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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!

                  3. Regarding cheesesteaks, if you are in the vicinity of the Comcast Center (tallest building in Philadelphia with interesting video wall/wintergarden lobby worth a 10 minute look) there is an upscale food court in the basement called the Market. Inside is a new vendor Mike's Steaks and I've heard the cheesesteaks there are good.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: rocknroll52

                      Thanks for the tip on the tourist site paired with the food suggestion. That's such a great format (food + sites...vs food + wine). It sounds like I will be making my way there. Thanks rocknroll52.

                      1. re: rocknroll52

                        If the weather is nice and you're up for a walk, the stroll from the Marriott to the Art Museum is very nice, and you have some fun snack/bar options on the way. Detour off the parkway to walk past the Eastern State Penitentiary (or take the tour if you have time - it's AWESOME) and there is a bevy of bars/pubs that have solid standing as good neighborhood joints. I second a visit to Comcast Center. And I hear they will be starting their Holiday show on the wall next week - not sure of dates, but last year they ran it every hour starting mid-morning. Enjoy your time in Philly - come back in the spring when the city is at its best for walking adventures!

                        1. re: doxiemom

                          Thanks for the information on the ESP! I didn't know about it at all and did a bit of research after your suggestion. It looks like a great spot, and fun to take some photos of. Comcast Center is now on my list as well and hopefully I'll have room in the belly for the steak in the Market. Thanks doxiemom.

                      2. i see you're getting around ;)

                        our tastes don't always align, but every few months i'm in philadelphia and can offer a little toronto vs phila perspective... reading terminal market is quite a bit smaller than SLM. i was really quite surprised by this and so this may limit your options there after one good visit, it's worth it for the DEP, DiNic's, pretzels and Old City Coffee (which many may disagree with me for but if you like a really rich chocolatey oily roast then the Old City Blend with Indian A beans is spot on for that, it's the only roast i suggest).

                        amada was my favourite between it and tinto. i really enjoyed the stuffed peppers but otherwise had a rather different meal since mine was at lunch and the options were limited. vetri is an excellent option, i went to their sister restaurant osteria and had a fantastic time. they are very accommodating so i'm sure you'll get what you want out of the experience.

                        for capogiro... after having the toronto selections i was a bit disappointed mostly with their texture but the flavours are more interesting than the ones i've had at say il gelaterie and worth it for that. the best location is the one at 20th, it has the widest selection. very nice people with no issues about you sampling away.

                        for cheesesteaks... it's very contentious... my preference is actually a tourist place on south st called jim's but i'd only go when the tourist numbers are low. the meat steams less and the buns have a texture i like (it is also a chopped style and i always go with whiz). otherwise, those other options really aren't that far if you learn how to navigate the public transit system which isn't terribly difficult and certainly not as expensive as the fares are getting over here in TO. paesano's does not do a cheesesteak, but an excellent though not "authentic" rendition of the roast pork which might be a worthwhile venture especially to get the comparison after DiNic's. very close to a subway stop. you will be in proximity to northern liberties if you have any interest in that... i find it quite comparable to TO's liberty village with less emphasis on industrial warehouse office space.

                        i will say though that one of my best foodie experiences ever is the buri bop at morimoto. he's everywhere now, but wow..... that was a dish i will never forget.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          It's been a while, PSP. Great hearing from you! Thanks for the suggestions and the comparison between Toronto spots and Philly. I particularly appreciated the comparison between SLM and RTM so that I knew how much time to allot. Northern Liberties sounds like a great area. I've put it on my list, but I'm really not sure how much time I will have. Thanks very much for the information. I've also just booked morimoto for lunch to try the buri bop you suggested. I'm looking forward to it! Thanks PSP. I hope Toronto is treating you well!

                        2. this will probably get some blowback, but i'd advise you to avoid lacroix. i recently suffered through a laughably bad meal there. the highlight (lowlight?) was a parsnip puree soup with peanut butter froth, overdone bits of lardon and what appeared to be coffee grinds. probably the worst haute cuisine experience i've ever had.

                          frankly, i'd rearrange amada (which is great) to lunch so that you can fit in bibou for dinner, assuming you can get a reservation.

                          also, you're close to chinatown, and specifically to two excellent but grungy spots: dim sum garden and sakura mandarin. the xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and scallion pancakes at both are really outstanding. dim sum garden makes great handcut noodles and sakura mandarin has a nice, light fried rice.

