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Nov 17, 2009 01:05 PM

Heading to Philadelphia for 2 days ONLY - have done research! Advice Rq Pls

Hello fellow Chowhounds,

I have done some research, but was hoping for some feedback on my choices. As my time in your fine city is limited, I don't want to waste too much time hitting places that aren't going to 'blow me away'. Therefore, I was hoping that you fine folks would help me streamline my itinerary. I will be staying near Reading Terminal Market at the Marriott for two evenings next week. I have made a couple of reservations, but I would like to know if I've done well, or if there's anything within walking distance I have missed.

This will be the second stop on my eating trip this upcoming Thanksgiving week (I will have hit NYC the weekend before for 3 days of all out gluttony). As a result, my wallet and stomach capacity will be limited. Here is what I have booked thus far:

Lunch Day 1: Lacroix (I plan to do one meal of the recession buster menu, and one a la carte with my Significant Other)
Dinner Day 1: Amada (if we have no space left in our stomachs/money left in our wallets, tapas is a bit more flexible)

Dinner Day 2: Vetri (I love pastas more than carne/pesce dishes usually when I go to Italian restaurants, but I am open to suggestions on what to order. We're planning to do a la carte, not the tasting menu)

We of course plan to do a bit of 'touristy' things between meals/snacks, but plan to stay within the historical district, or 1 hr walking radius from our Hotel. If anyone has any tips of 'must-try' foodie stops near tourist areas, that would be great!

Also in our line of sight:

Gelato at Capogiro
Reading Terminal Market (we plan to go Wednesday so that we may see the Amish vendors) - any recommended stalls to visit? We also plan to snack there (DiNic's/Amish Pretzel Place). Any other suggestions?
Italian Market

At a loss/Need Assistance:

I was hoping to get to try one of the "BEST LIST" Philly Cheesesteaks, but most of them are in South Philly, or not within walking distance (Tony Luke's, John's, Paesano's, etc.). Did I miss something that would be near us, or near a tourist-worthy destination? I'm reading mixed reviews about Penn's Landing - thoughts? Anything to eat there? I couldn't find much about whether it's worth the visit for our foodie tour. Food near Fairmount Park would be appreciated as well. A suggestion near the hotel for breakfast would be great as well - or should we just stick with something in Reading Terminal?

Thanks in Advance

Cheers & Happy Eating!

Reading Terminal Market
51 N 12th St # 2, Philadelphia, PA

Vetri Restaurant
1312 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

1 E Main St, New Freedom, PA 17349

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  1. Don't go to Penn's Landing unless you like concrete. The Schuylkill Banks trail and Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River are much, much nicer. Fairmount Park is like 4000 acres (much of which borders bad neighborhoods); where did you intend to go? Probably just walking up along the river from downtown, past the Art Museum, and along Kelly Drive is enough Philly park for your trip.

    I know you wanted to stay in the historical area, but the west side of Center City is also very nice and worth exploring, especially the Rittenhouse Square area.

    3 Replies
    1. re: barryg

      Thanks barryg for the heads-up on Penn's Landing. I saw it in a tourist book listing, and I've always liked waterfronts. Guess this one gets a miss. I'll research into the Schulkill Banks trail and Kelly Drive instead. You're probably right on not having much time. I will wander Rittenhouse Square area too, since I believe Lacroix is there and then we'll walk off the ingested calories.

      1. re: BokChoi

        BokChoi, if you like waterfronts, you will enjoy walking along Kelly Drive. You could hit Cafe Lutecia, a nice little French-style cafe at 23rd and Lombard, then cut up 23rd St and over Pine to get to the trail head (where is it is called Schuylkill Banks). You will also get to see one of Philly's best neighborhoods and some great brownstones this way. Just follow the trail along the river and you'll end up behind the art musuem; keep to the trail closest to the river (follow the joggers) and you'll get to the Kelly Drive portion. If you walk 2.5 to 3 miles (total, from the head) it will be enough to see what it offers. If it is a nice day, this is a very pleasant stroll.

