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Please help finalize Philly list!! (Researched)

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indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 03:26 PM

Hello,

I'll be in Philly this weekend and am looking for around 10-11 meals. For some background, I love big bold flavors (think Indian , Southwestern, etc.) and am a big fan of trying out new and eclectic cuisines, will practically eat anything and if possible would not want to repeat the same cuisine during my stay there. I am looking for anything that's stellar! Based on my research, I have come up with a list. Will appreciate your help in shortlisting and adding to it. Also, barring a meal or two, cannot do > $30 meals (without alcohol). Also, if you guys have specific dish suggestions, please feel free to chip in!

1. Dutch Eating Place - Pancakes.
2. Millers's Twist - Pretzels.
3. DiNic's - Roast Pork
4. Ice Cream - Bassets, Franklin Fountain and Capogiro
5. Zahav
6. Rangoon
7. Cheesesteak - Choose from Tony Luke's, Johns roast pork, Steve's and Chinks.
8. Oyster Bar - The $1 oyster happy hour and cocktails.
9. Am a big cocktail fan - Franklin Mortgage and Investment, APO, Southwark n Chick's cafe
10. Italian - Choose from Modo Mio, Radiccio (Traditional) (Don't think I can afford Osteria)
11. Completely confused between Amada, Distrito and Tinto
12. Am a huge dessert guy - Matyson (Coconut Creme Pie).

Guys, please help me refine the above. Excellent brunch places, deserts, everything else ;-)

Thanks!!

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    Philly Ray RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 03:32 PM

    Amada is Andalusian tapas
    Tinto is Basque inspired tapas
    Distrito is Mexican served "tapas style"

    Of the three, my fave is Amada, but I also liked Distrito. I would look at the menus for each and go to the one you think you would like. Tough to go wrong at any of them.

    Hope that helps.

    1. coookie RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 03:48 PM

      are you mobile? do you have a car? if so, cafe estelle is an outstanding brunch spot in the northern liberties area. closer to center city is sabrina's, which is popular and therefore infamous for looong waits.

      i think you mean oyster house rather than oyster bar? if so, i'd suggest straying off the $1 happy hour menu. those oysters are fine, but the other ones are really, really good. look for the skookum inlet if they have those.

      1 Reply
      1. re: coookie
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        indiefoodie RE: coookie Nov 23, 2009 04:00 PM

        Yup, I'll have a car. I'll definitely look into Cafe Estelle n Sabrina's. What is the reputation of Tinto's brunch? Looks pretty interesting. Aah! so there is a catch to the Happy Hour :-) There goes my plan to save a few bucks I guess!!

      2. t
        thesmoker8 RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 03:57 PM

        I'd hit Vietnam in China Town. Great food for reasonable prices. While you're there go to Sang Kee Duck House on 9th.

        You got to go to Sarcones for a great hoagie. It's on 9th and Fitzwater. Get the Ave Maria. The roasted long hots and the sharp provologne...ummmm.

        Morning Glory is pretty good for brunch too if you're in the Bella Vista neighborhood.

        You can also hit Hot Bagles on 4th and South.

        Oh and Pif on 7th and Washington is great BYOB french.

        Happy eating, it's a great food town.

        5 Replies
        1. re: thesmoker8
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          Buckethead RE: thesmoker8 Nov 23, 2009 04:15 PM

          Pif closed years ago, it's Bibou now but you can't get a table there till next month.

          For the OP:

          5. Zahav

          Get the prix-fixe, it's $36 and comes with the salads, hummus and laffa, and your choice of 4 other dishes (2 small, 1 large, 1 dessert). Get the crispy halloumi, kibbe naya, and the Bulgarian or Galil skewers. Skip the fish skewers, do NOT skip dessert, they make good ones. Good cocktails, too

          6. Rangoon

          Get the thousand-layer bread and the firecracker lentil fritters.

          10. Italian - Choose from Modo Mio, Radiccio (Traditional) (Don't think I can afford Osteria)

          Modo Mio, get the Turista prix-fixe. Another option is Le Virtu in South Philly.

          11. Completely confused between Amada, Distrito and Tinto

          Distrito's my favorite, they're all good though. Just look at the menus and go to whichever ones appeals to you most. Distrito's food is more casual than the other two. Jose Garces just won the Next Iron Chef on Food Network, so his places may be busier than normal for a while. I'm not as big a fan of Chifa, his fourth restaurant.

          12. Am a huge dessert guy - Matyson (Coconut Creme Pie).

          David Katz also makes great desserts at Meme, so does Carla Goncalves at Koo Zee Doo.

          1. re: Buckethead
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            indiefoodie RE: Buckethead Nov 23, 2009 05:50 PM

            Are there any recommendations for Meme or Koo Zee Doo?

