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must-eat quintessential philly?

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the boards have been very helpful, but i'd like locals' advice on which philly restaurants are BOTH must-eat quintessentially philly i won't find anywhere else AND family-friendly. don't care how cheap or expensive, but the food must be worth the trip, and preferably non-seafood-heavy cuisines. thanks in advance!

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  1. well, obviously from this board you know you must go to the Reading Terminal Market. DiNic's Roast Pork is the place. Try things from other places too though, make a smorgasboard. You probably should do a Jose Garces Restaurant - not sure about which is the most kid friendly. Then, likely an Italian BYO - Branzino? Modo Mio? There's a start

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bigley9

      thanks for the reply. we're going to mix it up w/high brow for some meals and low brow for others, so your suggestions sound great.

    2. Quintessential Philly AND family friendly may not be that easy...

      While I have nothing against the quality of Bigley9's choices of Branzino or Modo Mio, I don't think there's anything about them that makes them quintessentially Philadelphia. I would think a red gravy place like Villa di Roma would more fit that bill (along with the fact that it's on 9th street in the Italian Market).

      As far as the ever debated cheesesteak, I would have to say a place that fits both bills would be Chink's (6030 Torresdale). The wait staff is pleasant and there's booths for a family to sit down and it's arguably the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia.

      I've never been a huge fan of DiNic's but it's ok and certainly fits the quintessential and family friendly aspect.

      Are you visiting from out of town or just discovering Philly?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Den

        While Garces restaurants are great and Amada may be the best in the city, there is nothing "quintessential Philly about them. What is quintessential Philly are the traditional ethnic family run restaurants. Villa D is one of them along with Dante and Luigis. Both of these are traditional South Philly red gravy spots that are family friendly and filled with character and characters. Another favorite is Jovans in Fishtown. Great German food in a restobar that is still run by husband wife and kids.

        1. re: Nigeltab

          I agree with all this but while his concepts are not necessarily unique to Philly, Jose Garces is (he does have one place in Chicago but this is his home base). He (along with Steven Starr) is the 800lb gorilla of the food scene here, so if you are into chef name dropping it would be cool to say you ate at Amada or Distrito before he opened spots in NYC (and I am sure he will).

          But yea about traditional Philly foods RTM and the South Philly red gravy spots are right on and you should also try a good Italian hoagie, like from Sarcone's or Primo's. No real seating but you could buy sandwiches and take them to Washington Square or Rittenhouse Square and eat them. That is family friendly and pretty quintessential. A chicken cutlet sandwich from Shank's is also a great Philly treat.

        2. re: Den

          visiting from out of town. from the DC area, which is becoming more of a foodie destination, but you still gotta' pay for really good food! unfortunate b/c sometimes the best places are the mom+pop hole-in-the-walls!

        3. One thing that seems unique to Philadelphia are the number of BYOBs. I would suggest an Italian BYOB to get the influence of both. While not red gravy I like Cucina Forte especially her gnocchi which is wonderful. While small, I think it is family friendly. For lunch, DiNics at the Reading Terminal with an ice cream from Bassetts. Or not far from the Terminal at 13th and Sansom is great Gelato at Caprgios (spelling probably off.) Try a number of flavors before you pick.