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first visit ever to philly- where should we eat?

coming to philly for the first time ever. we live in queens, ny, so we're used to eating a great and wonderful variety of fantastic and cheap ethnic food. but what should we have in philly that's not to be missed and that can only be found in philly?

cheesesteaks? pizza? pretzels? stick buns?

teach me, please!

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  1. Do try a cheessteak in town but skip Geno's or Pat's unless you value a touristy experience over food. Lots of people like lots of places. I don't like Jim's but will leave it at that since I've never been in cheesesteak heaven.

    Pizza is better up your way. I do like a little place called Slice at 10th and Federal but still think your better with a stop to Lombardi's or whatever in Manhattan.

    Soft pretzels can be found a lot of places in town. Don't get them on the street corner (a local news station ran a program years ago about how vendors blow their noses and don't use proper hygeine...anyway you get the point). The Philly Soft Prezel Factory has a number of locations across town that are good, traditional ones. Do try the soft pretzels hot out of the oven (preferably) from Fisher's at Reading Terminal market http://www.readingterminalmarket.org as they are the best. Also Beiler's Bakery in the Market (open Weds thru Sat only) has really good sticky buns, but I'm not a big fan of the ones with icing.

    Another thing to get in Philly is roast pork sandwiches. Much better than cheesesteaks if you ask me. John's Roast Pork is good but out of the way and DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market is great. Make sure to get roast pork with provolone and broccoli rabe (and wet) and you will forget cheesesteaks.

    Philly also has good gelato at Capogiro on 13th and Chestnut and 20th and Sansom.

    Enjoy your visit!

    1. Johnny Brenda's
      1201 Frankford Ave
      Philadelphia, PA 19125
      (215) 739-9684

      Standard Tap
      901 N 2nd St
      Philadelphia, PA 19123
      (215) 238-0630

      Both places are gastropubs and have the same owners. Feature all local beer and good food (Standard Tap's food is considered decideably better by some though). The former has live music.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chinon00

        yep, i was with friends last night talking about how i WISH we were world famous for these three things:
        - microbrews (love just about everything from victory, phila brewing co's walt wit, yards philly pale ale to name a few!)
        - gastropubs (follow chinon's advice above and search the board for many, many more)
        - BYOBs (my fave is little fish, there's a recent thread on this place. also modo mio, maytson, chloe, etc... the list goes on)
        ...because i think we deserve to be!!

      2. Another local item is scrapple... a kind of breakfast side dish made with pork. We also have great hoagies here (I think you call them subs or heros in NYC). Try an Italian one. Soft pretzels are popular eaten with mustard on top. Just take a tour around Reading Terminal Market, as suggested above, for lots of good local items. We have great ethnic restaurants here as well.

        1. Herschel's in the Terminal Market, Dim Sum Garden on 59 N. 11th Street has delicious dumplings and noodle dishes but no dim sum. Claudio's on S. 9th and Carpenter for their fresh and very milky mozzarella and other supplies . Sarcone's (S.9th and Fitzwater) is great to get some sandwiches for the trip home. There's also a place called Anthony's right next to Claudio's. It's an Italian restaurant, I haven't been there maybe someone can shed some light?

          I would avoid Morimoto, unless you're into the hip/trendy restaurant scene. The service is Grade A and all but the price you pay for mediocre fish and common sake is a bit much IMP. There's also Pearl's Oyster Bar in the Reading Terminal which can be a hit or miss. You have to flip a coin on that one.

          2 Replies
          1. re: bigmackdaddy

            Anthony's is across the street and up a bit from Claudio's they have coffee and panini. I'd stick to Sarcone's if I was down there, I like Anthony's but if I could only have one, it would be Sarcone's. I don't know that I'd recommend herschel's to a New Yorker.

            1. re: Bigley9

              I'm a native Brooklynite and I like Herschel's.

          2. You should definitely try Monk's Cafe on 16th Street just north of Spruce. Excellent Belgian beer selection as well as 'Cuisine à la Bière'. The veal cheeks braised in beer are simply off the hook, but will leave you enough room for some superb mussels.

            1. A little more information would be helpful. Will you be staying in Center City? Have a car? How much are you willing to travel? Are you looking for our best cheap ethnic, or something more upscale? Many of the more interesting ethnic choices are further out in the city, not always easily accessible by public transportation.

              One thing you shouldn't miss is Capogiro Gelato. I've been to most of Manhattan's gelato places and Capogiro has them all beat for both gelato and fantastic sorbettos in a range of traditional and unique flavors. There are two center city locations.

              Soft pretzels from Fisher's in the Reading Terminal Market are great. The RTM as a whole is a Philly institution and quite unique. The food quality varies, but DiNics (for sandwiches) and Salumeria (for hoagies) are always great.

              One thing I think Philly does better than NY (though I'm not sure about Queens) is Mexican. In the Italian Market area (used to be Italian, now mostly Mexican and Vietnamese) there are a range of Mexican places. For a hole-in-the-wall with great tacos, try Los Taquitos de Puebla (they also have a stand at the Headhouse Square Farmer's market on Sundays). For more upscale, Xochitl is very good, and there are lots in between.

              For asian cuisines, you probably mostly have better up there, with the exception of Rangoon, a Burmese restaurant in Chinatown. I'm not aware of a Burmese this good in NY. I highly recommend the ginger salad, the tofu triangles and any of the fish dishes.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                Good call on Rangoon. A hidden gem because it's a bit off the main Chinatown stretch. If you go there try the spicy lentil cake appetiser, as well as thousand-layer bread.

                1. re: berbadeerface

                  Yes, Rangoon is a wonderful pick. I'd recommend the tea salad.