            1. re: indiefoodie
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              Buckethead RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 06:20 PM

              They make great desserts, I've had 3 different ones at Meme and they were all fantastic, they were my favorite part of my meals there. The only one I've had that's currently on the menu on their website is the chocolate cake. I've only had one at Koo Zee Doo but it was so inventive and delicious (a fig stuffed with chocolate, coated in chocolate), I'd recommend going there just for that. I wasn't recommending either for dinner, both are very good but your list is full enough as it is.

              One place missing from your list is Kanella, they do great brunch there (and dinner too).

          2. re: thesmoker8
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            barryg RE: thesmoker8 Nov 23, 2009 04:20 PM

            Sarcone's is awesome and definitely has some of the best, if not the best, hoagies in Philly. Definitely check it out if you can. Their sandwiches are in the elite of the holy trinity of Philly sandwiches (Cheesesteak, Roast Pork, Hoagie). If you go, grab a slice of their tomato pie for a South Philly treat.

            Pif has been closed for a couple years, but its replacement at the same location, Bibou, is also a French BYOB and has been getting great reviews on this board and elsewhere (I have not been yet).

            Hot Bagels is OK but Philly is not a good bagel town and only great ones I have had are in the 'burbs.

            I don't think that Vietnam is a destination spot if coming in from out of town, sorry. I haven't been to Sang Kee.

            1. re: thesmoker8
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              indiefoodie RE: thesmoker8 Nov 23, 2009 04:46 PM

              Adding Sarcones to my list :-) Thanks!

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              barryg RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 04:10 PM

              Great list. There is nothing bad on here at all and I think you are in for a very delicious weekend.

              A couple comments:
              If you like and appreciate street food at all, DiNic's is a must. Order with broccoli rabe and sharp prov. You can do spinach if you are squeamish about the rabe (but the rabe is better). This should take precedence over the cheesesteak if you need to choose. This is a big sandwich and can easily be split.

              The cheesesteak places you picked are spot on. Of those four, Steve's Prince of Steaks and John's are tied for my first place, though the styles are actually pretty different. If you go to Steve's, get "both cheeses"--it is a whiz-like orange sauce and a white American sauce, and it is sublime. They have two locations in the city and both are equally good. At John's, I recommend sticking with a standard American or Provolone (not sharp) with onions unless you know what you're doing. The sandwich is bigger than Steve's and can easily be split. Note that John's is only open on weekdays and the grill shuts off at 2:30 (or is it 3?). I would also double-check that they are open on Black Friday. Also, John's is much closer to Center City than Steve's and Chink's, though it is still a bit of a drive. A little bit of ketchup is acceptable on both sandwiches, and this is how I eat them. At Steve's you will add your own; at John's you need to ask for it when ordering. I also recommend getting cherry peppers on the side and adding them as you eat if you want to spice it up. One other note: Steve's has indoor seating but John's only has outdoor. Any cheesesteak should be consumed as soon as possible as the half-life of a cheesesteak is probably like 5-10 minutes.

              Staying under < $30 at is possible everywhere you mentioned but you will need to be careful when ordering. Zahav has a $36 prix fixe (with your choice of small plates) that is a good deal. No matter what you do there, you MUST order the salatim and hummus to start your meal. FWIW, I've never been too impressed with the desserts.

              Modo Mio has a 4-course "turista" menu for $32 (pick one app, pasta, entree, dessert) from the whole menu that is an tremendous deal and the food is fantastic. I wouldn't do anything else there. It is BYOB, so you will save money that way.

              You can't go wrong with Amada, Tinto, or Distrito, but my favorite is Amada followed by Distrito.

              Reservations strongly recommended at Amada/Tinto/Distrito (chef just won Next Iron Chef) and Modo Mio (it's small and always packed).

              2 Replies
              1. re: barryg
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                indiefoodie RE: barryg Nov 23, 2009 04:21 PM

                Wow!! Thanks for the detailed reply barrryg!! I have never tried basque cuisine so I just made reservations for Sunday brunch ar Tinto. I hope it is good :-). Left a message for Modo Mio, keeping my finger's crossed!! Please let me know if there are any Philly delicacies that I might have missed.

                1. re: indiefoodie
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                  Hungryin theBurbs RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 04:48 PM

                  You are off to a great start. I completely agree with everything Buckethead said. Distrito is also my favorite of the Garces places. Get the lobster ceviche, los hongos huarache, and hamachi tacos and you'll be happy. They also make great margaritas and do tequila flights for tasting.

                  I'm not a huge modo mio fan because I've had bad service experiences there, though the food is good. Another great Italian BYO to look into is Melograno.

                  At Rangoon, get the spring ginger salad. It always gets the biggest wow from the out-of-town guests I bring there.

                  While at the Dutch Eating Place, get some scrapple to go with your pancakes. It is a uniquely regional breakfast meat, and yummy.

