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Center City in April (help, please!)

s
small fry Feb 28, 2010 12:52 PM

This board has been very helpful in the past, so I thought I would turn to it again before our next trip up to Philly. I have read many similar posts to what I'm about to ask, but I would really appreciate advice pertaining to our particular situation.

My husband and I (I am 29, he is 34) are coming up for 4 nights in the beginning of April and staying at the Hotel Monaco. We are staying at the Borgata on a Wednesday night and then driving to the Monaco on Thursday morning and checking out on Sunday.

On our previous trips we have enjoyed: lunch at Reading Terminal Market (although a little overwhelming!), afternoon drinks at Parc, dinner at Buddakan, dinner at Branzino, evening drinks at the bar at the Sofitel and dessert at Capogiro. These were all great experiences (except for the fact that my husband ordered a side of pasta with meat sauce at Branzino and was a little surprised when it showed up as $18 on the bill, but we use it as a lesson to ask about the cost of items not mentioned on the menu :)

We have been to the Italian market and Pats/Genos, were told to go to South Street and sat on the patio and had drinks at Bridget Foy's, stopped at Continental and Davio's after dinner one night, and also had dinner at Friday Saturday Sunday. While these experiences were fine, we don't feel the need to repeat any of them.

On our agenda for this trip: lunch at Monk's (his choice), dinner at Buddakan (his choice) a southern Italian dinner (his choice), wine/snacks/lunch? at Tria (my choice).

I was thinking Caffe Casta Diva for our Italian meal? The third dinner will be my choice and I really like the menu at Melograno but would prefer somewhere that takes reservations. I generally like contemporary American, northern Italian and Mediterranean flavors. It gets a little complicated because I don't eat poultry or red meat and I have food allergies (nuts & capers), so restaurants with limited menus (like James, for instance) can be a little tricky. My husband isn't exactly an adventurous eater but over the years I've gotten him to appreciate quality over quantity :)

We don't mind taking cabs although we generally prefer to walk. BYOB is fine but not a must-have. We usually end up spending around $100 for dinner (more if not BYOB), and last time Buddakan was around $200 including tip, so we would prefer our other dinners to be a little less costly.

I know this is a LOT of information to process (and thanks for reading this far!), but I would really appreciate any guidance/suggestions/recommendations you can give. In exchange, I promise to give a full report after our trip! :)

  1. d
    dnh2 Feb 28, 2010 01:37 PM

    For my money Modo Mio is the best Italian in the city. (And the sandwiches at sister shop Paesano's across the street are amazing as well.) Both are very close to the el or a short cab ride from Center City. For Mediterranean flavors & a very satisfying meal without poultry or red meat, try Zahav. Kanella would probably work for you as well. And if you're wandering around Center City & looking for a place for a snack or to explore, Garces Trading Co. offers something for everyone.

    1. b
      barryg Feb 28, 2010 02:37 PM

      I don't think either of those hotels are in Philadelphia...

      1. Seeker19104 Feb 28, 2010 03:04 PM

        Are you perhaps staying at the Hotel Palomar?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Seeker19104
          s
          small fry Feb 28, 2010 03:08 PM

          Yes! I was on the Kimpton website before writing this post and was reading about the Monaco in Baltimore. Thanks for catching my mistake!

        2. b
          brianaface Mar 1, 2010 09:37 AM

          Like the other poster said, Zahav would be great, but my favorite is Kanella (especially for breakfast). Tria is a good choice I prefer the one in Washington Square rather than the one by your hotel. The restaurant in your hotel does have a great whiskey cocktail.

          If you husband is interested in Monks, you may like Eulogy too.

          1. b
            Bigley9 Mar 1, 2010 09:48 AM

            If you don't mind a cab ride or long walk, I would suggest you check out the East Passyunk neighborhood - this is a traditionally Italian neighborhood that has recently gotten an influx of younger people but without loosing the older neighborhood vibe. La Virtue and Paradiso are 2 newer Italians, Marra's is OLD school Italian (go for pizza), then there are a slew of Taquerias and pubs and other places I am just forgetting....

            1. sockii Mar 1, 2010 01:17 PM

              If you like Northern Italian and want some vegetarian options, I might recommend
              Cichetteria 19...had an amazing meal there this weekend and it was not overly crowded or hard to get a table (with or without reservations) and there were good choices for vegetarians as well as meat lovers. The wild mushroom pasta they had as an evening special was sublime.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sockii
                p
                padovana Mar 2, 2010 08:11 AM

                Sockii, thanks for the rec. When I heard about the idea behind C-19, I really wanted to check it out... I'll be going there soon... I have good memories of northern italian food

                1. re: padovana
                  sockii Mar 3, 2010 12:57 PM

                  Hope you enjoy it! I'll no doubt be returning for their happy hour specials soon,and some of the wine-tasting events they have planned in coming months. The pizza I saw on a neighborhood table had me drooling as well...

              2. s
                small fry Mar 1, 2010 06:57 PM

                Thank you for all of the suggestions so far. I'll check them out over the next few days.

                1. joluvscards Mar 3, 2010 01:24 AM

                  Our new fav is Fish restaurant. They have an amazing skate over truffled spaetzle that is TDF. Only seafood on the menu tho.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: joluvscards
                    j
                    JanR Mar 3, 2010 06:49 AM

                    Fish is mostly seafood but, unlike Littlefish, there is one meat item on the menu. I agree that Fish is terrific.

                    1. re: JanR
                      joluvscards Mar 3, 2010 12:27 PM

                      Is that new? The web site states that they need 24 hrs notice for beef or chicken. The last time we were there they had a tuna dish that had some veal on it but we have usually found that they have no meat. At least I wouldn't count on it.

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