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Gateway to offal? (Philly)

I'm interested in offal - I've never really tried any but I'm becoming a more adventurous eater and feel that this is a can't miss stop on the good eater express. Do any of you recommend starting with anything particular? Or working my way up to anything in particular? Is tripe the best thing to try first? I really don't know.

On top of that, I wonder where would be a good place in Philadelphia to experiment? Bibou is the word on everyone's lips, of course, but do you have any additional recommendations? Thanks!

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  1. I've had a nice pig's head terrine at Meme. They also usually have foie gras on the menu.

    I recently had the offal tasting menu at Per Se in NYC, but I have yet in my life to eat tripe. No particular aversion, I've just never tried it.

    1. Liver is technically offal, but it's so common in pates and such that I don't really think of it as adventurous, but if you've never had it (or foie gras), I'd start there. Sweetbreads are pretty easy to like, too. I'm not a fan of tripe, I think a lot of people don't like the texture. Hearts usually taste like the meat of the animal they came from, but in my experience are much tougher. Kidneys are less easy than sweetbreads, but still basically taste like meat with a silkier texture. I had duck testicles once, they were a lot like the kidneys. Never had brains.

      I've had excellent sweetbreads at Fond, Bibou and Zahav (the 'sweetbread schnitzel'). The moelas (chicken gizzards) at Koo Zee Doo are awesome. The foie gras pastrami at Vetri is great, too. Good chicken liver pates can be found at many places, Parc's is good (very buttery though, I think it's like half butter, half liver). Zahav also serves a plate called the 'Jerusalem Grill', when I got it it had various duck and rabbit parts (the kidneys, hearts, and testicles I mentioned) on it but their current menu just lists duck hearts.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        i second the chicken gizzards at koo zee doo. outstanding stuff and meaty enough so that you don't really think about what you are eating. the liver and rigatoni at osteria are also amazing, and definitely good for a beginner since the livers is, erm, crumbled? the sweetbreads at dante and luigi's are fried and meaty too, so that is probably a good addition. foie gras is definitely a good intro as well, if you've never tried it out. for reference - i like all offal except for lungs and tripe. it's a texture thing.

        a good tongue sammie at a jewish deli might also be a good bet. does 4th street do a good one, anyone anyone?

        1. re: mazza3

          I enjoyed the tongue at 4th Street - but I am Irish Catholic and grew up eating (and enjoying) the boiled tongue my mother made, so I don't have much street cred I guess!

          1. re: mazza3

            I had a great tongue dish at Modo Mio last Spring.

            1. re: mazza3

              Tongue tacos at a taqueria would also fit the bill.
              Or if you are very adventurous, any taco under the heading from beef head meat at Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla would fit the offal category, such as beef eye, tongue, mouth or the ever popular mixed beef head meat tacos.

          2. I guess technically foie is offal, but I feel like it's so decadent that it doesn't count like something like calves liver would. But that's a separate argument.

            I think a good gateway into offal is a good pho joint, like pho 75 in south philly or chinatown. You can get stuff like tendon and tripe in addition to the noodles broth and meat. If you don't like it, no big deal, you still have a huge bowl of delicious broth, meat and noodles. In the cases of those specific cuts (tripe and tendon) the big thing is texture, they really don't taste like much (that I could tell any way).

            As for bibou, i've looked at the menu before and would probably be a nice, positive introduction as well. The foie stuffed pig trotter looks awesome.

            1. Tripe is my middle name, Bibou and Modo Mio both do a great, if different version, request it when you make a reservation and they usually suuply.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                So would that be Delucatripecheesemonger or Delucacheesetripemonger?

                1. re: Seeker19104

                  When picking a handle, that was close to the other option

              2. The seared Hudson Valley duck hearts in sherry at Bar Ferdinand were outstanding I thought. I ordered two servings. It was a special though. I also recall enjoying Pho with offal at several Vietnamese restaurants in the city.


                1. If you have never had tongue, it could classify as offal, although when you've been eatig it all your life it justs tastes yummy. The tongue sandwhich at 4th St. Deli is fab, but may be too huge for one person to eat at one time. So, go with a friend, and perhaps split another sandwich.

                  Re tripe, I am a regular at Pho 75, have tried tripe twice, but can't enjoy it because of the texture. However, as was already said, try getting a soup with tripe in it there; get that experience out of your system. It's presence will not ruin the soup--not much taste anyway.

                  Sweetbreads best at restaurants you know something about--like the places mentioned here. I would not order them just anywhere. They are also scrumptious.

                  Happy Offal to You!

                  1. I have tried a lot of offal and unfortunately haven't developed a taste for it for all the usual reasons.

                    I do like oxtail, though. For me, the taste & texture are not different enough from regular meat cuts to seem like true offal (from my POV, organ meat is "real" offal). Oxtail is a LOT of work to make at home, but it's very tender and flavorful. And inexpensive. You can find some good dishes at places that do Vietnamese, French or Italian regional cooking (probably other cuisines, but that's what comes to mind - unhelpfully, I don't have any specific recommendations).

                    1. Chinatown. My people love the offal.

                      1. we were at Bibou last night - the foie was great, we also enjoyed a bone marrow dish and the rabbit terrine. Cochon is a great place for offal as well.

                        1. Surpised no one has mentioned kidneys - very rarely see them on the menu - would welcome any recommendations, I had them in Phila about 10 years ago - maybe more at The Garden in a dijonais sauce....

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: FriskLamb

                            One of my most memorable breakfasts was in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Kidneys and Ackee. Wonderful.

                          2. The new Garces Trading Co has a pretty good Head Cheese and I think there are a few other offal ingredients on the menu. May be worth a try since you can just pick up a small dish.

                            1. Ansill used to have fantastic offal, but it's now closed. Does anyone know if he's opening up a new place?

                              1 Reply
                              1. I'm in love with the Beef & Tripe in Chili Oil at Han Dynasty in Old City. The ground nuts balance everything very nicely. Wonderful. They have other offal on (and off of) the menu.