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Sep 24, 2010 03:19 AM

Three or four days in Philly -- Where should we eat? (high and low)

We of the Philly sandwich tour article ( ) are going to be returning for 3 or 4 nights in Oct/Nov and want some more great recs. We're looking for:

-1 high end dinner. I'm talking reservations a month in advance, chef's menu, wine pairings, the whole nine. Vetri and Le Bec Fin sound intriguing. We'd like to try a really fine meal Philly-style.
-The best Malaysian restaurant. We don't seem to have any around here.
-The best food carts. We'll be there on a Friday, so any food carts that are open then will be a possibility.
-Any sandwich shops we missed the first time around (link to the article is near the bottom of the thread I posted, or google "Heroes, Just For Two Days"
-Any local faves, off the beaten path joints of any cuisine that we might miss without a rec

Also, what do people think of Square 1688 or whatever that place is called? We had a cocktail there last time and it looked great.


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  1. I will chime in first about Square 1682 (is that the right number?) at the Palomar. The food was pretty mediocre when we went and not all that memorable. In fact I recall that the best part of our meal was the flatbread and olive oil that was served with lunch. The fried oysters were ok, a lot of breadcrumbs and tomatoes but not many oysters, and the short rib sandwiches were good but overwhelmed by the roll. All in all, decent but not worth rushing back to.

    I suspect your better off at Vetri than LBF...

    Of course, this time you must try the roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe at DiNic's in Reading Terminal. Order it "wet" so it's extra juicy (preferably at the counter so you can get it served in a basket so it's less messy). It's one of the top sandwiches in town. Will happily trade Berger Cookies for DiNic's roast pork if you are there on a Saturday!

    To be honest with you, I really love the slow cooked lamb sandwiches at Argan (132 S. 17th St.) a half block south and across the street from the Palomar (look down!). It's a cute, spotless Moroccan joint that has great sandwiches served in Moroccan pocket-bread that is like a cross between cornbread and sourdough. Looks like a pita but is much softer and fluffier. I always order the slow cooked lamb with roasted eggplant puree, tomatoes, roasted peppers and onions, and greens. All of the items combine perfectly and with the seasonings, it's tops on my list . They also serve La Colombe coffee, and the owner's a really nice guy.

    1. 1. Vetri and LBF are very good, but Shola Olunloyo's Speck should be open by then, I'd make a reservation for one of the Studiokitchen dinners if there's one available for one day you'll be here:

      I like Vetri but I don't feel it's worth the exorbitant price. My other suggestion would be to go to Bibou and get the 7-course tasting menu. It's BYO but the food is fantastic.

      2. We have Penang, Banana Leaf, and Aqua that I know of. I like Aqua a lot, their house-made tofu is great.

      3. Some people will tell you to go to Christos' falafel cart at 20th and Market, I'm not a fan. I don't have any other suggestions though. We do have some good food trucks, they mostly roam around University City, as do the best carts.

      4. Seriously, go back to Paesano's and get a couple sandwiches you didn't get the first time around.

      5. Brunch at Kanella, biweekly multi-course feast at Han Dynasty, udon noodle lunch at Izumi, South Philly Tap Room (best gastropub in the city), bar snacks at Pub & Kitchen, queso tacos at La Lupe, Clammy Hour at Snockey's, Portuguese family-style dinner at Koo Zee Doo

      5 Replies
      1. re: Buckethead

        I'll be one of those. Yes, you need to go to Christos' falafel cart at 20th & Market; order the platter, not the sandwich--this is the only option you have, besides omitting meat. It's not really a falafel lunch--it's a platter of a few different salads that change weekly if not daily, hummus, grilled chicken, great fava-heavy falafel, and a daily changing bread. The platter is huge, it can easily feed both of you if you're eating a lot that day. You can compare with Mama's traditional Israeli-style falafel down the block if you want, which is also excellent.

        1. re: Buckethead

          The Falafal King is awsome. Its an experience aside from the food. Never knew his name, thanks Buckethead for the revelation. Christo really has alot to share about his life. But the falafal is worth the wait. I work around there and its a weekly spot. There is a TON of garlic, go easy on your first try.

          Have also been reading about Studio Kitchen. It seems like it might be the Ko of philly. Yea, finally some david changness in our city :) Have you been ?

          Second Han Dynasty. Thought brunch as Kanella was fun, exotic. Pub and Kitchen is a philly staple ! i May have to edit my post to add that ! Good Call. And very excited for Koo Zee Doo.

          1. re: foodstatic

            foodstatic, are you talking about King Of Falafel at 16th & JFK? That's not Christos. Christos is on the NE corner of 20th & Market, and is more commonly known by his street name: the Falafel Nazi.

            Studio Kitchen the restaurant isn't open yet. Shola used to do private dinners in his home also under the name Studio Kitchen, however.

            1. re: barryg

              Yes, i mixed up the king with the nazi ! My bad !
              Is there a preview for the Studio menu

              1. re: foodstatic

                There is Speck, the restaurant, and Studiokitchen, the restaurant within the restaurant (reservations for those seats are available now, pre-paid). I have not seen menus for Speck, although I believe it's opening soon. Studiokitchen menus will vary from week to week.

        2. for the high end dinner, I think Vetri makes more sense than Le Ben Fin which is about to close ( am I corrrect to assume your wife will be writing a food article about this trip again?)

          For Malaysian, my husband recently tried Banana Leaf and liked it. I think a good theme for an article would be the many cuisines that are available in Philly's Chinatown.

          Food carts are located in University City just google and you'll find the location. There was recently some news about a roving cupcake truck that would be worth trying and fun for an article.

          As far as sandwiches, I don't think you can top Paesano's but I assume you've already been there, done that. I think anything Argan has to offer will be a let down after that! I have eaten there a couple times and found the found strangely bland.

          I happen to think the sandwiches at Tria are awesome.

          PS try the Gustaio at Paesano's if you haven't already!

          1 Reply
          1. re: rocknroll52

            Then there is a new article on Philly sandwiches in Philly Mag:

          2. I'd like to strongly nominate Banana Leaf for your Malaysian restaurant. Also, Rangoon, while serving Burmese rather than Malaysian, is delicious as well. I'd second rocknroll52 with the suggestion of touching on all that Chinatown offers beyond Chinese food.

            1. Thanks for all the great feedback! Gonna sift through it and start to form up some plans. Paesano's is definitely getting a return visit, as is probably Sampan for a late night snack and maybe one other sandwich shop.

              This trip isn't for an article, although I'm sure it'll end up on her personal food blog, Tasty Trix. But doing a tour of Chinatown is a great idea. We passed through it briefly last time. Baltimore's Chinatown disappeared years ago, sadly.

              One other thing I wanted to ask about is if anyone knows if the October night market dates are known yet? We're hoping that it falls when we're there. The lineup for the September one looks awesome.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kukubura

                I don't think the Oct Night Market date is set - not even sure they will be exactly monthly. I think they said six a year or so.
                In Chinatown have soup dumplings at Dim Sum Garden and then at Sakura a block north!