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New Yorker looking for quintessential Philadelphia Cheap Eats

f
FoulShotz Dec 9, 2009 09:14 AM

I'm going to be in Philadelphia for a couple of days - are there any signature or must-have cheap eats that I should have while I'm there (under 20 dollars a person) both including restaurants and other food stands or carts or anything? Any location within the city, or nearby outside (I will have access to a car) is fine.

Happy to be referred to any quintessential cheap eats threads Pennsylvania hounds may know that I may have missed as well. Thanks.

  1. joluvscards Dec 13, 2009 05:05 AM

    Sazon is our favorite cheap eats place. Excellent no frills Venezuelan cuisine.

    1. n
      nwinkler Dec 11, 2009 10:43 AM

      Philly signature eats are largely sandwich-based, but non-sandwich foods that are increasingly representative of the culinary landscape are mexican and vietnamese, both conveniently near the Italian Market. Some options:
      -Chicken tacos at Taqueria La Veracruzana, tacos al pastor at Taquitos De Puebla, posole on Thursdays and goat barbacoa during the weekend at Acapulco.
      -A terrific bowl of pho (or bun bo hue) can be had at Cafe Diem.

      If you're in the vicinity of Chinatown, I join others in recommending dumplings and noodles at Dim Sum Garden at Sakura, and any appetizer or vermicelli bowl or broken rice platter at Vietnam Restaurant (distinct from Vietnam Palace). You could also try Rangoon for Burmese food, which is something of a Philadelphia classic (browse old threads for plenty of recommended dishes).

      1 Reply
      1. re: nwinkler
        s
        Steve Dec 11, 2009 11:11 AM

        It's so easy to have a great meal at Rangoon.

      2. coookie Dec 11, 2009 07:26 AM

        if you want a change of pace from the hoagies and cheesesteaks, check out dim sum garden or sakura mandarin for terrific xiao long bao (soup dumplings). sakura has the slightly better XLB, whereas dim sum garden offers very satisfying fresh made noodles (try the chicken in wine.)

        also, mama's falafel on 20th street is pretty good, and non-hoagie.

        saw sabrina's mentioned. every time i have to wait outside the christian street location for brunch, i pop around the corner for a slice of cheese pizza at lorenzo, much to the horror of my less gluttonous dining companions. it's a beat up, no-frills kind of place, the 'za is cheap and good, and i love it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: coookie
          h
          Hendi Dec 11, 2009 10:54 AM

          Speaking of Mama's, if you're less vegie inclined there's a great middle eastern food truck at the corner of 20 and Market, there's no menu just ten dollars for chicken, falafel, and whatever else he's making that day. Get there early (lunch only) because lines and running out of things can be issues. The guy has a bit of a "soup nazi-esque" reputation, don't ask for more then one platter per person that's standing in front of him and just smile and nod at his ramblings, but its worth it.

          1. re: coookie
            b
            Bigley9 Dec 14, 2009 09:25 AM

            Lorenzo's slices -yummm

          2. h
            Hendi Dec 10, 2009 07:11 PM

            Big second for DiNic's roast pork (with everything), though it would be crazy to have a philly cheap eats thread with out mentioning that the whole redding terminal market is a culinary wonderland.

            A few other spots to check out:

            Almaz Cafe for Ethiopian on

            Vietnam and Szechuan Tasty House in Chinatown

            Sabrina's and Honey's for Breakfast / Brunch

            Vic's for seriously cheap yet great sushi

            Any number of food trucks along 38th Street (Yue Kee, Don Memo, KoJa) for lunch

            Mr. Martino's Trattoria (Fri-Sun dinner only, byob)

            Tiffin for Indian

            Lots of gastro pubs worth checking out: Pub and Kitchen, Standard Tap, and Good Dog to name just a few

            1. b
              barryg Dec 10, 2009 08:51 AM

              All great picks, and I would add a burger + a craft beer or two at Standard Tap, Good Dog, or Royal Tavern. $20 or so in total and very satisfying.

              2 Replies
              1. re: barryg
                hollyd Dec 10, 2009 11:25 AM

                ooh Royal Tavern Burger is a good addition.

                1. re: barryg
                  j
                  Jdkaplan Dec 10, 2009 11:39 AM

                  while we are picking up craft beer and cheap eats also try Prohibition Tap at 13th and Buttonwood for a rotation of 6 beers and about 50 bottles. Their food is also very good - Mac n Cheese, special burgers and everything else. They also have a breakfast joint down the block called Cafe Lift, it's on par if not better than Sabrina's

                2. hollyd Dec 10, 2009 08:34 AM

                  -Paesano's or DiNics for Roast Pork Sandwich. I go back and forth about which is better, but they are both AWESOME.
                  -Cheesesteak at Sonny's (I love Sonny's in Old CIty!)
                  -Hoagies at Sarcones.
                  -If it's not freezing, you might try a "gelato", a Philly invention combining soft serve ice cream and water ice (italian ice for non-philadelphians)
                  -Sabrina's stuffed French Toast
                  -BYOBs, take your pick. There are plenty of threads on here. The food is typically less than $20 per person, and you bring your own wine or beer, so it's cheap.
                  -Buttery Amish Pretzel from Miller's twist in the Reading Terminal Market

                  There's plenty of regular restaurants where you'll get out for less than $20. Chinatown, South Philly Italian places, BYOB's, etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hollyd
                    m
                    megmosa Dec 14, 2009 02:13 PM

                    I'm going to second the Miller's twist from Reading Terminal Market. I had one last week. It was truly 500% better than any pretzel I've ever had. It actually tasted like something! It's a great snack. Get some Amish backed goods while you are at the market too. The apple dumplings (with fresh cream drizzled over them) from the dutch eating place are also awesome. You might want to share one of them if you plan to do a lot of eating that day though. =)

                  2. bluehensfan Dec 10, 2009 06:52 AM

                    Go to Reading Terminal Market and get cheap pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place and then follow it up with a roast pork sandwich (wet, with provolone and broccoli rabe) from DiNic's.