                  If you remember, please report back. I love hearing how things went. And enjoy!!

              2. rabidog RE: indiefoodie Nov 23, 2009 07:29 PM

                it sounds like you have a nice list put together.

                don't feel too bad about not being able to afford osteria. modo mio is about a thousand times better! i was just there a couple weeks ago and you must have reservations!! i thought i'd be safe walking in around 9 on a thursday... not so much :) it's a popular place, and for good reason (and tiny!). i stuck to a total seafood-based turista menu on my last visit. great value, and the flavors of EVERYthing were spot-on.

                brunches: i second estelle, and i'll add on another rec: cafe lift, on 13th. fritattas like you wouldn't believe. other than that, kinda similar menu and feel as estelle, and also in that weird "loft-district" block between callowhill and spring garden.

                now that i've mentioned cafe lift, i feel compelled to mention their sister pub across the street: the prohibition taproom. this place is seriously excellent, and a great place to go on a weekend night to (kinda) avoid the crowds. i say kinda cause it's been getting popular lately. the local beer selection is wonderful there, and the food is out of this world. the fried green beans are a must. i just had the frisee salad, which came with buttery potatoes and a truffle vinaigrette that nearly had me in tears, it was so good. i really, really, really love that place. and if you're coming to philly, you've really got to sample some of the local beers, which you can do here for sure!

                zahav: i go here once a week for happy hour, which sounds excessive, but it's NOT, because their happy hour rocks. as far as i know, you have to sit at the bar to get it. but wines are all $3 off (and there's a really great pinotage on the HH menu) and a small-size hummus is $4. can't beat that. the new mushroom hummus on the menu is to die for. agreed that you've gotta get the crispy haloumi - yummy and salty atop a crushed date paste - perfect sweet/salty combo. also the fried cauliflower - DEFinitely don't skip that... perfectly braised and set atop an herbed yogurt sauce (i think)... it's perfect. you can probably split those three things with one other person and be stuffed. but it would be a shame to leave this place without trying dessert. desserts (and all plates for that matter) run small, but are packed with flavor. my favorite (a yogurt ice cream with tiny chopped melon bits and paper-thin cucumber slivers) unfortunately left the menu with the warm weather, but there are some nice warm pear desserts & such. i've never gone wrong with dessert here. happy hour is 5-7pm, weekdays. every wednesday (except this one, heading out of town) you'll find me perched at the bar eating everything i've mentioned above. :)

                re: rangoon... agreed on the firecracker lentil fritters... but generally speaking, on recent trips i've been underwhelmed by the OVERwhelming amount of fried items! several times now we've ordered much of the app menu to share and even though the base ingredient may differ, the taste is often the same between dishes. also, many of the entrees have more of a thai feel than burmese (tho after spending some time in both countries recently, i can't say that's a bad thing :)

                finally, get a strawberry lemonade with that pretzel. and make sure you do it on a day when the amish are in the market! saturday is a real blast to forge your way through the crowds.

                anyway, enjoy philly! i hope you report back on your ambitious trip! make sure to schedule some naps in there :)

                1. JugglerDave RE: indiefoodie Nov 24, 2009 02:17 AM

                  If you can't get into Modo Mio, and even if you can, I would suggest Paesano's (same owner) for the best hot sandwiches. Mmm.

                  Try adding a lunchtime Italian Market crawl down 9th Street to your list. You can get great Puebla-style tacos at several of the places around 9th & Washington. Sarcone's Deli was mentioned, also Bitars at 10th & Federal does a nice grilled falafel sandwich.

                  I'll confirm that the chocolate cake dessert at Meme was excellent!

                  Adding Ethiopian food to your list... there are a few places around. We recently went to Abyssinia Ethiopian at 45th/Locust and it was very good. In Center City, "Almaz Cafe" also has Ethiopian (20th just above Walnut) but you can't tell from outside, it's on a 'hidden' menu.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: JugglerDave
                    bluehensfan RE: JugglerDave Nov 24, 2009 03:16 AM

                    What a great list! I added a few comments but have not tried everything on it yet...

                    1. Dutch Eating Place - Pancakes. Great choice. I devour them weekly. Go early because it can get crowded if a convention is in town. Don't go Sunday (they are closed). The scrapple is a good suggestion to try once but I find it usually a bit greasy. They also have very good apple dumplings.

                    2. Millers's Twist - Pretzels. Another great choice. I like them without butter personally and try to get them hot out of the oven. They also have great cinnamon ones as well as cinnamon sticks that look like oversized french fries. If in doubt ask Roger (the owner). He's a great guy and will steer you in the right direction.

