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mom's 50th birthday dinner

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my mom is turning 50 in april and she will be visiting me in philly on her birthday itself - being her 50th bday i wanted to make it a special dinner with my family for her and would like some recommendations of where to take her
she is vegetarian and so we would need a place with some good vegetarian options
for one of my dads birthdays i had taken them all to tequila's and they loved it there - so a restaurant similar to that would be great
mexican, italian, thai, pretty much most cuisines will work as long as the food and service are good and its moderately priced (around $20-25 a plate is doable)
thanks!

also ive taken them to lemongrass, continental, tequilas, marathon grill

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  1. If the birthday girl is a vegetarian and she has never been to Horizons, take her to Horizons. It's pushing the upper end of your budget (apps range from $7-$9, entrees from $18-$21) but every vegetarian should eat there at least once in their lives.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      i have actually been to horizons and it is quite good. ill keep it in mind. the only thing is that it doesnt exactly have a fun and lively atmosphere that i know my parents would like.

      1. re: kari18

        You can also reserve at the bar at horizons (we had a table for 8 or 10 recently), which is a livelier atmosphere. I think it might be a smaller menu, but still excellent. Thanks.

    2. If she hasn't been to Rangoon, that might fit the bill. Burmese food is unusual. See other posts here about "don't miss" things to order.

      I've been there numerous times with various people, and always had an enjoyable meal.

      1. For fun, lively Mexican, I'd head straight to Distrito. The food is fantastic. I didn't pay much attention, but I'd think there is enough for a vegetarian. The drinks are great, especially the margaritas. It's got a nice lively buzz, and the decor is really fun and interesting. Depending on what you order, it might be at the upper limit of your price range, but it isn't wildly different than Tequila's.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

          thanks for the ideas!
          i have heard rangoon is good. ive actualyl been to distrito on my birthday this year and the food was very good. but since i went there id like to go to somewhere different. so many differnt restaurants so figure might as well try something different.

          ive also taken them to continental and they loved the food there. the atmosphere was also nice, upscale yet friendly.

          1. re: kari18

            Rangoon is great. Also, if you don't mind a BYO, I highly recommend Kanella. The food is fantastic, with lots of vegetarian options, and the atmosphere is very nice. I brought my parents there and they loved it.

        2. i agree with what everyone else has said and want to add modo mio. it isn't super fun per se but it is loud and lively. and the food is outstanding and everyone eats for the same amount if you do the turista menu.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mazza3

            Modo Mio is fun with a group of people since so many great options for food. But, make reservations for relatively early in the night. It gets so loud as it gets later. The last two times that i went on a Friday night, they made me wait for an average of 30-40 minutes even though I had reservations. The 2nd time sucked since we were a group of 7 trying to hang out in the small vestibule. I honestly wouldn't go back again but the food is too yummy and cheap.

            1. re: phillyjules

              thanks for the recommendations! but turns out now is just going to be my family so 5 of us - and i have a younger brother who is 10 so i dont wanna go to a place that isnt too kid friendly either - but ill look into modo mio and horizons i love
              i talked to my mom about horizons but shes not a big 'tofu' fan and didnt seem to excited for 'vegan' food - which i explained to her was pretty amazing but i just want to take my mom (and i know she wants to go to) a nice place - shes loved tequilas and continental so hopefully ill be able to find a place similar to those - both food wise and service wise
              also if there are any places in the manayunk area which may be better than center city restaurants they could work as well

          2. here are some of the places im looking into right now

            - horizons
            - kanella
            - modo mio
            - rangoon

            any others i should have on there??

            i was talking to my mom and it seems like she wants to go to a nice place - so i want her to be impressed with it. we took my dad to tequilas for his bday so i dont want this place to be any less than that in all aspects. i know shes really looking forward to it and i want to make it a special night for her.

            12 Replies
            1. re: kari18

              All of these places are extremely casual. Of the four on your list I consider only Modo Mio a place to go to for a special occasion. This is due to the food and not atmosphere. None of the places border on the atmosphere found at Tequilas or Continental. BTW did you go to Continental midtown? That is much nicer than the one on Market.
              If it were me I would start looking into Destritro or Bar Ferdinand. Both have great food and a fun lively atmosphere. Does it have to be in Center City? Siri's Thai-French is in Cherry Hill, BYO and meets all your criteria.

              1. re: joluvscards

                I agree on Distrito, very similar to Continental and Tequilas in terms of good food, service and fun atmosphere. I'd also consider Cuba Libre. Thank you.

                1. re: joluvscards

                  I would consider Horizons to be a special occasion place as well - it's fantastic. I love Rangoon, but it is more of a casual place than a nice dinner. I haven't made it to Kanella.

                  I agree that Distrito & Bar Ferdinand would be great choices as well,

                  1. re: joluvscards

                    I wouldn't say that Horizons is 'extremely casual', it's fairly upscale. Not like Tequila's, I'll grant, but I think the food at Tequila's is just barely above average, which trumps any atmospheric advantages it may have.

                    1. re: Buckethead

                      i liked horizons a lot - the food was very good and service was also good - not as fun and lively as the others but i did like it
                      also i went to distrito for my birthday this year and it is really good food
                      bar ferdinand and cuba libre sound good but my brother is 10 - so would it be kid friendly?

                      1. re: kari18

                        We were at BF a few nights ago and there was a table of 10 with 4 kids. Two were babies. Admittedly this was a Sunday but they seemed to be fine with it. A 10 yo should be no problem. On warm evenings they open the folding doors to the sidewalk with outside seating. Feels like Europe.

                        I haven't been to Cuba Libre.

                        1. re: kari18

                          I've heard Cuba Libre described as Disneyfied, but that's as far as I'd go toward the kid-friendly bit. If you go for an early dinner (or maybe brunch), that might be more kid-friend, but as a whole, Cuba Libre suffers from being where it is (that is, Old City and thereby can be very party-ish). The food is definitely kid-friend, but as a whole, despite my fondness for this place (good mojitos), there's nothing too special here. It's on the same level as a Continental, but I wouldn't bring anyone here for a special birthday event unless they salsa (summer event).

                          1. re: Ali

                            I think that Bar Ferdinand seems to be a place that fits all the criteria that I'm looking for. I'll give it a try, and hopefully everything will work out ok. I'll def keep the others in mind for future visits from the parents.
                            Thanks a lot everyone for all the advice!

                            1. re: kari18

                              any suggestions for food at Bar Ferdinand? [vegetarian/chicken dishes]

                              1. re: kari18

                                The tortilla espanola is a must. You may need more than one for the table:) Also try the machego skewers, and if there are meat eaters at the table, the seared lamb and mussels are great. Enjoy!

                                1. re: kari18

                                  I've never gotten something I didn't like there, but some ideas...

                                  - I second the manchego skewers.

                                  - If anyone eats bacon, the empanada with dates, bacon, and cream cheese is really good. My friend described it as the best thing she'd ever eaten.

                                  - The vegetarian bocadillo is excellent, and very large/filling for tapas.

                                  - I like all the croquettes

                                  - The baked cana de cabra cheese dish is a favorite.

                                  1. re: PhillyA

                                    Ditto on the cana de cabra, loved it so much that we make it for friends. We love the shrimp and crab salad, skirt steak with fried egg, manchego skewers, garlic shrimp, short rib and both potato dishes. You really can't go wrong.