Philadelphia Italian Indian Ethnic Best
We are traveling to Philadelphia next week for a 4 day art museum and house tour trip, and need some recommendations for restaurants. Lunch and dinner. Nothing upscale, we won’t have the clothes and my son is 14. I am a vegetarian into ethnic foods. My son will of course eat 18 cheesesteaks and anything else he can get his hands on. We are looking for casual places that won’t break the bank, especially the best red gravy Italian family place, the best Falafel, Mexican, Indian? Thanks!
best red gravy - dante and luigi's, hand's down. i personally hate villa di roma, but it is more casual (not that d&l is dressy, but it is a nicer place) and a lot of people like it.
best falafel - is found at a lunch truck, but you can get good falafel at either maoz locations (south street and walnut street). philly unfortunately does not have excellent falafel.
best mexican - i am partial to la lupe, but i haven't encountered a taqueria that i don't like in a while....if you want upscale mexican then you have to go to xochitl. paxia just closed, but it was awesome too, bad location though.
best indian - i am partial to ekta, but it has exactly 3 tables and is the size of a shoebox. tiffin is a hair away from being as good and they have better seating. king of tandoor is also v good as is karma.
we also have excellent vietnamese, chinese, japanese, indonesian and ethiopian food if you are interested. annnd....we have a much-lauded vegetarian restaurant here as well (vegan actually) called horizons. you can definitely take a meat-eater there and they will be satisfied (unless they are VERY midwestern steak and potatoes, then they will not have any idea on what they are eating and will shun it). i am an omnivore and i would recommend it to any meat eater.
Lunch: Reading Terminal Market is always a must for casual eating. There are a number of taquerias in the italian market area. One of the most hole-in-the-wall, but also the tastiest is Taqueria Del Puebla. Mama's Falafel is pretty good.
There are many great options in Chinatown for lunch or dinner. In addition to chinese, there is Vietnam for good Vietnamese, Rangoon for Burmese (highly recommended, sort of a mix between Indian and Thai), and Banana Leaf for Malaysian. All are very casual w/moderate prices.
Most of the more casual indian places are not right in Center City. Ekta and Tiffin, both in Northern Liberties are your best bets.
Well actually you'll be in walking distance of a lot of restaurants. Chinatown (vicinity 10th and Race) is just a few blocks away from your hotel and most of the restaurants have lots of choices for vegetarians..I'd definitely plan one dinner in Chinatown. I personally think its fun to just walk around and decide on the spot where to eat, though people do have their favorites, mine are Sang Kee Peking Duck (order the Peking Duck) and Vietnam; my husband loves the seafood noodle soup at the Viet-Thai restaurant, and we love the wonton soup and roast pork lo mein at Wong Wong, a bare bones linoleum table kind of place.
definately check out the reading terminal market... you will find every kind of food there, and all the stalls are local philadelphia businesses. the dutch eating place is great for a cheap brunch... but it is an amish place, and the amish are only in the market wed-sat.
i don't think philly is the best for indian food... but chinatown is great, and there are also good vietnamese places in south philly by 11th and washington. (i love viet huong, though veg offereings are limited.)
i like taking visitors to villa di roma. the food might not be the best red gravy in philly but it is good, with a fun atmosphere.
there are also lots of little mexican places in the italian market. walk down 9th street to the other side of washington and take your pick.
Hello and thanks for all the thoughtful suggestions. Just got home and first of all, what a great city! I am definitely going back. Good eats for vegetarians like myself as well. Reading Terminal Market was wonderful, food and atmosphere both. Also great produce. Shopped there before the ride home. We ate at Lee How Fook in Chinatown and were very pleased, especially with the noodles and soups. Ate at Marra's for our Red Sauce fix and also really enjoyed the food, the service, and the old school atmosphere. One afternoon the meat eaters wanted to go to Pat's so I got a Falafel meal at Maoz to go and it was quite good also. Better falafel in Philly than I find in a lot of NY places. Also thanks to Pat's for letting a vegan like me eat at your tables! Thanks again Chowhound folks.