                    3. DiNic's - Roast Pork You must know what to eat in Reading Terminal! Do take the suggestion of the provolone with rabe (or spinach if you have to). Also order it "wet" with extra juice but have napkins ready. This sandwich will make you forget the cheesesteak. As an aside, DiNic's also has really good rare roast beef. It is peppery and tasty but you have to ask for it rare (if they still have any) before they send it into the warmer and it cooks. Great with cheese but you can only get it cold and have it rare.

                    4. Ice Cream - Bassets, Franklin Fountain and Capogiro Bassett's has great pumpkin this time of year and it works well with cinnamon. Never been a big fan of Franklin Fountain (I am pretty sure they don't make their own). Capogiro is excellent but ask for a sample before you try because some flavors are excellent (bacio) while others are less exciting.

                    5. Zahav I remember that the haloumi (fried cheese) there is great. We did the tasting thing and found it to be very good.

                    8. Oyster Bar - The $1 oyster happy hour and cocktails. The Oyster Bar on Sansom has really good oysters but honestly the rest of the meal was a bit disappointing when we went.

                    11. Completely confused between Amada, Distrito and Tinto I have only been to Amada and really like the tapas. The cured meats and batatas fritas are both very good.

                    12. Am a huge dessert guy - Matyson (Coconut Creme Pie). Never tried it. You may want to grab a pastry or cannoli from Termini Bros. in Reading Terminal. My favorites are the nirvana (peanut butter and chocolate ganache) and the almond souse (chocolate ganache and buttercream in a macaroon-like shell with sliced almonds on the side). Across the aisle from Termini's, Mueller's has very good peanut butter chocolate covered pretzels (but save me some). If the weather gets cold, you may want to try a cup of Aztec hot chocolate at one of the Naked Chocolate Cafe's. This stuff is insanely rich and almost like a meal in itself.

                    I still like the lamb sandwich with roasted eggplant at Argan near Rittenhouse but not everyone else likes it.

                    Cafe Estelle is great and Morning Glory's good too (but crowded!).

                    Bebe's in the Italian Market has decent BBQ but it's a hole in the wall. They have killer banana pudding that you should try if they have it.

                    1. re: bluehensfan
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                      indiefoodie RE: bluehensfan Nov 24, 2009 01:38 PM

                      Wow! Will definitely try and do as much as possible. BTW, I have a small problem. Almost everything is closed on Thanksgiving. Any suggestions on killer places that will be open on Thursday?

                      1. re: indiefoodie
                        JugglerDave RE: indiefoodie Nov 24, 2009 05:30 PM

                        Thanksgiving is tough, but I would concentrate on the Chinatown/Vietnamese places. Perhaps try Chung King Garden or Szechwan Tasty House in chinatown for amazing Szechwan food.

                        1. re: indiefoodie
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                          Hungryin theBurbs RE: indiefoodie Nov 25, 2009 10:03 AM

                          I just noticed that Supper Restaurant is having a 3-course Thanksgiving meal. You might be able to get a reservation for it.

                          http://www.supperphilly.com/restauran...

                          1. re: indiefoodie
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                            barryg RE: indiefoodie Nov 25, 2009 10:13 AM

                            Looks like the POPE (Pub on Passyunk East) is open on Thanksgiving night. Food is not killer (it's solid), but the beer selection is.

                            Here are some places with spots still available (looks like Supper is booked):
                            http://citypaper.net/blogs/mealticket...

                            Nothing "killer" on that list (mostly upscale chains) though XIX does have a killer view of the city. I have never eaten there but food is supposed to good. That is probably the best non-chain option on there, if you can afford it.

                            Other than that, as JugglerDave mentioned, Chinatown/Washington Ave (Little Saigon) are probably your best options.

                      2. m
                        mikerichi RE: indiefoodie Nov 24, 2009 10:26 PM

                        The Dutch Eating Place also has good french toast and apple dumplings. I don't think I've ever ordered anything there I didn't like.

                        For cheesesteaks, if you want to stay in Center City, I'd add Rick's Steaks to the list. If you want to combine the roast pork and cheesesteak in one trip, Tony Luke's has a great pork italian (roast pork, provolone, broccoli rabe) sandwich in addition to good cheesesteaks.

                        As someone else suggested, I'd add Vietnam.

                        Someone suggested Chinese as places that might be open on Thanksgiving. Two places I like are Nanzhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, Lee How Fook, and Shiao Lan Kung. Nanzhou has been mentioned here before and has a pretty simple menu, basically you pick a noodle and a meat and they bring you a bowl of soup, but you'll get a nice size bowl of soup for less than $6 and it's unusual to find noodles of that quality. Lee How Fook have these tasty "hot pots" that are basically meat or seafood and vegetables served hot out of the oven in a stone crock. Shiao Lan Kung has really good salt baked squid and is open very late if you're looking for a late night option.