                          and i'd heartily second the rec for cafe lutecia. really nicely executed french in a comfortable cafe setting without the overbearing pretension of parc.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: coookie

                            Thanks coookie for the warning about Lacroix. I will confer with my SO about what we shall do with the meal. Either way, I'll probably order a little at a time to try them out, and then add on afterward. It's sad to have read they were recently downgraded from AAA 5star to 4star this year. I had passed originally on Bibou because, although it had great reviews, BYO is not really something that is a draw for me, nor my SO, because I have a pretty severe allergy to alcohol. The venison dish did sound quite enticing though! Thanks for the suggestion coookie. Hopefully I will be able to try it during my next trip.

                            I didn't realize Chinatown was only <15 minutes from the hotel. I'll hopefully be able to squeeze in the snacks between meals. Thanks for the suggestions on food options there.

                            1. re: BokChoi

                              Were you referring to Lacroix losing a star? I have been frequenting Lacroix for many years and that have always been four stars. I even called the restaurant to verify. Also a good place to try is the new restaurant Fond. It is a fantastic up-and-coming place that recently received Craig Laban's seal of approval.

                              1. re: BokChoi

                                Just a note - BYOB places don't require you to bring alcohol at all if you don't want it. I would think a BYO place would be a great fit for someone who had an allergy or other aversion to alcohol. Hope you had a great visit!

                              2. re: coookie

                                Hi Cookie- I actually frequent Lacroix at least twice a week and have seemed to miss that soup. It sounds fantastic but when I asked the chef if he could prepare it he said that was not a soup he or his staff ever made-Funny- Could you please let me know what week you were there or did you confuse it with another restaurant. If so, could you please try to remember where?

                                Lacroix At the Rittenhouse
                                210 W. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103

                                1. re: buttercup99

                                  It was definitely Lacroix, during the most recent restaurant week.

                                  I may not remember the exact details, but I'm fairly certain about the basic elements of the soup: some sort of root vegetable puree, peanut butter froth and a form of coffee seasoning (dusting, grinds, what have you).

                              3. You can go to Jim's Steaks right on South Street for steaks. They are my favorite!

                                1. Sorry for the delay in posting the details of my fabulous trip! Things have just been a little crazy lately (what with the holidays and everything. I also write quite a bit - as you can see, so I had to have a chunk of time set aside). I just wanted to thank all the wonderful chowhounds that helped me plan my trip. We had such a great time, and the food was fabulous. We followed a lot of suggestions from you guys, as well as stumbled upon a gem of our own along the way. We couldn't have had such a fantastic time without you!

                                  Thanks first to barryg for suggesting the pleasant stroll route. We did walk the Schuylkill Banks trail and Kelly Drive (at night), and it was quite beautiful (not too late, but the sun had just set and you could see the building lights reflect off the water). The brownstones were serene and nice to see as well. Rittenhouse square was also a nice little stroll through, since we were in the area for Lacroix anyway. The stores weren't really my cup of tea, but there were a lot of high-end retailers there. I bypassed Penn's Landing because everyone was so against it - thanks!

                                  In Reading Terminal (Thanks cwdonald), I managed to sample the Dutch Eating Place and couldn't manage to eat a DiNic's Roast Pork sandwich for breakfast (I totally ran out of stomach room. Thanks for the suggestion psurpcv - I'll get it next time). It looked delicious though, and the lineups started for DiNic's around 11AM. The DEP's prices couldn't be beat, and the portions were amazing, but we were still full from the previous night. Unfortunately, we only managed to pick up the suggested Apple Dumpling from DEP and enjoyed it back in Boston the next morning for breakfast. That was one mighty apple pastry - it must have weighed 2 lbs! It was quite good and when we return to Philly, DEP will be a place we won't miss. The food looked amazing. Great breakfast suggestion. Thanks guys!

                                  DiNic's: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Dutch Eating Place: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  Another thing we noticed was the store that sold $1 bread bags at the end of the day. A great deal (we bought 2 and it lasted us quite a while when we got back to Boston!): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  bluehensfan, I got a Miller's Twist and it was absolutely hands-down the BEST pretzel I've ever had. Mind you, my exposure to the tasty treat is pretty limited, but I still loved it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize how great it was, so I got a flavoured pretzel with cinnamon and sugar. After I took a bite, I could taste the underlying delicate flavour of the pretzel bread itself and regretted dousing it in the flavourings!!! Usually when I get a pretzel, it tastes plain and bland, so I usually require a healthy sprinkling of flavouring - but note to others! Just get the plain/original. I'll get another next time. It was absolutely delicious! I also hit the Naked Chocolate Cafe, which was quite a treat. The thick sipping chocolate was the closest I've had to a drinking chocolate I had in Spain. I truly enjoy the richness of the drinking chocolates in Europe, and this was pretty close and quite enjoyable. Overall, I still prefer the Max Brenner's I had earlier in the week in NYC (I did a small hot chocolate tasting), but this was very, very nice and a close second (besting Jacques Torres' version). I got a small hot chocolate to go - and when they say 'small', it's actually VERY small (not typical North American standard small, which really just equals medium/large.... tiny). But because it was so thick, it took be an hour to finish it. Reminder to others; if you get it to go, get a spoon, otherwise, you'll be trying to get it out FOREVER. It's just that thick.

