another 4 nights - pls help me narrow it down!
it's been a while since i've made it to your fair city, but lo and behold a trip has come up. i hope you can all yay or nay my thoughts on dinners and perhaps offer up some suggestions with regards to portable breakfasts. here's a quick run down of where i've been so far:
osteria (tried nearly everything but the pizzas, i'm an offal junkie), amada, tinto, morimoto (buribop!), ansill, good dog, paesano (arista is salty gold), standard tap, naked chocolate
distrito (too much going on), matyson, bar ferdinand (not a complete nay, but i like amada much more), capogiro, white dog cafe, le bec fin (didn't get to try the food, the service was too much of a disaster)
i've probably missed a couple that don't really matter and purposely left out all the cheesesteak hunting... this go around i'm not going to double/triple up on restaurants in one night, it was pretty ridiculous. now i'm thinking of dining at:
vetri - loved osteria, how could i not love vetri (they still have spots open for when i'm there)
zahav - sweetbread schnitzel, need i say more? someone please tell me they do it well!
ladder 15 - i adored my experience at ansill
sansom oyster house - just because i haven't been, might just be a pre-oyster thing
cochon - reviews are good, i like pig!
morimoto - it's kinda my go to and this time i will eat the steaming bowl of ramen
bibou - the menu speaks to me
garces trading company - i like half his operations... so maybe i'll like this one too
modo mio - good italian just gets to me
please help me narrow it down to at least 4 and maybe 1 or 2 "happy hour" (nibbles before a walk to the next destination) or confuse me and add to the list! also, any thoughts on where i can get a delicious sandwich/packaged food that will survive overnight for a tasty reasonably healthful breakfast would be wicked. i may go bahn mi hunting around washington ave if all else fails.
thanks for reading my ridiculous post and offering up suggestions!
Instead of Little Fish, go to Fish. The chef/owner from Little Fish is now full time at Fish, and we love it. Creative, comfortable, delicious. On Sunday, it's a set $28 tasting menu. Delightful!
We also have been loving Meritage. Small plates, creative, again - delicious.
I'd put either of those over Modo Mio. Modo Mio is great value for the money, but ultra noisy and hectic.
I'd just go to the Oyster House for a happy hour of good oysters. Otherwise, I felt like I was in a rushed cafeteria - even though it was waiter service. Noisy and not pleasant.
Lots of other good choices up there. Bibou is a favorite.
Foo Zee Doo we found inconsistent - not as good (to us) as some of those others.
Ridiculous post? No, a ridiculous post would be "Hey, I'm visiting Philly, are there any good restaurants there?"
Your picks are all good. Ladder 15's atmosphere leaves something to be desired, it's more of a frat-boy bar than a restaurant, though the management seems to be trying to change that with the hiring of David Ansill and they've also revamped the beer list. I went on a Tuesday around 6 PM and it was fine, but I've been in by there around 7 on a Friday and that was not fine. So depending on what days you're here you could make this a happy hour stop. If it's too crowded, the Sansom St. Oyster House is right next door, you can pop in there instead. Don't expect a repeat of your Ansill experience, though, the service/atmosphere at Ladder 15 is nowhere near as good as Ansill and the menu isn't as adventurous. I miss Ansill a lot.
If I were you, I'd do my 4 dinners at Zahav, Bibou, Kanella, and Koo Zee Doo. Those are my 4 favorite restaurants in the city right now. The sweetbread schnitzel at Zahav is very good. If you loved Osteria you will probably love Vetri, but you may not love it twice as much, which is how much more it will cost you to go there (at least). If that doesn't bother you, go ahead. I'd skip Vetri's newest place, Amis, it costs nearly as much as Osteria but isn't nearly as good. Modo Mio is very good and much less expensive. If you can't get a table at Bibou (which is likely, it's very small and very popular), Cochon would make a decent alternative. If you do go to Bibou, get the tasting menu, it's just smaller portions of the dishes on the regular menu (and maybe an item not on the menu) but it lets you taste almost everything they're cooking that night.
For happy hour, do bar snacks at Ladder 15 (if the crowd isn't too annoying), or oysters at Sansom Street (if the Ladder 15 crowd is too annoying). Or both.
Haven't been to Garces Trading Co. yet but I'm pretty sure it's more of a store than a sit-down restaurant with table service. That might make it good for your last request.
I pretty much agree with everything Buckethead said. Of your list, I'd put Zahav and Bibou at the top. Having just had an incredible meal at Osteria last night, I'd go back there in a heartbeat. ( I hadn't been in a while and left saying "why am I always wanting to try new places when it is so fabulous here, I should come a lot more often." The roasted boar leg special with chestnut risotto was the single best dish I've had anywhere in recent memory.) Garces Trading Company is fun, but it is much more casual, a cafe in the middle of the store, and is less of a dining experience. There is table service, and it is kind of fun to go into the wine store portion and pick a bottle to have with your meal. The food was delicious, but it's a fairly limited menu.
I loved Koo Zee Doo, but if you are eating alone, it might be difficult. Portions are very large and designed for family-style eating.
I had a very memorable meal at Cochon recently. I have been drooling about it ever since. It was a dinner special that night, the smoked short rib - which tasted so different and interesting than I could have ever imagined (and i eat short rib quite frequently).
Vetri's top drawer IMHO, but it is expensive.
What about James (italian market neighborhood), not sure if you've heard of it? I highly recommend it.
One last suggestion, Meme (center city).
zahav is great, we just went there last month and liked it. it was not blow-your-mind amazing, but it was good. little fish is excellent and i like that it's a byob. fish is also delicious, but more pricy. i don't get the hype of modo mio, we went there once and only really like about 3 of our dishes (out of 6). vetri is good, but not as good as i had imagined. i think i have a habit of getting too excited for a meal and nothing will live up to my expectations! my favorite italian in the city is melograno.
you should definitely hit up some happy hours deals for "mini" meals. some good restaurants that have them are supper, morimoto and chifa. you have to sit at the bar for them, but they are all delicious!
I really loved Cochon on a recent visit. Hearty food, well prepared, just all around satisfying.
Someone suggested Meritage up thread and I'd second that. The new chef is great. Worth stopping in for at least a cocktail and some small bites, but the large plates are great too.
I've not been to Vetri but really loved my one meal at Amis, though the place seems to get mixed reactions. Just coming off a trip to Rome it was a welcome tribute to the city's food. Good again for small bites and a seat at the bar, same I'd say for Cichetteria 19 for Venetian Italian.
Forgot to add about the Oyster House. The oysters there are great but the rest of our meals there were pretty mediocre. You may want to consider Tria for a glass of wine and a small plate too (especially the truffled egg toast) and also the Reading Terminal Market, a true foodies haven, for places like the Dutch Eating Place for breakfast (admittedly not a healthy one...but it's good) or the roast pork sandiches at DiNic's.
Agree about the Oyster House menu, but if you do end up there it's worth getting the Snapper Soup. It's a real Philadelphia treat and is very good there, though a bit nontraditional. Also, if Shad is on the menu (the season is coming up) that is worth ordering. It's another old school Philly food and few restaurants serve it anymore. However, I don't think I've had it there since the ownership change/reversion. But they will be serving it.