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                          nwinkler RE: indiefoodie Nov 24, 2009 10:39 PM

                          Wow, your list is awesome. And it was heartening to see that almost every recommendation I had for you was mentioned by someone else. Here's my take anyway:

                          -If you enjoy DiNic's roast pork enough to want another, head up to Paesano's to try their version. Accessorized with roasted hot peppers, sharp provolone and a poached egg, it's pretty killer.
                          -Modo Mio is a good choice, but I think the cooking is more consistently good at Melograno, in the Rittenhouse Sq. area. They take reservations Tues-Thurs; otherwise, there can be a wait. As at Modo Mio, it's very loud inside, but also pretty inexpensive.
                          -For a Garces restaurant I favor Distrito, especially for the ceviches, fish tacos and huaraches. The flavors here are loud and exciting.
                          -If you do somehow find yourself at Osteria, order the semolina budino for dessert.
                          -For brunch, I second Cafe Estelle (don't miss the homemade sausage) and Cafe Lift (frittatas), but above all Kanella, which would also be a great lunch or dinner option. It does Greek food so well--homemade breads, spreads, meatballs, sausages and braised dishes all stand out, and desserts are good too.
                          -There are a few genres not on your list that Philly does well, among them Mexican, Vietnamese, and the gastropub. As mentioned above, there are several good taco options in the vicinity of the Italian Market (Taqueria la Veracruzana for chicken tacos, Taquitos de Puebla for al pastor), as well as Taco Riendo in Northern Liberties, which has good posole and mole. For Vietnamese, a chowhound favorite is Cafe Diem for the Bun Bo Hue and Pho, and I think an excellent meal can be made of the appetizers at Vietnam restaurant in Chinatown. Finally, some gastropub favorites: the cheesesteak and fries the Abbaye (not a traditional cheesesteak in any way, but phenomenal), raw bar at Johnny Brenda's, Standard Tap in general, Royal Tavern burger, and fish and chips at Pub & Kitchen.
                          -One more recommendation: If you are in the vicinity of Franklin Park (near Chinatown and Independence Mall), do try a burger from SquareBurger. It's so much better than it needs to be--fresh-ground meat from a flavorful cut of a well-bred cow, perfectly cooked and perfectly seasoned.
                          -Ok, and just one more: fresh noodles in Chinatown. Either the noodle soups at Nanzhou Hand-drawn noodle, or (my preference) noodles in stew and soup dumplings and regular dumplings at Dim Sum Garden. And, for good measure, fresh scallops in the shell in XO sauce at Ken's Seafood.

                          Can you do all that?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nwinkler
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                            Philly Ray RE: nwinkler Nov 25, 2009 03:54 AM

                            SquareBurger is closed for the season.

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                            Steve RE: indiefoodie Nov 26, 2009 09:06 AM

                            Let me just add one type of South Philly experience that your list doesn't cover. I will suggest Nick's Cafe at 20th and Jackson for the roast pork sandwich. Just stepping into this joint, you will be transported to a world that is purely South Philly. There is a sign outside touting the roast beef, but I prefer the roast pork. If you order the gravy fries, they come with gravy and pieces of roast beef on top, so you get the best of both worlds. This is a locals-only place that will not appear on any 'Best of' list outside of Chowhound.

                            Link:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6059...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Steve
                              Delucacheesemonger RE: Steve Nov 27, 2009 02:56 AM

                              Absolutely, but l am a beef combo extra-drowned kind of guy

                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
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                                Steve RE: Delucacheesemonger Nov 27, 2009 04:56 AM

                                Woah. I'll have what he's having.

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                              indiefoodie RE: indiefoodie Nov 27, 2009 03:15 PM

                              Hi,
                              Will soon post a detailed report but need some more advice before that. Went to RTM today and tried the canelli at Termini Bros. It blew my mind away!! I am definitely trying the Almond Souse tomorrow but can someone please give me some more RECOMMENDATIONS for Termini bros. I do not wish to have cheesecakes and cupcakes but stuff that I would not get anywhere else!! Thanks!!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: indiefoodie
                                bluehensfan RE: indiefoodie Nov 27, 2009 07:09 PM

                                I already mentioned the nirvana at Termini's and the almond souce. I'd get those over anything else. I like those pastries and the cannoli the best along with the raspberry pound cake (sorry only in the summer). Other pastries that are pretty good are the chocolate covered banana over a macaroon with a layer of raspberry and the tiramisu is decent. Skip the fruit tart (looks better than it tastes) and the chocolate mousse half domed shaped things (ditto the fruit tart comment). I do like their pig ears and torrone too but I'd stick with the nirvana. the almond souce, and the cannoli. I will be there buying some no doubt myself tomorrow!

                                1. re: indiefoodie
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                                  barryg RE: indiefoodie Nov 27, 2009 09:21 PM

                                  The rum-ba-bas and rum cake!

