Place to relax and refuel near convention center (Center City Philadelphia)
Hello Philly hounds,
I'm coming to town for a few days at the convention center in December and I am looking for a warm, welcoming place nearby for a meal at lunch or dinner (below $20/person is ideal) or a leisurely coffee/break time in between meals (maybe a locally owned coffee shop/dessert cafe?).
I was looking for something as close as possible to the convention center, but maybe there exists something that fits this definition down toward Locust or Spruce or South St? I'll be on foot or on SEPTA. I'm an ex-Delaware Valley native, so I'm familiar with Center City, but it's been over a decade so I really don't know of any restaurants that may have sprung up in the meantime.
Of course I will check out the Reading Terminal. Don't you worry about that. But that's bustling, not relaxing.
Also: Might there be someplace near the Penn campus that would fit the bill? (close to trolleys) Or out along Baltimore Avenue? I had planned to head out there one afternoon.
In other words, where would YOU as a jaded ex-native/warm weather-state transplant go to escape the horrors of the convention, relax, chill, eat like a king, and avoid cold winds and slushy gutters?
I think you've already received a lot of great suggestions so far, Naked Chocolate Cafe and Varga are delicious. Tria, wine/beer/cheese bar, at the corner of 12th & Spruce (not far from Varga) offers light fare and the atmosphere is laid back and cozy. Definitely a neighborhood favorite. While I am not as familiar with Chinatown, I have heard many good reviews of Penang, but have not tried it myself. Good luck navigating the convention; I hope you enjoy whichever place you choose. Cheers!
In addition to the other good places suggested, you might like Vietnam Palace, on N. 11th St. - very close. Good food, pleasant and relaxed ambience.
It is across from Vietnam, which is also attractive, but I enjoyed the serenity of the Palace.
Not expensive, and they have a bar.
Valanni, on Spruce between 12th and 13th, has small plates which would be in your price range. They have a bar. Menu is online.
I was going to rec Vietnam Palace myself. Really like the room and it can be a good place to unwind with a drink and some well-prepared food at a very reasonable price. Rangoon is pleasant and the food is quite tasty, inexpensive, and different. Capogiro can be nice for some gelato and coffee.
It sounds like you would enjoy Naked Chocolate Cafe, Walnut St between 13th and Broad, for your coffee break.
For dinner, check out Varga Bar (10th & Spruce) for creative pub food and an exceptional beer list, or Tria (12th & Spruce) for wine, beer, cheese and small plates. Both are neighborhoody places with a laid back vibe. Below $20pp to "eat like a king" is a tall order in most Center City spots, but you can eat well at those two spots for pretty cheap. To really eat like a king on that kind of budget, you'll have to go to Chinatown, where you are usually going to sacrifice atmosphere at the cheaper spots (though the food may be great).