        Unless you are a real history buff, I think this great, old neighborhood and the Schuylkill waterfront are under-appreciated by tourists.

        Cafe Lutecia
        2301 Lombard St Ste Frnt, Philadelphia, PA 19146

        1. re: barryg

          Thanks for the suggestion about Kelly Drive. I just a few hours discovering the area and think it'll work perfectly for one of my afternoons. Thanks barryg. Cafe Lutecia seems to have many faithful followers and looks like a great option to have a seat before/after the walk.

    2. Regarding sandwiches, I would recommend that you go with a DiNic's Roast Pork that you can find in the Reading Terminal. Get it with Broccoli Rabe or Spinach. Skip the cheesteak.

      For breakfast, Dutch Eating Place in Reading Terminal is great. A distant second is the Down Home Diner.

      Naked Chocolate Cafe on 13th and Walnut is worth a trip.

      Dutch Eating Place
      12th Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

      Down Home Diner
      12 Filbert Sts, Philadelphia, PA 19102

      1 Reply
      1. re: cwdonald

        DiNic's sounds like the best bet then considering my tight itinerary and desire to travel by foot. I'll check out the Dutch Eating Place as well. Thanks for the advice on what to order at DiNic's!

        Dutch Eating Place
        12th Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

      2. Within walking distance of downtown center. Breakfast I suggest either Sabrina's 1804 Callowhill, or Morning Glory 735 S 10th St. Both are excellent. I second the choice on DiNic;s roast pork, the best sandwich in Reading Terminal.

        Morning Glory
        735 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

        Callowhill Cafe
        134 N 5th St, Reading, PA 19601

        10th St Cafe
        1000 7th Ave, Altoona, PA 16602

        3 Replies
        1. re: psurpcv

          You must have done a lot of research, as your choices are very sound. Lacroix, Amada and Vetri are great choices.

          DiNic's is great at Reading Terminal Market for roast pork sandwiches (with cheese and broccoli rabe). Miller's Twist (the Amish pretzel place) is great. Do absolutely go to the Dutch Eating Place for mammoth pancakes for breakfast (and they have great apple dumplings). I am not a big fan of the Down Home Diner except for their ribs on special occasions, so if going to the market for breakfast, regardless of the length of the line at the Dutch Eating Place, go there. It's a half a block from your hotel and other than two Dunkin Donuts, the Gallery, and Chinatown (three strikes and yer out?), there is not much else for breakfast right there.

          I like the bacio at Capogiro but other flavors are pretty good too. They let you sample as many as you wish before selecting.

          I'd skip Penns Landing even on the nicest day. The Italian Market has a few redeeming places (like Fante's, Bebe's BBQ, Sabrina's, etc.) but may seem a bit dumpy unless you're a fan of the Rocky movies.

          Not much to eat around Fairmount Park that strikes me, so I'd head to the Rittenhouse Area for something like Tria or Estia for lunch.

          If it's cold you may want to try the hot chocolate at one of the Naked Chocolate Cafe locations (one is a few blocks from Capogiro on Walnut).

          Have fun in Philly!

          Reading Terminal Market
          51 N 12th St # 2, Philadelphia, PA

          Vetri Restaurant
          1312 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

          1405 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

          Dutch Eating Place
          12th Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19102

          Down Home Diner
          12 Filbert Sts, Philadelphia, PA 19102

          123 S 18th St Frnt, Philadelphia, PA 19103

          1. re: bluehensfan

            Thanks for the name of the Pretzel place in Reading Terminal Market, as well as the suggestion for the Dutch Eating Place. I've written it all down and will be making my way through the crowds. Hopefully I can get takeout and eat back at the hotel to escape the commotion! I've taken Penns Landing and the Italian Market out of my To Do list because after your suggestions, I've realized I probably don't have enough time to do the Italian Market, and Penn's sounds TERRIBLE. Thanks for the advice! Naked Chocolate Cafe sounds like a nice pick-me-up for the A.M. Thanks bluehensfan.

          2. re: psurpcv

            Thanks psurpcv for the tips on the breakfast places. I hadn't done too much research on where to grab breakfast, so this will be great.