                                  1. re: indiefoodie
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                                    Philly Ray RE: indiefoodie Nov 28, 2009 05:12 AM

                                    In addition to everything else mentioned, try a sfogliatelle.

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                                    indiefoodie RE: indiefoodie Dec 5, 2009 03:32 PM

                                    Was finally, able to get together my trip report. Its going to be long so please bear with me and I am probably going to get panned for some of this but I wanted to pen down my opinion. Open to any comments, criticism, etc.

                                    Modo Mio

                                    1. Torta - Excellent dish. The combination of pesto and balsamic was sublime.
                                    2. Mozarella en Carrozza - Was very good but not in the same league as the Torta. An excellent non meat option though.
                                    3. Lasagne - Was good, nothing too exciting about it.
                                    4. Agnolotti del plin - Not very exciting. This was the second time I tried ravioli and I felt that the pasta overshadowed the other flavors. Could not distinguish too much between the diff stuffing's.
                                    5. Steak (Special) - Like the bistecca on the menu but it was rib eye. Very good.
                                    6. Lingue e guance - Absolutely stellar and the best dish of the night. The flavors popped.
                                    7. Porchetta - The night's disaster. Too salty and basically could not finish the dish. I regret not having sent back this dish.
                                    8. Desert - Tiramisu, Ricotta cheesecake, coffee flavored mouse, Panacotta. Excellent. Not sure why someone suggested the deserts would not be great. Definitely try them. Our server was great and gave us 3 on the house, 1 with the tasting menu.

                                    Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co

                                    The drinks were good but not in the same league as some of the other places in NYC and DC. Relatively, a very expansive menu but many drinks had lime as an ingredient which tends to dominate the flavors. No mojito on the menu but I requested one and they were happy to make it. The strogest mojito I have ever had. The soda water aspect could not be felt. It was a glass full of ice, lime juice, a lot of rum and very little soda water. The refreshing fizz that is distinctive of a mojito was missing. On the whole, I felt that they were on the right track, different glasses for different drinks, more importantly, different ice for different drinks shows that they have an idea about what they are doing. But, they need an expert mixologist to a) Refine the menu a little bit and more importantly b) Advanced training for the bartenders, since cocktail mixing is an art that requires a lot of practice, i.e if they hope to get to the same league as a Pegu Club or a Little Branch.

                                    Kabobeesh - http://www.kabobeesh.com/index.html

                                    Where did this come from? Well, this was Thanksgiving. Everything was closed and I remembered the spectacular karahi's that I used to have during my time at Penn. I have met a lot of people who love their kabobs but having tasted some amazing kabobs (not in the U.S.), I just could not bring myself to like them. The karahi, though is another story. It takes an amazing amount of time (The chicken, 30 min and the goat- my preferred choice, 60 min), but its worth it. The flavors, spices, everything are just spectacular, esp. if you like spicy food. The one negative aspect is the amount of grease - the dish practically floats in oil. So if you're into spicy food, do not mind calling them an hour or 30 min before time to order and do not faint at the thought of consuming 2 days worth of calories in a single meal, go for it! Oh, skip the deserts and get the tea at the end.

                                    DiNic's

                                    Tried 2 roast porks. Both with Sharp provolone and both with juice (Thanks to the person who recommended getting them wet - that was a great suggestion!). One was with Spinach and the other with Broccoli Rabe. Let me start by saying that the broccoli was better though the spinach was good too. The sandwich was very good but I do not think it was mind blowing. I know this is almost sacrilege but I cannot understand why is this considered to be the holy grail? Will I get this again if I move to Philadelphia - Absolutely. Will I make it a point to get this the next time I visit - Probably not.

                                    Sarcone's Deli

                                    I did not get this. Either I have a very unrefined palate that failed to understand the greatness of this place or my choices were simply bad or this place is over hyped. I tasted the meatball, the chicken parm and the italian parm and none of them felt anything special. They were decent hoagies, period.

                                    Termini Bros

                                    Wow! This place is good Having said that, not everything is mind numbing. The ricotta and choc chip cannoli is heaven and a must have. The choc cannoli is not great. The nirvana was good but was too rich for my taste. The one thing about it that impressed me was the textural difference that the crunchy base provided. I tried a fried ravioli with the ricotta which was good but not in the same league as the cannoli. The choc, rasberry banana was very different from anything that I have had in the past and can be tried. I also gave a rum cake a shot but its wasn't something that impressed me. On the whole, definitely go here but stick to the cannoli and you'll be happy.

                                    Mueller's

                                    The peanut butter choc pretzel - Awesomeness ;-) I can't believe, I just had 2-3 of those. Nothing like anything I have had in the past. I also tried the milk choc and just the peanut butter pretzel but they were just not in the same league as the first. The crunch, the chocolate - an absolute treat!

