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Mar 27, 2010 11:50 PM

Making my first food-centric trip to Philly. Thoughts/Suggestions appreciated.

Will be attending a wedding outside Philadelphia in early April but aside from the wedding I've no plans to stay with the group - instead I'm planning to see what the city itself has to offer in terms of walking, wandering, and eating. As I'll be driving I'll have plenty of access to a car and thus far I know Mutter, the Picasso exhibit at the museum, and perhaps the Aquarium in Jersey are on the list.

In terms of eating, my three dinners are already planned and booked - Tasting menu at Le Bec Fin on Thursday, The Deguztation at Vetri Friday, and Chef's table at Amada on Saturday.

In terms of breakfasts and lunch, however, I'm looking for thoughts. Obviously the Reading Market is on the list, but otherwise I've no plans - Osteria looks impressive as do some of the items at Amis, but perhaps something more "oldschool?"

Thanks in Advance.

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  1. If you're already going to Vetri, I'd skip Osteria and Amis. Amis doesn't serve lunch anyway as far as I know.

    Kanella is great, one of the city's best restaurants and they serve lunch Thursday through Saturday and breakfast on the weekend. It's BYO but there's a wine store nearby on the 1200 block (I think) of Chestnut.

    Paesano's makes some of the best sandwiches in the city and they now have a location at the top of the Italian Market, I'd head there for lunch one day and see the Market afterwards. The Arista is their version of a roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe, which is our city's *good* sandwich (as opposed to the cheesesteak).

    If I were you I'd visit the Mutter museum on Thursday, and on that trip, go to Village Whiskey for lunch (get the Village Burger, not the Whiskey King). It's a few blocks away. VW is small and very hot right now, it's really hard to get into during dinner hours but if you're going on a weekday for lunch (and are by yourself and can therefore squeeze into a single bar seat) you should have no trouble. After lunch, head across the street to Capogiro for the city's best gelato. Capogiro is kind of non-negotiable, no matter where you go for lunch I'd try to work Capogiro in afterwards, it's one of the best food experiences the city has to offer. There are two locations in center city but the one across from VW is my favorite.

    Koo Zee Doo is another of the city's best restaurants, and they serve lunch Fri-Sun. It's not close to your other destinations but if you're in a car it's no problem.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Well - I don't eat beef (at all) and rarely drink (so BYO likely means I'll drink water) - so that makes Village Whiskey a miss, for sure.

      Amis does serve lunch - started very recently and same menu as dinner - Opentable now taking reservations.

      Capogiro has been favorably compared to Jeni's Ice Cream here in Cbus, so its on the list.

      Koo Zee Doo definitely looks interesting, though I think the dinner menu looks much more appealing than lunch - same with Kanella actually.

      Paesano's looks like a great choice. Thanks!

      1. re: uhockey

        I would still skip Osteria and Amis, they're both Marc Vetri restaurants, if you're going to Vetri itself there isn't much point. If you were not going to Vetri, I'd recommend Osteria over Amis, I wasn't all that impressed with Amis, especially for the prices.

        1. re: Buckethead

          I think you are already planning on going to Paesanos, but I want to (perhaps unnecessarily) encourage you even more to go. Every sandwich I've had there has been phenomenal, including the vegetarian ones. If you like cooking, stop by Fante's in the Italian Market too. It's a great little cooking store, and I think it's supposed to be one of the oldest in the country.

          1. re: Buckethead

            Do not miss Paesano's.

            For a nicer sit down lunch you could try another Garces restaurant like Chifa, Tinto, or Garces Trading Company. The food is different at all of them so it's not like the Vetri situation. You could also hit Morimoto.

            I also love Mama's Vegetarian for authentic Israeli-style falafel. Very casual but also very cheap. They are closed until the end of Passover, though, and also every Saturday. It's close to the Mutter.

            1. re: barryg

              Garces Trading Company is definitely interesting and I plan to go there. Morimoto is indeed another thought.

              1. re: uhockey

                from your venture into my home town i think morimoto would be right up your alley and it will liven up the variety in your visit. i certainly intend to go again to try to the ramen that looked so wonderful. i'm a fan of the buri bop as long as you take it under your control and remove the buri earlier than suggested.

                if you want to go classic, sansom oyster house would probably be a good option in that sense.

            2. re: Buckethead

              The point, I guess, would be the Pizza at Osteria.