                                  Naked Chocolate: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Hot Chocolate to go: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Miller's Twist: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Pretzel: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  It was too cold for gelato/ice cream, otherwise I would have hit Capogiro. I didn't have time to hit Chinatown, or the Italian Market either. Hopefully, if I have more time next time, I'll be able to branch out more from the touristy areas.

                                  urbanfabric, I went to Vetri and we were wowed by the foie gras pastrami. It was the BEST single dish my SO has had in recent memory. It really wowed us - smoke + foie?! Wow, the combo really couldn't be beat. The spicing was really bang on, and recently we tried to duplicate the experience by ordering a pastrami smoked duck in Boston, and it just fell so flat in comparison. Wow. That's all I can really say. I'll have to hit up Paesano's next time.

                                  Vetri Pastrami: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  Philly Ray, we did pastas like you suggested (+ the foie) and did half portions. It was really convenient that they allowed us to do half portions. We got 1/2 portions of the following: gnocchi, casoncelli, tortellini, & pappardelle (photos to follow). We also got apps to start: foie + quail. Overall, the pastas were very well executed, and I enjoyed the flavour combinations and toppings when meat was involved. Everything was well-balanced, if not a bit too heavy for our tastes. But we generally find that true with most Italian foods. The textures were what really amazed me, especially with the spinach gnocchi! It was like a pillow, and it melted when I put it in my mouth. How do they get that silken texture?! It tasted like essence of spinach, and the flavours were all very concentrated, especially in the nut flavoured pastas. I really enjoyed them all. The Quail was a bit too cold for my tastes (just warmed, not hot). I guess it might be a taste preference, as I prefer it a bit more seared/crisp on the outside. This was handled very well, and cooked to perfection, the temperature was just a bit 'off' for me. The souffle was disappointing though and nothing to note really. It wasn't bad, it just didn't live up to the rest of the meal, especially at $12. I would have rather gone with another 1/2 portion of pasta. We had to pass on the veal, though it sounded great (thanks tho Bigley9), because we had to watch the budget (after non-stop eating for 5 days previously) and we were actually really full when we got to Vetri. Next time though...

                                  Vetri Quail: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Vetri Gnocchi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Vetri Rabbit Casoncelli: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Vetri Papardelle: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Vetri Tortellini: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Vetri Dessert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  Amada was a total success. I would have to say that even though Vetri was fantastic, I preferred Amada. The flavours of Amada were more to my taste, and there were a few completely FANTASTIC dishes that I still think about to this day. Thank you Philly Ray for suggesting the clams and chorizo. I will forever be in your debt. That dish was amazing and so incredibly flavourful. The sauce was so much more complex than I had ever thought was possible for such a 'simple sounding dish'. I tried to ask what that special hint of flavour was (the waitress was a darling), but she came back with chili peppers. I was hoping to see if the smoked paprika was the strong underlying flavour. But alas! Does anyone know how to make something similar? The waitress brought us extra bread to soak up the sauce when we requested it - a whole loaf! She was such a sweetheart. We passed on the pernil asado because we were full from BBQ before we got to Amada. But I'm sure we'll return! The black olive oil dip at the start was such a great beginning to a fantastic meal. The octopus was my second favourite dish because it was so incredibly smokey. They really know how to grill things here. I was amazed at the texture they achieved as well - the octopus wasn't at all tough/chewy.

                                  Amada Flatbread: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Amada Empanada: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Amada Octo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Amada Meatballs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Amada Chorizo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  rocknroll52, we stopped by the Comcast Center because of you, and the display was indeed quite interesting. The holiday projection wasn't up yet, but it was still worth a looksie. No room for a cheesesteak though....sigh. Too much food to eat, too little stomach room/time!

                                  doxiemom, thanks as well for the suggestion of the Comcast Center. We walked to ESP and really wanted to check it out, but we ran out of time. The reviews were really good, and we wouldn't have known about it if it weren't for you. We got a picture of the exterior after it closed (at night). Quite spooky.