                                    Miller's twist

                                    The cinnamon sticks, very fresh, very soft and 2 thumbs up. I also tried a plain pretzel - nothing special, maybe I tried the wrong thing. I will go back but will stick to the Cinnamon sticks.

                                    Dutch Eating Place

                                    First of all, I got a litttle late getting here on Saturday and imagine my shock when I was told that they were done with breakfast for they day. I had my head in my hands and as a last resort told the lady serving me that I was from out of town and would do anything to try the pancakes. She disappeared for a minute, came back and said that I could get blueberry pancakes only, god bless he!. Got the pancakes, were excellent pancakes but I have had excellent pancakes in the past so again, did not make me jump in the air. They were very soft, thinner than the ones that I have had in the past and definitely a must try but may not be on my list the next time I go back. Also tried the apple dumplings. They were huge, not cloyingly sweet and worth a try. Again, not something that will make me crave. Actually, one of the reasons for that may be the size. Its just too much. A friend tried the chicken pot pie - One word, AVOID. Stick to the pancakes and you'll be happy.

                                    Beiler's Bakery

                                    They were out of the cinnamon buns so gave the banana cream and the apple fritters a try. The fritters were a disaster. Starbucks probably has better ones. The banana cream was good but not worth going back.

                                    Bassets

                                    Pumpkin ice cream. This was the first time I tried this flavor and I thought it was great. Very different from the regular stuff. The ice cream itself had a very creamy texture and I'll probably go back for it.

                                    4th street cookies

                                    Tried the double choc chip and the white choc with macadamia nuts. The double choc chip were definitely better and were ome of the best cookies I've ever had but again, may not be worth visiting again just for this.

                                    Tried the strawberry lemonade from one of the Amish merchants. It was really good - definitely try it.
                                    Another thing that no one mentioned was the eggnog. Get it from the Amish and you'll forget anything you've ever had!!

                                    Zahav

                                    Delightful. I have had middle eastern food in the past but this was different. Small plates enable you to try lots of things which is ideal for a place like this. Surprisingly, we we dissatisfied a little with our server. It wasn't a time thing or the fact that he did not check in on us but we just kept getting the feeling that we weren't welcome for some reason - weird!!

                                    1. Hummus - Very good but again, I have had spectacular hummus in the past and this did not exceed my expectations.
                                    2. Pita - Very soft and very good.
                                    3. Salatim - Get it. Very unique, the cauliflower was excellent. The taboulli was OK and a salad of tomatoes and cucumber was just that, tomatoes and cucumber cut into small pieces.
                                    4. Crispy Haloumi - The crispy cheese itself disappointed me but when combined with the date sauce, it had a very good and unique flavor.
                                    5. Chicken Freekah - Very plain, a little salty, not recommended.
                                    6. Kibbe Naya - Spectacular and the star of the night. Who had expected that raw lamb could be so good. One of the best dishes I have every tasted.
                                    7. The Bulgarian - Very tender, very flavorful and highly recommended.
                                    8. The Galil - A vegetarian dish. Mild but complex flavors. Worth a try.
                                    9. The Sabra - After the Freekah, wasn't sure of another chicken dish but this was way better than the first.
                                    10. They had 5 deserts, we tried all of them and I cannot remember any of them. All I remember is they were delightful. Get the deserts for sure.

                                    Apothecary

                                    A disaster. They have a huge cocktail menu with all sorts of exotic and barely pronounceable ingredients. We tried 4 different drinks and all of them sucked. The single biggest problem was that everything had something that completely overpowered the remaining ingredients. I was initially excited after seeing the bar and all the bitters and syrups made me believe that this was a decent place but boy, was I wrong. Just keep away!

                                    Distrito

                                    A great experience. I would highly recommend it. The ceviche's were the star of the night.

                                    1. Guacamole with crab - Very good guac and the crab added that extra zing too it, both in terms of flavor and texture. Try it.

                                    2. Atun ceviche - A very unique taste. I would never have thought coconut milk and tuna could pair so well.

                                    3. Hamachi ceviche - This was the best dish of the night for me. The fish was very fresh and the the flavors just rocked.

                                    4. Los Hongos Huarache - This was very thin, crispy and comforting flatbread but the cheese seemed to overpower the other flavors so it felt like something you would find at an American restaurant rather than something at a Mexican restaurant. I would like to have this again but not at Distrito. It seemed like a misfit.

                                    5. Pollo Taco - This was very good. I little subtle with the flavors but decent.

                                    6. Hamachi Taco - Delightful. The crispness of the fish with the soft taco was excellent. The flavors were perfect and let the fish speak for itself.

                                    7. Tamales - This was not recommend by anyone but I have had Tamales once in the past at a Bobby Flay restaurant and they were stunning so I wanted to try it again. Big mistake. The Tamales here are deconstructed with the meat and the corn separated for you to mix and it just did not click. The least favorite ish of the night.

                                    8. Poblano Mole - The duck was cooked medium rare and was the star of the dish. The flavors were slightly bolder than what I would have preferred but I am not a mole expert and maybe this is how it is. I would recommend this dish.

                                    9. Also tried a bunch of margaritas and all of them were decent but nothing stellar.

                                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                    On the whole, a very delicious trip. Thanks a lot everyone for taking out time and helping me finalize my itinerary ;-)

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: indiefoodie
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                                      PhillyA RE: indiefoodie Dec 5, 2009 04:40 PM

                                      Thanks so much for your report - I love getting feedback on suggestions that were made, and hearing opinions on Philly spots from visitors.

                                      There's nothing offensive about not being enamored with dishes that other are - I'm not a huge fan of DiNics, but I'm also just not a huge fan of roast pork. That's not a knock on all those who are - I'm glad they love it, but it's not for me.

                                      1. re: indiefoodie
                                        bluehensfan RE: indiefoodie Dec 7, 2009 06:12 AM

                                        Wow...that's a great report. Glad you liked the chocolate peanut butter pretzel's at Mueller's. One of my underappreciated favorites at RTM!

                                        1. re: bluehensfan
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                                          indiefoodie RE: bluehensfan Dec 9, 2009 04:07 PM

                                          I totally agree with you. The crunch that the pretzel imparts to the chocolate is beyond anything that a Kit Kat can do :-) Totally worth going to RTM again!

                                        2. re: indiefoodie
                                          Bada Bing RE: indiefoodie Dec 7, 2009 08:36 AM

                                          I appreciate the detail of your report, as I'll visit Philadelphia for a couple of days of chowing soon, and I have been scouring the boards here to make the most of my time. Man, you were busy!

                                          1. re: indiefoodie
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                                            barryg RE: indiefoodie Dec 8, 2009 05:14 AM

                                            Thanks for the writeup, I love hearing back. Your cocktail impressions are particularly interesting as I am not a big cocktail drinker and the "mixology" trend is a fairly new thing here.

                                            About Sarcone's, I don't know what an Italian Parm is, but I have never had the hot sandwiches there and I don't know anyone who orders them. A hot sandwich is not even really a hoagie (per local parlance). It is all about the cold sandwiches there, so I think you misordered. And I hope you at least liked the bread, that is the best feature of Sarcone's.

                                            1. re: barryg
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                                              urbanfabric RE: barryg Dec 8, 2009 07:37 AM

                                              That was my reaction about Sarcone's as well. I pretty much only eat the Old Fashioned Italian hoagie there. And, I think you have to get a "medium" to get the good seeded roll. Made the mistake of getting a "small" once, and the bread wasn't as exciting. So, a few "small" hot sandwiches, and it would look pretty ordinary.

                                              1. re: urbanfabric
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                                                indiefoodie RE: urbanfabric Dec 9, 2009 04:26 PM

                                                Guess I made a mistake at Sarcone's. No wonder I came out so dissatisfied with the place. The medium vs the small is an interesting theory. I would never have thought about that. BTW, the one thing that I regret is not being able to try the Tacos in the Italian market. I did take a walk there but was too stuffed to have anything. Everything looked very authentic.

                                            2. re: indiefoodie
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                                              Hendi RE: indiefoodie Dec 10, 2009 06:50 PM

                                              Had dinner at Zahav this weekend for the first time in a year and let me echo your comment about the service, its really fallen off of a cliff. Our server was curt, courses came out in a bizarre order, and the pacing of the meal just seemed rushed. Its a shame because I had some fantastic experiences with the place when it first opened, hopefully they can get things back on track.

                                              1. re: Hendi
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                                                Hungryin theBurbs RE: Hendi Dec 10, 2009 07:06 PM

                                                That's a shame. I was there a couple weeks ago and had no service issues at all. The meal was fantastic, and the service couldn't have been more professional. I hope your experience was an anomaly and not a sign of things to come.

                                                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
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                                                  indiefoodie RE: Hungryin theBurbs Dec 11, 2009 04:00 PM

                                                  I actually overlooked the order in which the dishes came out because before we started our server mentioned that as the dishes were made, they would come out so I was OK with that but the "curtness" and a general sense of discomfort was very evident. A shame that a place like this has these issues. Modo Mio on the other hand was fantastic. The server went out of his way to make us feel at home and was very patient in explaining the dishes.

                                              2. re: indiefoodie
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                                                phillybeer32 RE: indiefoodie Dec 20, 2009 01:30 PM

                                                Too bad you didn't get the Italian hoagie at Sarcone's I think its the best in the city my girlfriend is from south philly and she always gets them for me.

                                                Also next time if you get a chance try the buttercake at Danish Bakers.

                                                www.danishbakers.com

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