              1. re: uhockey

                You might consider the pizza at Stella ... another good not great restaurant from Stephen Starr and a bit more casual than the others in your list.

            3. re: uhockey

              I may be in the minority, but I've never been very impressed with Capogiro. The flavors are interesting, but it doesn't compare to gelato in Italy in intensity of flavor or texture. IMHO, the best ice cream in Philly comes from Bassett's at the Reading Terminal Market. The dark chocolate chocolate chip is a true chocoholic experience, and the fresh fruit flavors in season are also great.

              1. re: uhockey

                Capogiro doesn't even begin to compare with Jeni's. Not terrible, but nothing special.

                Garces' places are all good. Amada is my favorite. Another standard choice is Monk's for mussels (and frites). Cbus is pretty weak on Mexican, so maybe Distrito or Lolita (BYOT) or one of the more downscale places on Washington? I guess pho is mostly out if you don't eat beef.

                Zahav would be different, and excellent.

              2. re: Buckethead

                Vetri is the best of the best. Stay away from S Foo. And definitely the Mutter. Reading Market for lunch and to buy picnic foods. Paesano's authentically good.

                1. re: jvaill40

                  Susanna Foo's has been closed for a year or so now..

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                  1. I disagree with some of the posters and would say definitely hit up Osteria for lunch, in addition to Vetri. The pizza is incredible and it's a completely different experience than Vetri.

                    I would pass on Amis. Marc vetri is the man, however, I think it's the bottom on his resume.

                    Lunch - I'd pass on the reading terminal market and head straight to PAESANO'S!!! Been eating there every weekend since they opened. The Italian sandwhich is great, and the italian sausage sandwich is totally bonkers! Believe the hype.

                    Breakfast/Brunch - Carman's Country Cafe is very unique and a fun experience. The menu changes each weekend.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: micreynolds

                      Agreed on Paesano's! The 9th and Christian location has stolen my heart. As of last weekend, the Liveracce sandwich is now with fried chicken livers instead of beef and boy is it a really spectacular sandwich.

                    2. As mentioned in an email to your blog, Le Bec as of a few months ago is not doing it right.
                      Vetri is excellent but portions on weekends are way too much food, Amada is super, llove the sauteed scallions. Disagree with many others on the pizza in this town. Stella was meh, Osteria is ok on top but for me crust is a waste of time; l am a Tacconelli's fan tried and true.
                      If you need company email me on the address on this site.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        I agree with the "Bec Fin" comment. It's tired. You may be disappointed. How about a BYOB instead? Also agree with the comment about Capogiro. It's fine, but I am always slightly disappointed.

                          1. re: bluehensfan

                            All the more reason to visit on this trip - may be a last chance. I had a great meal at Aqua in SF shortly before it closed its doors.


                            1. re: uhockey

                              I'm loving the interesting contrast in dining philosophy here.

                              1. re: ramenbound


                                I've had the chance to eat at some great places in my life - All but one of the US Michelin 3 Star restaurants and many highly regarded places.....but I also really like Emeril's restaurants (all of the ones I've been to,) same with Mario Batali, Michael Mina, and Wolfgang Puck actually. There are people who criticize them for fitting a mold or a scene or whatever - being tired and uninvolved in their kitchen. I guess there is a point to that, but I don't think those chefs put slouches in their kitchens.

                                With a place like Le Bec Fin (or Antoine's in New Orleans) I realize what I'm going for - the room, the history, and some (likely overpriced) food - but the chef's are generally competent and the experience worth it. For a $50 lunch, to enjoy that dessert cart and a few other excellent courses (with perhaps some snooty behaviour) - its a risk I'll take, and all the moreso if I may not ever have that chance again.


                                1. re: uhockey

                                  Sounds like you know what you want, and you're going for it! Saw your post in the Italian thread - Amada, Modo Mio and a double dosage of Marc Vetri - wish I were in town to be part of the whole fuss!

                                  1. re: ramenbound

                                    May try to squeeze in Amis brunch, as well. :-)

                                    The Amada pig will be fun - someone local set it up and it sounds like 6-8 of us.


                                    1. re: uhockey

                                      If you go to Amis, ask if Mike can be your server. He gave us great recommendations when we went there. Most were things we would not think of trying...

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Bringing this thread back to the top - missed the April trip but am now scheduled for August. Anything new, dynamic, "can't-miss" in Philly?