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Mar 12, 2010 06:21 AM

Midprice lunch/dinner downtown with 4 and 6 year olds.

Will be staying at Morris House at 8th and Locust for three days at the end of March. We'll have a car but will be spending most of our time on foot down and around the sites to exhaust the kids. The kids are restaurant veterans. Open to anything except Thai and cheesesteaks; the boy eats everything, the girl seems to subsist on starch (noodles, bread, potatoes). We're doing City Tavern for one dinner, which leaves two more. My preferences are for classic diners, restaurants that have been around for a long time, delis with big portions, but don't mind the exotic stuff like tripe and headcheese. Thanks!

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  1. Definitely hit Famous 4th St Deli (two locations, the 19th St one may be convenient if you are in that neighborhood for touristy stuff) for a great Jewish deli. Portion sizes are asinine and the pastrami and corned beef is amazing.

    For a family friendly diner type place, it sounds like you would like Marathon Grill (several locations). It has a bit of a corporate vibe, but the menu has something for everyone and the food is reliably good even though it is not outstanding. It's a locally owned small chain and definitely a Center City institution.

    You'd also probably like Jones, a comfort food type spot with a Brady Bunch vibe, right near your hotel.

    1 Reply
    1. re: barryg

      I'd second Jones with the kids, as the food's not bad and there are lots of kids there.

      The food at City Tavern's pretty mundane though if you ask me. They have an ok prime rib but the rest is pretty mediocre.

      You may want to consider taking them to (don't flame me for this one) Buddakan because it's not too far away and the food is not bad. The kids would like the big budda and they are fine with kids there, since we took my son there at that age and he did fine.

      Do take the kids to Reading Terminal Market. Lots to see and eat there

    2. funny, i too was about to reply you have to go to Jones.....upscale diner food in setting as described by barryg-----now that may even be my lunch destination today!!

      5 Replies
      1. re: bonappetite

        For what it's worth, my kids don't like Jones at all, though I often see people recommending it for kids. My kids do love Marathon.

        You said Thai is out, so this might not work, but I'm going to suggest Rangoon , a Burmese restaurant in Chinatown. The cuisine is unique, but has elements of both Indian and Thai. It is one of my family's favorite restaurants, and we've been taking the kids there since they were babies. My kids are the same in terms of eating--my boy loves the chicken satay, the shan rice noodles, crispy tofu, coconut rice, thousand layer bread with potato curry, and a glass of mango juice. My picky starch-eater loves the crispy taro and the rice. The prices are also very reasonable.

        1. re: bonappetite

          Hm. Jones seems off the mark for me. I'm not interested in upscale diner food so much as diner diner food. We got plenty of fake trendy diners down here; I'm looking for the real deal where the truckers and cabbies and gunshot wound victims stumble into at 2am.

          1. re: monkeyrotica

            You might like Little Pete's on 17th. It's a real old school diner, been there forever, as has the grumpy waitstaff. My kids love it there. Good milkshakes, burgers, fries, all the classic diner fare. My musician husband has had many a 2 a.m. meal there, with all sorts stumbling in.

            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              Excellent! Exactly what I was looking for. The last time I was in town, there was a place called Melrose Diner? Is that still around or any good?

        2. You could try Continental Midtown - it's another one of the Stephen Starr restaurants (he also owns Buddakan & Jones, which other posters have suggested). It has a really large range of items to choose from and is a good lunch spot for kids as they have pretty big booths and I've seen families in there before. The decor is also pretty cool. There's also Redding Terminal Market, which is like a huge indoor farmer's market that has restaurants, food vendors, etc--everything from giant cheesesteaks and soft pretzels to beautiful Italian meats. (

          I'd have to caution you against City Tavern. It's a nice spot for a drink if you're visiting from out of town and want the waiters dressed as colonial people vibe, but most locals (that I know anyway) think the food is pretty mediocre and waaay overpriced. Here's a link to Philly Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants that you might find helpful if you're trying to plan some great dinners out ( If you like Middle Eastern food, Zahav is one of my favorites and is doable with kids.

          4 Replies
          1. re: MaddyK

            I've used City Tavern's cookbook before and enjoyed everything I've made, so I'm not really looking for a mindblowing experience.

            How reliable would you rate Philly Magazine's reviews? I'm in DC and the Washingtonian's food reviews are utter garbage: they're either fawning over food trends that were out-of-date two years ago, or soiling themselves in ecstasy over small plates I wouldn't give to my dog and he's dead.

            1. re: monkeyrotica

              There are mixed opinions on this I'm sure, but my view (which is shared by others who live in the city proper) is that Philly Mag caters to an upscale suburban demographic that is a couple steps behind the current hotness (for better or for worse) and perhaps a bit too easily swayed by "see and be seen" spots. That said, their main food critic, Joy Manning (who just announced her departure from the rag) writes fine reviews and is respected. The Top 50 itself is actually a solid overview of good restaurants in town (ignore the numbered rankings as with all "best of" lists), but the 2009 list is already out of date. Gayle has closed and newcomers like Koo Zee Doo, fish., Bibou and Amis would probably be on this list if it came out today.

              The food press in general here, Philly Mag included, seems to be unswayed--most of the time--by restaurants that offer style over substance.

              1. re: barryg

                barryg, i need to eat with agree......just read this and thought how true, who wrote this....and of course, the guy i always agree with....well, usually!

                1. re: bonappetite

                  Thanks, bonappetite, maybe we should get a chow meetup on.