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Jan 1, 2009 09:47 AM

Need "best of" Philly recs


We will be visiting Philadelphia in a couple of weekends. Two couples, each with small children. I would love to hear some recs for the best stuff in town. Obviously, they have to be kid-friendly to a certain degree, but we're all Chowhounds, so we certainly won't be dining at chains or places that specifically cater to kids. Looking for moderately priced, casual places.

Are the best cheesesteaks at Pat's & Geno's (I think those are the names)? Or are there other under-the-radar spots that are better? Other sandwiches? Ethic, like Vietnamese or Thai perhaps? Seafood? Rustic american type spots? Anything else that is a must would be outstanding.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Cheesesteaks - do a board search, you will find your answer there
    Other sandwiches - John's Roast Pork
    Vietnamese - Vietnam Restaurant
    Thai - nothing phenomenal in Philadelphia
    Seafood - Dmitri's
    Rustic American - Standard Tap, Good Dog
    Other - Kanella, Marra's, Jones

    4 Replies
    1. re: saturninus

      i just did a search of the boards and there isn't a whole lot posted about the standard tap (yet it gets reviewed nearly every day on yelp - i suppose from more of a trendy standpoint than a foodie one). i actually haven't been myself for a few months now, but i just went for dinner tonight and wanted to report back that there is an EXCellent octopus appetizer on the menu. it's with kalamata olives and cherry tomatoes, in a balsamic dressing with lemon. possibly one of the best octopus dishes i've ever had. this ends up often being a place where we... well, just end up... but i often forget that the food can be really good here sometimes.

      1. re: rabidog

        i went back again today for the octopus appetizer. i was craving it. not as smoky as the other day but still good. verrrry chewy.
        i also got an almost bouillabaisse type dish - clams and monkfish with stewed tomatoes and leeks in a tomato-white wine-butter broth (i think). it was heavenly. i'm disappointed in myself for not hitting the standard tap more often. i'm going to start doing this. the food is excellent. also had victory's old horizontal for the first time - my that is a strong drink!! one will do ya.

        1. re: rabidog

          Good call on the Octupus app at Standard Tap, R. Went there Saturday night and it was delicious! Ordered the BarBQ Rib sandwich as well and only ate about a third of that as I was stuffed. Took the rest home and let my mutts (son and daughter) have at it. Have the Victory Lager next time you go if you don't want to get snockered after one drink. But if you do want to get s***faced, have a Golden Monkey. That stuff is obscene!

          1. re: Rondo

            yep, i love golden monkey. i just had it the other night at gojjo, goes great with some spicy lentils. yea, for both that and the old horizontal, two's about my limit most nights. it's sneaky stuff!

    2. In addition to Saturninus' recs, I'd say a vietnamese hoagie from O sandwiched on 9th street is worth the trip (right by Pat's and Genos, which I personally don't care for.
      The other thing you'll see everywhere on this board is to go to the Reading Terminal Market 12th and Arch - big PA dutch breakfasts, DiNics sandwiches and lots of other local favs.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9

        Second the DiNic's and Dutch Eating Place (for the pancakes) recs at Reading Terminal Market. They have great Amish soft pretzels there too . I'd add taking the kids to the Naked Chocolate Cafe on Juniper and Walnut. Wicked Aztec hot chocolate for the adults and cupcakes for kids (or kids at heart) make for a good rest stop. Also, any Starr place (El Vez, Jones, and to a lesser extent Buddakan) is fine with kids. Also Estia has great extremely fresh fish and octopus and is kid-friendly. It's very pricey but they have a great lunch special that is very reasonably priced.

        1. re: Bigley9

          DiNics is the place for roast pork with garlicy rabe and provolone. I'm making myself drool!! I think Jim's at 4th & South is the best cheesesteak in the city, but that's something where everyone has a favorite - just stay away from the touristy Pat's & Geno's.

            1. re: Philly Ray

              Touristy as it relates to South St. being touristy.

        2. Additional outstanding Asian cuisine: Banana Leaf (Malaysian) and Rangoon (Burmese).

          Ethiopian: Abyssinia (although not sure if they've re-opened yet) and Almaz Cafe.

          Cheesesteaks: Sonny's

          1. Please don't go to Pat's or Geno's for cheesesteaks--IMHO, (and I grew up in Philadelphia) those are caricatures of the real thing. John's or Tony Luke's are good bets--you can find their locations many places. I agree with the recs for Vietnam or Vietnam Palace and Rangoon in Chinatown. Modo Mio or Radicchio for Italian, but you may need to reserve (MM) or wait. Naked Chocolate cafe for hot chocolate and desserts (and free samples for the kids). Las Bugambilias is kid-friendly and the owners are delightful. (Food's pretty good, too) haven't been to Sabrina's but folks love it.

            1. Forget the others and go to John's Roast Pork, both for the best cheesesteaks and really great Roast Pork sandwiches (if only they had the garlicky broccoli rabe as Dinics). You will find the true nature of both sandwiches though and be very impressed.

              Definitely check out Jones with the kids. The food is good, drinks are great, atmosphere is fun, and definitely represents the Steven Starr kitsch if you don't make it to any of his other places. Although I really like El Vez for a fun time.

              For other sandwiches, I like NIck's Roast Beef on 2nd just below market for roast beefs. Check the Italian Market for grazing on pizza, taco's, and hoagies at Sarcones. You must make it Capogiro. Check the web for exact locations.