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Center City Weekend: Best Buys?

I'll be in Philadelphia (Warwick hotel) this weekend with the family (5 -- all pretty adventurous eaters). Looking for dinner suggestions for places that are tops in food quality, low in prices. Any ethnicity. Anywhere in Center CIty, South Philly/Italian Market, University area. I'd love to go to Bibou or someplace like that, but I'm trying for something a couple of notches down in cost. Vietnamese, Mexican/South American, old-school Italian. Anything goes.

We're already planning on one Cheesesteak lunch (haven't settled on which place) -- though I prefer a provolone steak wit, rather than cheese whiz. I know, heresy.

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  1. Try Modo Mio - excellent food, and the turista menu is the best deal in town: http://modomiorestaurant.com/menu
    PLUS it's BYOB - the only drawback is they only accept cash, so stop at the MAC before.

    Also Caribou Cafe on Walnut St has a $29 pre-fixe option if you are interested in french bistro.

    For amazing and authentic Mexican (NOT Tex-Mex), Las Cazeulas at 4th and Girard cannot be beat. Also a BYOB, which keeps the price down. http://www.lascazuelas.net/Index.html

    There are so many great restaurants doing "pre-fixe" options for a small price at the moment, you may want to browse www.foobooz.com or www.uwishunu.com. Or of course - this board always has some great comments on current specials.

    1. Wow - where to begin? Off the top of my head: Raddichio, Salento, or Melograno for Italian, Bar Ferdinand, in N. Liberties, for tapas, Villa di Roma, in the Italian Market, for cheap Southern Italian, Cedars for Middle Eastern, Campo's for hoagies, Beau Monde for LaCreperie for crepes, Vietnam Restaurant, Ariana or Kabul for Afghan, Konak for Turkish. Don't forget to visit the Reading Terminal Market - great place for lunch.

      1. Rangoon -- Burmese food. Unusual, tasty, reasonably-priced, full-service restaurant in Chinatown with great family atmosphere:

        http://www.phillychinatown.com/rangoo...

        Some of the dishes at Rangoon made other Chowhounders' lists of foods they dream about...'nuff said.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Seeker19104

          Reading Terminal Market is a must-eat for breakfast or lunch (especially pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place and roast pork at DiNic's). Bebe's in the Italian Market has great BBQ, a real hole in the wall but very authentic. Also Estia has a great business lunch for $30 p/p that has grilled octopus, a whole grilled fish, and baklava. They serve this on the weekend too. Finally, I like the Moroccan lamb pita sandwiches at Argan near Rittenhouse and if you get to No Libs do try Paesano's sandwiches.

        2. Thanks all; a great cross section of places that sound amazing. Reading Terminal Market was already a given for breakfast/lunch (I went to school at Penn ages ago, so I do know of some of the "classics.").

          2 Replies
          1. re: sbp

            Mexican:
            Nice selection of small, cheap taquerias with some pretty impressive food. My favorites:

            Que Chula es Puebla in Northern Liberties
            http://www.philly.com/philly/entertai...

            Taco Riendo in Northern Liberties
            http://philadelphia.menupages.com/res...

            Taqueria Veracruzana in South Philly (Italian Market
            )http://www.taqueriaveracruzana.com/

            Ethiopian:
            There are several, but by far my favorite (although beware, slow service - just expect it) is Abyssinia in West Philly/University City. Cheap meal, very different, very fun, and very good.
            http://philadelphia.menupages.com/res...

            Burmese:
            As mentioned, Rangoon in Chinatown is awesome, and rare to find.
            http://www.phillychinatown.com/rangoo...

            Thai/Laotian:
            Vientiane - Always good, but they also have an AWESOME Saturday lunch deal - appetizer, soup, and huge entree for $10. Tiny byo, but one of my favorite places in the city - West Philly/UCity
            http://philadelphia.menupages.com/res...

            Tapas:
            As mentioned, Bar Ferdinand in Northern Liberties is a great alternative to the (admittedly even better, but much pricier) favorites of Amada and Tinto. My absolute favorite is their under-appreciated, amazing, and inexpensive brunch, but also a good dinner or drinks option.
            www.barferdinand.com

            1. re: PhillyA

              If you can snag a reservation I believe THE best buy in all of Philly is the Sunday 5-course dinner at Little Fish for $28 and BYOB. Seatings at 6 and 8 but I believe they book up far in advance. An incredible meal and an incredible bargain!

          2. Vietnamese on Washington Ave is my best buy in the city. You can grab a cab or a bus down from Center City.
            Good Dog is a fabulous and well-priced burger and fries.
            Italian: Villa di Roma, and it's a fun, philly experience
            Paesano's Roast Pork Sandwich
            Rangoon's a great suggestion! Chinatown in general would be fun and cheap.

            For a great BYOB that's not very expensive, I'd suggest Audrey Claire, but there are plenty to choose from that can give you really great food for a cheaper price. And they're very casual.

            4 Replies
            1. re: hollyd

              Thanks again. I was thinking of one semi-splurge meal at Little Fish or Modomio. Maybe with the hurricane on its way, we'll be able to get in with a last minute reservation!

              1. re: sbp

                Vietnam Restaurant on 11th street and Sazon on spring garden are both on vacation this week!

                1. re: sbp

                  Little Fish is worth every single penny. And on a weekday, it's not problem to get a reservation, I've found. Weekends are trickier but worth a try.
                  Amazing. Just. Amazing.

                  1. re: hollyd

                    From seeing online menu (which is very ambitious) and the reviews, it seems too good to be true for the price. We've got a similar place on Long Island called Kitchen-A Bistro. Also BYOB, they do a $42 prix fixe, which in these parts, is a steal for a "high-end" restaurant.