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New to Philly, please advise

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Hi,
I'm moving to Philly from Boston in June and wanted some advice on restaurants and bakeries- specifically, how to find places similar (or better) than my Boston favorites. I have a few specific places that I'm very sad to leave, so I'd appreciate any suggestions on places that compare with:

* Flour Bakery (scones, muffins, sticky buns, cakes are out of this world!)
* Party Favors (cupcakes and cakes with thick buttercream frosting...)
* Rosie's Bakery (thick fudgy, not cakey, brownies)
* Mistral/Sorrelina (upscale but not rediculously priced italian/mediterranean)
* Zaftig's (Jewish diner-style eatery)
* Christina's spices in Inman square (cheap and extensive selection of bulk and bottled spices)

And also any cute coffee shops that are NOT too loud and have nice areas for sitting and reading (a la Uptown Espresso in Boston)

And of course, any of your general favorite restaurants - on my visits to Philly I've tried Zahav, Amada, Parc, and Fork as well as a small Afghani place in Penn's Landing and had good experiences at all...

Thanks so much!

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  1. Where in the city will you be moving? That might help with some local places as each neighborhood has its own little spots.

    For upscale Italian/Mediteranean, try Osteria on Broad near Spring Garden. That's probably the best in the "not ridiculously priced" range, but I'm sure others will mention their faves. Philly is loaded with good Italian.

    http://www.osteriaphilly.com/

    For spices, I like the Italian Market Spice Company on 9th Street near Carpenter.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      I'm going to be living at 2400 Chestnut and working at Penn

      1. re: athena877

        They have decent cupcakes at Naked Chocolate near Penn. Sometimes they are a bit inconsistent, though. http://www.nakedchocolatecafe.com. They have great hot chocolate (try the Aztec) and decent chocolates.

        You will want to familiarize yourself with the Reading Terminal Market http://www.readingterminalmarket.org It is a quick hop on the green subway/surface lines (you'd disembark at Juniper in Center City and walk two blocks to the market). Here, you will find fabulous sticky buns and other Amish baked goods at Beiler's and spices galore at the Spice Terminal at the market. They also have great pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place as well as as a number of other great foodie finds including great corned beef and pastrami at Hershel's. A word of caution, the Amish vendors (including Beiler's and the Dutch Eating Pace) are only open on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Also, the market can get crowded on Saturdays (but not when they open at 8 AM).

        You may want to try great Mediterranean/Greek food at Estia. http://www.estiarestaurant.com It's not cheap but they have a $30 three course lunch special that can't be beat.

        1. re: bluehensfan

          You can find a great spice place in the Italian market -- 9th street south of Christian street (not very convenient to Penn) -- and there's also a place in the Reading Terminal market in the back, I believe. There's also a great cheese place on 9th St plus wonderful Di Bruno's.

    2. I've consistently found that the best quality spices come from Penzeys Spices in Mt. Airy.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Boognish

        I have to agree, much fresher than the shop in the Italian Market.

        1. re: Boognish

          Penzey's is in Chestnut Hill, not Mt Airy.

          1. re: G Goo

            I didn't even realize they were separate entities.

        2. Spice Terminal in RTM for spices.
          L'Angolo in South Philly for Italian, and I love Audrey Claire for American-ish Mediterranean. Kanella, Effies for more greek type stuff.
          Brown Betty for cupcakes and def. go to Naked Chocolate by Penn.
          Also by Penn there's a Metropolitan Bakery (40th and Walnut) for scones and whatnot. They also have coffee.
          Coffee shops around 24th and Chestnut...no idea. But there's a Starbucks by Penn that is generally quiet upstairs, and further out into West Philly there's the Green Line.

          1. For me, the Famous 4th St Deli (4th and Bainbridge in Queen Village) is the place to go to replace Zaftigs. I don't know how it compares, but I love it. The chopped liver is really good and so is the MB soup. It's unlikely you'll have any room for one of their amazing and mammoth pastries, but you can take one home!

            Also, for coffeeshops, try Chapterhouse at 9th at Bainbridge, or Cafe L'Aube at 15th and South. Cafe L'Aube is good because in addition to good coffee, they have wonderful crepes - sweet and savoury.

            1 Reply
            1. re: berbadeerface

              My boyfriend LOVES Famous 4th Street Deli. Biggest, meatiest sandwiches I've ever seen for him, a free cookie for me.

            2. Famous 4th will probably be your best bet for Jewish diner in this city. There's an outpost opening at 19th soon, but I don't know if it'll have the same diner-ish vibe.

