conference in Philadelphia in June. Was wondering if anyone had a good suggestion for a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich near the convention center

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: japanophile

                    Go to the Reading Terminal Market, it's adjacent to the convention center. Get a roast pork sandwich from DiNic's. There are good cheesesteaks in the RTM as well, but the roast pork is better.

                  2. The Restaurant at the Society Hill Hotel has good cheap eats (3rd and Chestnut)