          3. Itinerary sounds great! I would stick with all three of those restaurants. Two of my favorite eats from Vetri in the past were the spinach gnocchi and the pastrami-ed foie gras.

            Be careful if you're in the Terminal Market the day before Thanksgiving, it will be a little bit of a mad house. Not to say you shouldn't go, just know that it may be extra crowded. I also, though, say skip the cheesesteak and go with Dinic's for the roast pork. Grab one to go and hang out in the beer garden with, well, a beer. It's usually a little less chaotic in there, since you have to make a beverage purchase to sit in there.

            Also, it's not the best walk, but technically, you could walk to Paesano's in an hour. You can walk just about anywhere in the immediate vicinity of Center City within an hour. You could also take the subway. Up that way is our newest spectacle, the Piazza at Schmidt's, an outdoor plaza with bars, restaurants, stores, and galleries surrounding it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: urbanfabric

              Thanks urbanfabric. Seems like the 3 restaurants I chose have been getting a lot of love on this board - so I wanted to see for myself! When in Rome (Philly)...
              Ahh, thanks for the reminder that I will be there the day before Thanksgiving.... should be quite the experience in itself! Thanks for the tip on the quiet spot as well - good to get away from it all sometimes. Thanks for the advice about walking distances and Piazza. Sounds like something I should try and fit into the itinerary. So much to do in Philly! So little time. Good thing it's close and I shall probably be returning soon! Can't wait to discover it.

              1. re: urbanfabric

                Paesano's is fantastic and have some of the best sandwiches in the city! And as urbanfabric said, you don't have to walk there -- it's literally one block from the Market St El ("Blue Line") Girard Ave Stop, which is only 5 minutes' ride from Center City.

                1. re: JugglerDave

                  Thanks for the instructions on how to get to Paesano's. I guess being a tourist, I just have no concept of distances in your fine city! I will try to squeeze it in. I really should have booked another night, alas, time is limited. Hopefully I will be able to return (soon)! Thanks JugglerDave.

              2. If you want to skip the meat and fish courses at Vetri and just do pastas, you can always order some appetizers and then a bunch half portions of the pastas. It's a good way to sample a lot of different dishes. My wife and I did that a while back and it was a nice change of pace from appetizer/pasta/main.

                However, if they are offering the veal on a stone main course, I would seriously consider ordering it. It is a seared veal breast that is served sliced and then you lay the slices on the hot stone to finish cooking. Melt in your mouth yummy!

                At Amada, my faves are the spanish octopus, the clams and chorizo, and the serrano ham and fig salad. But the one not to be missed is the pernil asado. if you like pork, you will LOVE this.

                Vetri Restaurant
                1312 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

                3 Replies
                1. re: Philly Ray

                  AH Philly Ray, veal on stone warms my heart (and makes me drool) one of my favs, along with every pasta I have ever had. Never a miss step there.
                  Can I suggest a walk to Rittenhouse Square and a sit at Parc if the weather cooperates? Delightful inside/outside seating - go mid day for a drink or snack if nothing else.
                  If you go to the Italian MArket get a cheesestaek at Georges's one store front south of Christian on 9th. One of the best in the city, but not well known.

                  227 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

                  1. re: Bigley9

                    Rittenhouse Square sounds perfect and will go along well with the other walk I was suggested to do along the riverside. I will be at Lacroix for lunch, so I will be in the area. Parc looks beautiful, thanks for the suggestion.

                  2. re: Philly Ray

                    I didn't realize you could do half portions of the pastas. That sounds like a great idea - it wasn't on their menu (unless I missed it). Thanks for that tip! That's what so great about you folks on Chowhound - you tell us tourists all the local tips so that it's almost like eating in our home city. For that, I am very grateful! The veal on the stone sounds delicious. It reminds me a fabulous Uni/Clio (Boston) dish that served salmon on a hot stone....sizzling when brought to the table. Oh so tender! Thanks for the other tips on what to order at Amada. They sound absolutely fantastic and right up my alley!