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Mar 18, 2010 07:37 PM

Looking for good eats and craft beers near UPenn

Been a lurker for a while; I always check this place out when I need a good recommendation, but I can't seem to find a good answer to this Q.

I'll be in Philly for business soon and am looking for a dinner place near either UPenn or the Franklin Institute. Good food, veg friendly (two vegetarians on the trip, but some big meat eaters too!), and preferably with a good craft beer selection.

Thanks for all your help!

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  1. for upenn/university city: i've heard decent things about the blockley pourhouse, it's just of penn's campus. i know they have a veggie burger and mac and cheese and tons of meat options. and they focus on draft beers, some local and interesting, some mundane but still ok. i am not a fan of local 44, but they do have an excellent beer list. i am not impressed with their food at any of their bars, but i seem to be in the minority there....they are definitely veg friendly though (but this place is more of a bar than a restaurant). also, the new deck tavern is irish pub-ish but a little bit nicer. not too many interesting vegetarian foods but what they do have is definitely good. there's also midatlantic, a place that i like not love, that also really needs to step it up. they have a great pennsylvania-focused menu and some very nice beers (and draft root beer), but the cooking isn't as sharp as it should be. that being said, i would expect it to turn around and be a very good place any day now.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mazza3

      Local 44 has has an A+ beer list (ok, maybe just A). Haven't eaten much there but it won't be bad, and as mentioned plenty of veg options. It has a great neighborhood vibe, is a fun place to hang out, and the prices are great. Last time I was there they were charging $5.50 for Russian River Damnation.
      Beer list:

      Dunno what's up with Blockley, I tried to go there once for drinks/dinner at like 6:30pm and they wanted to charge me cover even though music hadn't started yet. This was when they first opened so maybe they make more sense now. Don't know what the beer list is like now but early reports were underwhelming.

      1. re: barryg

        I've heard that Blockley is having trouble finding a balance between venue and bar/restaurant.

        I like Local 44, their menu offers the gamut from vegan to meat, and as barryg says, the beer selection is great.

        If you're looking for a slightly nicer restaurant, I would recommend the White Dog Cafe. They focus on local, seasonal food, and while they used to be a really amazing restaurant when no one else was doing that, now they are a pretty good restaurant with a good beer selection.

        1. re: urbanfabric

          I agree with Blockley/Balance. The beer selection is a mixed bag and the room has no ambience. What happened to the more upscale area they were supposed to open next door?
          The food has also been fairly hit or miss.

    2. If your top priority is good food, head to Distrito on 39th and Chestnut. They consistently have 2-3 good craft beers (Dock Street, Yards) and the food is significantly better than other spots in the neighborhood. Good balance of meat and veg friendly items. Definitely not as good a beer selection as some other spots, but those places tend to serve craft beer first and pub food second. If you have time, I'd consider dinner at Distrito, and beer before or after at one of the pubs mentioned.

      You can find their menu here: