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In Philly weekly for business-- where to eat?

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I am hoping the Philly 'hounds can help me out. I am in Philly on business, working at Einstein hospital. I stay at the Hilton City Avenue in Bala Cynwyd. I am always on the lookout for good chow, and while I am able to find places like the Stephen Starr places and the more famous eateries, what I cannot find are the small, chef-driven, locally sourced (not vegetarian, necessarily), change-with-the-seasons places we do so well in Minneapolis where I live. Are there any near me, or within a 10-15 minute drive?

Thanks, and Happy Holidays!!

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  1. right around you there is not much. across the river in manayunk people may have some suggestions but i'm not familiar with that area. down in center city and surrounding neighborhoods you'll find a lot more. i'm guessing the drive can range from 15 - 25 mins from where you are.

    my favorite small places are all BYOs: little fish, modo mio, matyson, chloe.

    we had a thread about tiny BYOs a while back - 6 months ago or so maybe? there was a bunch of good stuff in there.

    1. I live in Bala Cynwyd so can clue you in. Two BYOBs you should try are Margot in Narberth and Sola in Bryn Mawr. Both are within 15 min drive.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rocknroll52

        I have tried them both. Margot was sort of hit or miss. We needed to dine early and they also seemed unprepared for us at 6 pm-- even though they were open.

        Sola, however, was a home run. Fantastic foie appetizer, phenomenal scallops and risotto main. My dining colleague had the tasting, with a delicious pork tenderloin main-- can't remember the app, but she really enjoyed it. The service also was wonderful. Thanks SO much for yor rec!

      2. If you get a craving for a great cheesesteak (must get their cheese blend)- you are close to Mama's Pizzeria in Bala Cynwyd (Belmont Ave)- definitely worth it!

        1. I have the perfect place for you!
          Not near you (not much is) but only about a ten or 15 minute drive is Bar Ferdinand, a great tapas place in Northern Liberties. It's at 1030 N. Second St. From Einstein, go south on Broad St. (which is equal to 14th) to Girard Ave., then go east (left) to Second, then south (right turn on Second.)
          We just discovered this place, thanks to joluvscards, and I'm in love with it.
          Not expensive, creative food, friendly atmosphere - they even have a communal table.
          You can look at the menu online.
          It actually reminded me of places we went to in Minneapolis.
          I think it's: Barferdinand.com

          4 Replies
          1. re: sylviag

            :)

            1. re: sylviag

              sylviag... the same owner also just opened el camino real just across the way from bar ferdinand. i've been there twice now and i just love it! there is a mexican menu and a texan BBQ menu. we stick with the texan side - it's delicious. check it out sometime!

              as an aside, is einstein anywhere near mt airy or would that be on the way of the OPs commute back to bala? there's a lot of new stuff there and one place i can definitely vouch for is earth bread + brewery. who doesn't love beer and pizza?

              1. re: rabidog

                It's not too far out of my way-- about 6 miles, or 15 min from the hotel, and 4 miles/11 min from the hospital. What other spots are there?

                And thanks, for all the suggestions.

                1. re: rabidog

                  rabidog, thanks for letting me know. Sounds great! I'm not good at Mexican, but love BBQ, so we'll definitely try it.

              2. as long as 76 isn't too crowded you can get to a lot of spots in the city in under 15 (but not if you factor in parking). james is an example of a small, eat local, chef-driven restaurant, but it is expensive. you take 76 to 676 to the 8th street exit and it is just over a mile from the exit. ansill is off of the 6th street exit, go down 6th to bainbridge, turn left and go up to third and it is on the corner. you shouldn't miss this restaurant.

                the white dog and marigold are in west philly, as is rx and i believe all three of them are locally-minded. white dog is inconsistent, a case of the owners being focused on too many projects me thinks. you can get to west philly on 76 to the girard avenue exit or you can cut through the city (via lancaster ave).

                5 Replies
                1. re: mazza3

                  White Dog is possibly the most over recommended spot in West Philly. I've just never found the menu remotely interesting, though I do admit that I've never had a bad meal there, just none that I remember in the least. For someone who doesn't live in the area, I'd definitely recommend Marigold and Rx over White Dog (though Rx has also been on my hit-or-miss list ever since a meal of perfectly cooked, perfectly bland skate).

