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Oct 5, 2008 01:56 PM

Day Trip To Philly

My girlfriend and I are taking a day trip to Philly. I have spent a lot of time in DC and NYC, but have never been to Philly. She's been once or twice briefly. We're both in college, but are serious about food, and willing to go upscale if it comes highly recommended. We're going on Columbus Day. What should we do?

I want to try cheesesteaks of course and the only restaurants I've read about are Le Bec Fin (would probably do lunch, if at all) and Buddakan (would do dinner and drinks late night.) What do you recommend for a nice dinner? I'm thinking about $30-$50/person with 1 drink each, but again am flexible. In New York, we loved wd-50, Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe. For us, the quality of the food is #1. We would not be interested in a place like New York's Tao that has a fun vibe, but horrendous food.


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  1. Restaurant with the most hype right now is Osteria. You can get in if you go early.. no reservations needed. Within walking distance of city hall. Its the second restaurant of Marc Vetri, who was named one of the up and coming chefs in amercia. The menu is northern italian.. incredible thin wood burning stove pizzas, house cured salumi, hand made pastas. And while NY has tons of wonderful italian restaurants, this place is not to be missed.

    I am not going to suggest any of the Stephen Starr places. Both Budakhan and Morimotos have outposts in NY, Others such as Continental and Tangerine IMNSHO fall under the fun vibe bad food cat.

    Other places to consider.. James... another up and coming young chef with great flavor mixtures.. (boar ragout with shaved chocolate ... sounds different but it works.. ).

    Two great Tapas places.. Amada and Tinto. Fabulous small plates.. Grilled octopus. House cured meats, beef short rib flatbread, patatas bravas. Can't go wrong there.

    Other things to consider would be to go to the Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market in south Philly. Both are cultural and culinary icons in Philadelphia.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cwdonald

      Great suggestions from cwdonald. Perfect.
      It might be wise to check that these places are open on Mondays - some places aren't.
      We were at Tinto recently and really loved it.

      Go to Reading Terminal Market for lunch. It's a Philadelphia landmark, not to be missed. You can get your cheesesteak there, and plenty of other stuff. Unfortunately, the farmers from Lancaster are not there on a Monday but it is still vibrant.

      1. re: sylviag

        Personally I would skip the cheesesteak and go for the roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. Now thats an authentic taste of Philadelphia!

      2. re: cwdonald

        I too think cw"s recs are great, but would add Ansill to the list. Not much is open in the Italian Market on Monday. But the Reading Terminal is a must - even just to walk around and grab a snack.

        1. re: Bigley9

          Soft pretzels from Reading Terminal. Can't get them in NYC!

        2. re: cwdonald

          I disagree about James, it's OK but nothing special and way overpriced, not something I'd recommend for someone who's only visiting the city for a day.

          Osteria is great, it's pushing the upper end of your price range but is very delicious. Skip Le Bec and Buddakan. They're both good, but if you're only going to be in Philly for one dinner you can do better.

          My personal favorite place in the city is Ansill, followed by Zahav. Osteria is one of several possible #3s.