              For coffeeshops, you've got a few options. Considering where you're living and working ...
              Walnut Bridge Coffee House on Walnut, east of the bridge, across from Sweat Gym
              Caffination (sp?) at 22nd & Chestnut
              La Colombe on 19th, below Sansom
              Darling's on 20th, below Pine
              Kafta Crossing at 44th & Chestnut http://www.kaffacrossing.com/index.html
              Cafe Clave on Locust, between 43rd & 44th (across from the CVS
              )Earth Cup on 45th, right below Pine

              There are also all the Greenline spots (43rd & Baltimore, 45th & Locust, etc.) but I'm not as big a fan since it's always crowded and sometimes loud-ish. Walnut Bridge is my fav of that lot.

              1. ooph...i used to live in boston and i don't know any of those places. haha! but i know some good eats in philly (native)....

                flour bakery - stock's (port richmond, not super close to p trans) - delicious, heavy poundcake, excellent sticky buns. also - kaplan's (northern liberties) for muffins. we must have good scones somewhere but i rarely eat them.

                party favors - while i am not completely sold on the naked chocolate cafe, i do like their cupcakes (one on penn campus, two in center city). brown betty's cupcakes are hit or miss, somtimes they are good sometimes very dry. but it is near kaplan's so you can make a day of it. :)

                fudgy brownies - oh the pink rose pastry shop!! also have delicious lemon squares.

                upscale italian mediterranean - we have lots of them, most are byos - byos include radicchio, l'angolo, le virtu, cucina forte, mezza luna, modo mio, kanella (cypriot). with liquor license = osteria, vetri (beyond expensive but heaven on earth).

                jewish eatery - we are weak there but a few new places just opened close-ish to your apartment. go to foobooz.com to find out all you need to know about philly food. famous 4th street deli is good, but expensive, but huge portions, so it's your call. :) their cookies and pickles are near universally adored.

                cute coffee shops that aren't too loud - near you on the walnut street bridge is one, i forget it's name. my favies are the chapter house and bean exchange (both in my hood), but LaVa near you is pretty good too.

                i don't know the other place suggested above, but the spice corner has always been fine for me. when on 9th street, you should go to fante's for all your kitchen needs too....and claudio's and dibruno's for all of your italian needs. and the vendors for cheap (mixed quality) produce....

                italian bakeries - potito's eclairs, isgro's cannoli and termini's cookies. all places are excellent, though some of isgro's cookies are suspect.

                italian bread bakeries - try all of these to see what you like most - farragali's, cacia's, sarcone's, ianelli's.

                my favie restaurants and places to eat, oh where to begin!!! shiao lan kung, nam phuong, vietnam, la lupe, modo mio, bar ferdinand, nick's roast beef, little fish, beau monde, osteria, panorama, bitar's, morning glory, distrito (or any of garces' places - amada, tinto, chifa), las cazuelas, continental midtown (not a huge starr fan, but i love their veggie burger and i am not a veg), ekta, sketch, tiffin, xochitl, morimoto, cafe de laos and tria (go to tria as soon as you can).

                you also should become familiar with metropolitan bakery (their millet muffins and canelle are awesome and they have great breads) and the readiong terminal. both things are essential philadelphian institutions (yes, met. bakery is one now too). the amish are at their stands only from wednesday to saturday, be sure to try everything they sell. and the italian market is key too, but i already talked about that a little.....

                and i work at penn too, and urge you to try as many of the food (lunch) trucks as you can. some are surprisingly delicious...

                and another helpful website for scouting out food is philadelphia.menupages.com and of course yelp.

                and, i am done!

                1 Reply
                1. re: mazza3

                  great post Mazza!

                2. welcome. i recently made the move from boston.

                  i have not yet found anything in philly that is comparable to flour as a single source of baking excellence. joanne chang has no equal. that being said, i am beginning to cobble together an approximation from a few different places. metropolitan bakery is great for breads, pretty good for cakes, and decent for other baked goods and desserts. brown betty is the place to go for cupcakes.

                  osteria (mentioned above) is excellent, but i think it more closely resembles via matta than mistral, both in terms of style of cuisine and atmosphere. i strongly second its recommendation.

                  for coffee shops, i like la va cafe at 21st and south. funky place, friendly staff, free wi-fi and pretty decent turkish fare (bourekas, moussaka, hummus platters, pressed sandwiches, etc).

                  dibruno brothers is your local formaggio.

                  we're weak on thai and indian relative to boston (you'll miss rod dee) but as mentioned already, we have great byob bistro options. boston always had a huge gap in that regard.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: coookie

                    You have to go to west philly for thai and indian. There you'll find Sitar, New Delhi, Pattaya, Thai Singha House. All cheap and tailored only slightly to the Unviersity crowd.