                                  PSP, thanks very much for the suggestions. We walked by the cheeseteak place (Jim's) you suggested (thanks littlecmad as well), but unfortunately, I had grabbed some BBQ from Ron's Ribs just prior to finding Jim's and I was too full to even try to attempt a footlong steak sandwich. The place was really packed though, so it seems like it's a hit. I'll have to come back and give it another go. We made a reservation at Morimoto (even though we were going to give it a pass this time around), and I would have to say that I wasn't too impressed. The recommended bibimbap with yellowtail was a bit lacklustre for us. The rice wasn't crisped along the bottom of the bowl, like I've come to expect from good bibimbaps. The fish was overdone when it was prepared at our table (we went with what the waitress suggested; medium rare), which took away from the delicate texture of the fish (almost a waste of sashimi grade yellowtail, if you ask me!). And the sauce was just 'meh'. It was a great experience though and now I can say I ate at Morimoto's, but I wouldn't put it on the list of places to hit when in Philly. We also got the Omakase lunch special, which was pretty pedestrian and nothing too mind-blowing or novel. The kingfish sashimi plate was really enjoyable though and I really enjoyed the flavour and texture of the fish. The sauce was a nice compliment as well, with hints of citrus and acidity to cut the oiliness of the fish.

                                  Kingfish: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Morimoto tartare (omakase): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Bibimbap: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Searing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Cod: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Sushi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Dessert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  Coookie, thanks for the suggestions and the headsup to avoid Lacroix. We ended up trying it out anyway, and because I had lowered by expectations, it wasn't too much of a disappointment. We managed to try one excellent dish there as well! Their confit was probably one of the best confits we've had. It was uncharacteristically moist and had a very crispy skin. Most confits I've had are quite overdone, tough and dry. This was a very pleasant version that was juicy - a rare find! The desserts were boring, and everything was uninspired though, but the space was nice. The service was pretty spotty, and that shocked me actually. They were dressed better than average, but served to the level of a chain restaurant. They couldn't really describe, or 'sell' any of the dishes, and seemed like they just wanted to get out of there. Strange. I'll have to hit up the Chinatown on our next visit. It was right near the hotel, but we were just too short on time. oliviasaru, coookie, Bibou is on our hit list nex time. Thanks!

                                  buttercup99, I can't seem to find the article I read about Lacroix losing a star. I could have sworn I read it somewhere! Thanks for following up on that for me. Fond will be added to my list for my next visit. Sorry, I think I had already left for my trip by the time I read your post!

                                  Lacroix Soup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... (uninspired
                                  )Duck Confit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Risotto: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Dessert Tier: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Dessert Course: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... (i liked how you could choose


                                  Another place we hit and was actually my favourite experience (okay, maybe tied with Amada), was Ron's Ribs. We had taken the walk along Schuylkill Banks Trail and were heading up South St (touristy street - wouldn't recommend it.) when we started to smell something. I just had some great yakitori in NYC so all I kept thinking about for BLOCKS was meat on a fire.... when I finally found the culprit of the smokey smell, it was Ron's Ribs. The entire restaurant was FILLED with smoke. The owner (I believe, Kevin) saw me peeking through the window and ushered us in. He prepared us something we could munch on because I told him that we wanted to walk up South St (he warned us constantly about never crossing South of South St. Great guy). He fixed us a plate of pulled pork, potato salad and a corn bread. OMG, the pulled pork was unlike anything I've ever eaten. The sauce was fantastic (sour from vinegar, heat from hot sauce, and sweet as well) and the meat. Wow. The meat. I'm almost speachless. It was so incredibly moist, tender, and fatty. The meat was left in chunks and not torn to strips like I'm used to for pulled pork. All this time, I never understood why Pulled Pork was popular. It was so...underwhelming and tough. And now I know. When it's done right... it's heaven. I was blown away. I was probably more impressed than I should have been, but it has to do with the fact that I am from Toronto, now living in Boston, and there's NO good BBQ places around anywhere I've been. Zip. Nadda. So for those that are used to average, run-of-the-mill BBQ joints, you must hit up Ron's. You won't regret it. I wanted to walk back and get more, but SO wasn't impressed enough and didn't want to walk all the way back. So I have to go back another time now!

                                  Ron's Ribs Pulled Pork: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Ron's Ribs Kevin: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Ron's Ribs Menu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                  OK this is getting too long, so I just wanted to thank you all one last time. I hope you enjoyed my reviews and pics. I can't wait to return to your fine city! It was such a great experience and the food is fantastic!

                                  Cheers and Happy Eating!