                    1. s
                      Steve Dec 9, 2009 07:04 PM

                      Roast pork sandwich at Nick's Cafe at 20th and Jackson in South Philly. This place could not exist anywhere else. They will know you're not a local when you walk in without your big, puffy Eagles jacket. But they'll treat you like old friends anyway.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Steve
                        m
                        mazza3 Dec 10, 2009 08:51 AM

                        i prefer the roast beef, withor without rabes (definitely with provie). their roast pork is excellent though, just not better than john's. but i'd take the roast beef over any of them.

                        definitely hit up rtm, locals and tourists go there all day every day. and if you can make it to paesano's, you will not be disappointed.

                        i would also recommend the following website. the fellow who runs it favors cheap etas places and i have yet to disagree with his descriptions:

                        http://www.hollyeats.com/Philadelphia...

                        1. re: mazza3
                          s
                          Steve Dec 10, 2009 09:01 AM

                          I have heard many good things about John's for roast pork and cheesesteaks. Next time I'm in Philly, I will try to get there. Unfortunately, they are only open for midweek lunch, IIUC.

                          At Nick's, the sandwiches are served on small round rolls, so the OP could get one of each. Or get a roast pork sandwich with gravy fries that come with roast beef. The best of both worlds.

                      2. j
                        Jdkaplan Dec 9, 2009 03:56 PM

                        For lunch you've gotta try Paesano's. This is a 7-seat lunch counter on the edge of Northern Liberties. It is at 152 W Girard Ave., 19123. The store front could be missed if you are driving too fast so look for the maroon-colored awning. If you are heading east towards the river it will be on your right. The food is absolutely amazing for lunch Tues-Sat. The food is cooked to order right in front of you and if it is nice out you can sit outside. While the neighborhood is still in the early stages of revitalization it is a place you mustn't miss. Most recently I had a roasted lamb sausage sandwhich (Gustaio) with fennel and sweet sun-dried tomato sauce topped with feta-- it was to die for! The menu has about 10 items on it from their take on an italian hoagie to whole suckling pig with broccoli rabe (Arista). Everything is great, try something new or get some of my recommendations, you won't be disappointed.

                        For dinner, check out the blossoming Northern Liberties neighborhood for a hipster-type art scene with great food and drinks. For breakfast: Honey's Sit n' Eat, Lunch Johnny Brenda's and Dinner: Dos Segundos Cantina then if it's nice check out the shops and art galleries throughout the neighborhood especially in the Piazza and Liberties Walk

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Jdkaplan
                          d
                          discndav Dec 10, 2009 10:55 AM

                          I tried Paesanoes for the frist time 2 Saturday's ago. Their famous Arista pork sandwich was $8 and well worth it. My only complaitn was how SALTY the sandwich was. I'm told by someone who lives nearby every item on the menu is very good.

                          1. re: discndav
                            hollyd Dec 10, 2009 11:26 AM

                            it is a little salty. I think from the pork+the cheese. Their gustaio is my other favorite, but I am pretty loyal to the pork.

                            1. re: discndav
                              bluehensfan Dec 10, 2009 04:22 PM

                              I liked the Arista but found it to be a bit dry for some reason (granted it was over the summer so they may have fixed it by now). My son tried some sort of wrap whose name I cannot remember with some cherry sauce. It sounded gross but was fabulous, even better than the pork. Also the potatoes are really good! The main drag of the place is the location...granted it's a block from a subway stop but not near anything else.

                              1. re: bluehensfan
                                b
                                barryg Dec 10, 2009 04:45 PM

                                The wrap you're referring to is the Gustaio, though the way Jdkaplan describes it is not quite as I remember it; I had it with the cherry mustarda as you describe and I think rouquefort instead of feta. I know they have been changing around the menu (the eponymous sandwich has been completely redone) , so maybe the feta-tomato one is the new version.

                                The location is a little whack but it is actually only a couple blocks from the Piazza at Schmidt's and Liberties Walk. They will be opening a second location at 9th & Christian shortly and I am very much looking forward to that.

                                Re: the salt, I agree that both Paesano's and Modo Mio (the BYO owned and operated by the same chef and team) are heavy on the salt and this is a common complaint. Luckily, I love salt and I love both places.

                                1. re: barryg
                                  j
                                  Jdkaplan Dec 12, 2009 06:08 PM

                                  BarryG you might be right about those sauce and cheeses.

                                  1. re: Jdkaplan
                                    m
                                    megmosa Dec 14, 2009 02:09 PM

                                    The little Sicilian chickpea wrap is delicious also.

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