                  To toss another restaurant not quite near Einstein but is "local and chef-driven," Pumpkin is my current pick. I admit that I was bribed into saying this when the app menu from last Friday included sweetbreads, fois gras, and morcilla. :)

                  1. re: Ali

                    oh, west philly is a good thought for something on the way back to your hotel. i've had some excellent meals from vietnam cafe, dahlak and more recently gojjo. the latter two are ethiopian, both with a decent beer selection. for some reason there's nothing i love more than victory's golden monkey (a local beer, pretty strong but tasty) with some nice and spicy lentils.

                    1. re: rabidog

                      Golden Monkey is fantastic with spicy lentils (and Gojjo tends to have it on tap often). It's the crisp, strong taste that cuts through the spicy (and does it much better than a good Reisling or Gewurz). Gojjo finds itself high on my lists just for the reason of good food that pairs well with the beers on tap (and really, lentils and Golden Monkey is, well, a golden combo). :)

                      However, because of the "locally sourced and chef-driven" requirement given by the OP, I didn't want to recommend the standard West Philly spots because, well, I don't know that they totally fit that requirement (though all do to some small extent).

                      1. re: Ali

                        I also love ethnic eateries, so thanks for your recs!

                    2. re: Ali

                      I've had some bad meals at White Dog, so I definitely would not recommend it.

                      Granted, it's been quite a few years since I've been there, but the experiences I had while in grad school at U Penn never made me want to return to White Dog again...

                      If I was looking to do West Philly I'd be inclined to check out something like one of the great Ethiopian restaurants on Baltimore Ave...Dahlak was a long favorite with my Penn friends...

                      Pumpkin is good but I've only ever been able to get in there once...it's such a small space and unless you can get a reservation, forget it.

                  2. i don't know about 10-15 minutes away, but the best restaurants i've ever eaten at in philly are: la quoix, estia, tinto, and shinju (shinjo? not sure) sushi. la quoix is a really upscale/expensive french place, but has some very unconventional yet yummy dishes. estia is a greek/mediterranean place that uses very fresh ingredients--try the grilled octopus. you won't regret it. tinto is best explained by its website. i think the food is spanish/french. the tasting menu is amazing and definitely worth the price. i've heard good things about their wine selection as well. and lastly, if you're into sushi, shinjo is a hidden treasure. their sashimi is okay, but their special rolls are unique and incredible. oh, and they show pictures for each roll so you're going to want everything. the most memorable was the spicy tuna crunchy roll.

                    1. Besides Margot and Sola, the other restaurant that would fit the bill is Jake's in Manayunk...one word of warning, the parking situation in Manayunk is dreadful but maybe it would not be so bad midweek.

                      As other posters have mentioned, there are lots of restaurants in Philly and it's really not too far but you have to add in the probability of traffic on City Line Ave and the Expressway and the hassle and additional cost of parking in the city.

                      Other local favs are Chun Hing for Chinese (on Monument Road in Philly), Ginza on Montgomery Ave for sushi, and Aldar Bistro for middle eastern.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: rocknroll52

                        I second Chun Hing for Chinese -- it's in the same shopping center with the Shoprite. I think that Jellymelly may have confused our visitor with "la quoix" -- I think he means "La Croix" in the Rittenhouse Hotel. Jake's in Manyunk is excellent and there's a parking lot nearby -- we go on week nights and can always find a spot, but not necessarily on the street.

                        1. re: rocknroll52

                          We went to Jake's last week, and really enjoyed it. They had a delicious seared foie gras appetizer, and the scallops wer perfectly cooked. My one sadness was the empty nature of the restaurant. I hope it can weather this economic storm.

                          Thanks so much for the rec, rocknroll52!!

                        2. Just as some basic advice - 10-15 minutes from bala cynwyd gives you a lot of options, if you're kind of savvy about choosing *when* to drive and picking places that don't require too much traffic-light driving.
                          Manayunk is close, as others have mentioned. You could do a search for there. Parking's a hassle.
                          For heading farther afield, when the Schuylkill is slow, it's REALLY slow. but if you can dine at 8, you're usually good - and that lets you get to chinatown quite quickly. We like Sang Kee and Panang a lot. But you can look more on this board for that. Swinging around to 95 and hitting south st/queens village, there are a lot of good places but not a lot of parking and it's getting to be kind of far.
                          basically, driving around in center city is like driving in a waffle iron.

                          1. Blackfish in Conshohocken (http://www.blackfishrestaurant.com/) is about 10 min away and a really good BYOB.